Hate groups

In the past couple of years, hate groups have inhabited America more than ever before. The rise of hate groups is growing at an alarming rate because the notion of hate is being normalized in our society. Our current politicians are handling discrimination in an absurd manner. We as a country have failed to protect minorities, eradicate groups, and condemn hate groups and their leaders. The United States of America is spiraling down an abyss towards ignorance. If society maintains its current ideals, the basis of American equality will crumble. Citizens need to take a stand to end the normalization of hate in society.
As of today, there are a shocking 917 hate groups, that we’re aware about, present in America. Hate groups are spread out nationwide, in every single state except Alaska. However, even though there has always been an abundance of hate groups, today’s number has increased tenfold. In 2014, the number of hate groups was recorded at 784, still a staggering number. Due to Obama’s farewell and Trump’s appearance in politics, hate groups have increased by a whopping 133 groups. Hate groups in conservative states have doubled in the past two years. For example, California has seventy-nine, Florida has sixty-three, and Texas has fifty-five. However, predominate right-wing states are not the only regions with a surplus of hate groups. The left-leaning state of New York is ranked as the fourth highest hate group inhabitant state with a surprising forty-seven groups, most being in the city.

Since there are so many groups, there is also a wide array of the different followings. The top four most popular hate groups are in order: black separatists with 193 groups nationwide, the Ku Klux Klan with 130 groups nationwide, anti-Muslim groups with 101 groups nationwide, and white nationalists with 100 groups nationwide. However, neo-Nazis, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-immigrants also grasp the attention of the media. All except black separatists can be categorized into a group referred to as the alternative right, better known as the alt-right. The alt-right is a loosely defined group of people with far-right ideologies who reject mainstream conservatism in favor of white nationalism. An estimated 565 out of the 917 hate groups can be considered as the definition of alt-right member. That estimate consumes about sixty-two percent of all hate groups in America.

With alt-right members being such a factor of hate in America, there has to be icons and leaders for groups to praise. Perhaps the most influential notorious role model is David Duke. David Duke is an American white supremacist, white nationalist, politician, anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist, Holocaust denier, convicted felon, and former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, in other words the complete package. David Duke has inspired the growth of hate groups nationwide. Another icon that alt-right members praise are the figures at Breitbart. Founded in 2007 by conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart, Breitbart News Network is a far-right American news, opinion and commentary website. The New York Times has described the content to be “misogynist, xenophobic, and racist”. Breitbart’s open support for Donald Trump is a major factor of why the alt-right is so intertwined with the website.

Speaking of Donald Trump, he is undoubtedly changing the stigma of hate in America. Although Trump has only been in office for 255 days, he has done a blood-curdling amount of work to change our society. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), there have been almost 900 incidents of hate or bias in the ten days after the election, using a combination of news reports and witness testimony. The SPLC also counted 1,094 incidents in the first month after the election, and 1,863 between November 9 and March 31. Experts are calling this frightening phenomenon ‘The Trump Effect’. This affect took off almost instantaneously during the election process. Trump attracted alt-right members by bashing Mexicans, Muslims, and African Americans.

Trump bashed Mexicans multiple times during his rise to presidency, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. … They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” Trump never specified whether these ‘people’ were legal or illegal immigrants, but the alt-right didn’t care. This quote along with his ideas for the border wall sparked the rise of anti-immigrant groups. Trump also didn’t take it easy on people of the Islamic faith, “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on” To say that this sparked the anti-Muslims movement is an understatement. This indisputably erupted the growth of anti-Muslims hate groups in America. Since 2015, anti-Muslims groups have had a 197% increase rate. The ideal that ‘all Muslims are terrorists’ has resurfaced because of Trump. According to Laura Pitter of Human Rights Watch, “20 states reported 196 incidents of hate crimes against Muslims in the US in 2015, a 78 percent increase over the prior year… Projecting these figures nationally, they estimated about 260 hate crimes against Muslims in 2015… According to their report, anti-Muslim hate crime incidents rose dramatically in 2015 and then increased a further 44 percent in 2016, going from 180 incidents in 2015 to 260 in 2016.” Although Trump denied allegations, it is clear to see his words were put to action.

Trump even tweeted false facts and over criminalized African American people. The tweet gave a disproportionate statistic with black on black crime compared to black on white crime. Obviously, this tweet was quickly debunked by many other Twitter users. Nevertheless, this sparked the further increase of black separatists, the most populated hate group.

Due to the likes of Duke and Trump, alt-right protests have been taking place recently. One of the most absurd protests that took place was in Charlottesville, Virginia. Alt-right members such as white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and neo-confederates came together to protest the removal of a statue of confederate icon Robert E. Lee. Protestors clashed with the opposition while chanting slogans such as “white lives matter” and “blood and soil”. The protest soon turned violent, anti-racist protestors were run over by one alt-right member’s car, forcing the city of Charlottesville into a state of emergency. This rash behavior comes from Trump’s previous statements and Trump failing to condemn the likes of David Duke. After the protest was conducted, Trump proceeded by blaming both groups, the alt-right and the anti-racist opposition, “You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now.” Trump may seem logical in this situation; however, his hypocrisy is evident. He didn’t blame both sides when Black Lives Matter protestors were attacked, or when Mosques were attacked. Trump only blames both sides when his supporters are in danger, Trump is afraid of defamation.

