Wash. Post Cries: White 'Hate' Groups Increasing! Says Who?

-By Warner Todd Huston

It's time once again for some more left-wing hand wringing over the supposed rise of "white militias" in the era of Obama. This time it is the blather of Metro Columnist Courtland Milloy claiming that white-based hate groups have increased substantially because we have a black president. Milloy also rails about the "racial double standard" in evidence because no one is all that upset about this business. If it were black racists increasing their militia activities because of a white president, Milloy gravely writes, why the whole country would be alarmed.

Milloy isn't the only denizen of the Old Media to make the claim that white hate groups are increasing, though. It has been an occasional claim by a dozen or so journalists since Obama's inauguration. But is it true? Are white hate groups increasing? And is it because Obama became president? Who says so, anyway?

There is one source that each of these stories relies upon to prove that white militias and hate groups have increased under Obama. That source is the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC claims that hate groups have increased to over 900 under Obama.

The SPLC has on its website an "Active U.S. Hate Groups" map. There, broken down by state, it claims to show 932 hate groups that are active in the U.S.

But there is a major problem with the map. Clicking on any particular state will show that chapters or segments of the same group are all counted as separate groups. Take Illinois, for instance. The Illinois National Socialist Front is listed three times in different cities. The Nation of Islam is listed five times and the United White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is also listed three times. In Ohio the United White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is listed twice while the Nation of Islam is listed four times. In Louisiana the Klan is listed five times and the Nation of Islam four. The situation is the same in nearly every state. Branches of the same groups are all listed separately as if they are completely new and different groups.

It is a rather strange way to count, wouldn't you say? Naming the same group dozens of times would tend to grow the final amount exponentially, to be sure.

But, let's say that the SPLC map and its way of counting is at least acceptable according to its methods. Is there any other organization out there to substantiate the SPLC's claim that there are 932 different hate groups in America today? The FBI doesn't seem to publish findings on hate groups. So where can we get confirmation that these groups that the SPLC claims exists actually do exist? Unfortunately we can't. Yet these journalists swallow the SPLC claims whole. Without ever asking if the number can be trusted journalists repeatedly rely on this single source to detail number of U.S. hate groups.

Using a single source for anything violates an important journalistic practice of multiple sources, doesn't it?

Anyway, back to Courtland's article. He claims that the SPLC indicates that "white militias" have shot up from 170 in 2008 to 500 in 2010. Further he conflates "militia" directly with racism without proving his case.

"They cling to the delusion that the nation's first black president is somehow a subversive working for Muslim extremists, and they aim to bring him down," Milloy shockingly writes.

Do they? How do we as readers know that each and every so-called white militia was formed in direct opposition to a black man being president? How does Milloy prove this claim?

He doesn't. He just states it as fact and moves on as if it's all settled.

Milloy leaves the reader imagining that these "hate groups" have exploded since Obama took office. Milloy, however, is willfully misleading his readers. Hate groups have not grown nearly as wildly as Milloy is trying to lead readers into thinking.

A 2009 CNN story, for instance, reports that even by its own numbers the SPLC said that hate groups numbered 888 in 2007 while in 2008 they numbered 926. With the number supposedly standing at 932 in 2010 we see that the list of hate groups increased by 44 since 2007. That is hardly as scary a number as the "500" that Milloy bandied about. And remember, the 932 number encompasses all hate groups -- whether anti-Jew, black power, and others -- not just white power groups upset about a black president.

Lastly, Milloy's entire concept is flawed. He headlined his piece, "Tolerance of white militias exemplifies racial double standard." Nice straw man set up, isn't it? Where is the "tolerance" of which he speaks? Who is writing in favor of "white militias"? Who has said we need to tolerate them? Exactly where is all this "tolerance" Milloy is talking about? Just who the heck is running around saying we need more "white militias"?

I sure haven't been able to find all this "tolerance" Milloy is all exercised over.

Once again, what we see here is alarmism, we see a black columnist throwing the race card at those "white people" he hates so much, we see the wild claims of the Southern Poverty Law Center again taken as gospel without any substantiating evidence, and we see all sorts of things conflated together to prove a central point that otherwise has scant support.

In other words, what we see is typical hack, left-wing, agenda journalism at work.

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  • An outstanding analysis of spurious SPLC fund-raising propaganda. One of the best I have ever read.

    Most people are unaware of the fact that there is no legal definition of "hate group." This is why even the FBI doesn't track "hate groups".

    The SPLC uses "hate group" in its fund-raising propaganda precisely because it IS meaningless. This allows them to smear their perceived enemies without actually charging them of any wrongdoing, least of all of committing any actual hate crimes.

    The SPLC has no authority, legal, moral or otherwise, to designate anyone as anything.

    The SPLC

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