The number of radical groups in the United States rose for the second year in a row, fueled by the rise of President Trump, according to an annual report from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Notably, white nationalism is on the rise.
“2016 was an unprecedented year for hate,” said Mark Potok, senior fellow at SPLC, in a statement. “The country saw a resurgence of white nationalism,” Potok said, “that imperils the racial progress we’ve made.”
The SPLC found that the number of hate groups operating in 2016 rose to 917, which is up from 892 the prior year. The number of such groups is still down from 2011, when there were more than 1,000 hate groups operating nationwide.
The SPLC pointed to Trump’s “incendiary rhetoric” and his adviser Stephen Bannon as energizing some of these groups, saying that the president’s policies “reflect the values of white nationalists” and that in Bannon extremists may “have an ally who has the president’s ear.”
The SPLC’s report divides radical groups into a dozen different categories, such as “Black Separatist,” “Anti-Muslim” and “White Nationalist.”
The most dramatic trend in 2016 was the near-tripling of Anti-Muslim groups to 100 from around 30 in 2015.
Not all types of SPLC-defined radical groups grew in 2016.
Antigovernment “Patriot groups” actually saw a 38% decline, dropping last year to some 600 from around 100. Patriot groups are armed militias who see the government as their enemy.
The SPLC report also includes an online interactive map that shows state by state where groups are active. While this approach to monitoring extremist activity is one of the main ways SPLC has tracked the growth of radical organizations, SPLC admitted that the ways in which radical ideology spreads is changing.
For example, the white nationalist “alt-right” movement has no central location or even formal chapters, but instead operates largely online.
“The overall number of hate groups likely understates the real level of organized hatred in America,” the SPLC release read, “a growing number of extremists operate mainly online and are not formally affiliated with hate groups.”
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Sam Kestenbaum is a contributing editor and former staff writer for the Forward. Before this, he worked for The New York Times and newsrooms in Sana, Ramallah and Beijing. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum and on Instagram at @skestenbaum.