Although the situation of hate is getting out of hand, according to the SPLC there are ways to fight hate. The first way is simple, we as a whole need to act. This means it’s necessary to act before, during, and after a hate group performs a hate crime. For example, if a hate group is said to come to your town in a week, figure out what to do before they arrive. Organize the neighborhood and prepare to fight for what is right. If one doesn’t act then hate escalates and continues to pursue. We need to join forces to stop hate groups, no matter one’s background or views.

What’s also imperative is supporting victims. This sends out the notion that it is unacceptable for hate crimes to occur. This bring people together, for the most heartbreaking moments, to reform and construct ways to put an end to hate crimes. Standing together revokes all power that hate groups possess. While supporting the victims, we need to speak up. Without having our voices prevalent in society, hate groups have no motive to hinder or stop their actions. This can be on all platforms and by all people. It’s necessary that we make the youth aware so that future generations can continue to speak up until hate groups are eradicated. However, it’s important we do not directly debate hate group members, as it lets them receive media attention for more ill-informed citizens to join.

It’s at the upmost importance to educate yourself. Educating yourself on past and present events will allow you to morally position yourself on the anti-hate side. For example, learning about what Dylann Roof did to innocent African Americans at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. If one is educated about the activities that hate group members perform, it is simple to be against them. However, the very people that join hate groups are the ones who are ignorant to what they do. To keep people from being uneducated, we must form an alternative. Stage protests where people can let out peaceful frustration and problems. While hate groups do pertain under the first amendment, so do our efforts to stop them. We as a people need to focus on swaying people away from the alt-right and to a more open-minded lifestyle.

A huge step to take is to pressure our leaders. This means we need to challenge our local, state, and especially national officials. Nothing in this country gets done without protesting to send our leaders a message. According to the SPLC “The fight against hate needs community leaders willing to take an active role. The support of mayors, police chiefs, college presidents, school principals, local clergy, business leaders, and others can help your community address the root causes of hate and help turn bias incidents into experiences from which your community can learn and heal.” Without our leaders, the movement will not nearly move as fast. If Trump condemns hate groups, hate group related activity would decrease.

Staying engaged is also a key factor that can resolve the abundance of hate. We need to spread the notion of acceptance while also cancelling out bias. We need to stay engaged within our communities, “Hate usually doesn’t strike communities from some distant place. It often begins at home, brewing silently under the surface. It can grow out of divided communities — communities where residents feel powerless or voiceless, communities where differences cause fear instead of celebration.” If we act and engage within our communities and form a family-like atmosphere, then hate will have a much more difficult time evolving. Being united in a community is the best destroyer of hate, it lets citizens know the ins and outs and their fellow neighbors, and be able to spot hate at an early stage more efficiently. Parents of this nation need to teach acceptance to future generations. If we educate future generations then hate will not be normalized. Parents need not be biased at home “Bias is learned in childhood. By age 3, children can be aware of racial differences and may have the perception that “white” is desirable. By age 12, they can hold stereotypes about ethnic, racial, and religious groups, or LGBT people. Because stereotypes underlie hate, and because almost half of all hate crimes are committed by young men under 20, tolerance education is critical.” Allowing children to form their own mind is imperative. While it is true they need guidance, we shouldn’t bias a child to adopt traditional views, rather we should teach new modern views that stray away from discrimination. The last step that needs to be taken to fight hate is digging deeper. It is imperative to find inside resources on what hate groups do and how they function. If more research was done, hate group members would be punished. To add, we also need to look deeper inside ourselves, “We all grow up with prejudices. Acknowledging them — and working through them — can be a scary and difficult process. It’s also one of the most important steps toward breaking down the walls of silence that allow intolerance to grow. Luckily, we all possess the power to overcome our ignorance and fear, and to influence our children, peers, and communities.” If we dig deeper within ourselves first, it’s easier to break down hate groups and stop their functioning. Digging deeper within ourselves will also, eventually, displace the ideology of hate groups in the United States of America.

Hate serves no place in modern day America. We have come too far and apprehend a surplus of knowledge to let ignorance win. We as a people need to stop being ignorant to the ignorance of hate groups. It is time to stop normalizing hate groups and their crimes and time to take a stand. Citizens need to take a stand not only for their well-being, but for the future generations of this country. Although Trump’s wrath is powerful, the people make up this country. We must stand together to condemn all categories of hate groups and all severities of hate crimes. It is our civic duty to be educated, to fight, and to realize the situation at hand. We can alter the amount of hate groups in America if we come together against the likes of David Duke and Donald Trump. It’s time to take a stand to eradicate hate groups and the notion of hate from our politics, our minds, and our society.

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