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A bull market in hate?

Hard times lead to hard feelings, and worse. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate and related groups around the country, reports finding 926 such groups around the country, “up more than 4 percent from the 888 groups in 2007 and far above the 602 groups documented in 2000.”

It goes on: “As in recent years, hate groups were animated by fears of Latino immigration. This rise in hate groups has coincided with a 40 percent growth in hate crimes against Latinos between 2003 and 2007, according to FBI statistics. Two new factors were introduced to the volatile hate movement in 2008: the faltering economy and the Obama campaign.”

Some caution is called for, though, in evaluating all this. One of the newcomers to the list is the Eugene-based Pacifica Forum, which seems to fall into a gray area. Pacifica has given a platform to anti-semitic speakers in recent years, and the SPLC seems to have concluded that the relationship is closer than simply offering a soapbox. The Eugene Register Guard, which has watched it in action for years at close range, offers this interpretation:

“If the Pacifica Forum represents any kind of threat, it’s a small-bore threat indeed. The number of people who are actively involved can be counted on two hands, and among them are a high quotient of people guilty of nothing worse than being stubborn fools. Listing the forum as a hate group will serve mainly to pump up its sense of importance, and bolster its self-image as a martyred defender of free speech. The forum began, and functioned for years, as a platform for controversial political and historical analysis of every ideological stripe. Among its speakers were sharp critics of U.S. support for Israel, and some of these stepped over the line into outright anti-Semitism. When the forum was called out on this, its organizers mistook public criticism for intimidation. They remained blind to the difference between speakers who expressed strong views on matters of public policy and those who demonized entire groups of people. They confused their bad judgment with open-mindedness.”

So some caution and acceptance of gray areas is called for. And numbers of a given category can rise and fall depending on how you define the category.

The SPLC points to 26 groups around the Northwest, 12 in Washington and seven each in Oregon and Idaho. In the national context, these aren’t massive numbers. States in the south and border-south have many more per capita. It’s a part of the landscape up here, certainly. But might this be an indicator that the Northwest is not a specific breeder of this kind of activity?

Here’s the NPLC list of groups in the Northwest:

Brotherhood of Klans Knights of the Ku Klux Klan – Ku Klux Klan; statewide
National Socialists of Washington State – Neo-Nazi; Mukilteo
American National Socialist Workers Party – Neo-Nazi; Seattle
Aryan Nations – Neo-Nazi; Seattle
Volksfront – Racist Skinhead; Seattle
Watchmen on the Walls – Anti-Gay; Seattle
Christ’s Gospel Fellowship – Christian Identity; Spokane
St. Michael’s Parish/Mount St. Michael – Radical Traditionalist Catholic; Spokane
United Realms of America Knights of the Ku Klux Klan – Ku Klux Klan; Spokane
Kinsman Redeemer Ministries – Christian Identity; Tacoma
Hypatia Publishing – White Nationalist; Vancouver
Sigrdrifa – White Nationalist; Vancouver

The Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ, Inc. – Black Separatist; Beaverton
American National Socialist Workers Party – Neo-Nazi; Clackamas
National Prayer Network – General Hate; Clackamas
Pacifica Forum – White Nationalist; Eugene
Daughters of Yahweh – Christian Identity; Portland
The Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ, Inc. – Black Separatist; Portland
Volksfront – Racist Skinhead; Portland

Gospel Ministries – Christian Identity; Boise
JTB Publications – General Hate; Careywood
Aryan Nations – Neo-Nazi; Coeur d’Alene
Campaign for Radical Truth in History – Holocaust Denial; Coeur d’Alene
The International Conspiratological Association – Holocaust Denial; Coeur d’Alene
Folk and Faith – White Nationalist; Idaho Falls
America’s Promise Ministries – Christian Identity; Sandpoint

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