The Southern Poverty Law Center has published its annual “Year in Hate” review. According to its research, there are now a total of 844 hate groups in the United States, a rise of 5% over the year before. This number is a 40% increase since 2000, with the Southern Poverty Law Center attributing much of this increase to the use of immigration as an issue to gain recruits. While much of the white supremacist right has been in disarray with infighting, deaths of old leaders, and no single group dominating the scene, there has been a “breathtakingly rapid rise of a right-wing anti-immigration movement made up of groups that are xenophobic but mostly stop short of the open racial hatred espoused by hate groups.” The report cites the formation of 250 nativist groups since 2005 and argues that these groups are becoming more violent.
Along with their annual review of hate groups, the Southern Poverty Law Center has updated their “Hate Group Map” that documents hate groups across the United States. According to that map, Michigan is home to 25 hate groups (the second highest total in the Midwest after Ohio) encompassing groups ideologically aligned with the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazi, white nationalist, Christian Identity, and “black separatist” movements. The latter category, has been a subject of some contention within the left, with some arguing that groups such as the Nation of Islam and other “black separatist” groups should not be included amongst historically violent groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. In response to these criticism, the Southern Poverty Law Center states that it “recognizes that much black racism in America is, at least in part, a response to centuries of white racism” and as such must be confronted.
Many of the groups listed in Michigan have been written about and profiled by Media Mouse over the past year as part of our “Far Right in West Michigan” database. Among the groups listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Media Mouse has documented activities by the Council of Conservative Citizens, the Ku Klux Klan, the National Socialist Movement, and Young Americans for Freedom. In addition, we have also documented activities by groups not mentioned in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s report including the Heartside Boot Boyz, the European American Association, and the Nazi Low Riders.
The Southern Poverty Law Center’s report also mentions the connections between the racist Council of Conservative Citizens and the anti-affirmative action Proposal 2 (Michigan Civil Rights Initiative) that was passed in Michigan. The report states:
Last fall, the CCC’s Michigan chapter head, the Rev. John Raternik, allied with Ward Connerly, a well-known black conservative, to back a state referendum to ban affirmative action. Connerly rejected calls to denounce the CCC, which has referred to blacks as “a retrograde species of humanity.” The ban passed.
While the report is correct to cite the Council of Conservative Citizens as one of the few groups in Michigan supporting Proposal 2 (the other being the Ku Klux Klan), it gives too much credit to the Council of Conservative Citizens for their “role” in the passage of the measure. Aside from a rally overshadowed by protestors and a letter writing campaign that resulted in a few letters printed in newspapers, the Council of Conservative Citizens did little organizing around the issue. It also neglected to mention that Connerly made a weak public dismissal of the Council of Conservative Citizens in the media, although he did praise the Ku Klux Klan later in the campaign.
The report officially lists the Michigan State University chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, the first student group to be listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. It was added to the list in response to its anti-gay and anti-immigrant actions, as well as its efforts to eliminate organizations of color on Michigan State University’s campus.