Hate groups on the rise fueled by belief in conspiracies

The ‘Patriot’ Movement Explodes

The radical right grew explosively in 2011, the third such dramatic expansion in as many years. The growth was fueled by superheated fears generated by economic dislocation, a proliferation of demonizing conspiracy theories, the changing racial makeup of America, and the prospect of four more years under a black president who many on the far right view as an enemy to their country.

The number of hate groups counted by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) last year reached a total of 1,018, up slightly from the year before but continuing a trend of significant growth that is now more than a decade old. The truly stunning growth came in the anti-government “Patriot” movement — conspiracy-minded groups that see the federal government as their primary enemy.


Tip: @MichaelShermer on Twitter


Very scary stuff. The growing gap between rich and poor, the awful economic conditions – both are cited as fueling the growth of radicalization. This is also evident in Europe as well as the U.S.

Conspiratorial thinking is complex but seems to underlay the foundation of a number of these groups who distrust the government and think that higher forces are organized, with secret agendas, and out to get them.

I highly recommend reading this piece. However, it will scare the bejeezus out of you. Whose afraid of foreign terrorists when the homegrown ones are in your backyard, irrational, and have guns?

  2 comments for “Hate groups on the rise fueled by belief in conspiracies

  1. March 9, 2012 at 5:35 PM

    Not at all surprising. And that swamp did get drained/bottled a bit by the rise of the Tea Party, especially at the local/state level where the truly frightening laws have been happening. For example, the article is right that anti-immigrant vigilante gangs have declined. Instead, you’ve got Arizona lawmakers passing various laws like wanting to see papers, banning books in schools that talk about oppression, funding a state militia for the border, and today the news of a bill to issue warnings to citizens of danger from immigrants (something like the old terror alert scale from DHS from what I can tell).

    But if Obama is re-elected, that anger really won’t have anywhere to go, will it? It won’t have a goal to strive for in the political process. Except perhaps impeachment.

    If Obama is elected, expect impeachment hearings as the “safety valve.”

  2. March 9, 2012 at 5:36 PM

    And to keep this somewhat on topic, these conspiracies are not as isolated or as generic as you might expect. While there are numerous versions, certain themes and influences pop up again and again.

    Go read Michael Barkun’s book on conspiracy culture. You will benefit from it.

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