2016's Hate Groups Followed Politics And Became Very Anti-Muslim

According to the SPLC, 40 hate groups operated in 2016 in Pennsylvania, the same number as the year before.

President Donald Trump's election and rhetoric during the campaign is, in part, responsible for this rise of anti-Muslim hate groups, according to the report.

In a Wednesday briefing call with reporters, SPLC senior fellow Mark Potok called Trump "the most important factor" behind the staggering increase in anti-Muslim hate groups.

Almost 50 of those new additions are local chapters of ACT for America, an anti-Muslim activist group that claims Michael Flynn, who this week resigned as Trump's national security adviser, as a board member.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations wants campus officials to assure the safety of Muslim students and to investigate the mosque posters as a hate crime.

It listed three white nationalist groups as operating in Philadelphia: the Harrisburg-based Keystone State Skinheads, now Keystone United; the Traditionalist Worker Party; and the Daily Stormer, which previous year created clubs for people to join, Potok said.

Ku Klos Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Hazel Green and Vance. Militias, which the report called the "armed wing of the Patriot movement", also fell from 276 to 165 groups. This growth, the Center said, was "accompanied by a rash of crimes targeting Muslims". He said at the time that it appeared supremacist groups viewed Trump's electoral victory as a victory for their cause, noting that "the alt-right in general thinks this is the time to pounce". After reaching a high of 1,360 in 2012 - largely in opposition to former President Obama - the number of so-called "patriot" groups fell to 623 past year.

In Pittsburgh, the group identified the American Freedom Union, a white nationalist group working out of Hampton, the Daily Stormer, a white nationalist and neo-Nazi website, and the black seperartist group The Nation of Islam.

But 2011 saw the highest number of extremist groups operating in the country, at 1,018. And the SPLC warns of "growing numbers of right-wing extremists [who] operate mainly in cyberspace until, in some cases, they take action in the real world", like Dylann Roof, who killed nine people in a Charleston, S.C., black church after finding inspiration in online propaganda.

Potok argues that more hate group activity - in terms of online and physical participation - yields more "small level hate violence", though he acknowledges such activity is hard to prove. The most dramatic growth was the near-tripling of anti-Muslim hate groups - from 34 in 2015 to 101 past year, the SPLC found. Statistics for 2016 are not yet available.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the creation of a state police unit specifically for protecting civil rights on November 20 after two women wearing hijabs were attacked at public transportation hubs in New York City, reports said.

But the Center also said Trump became the surrogate - and the center- for hate groups that never before could slide so seamlessly into the mainstream.

  • Larry Hoffman