ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) — The number of hate groups across the U.S. explodes to a record level, according to a new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The number of hate groups jumped to 1,018 in 2011, up from 1,002 the year before.
The report states that more people joined hates groups over the year due to their disillusionment with President Obama, the polarized political scene and the disparity between the rich and poor.
Mark Potok, author of the report, blames the “dramatic expansion of the radical right” for the rise.
“For many extremists, President Obama is the new symbol of all that’s wrong with the country – the Kenyan president, the secret Muslim who is causing our country’s decline,” Potok said in the report. “The election season’s overheated political rhetoric is adding fuel to the fire. The more polarized the political scene, the more people at the extremes.”
A longtime neo-Nazi believes this extremism will lead to a “civil war.”
“The worse the economy gets, the more the groups are going to grow,” August Kreis, who stepped down as leader of an Aryan Nations faction in January, told the Southern Poverty Law Center. “White people are arming themselves — and black people, too. I believe eventually it’s going to come down to civil war. It’s going to be an economic war, the rich versus the poor. We’re being divided along economic lines.”
The biggest growth in the extremist movement came from the patriot groups, jumping to 1,274 last year. The patriot movement, which consists of armed militias who consider the federal government its enemy, skyrocketed by 755 percent over the past three years.
Potok worries that it will just get worse if Obama gets re-elected.
“[I]f (Obama) wins re-election next fall, the reaction of the extreme right, already angry and on the defensive as the white population diminishes, could be truly frightening,” he wrote in the report. Michigan, Texas, California, Illinois and New York see the most active Patriot groups.
California, Georgia, Florida, New Jersey and Texas see the most hate groups in its state.