The election of America’s first black president has triggered more than 200 hate-related incidents, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center – a record in modern presidential elections, reports the Christian Science Monitor. And the white nationalist movement, bemoaning an election that confirmed voters’ comfort with a multiracial demography, expects Obama’s election to be a potent recruiting tool – one that watchdog groups warn could give new impetus to a mostly defanged fringe element.
Most election-related threats have so far been little more than juvenile pranks. But the political marginalization of certain Southern whites, economic distress in rural areas, and a White House occupant who symbolizes a multiethnic United States could combine to produce a backlash against what some have heralded as the dawn of a postracial America. “The vitriol is flailing out shotgun-style,” says Brian Levin of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. “They recognize Obama as a tipping point, the perfect storm in the narrative of the hate world – the apocalypse that they’ve been moaning about has come true.”