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Hate Groups' Ideology Becoming More Mainstream, Report Warns

The Southern Poverty Law Center's annual report on extremism found a decrease in active hate groups but warned that extremist ideas were increasingly becoming mainstream, USA Today reports. The group found 733 active hate groups, compared to 838 the previous year, along with 488 antigovernment groups. The decrease may be due to fallout from the Capitol insurrection, but the center noted that violent and xenophobic rhetoric has increasingly been used by elected officials and other figures outside of hate groups. As xenophobia is more widely available in the mainstream culture, the appeal of hate groups may wane. The report specifies the manner in which Fox News host Tucker Carlson and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) have spread xenophobic ideas like the "great replacement" myth while U.S. Reps Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) have normalized threats of physical violence in politics. The center believes this phenomenon is made more dangerous by the efforts to remove mentions of historical racism from school curricula.

White power groups are facing increased legal pressure from federal law enforcement and civil lawsuits such as one brought after the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., that left three people dead. This has caused hate group leaders to urge their followers to maintain anonymity. Still, some groups, including the Proud Boys, are growing through the use of localized chapters. The group has 72 chapters. The SPLC speculates that wedge issues related to COVID-19 and school curriculums have aided their recruitment. The report made several recommendations to policymakers, including enacting the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act. In addition to urging stronger federal law enforcement efforts, the SPLC recommended using education as a preventive tool against extremism and that tech companies continue to remove peddlers of extremist ideas.


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