The number of hate groups operating across America rose to a record high in 2018 as President Trump continued to fan the flames of white resentment over immigration and the country’s changing demographics, according to a new report released by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
Researchers found there were 1,020 operating hate groups in the United States in 2018, breaking the 1,018 record set in 2011.
More, it was the fourth straight year of hate group growth – a 30 percent increase roughly coinciding with Trump’s campaign and presidency – following three consecutive years of decline near the end of the Obama administration, data revealed.
“The numbers tell a striking story – that this president is not simply a polarizing figure but a radicalizing one,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project.
“Rather than trying to tamp down hate, as presidents of both parties have done, President Trump elevates it – with both his rhetoric and his policies. In doing so, he’s given people across America the go-ahead to act on their worst instincts.”
Researchers also blamed Fox News for the recent uptick.
“Fox News served as both his megaphone and a source for his incendiary claims during 2018. Aided by a chorus of supporters in right-wing media outlets and the advisers in his administration with hate group sympathies, Trump enacted a raft of policies straight out of the radical-right playbook,” the report said.
The number of white nationalist groups, those particularly electrified by Trump’s presidency, surged by almost 50 percent in 2018– from 100 groups to 148, data showed.
The vast majority of hate groups – including neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan, racist skinheads, neo-Confederates and white nationalists – adhere to some form of white supremacist ideology, but, interestingly, in an equal yet opposite reaction, black nationalist groups also expanded their ranks, growing from 233 chapters in 2017 to 264 in 2018.
“Trump has given voice to the rage and paranoia of white supremacists, and now there is a very real danger that as extremists lose the hope they saw in his presidency, some will lash out against the people he has demonized and blamed for America’s problems,” Beirich concluded.
A full copy of the report can be found here.