There has been a rise in the number of hate groups operating in the United States for a second year in a row, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) monitoring group.
In a recent report , the SPLC found that the total number of hate groups in the US in 2016 grew to 917 from 892 a year earlier.
Since 1999, the total number of hate groups in the US has more than doubled.
There are now more anti-Muslim , anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT, white nationalist, neo-Nazi, neo-Confederate and black separatist organisations.
But the number of Ku Klux Klan (KKK) chapters, racist skinhead groups and anti-government militias and political groupings has declined, according to the report.
The sharpest increase was among anti-Muslim groups, which grew from 37 to 101 during that period – a 197 percent increase in just one year.
FBI statistics show that hate crimes targeting Muslims had already grown by 67 percent between 2014 and 2015.
The SPLC defines anti-Muslim groups as those that harbour “extreme hostility” towards Muslims, who are “depicted as irrational, intolerant and violent, and their faith is frequently depicted as sanctioning paedophilia, coupled with intolerance for homosexuals and women”.
In 2010, the SPLC knew of only five anti-Muslim groups.
“Beginning in 2010, anti-Muslim legislation increased and opposition to the development of an Islamic centre in lower Manhattan made headlines,” the SPLC notes.
The SPLC’s newly published hate map comes at the same time as a sharp rise in “bias incidents” – instances of hate crimes or harassment and intimidation – following the election of far-right President Donald Trump.
In the first three months following Trump’s election, the group recorded 1,372 bias incidents. Of that total, more than 25 percent were motivated by anti-immigrant sentiments.
Nearly 19 percent of those incidents targeted African Americans, while nearly 10 percent were anti-LGBT and another nine percent targeted Muslims.
“We’ve also seen a steady accumulation of white nationalist flyering reports (at least 85), 78 percent of which occurred on college campuses,” the SPLC adds, explaining that most of these flyers were passed out by organisations affiliated with the Alternative Right (or Alt-Right), a loosely knit movement of far-right groups that include white nationalists, neo-Nazis and others.
|Chart US Rise in Hate Groups US [Al Jazeera]|
Source: Al Jazeera
Rachel Shabi is a journalist and author of Not the Enemy: Israel’s Jews from Arab Lands.
Even with his name splashed in the headlines and his story cast as “breaking news”, the last thing this is about is Milo Yiannopoulos. To precis, in case you sensibly missed the whole thing: this hate-spouting, Donald Trump-supporting, far-right trollster had a lucrative book deal cancelled and a major speaking engagement at the American Conservative Union’s CPAC conference revoked after comments he made, apparently saying sex between “younger boys” and older men was OK, surfaced online.
He then resigned from the far-right Breitbart news – following reports that some of his colleagues had threatened to quit if he wasn’t sacked over those comments seeming to condone paedophilia (though Milo says they were taken out of context).
The internet is replete with background and detail on this story – and has been for some time. But, again, this isn’t about one individual far-right provocateur. It’s mostly about the busting of a persistent myth, that the far-right, in strange symbiosis with some liberals who should know better, are the new champions of free speech.
You know, that noble far-right cause cheered by US TV host Bill Maher just the other day, when he so agreeably had Milo on his HBO Real Time talk show and they both told us to stop being so sensitive over things such as racism and misogyny.
|WATCH – Does anti-trolling law inhibit free speech? (2:26)|
Truth to be told
In truth, it is rare that reality so neatly punctures a point. For commentators have repeatedly cautioned that far-right hate speech around Muslims and minorities gets absolved in a way that nobody would dream of doing if the subject were, just by way of stark illustration, child abuse.
Well, now here’s the proof. Previously supportive conservatives and publishers couldn’t back away from Milo fast enough once those comments about sex with underage boys came to light.
Those who had previously insisted we should debate the hate, not shut it down, seemed to vanish into thin air. It turns out that – who knew? – there are limits to free speech, after all, and even for the far-right.
Conservative movements that have been politically revitalised by accommodating and thus rehabilitating the far-right need to do their own reckoning with this equation and its consequences.
|The hard currency of all this, meanwhile, is the outrage, the reaction to having conversations ambushed and derailed by trolls for whom the sole purpose is to ambush and derail.|
But meanwhile, what of all the liberal-minded insistence that characters such as Milo are really a test of our commitment to free speech and the right to offend?
Of course, this was always a terrible conflation of free speech principles with the decision to provide platform and airtime to people who use these to mainline hateful bigotry – support for free speech confused with actively giving someone a megaphone.
But it’s now up to those who insist it was a free speech issue to begin with, to explain why those limits didn’t apply when the abuse and harassment campaigns were directed only at women, ethnic minorities or the transgender community.
|WATCH – Rising Islamophobia concerns US Muslims (2:15)|
The hard currency of all this, meanwhile, is the outrage, the reaction to having conversations ambushed and derailed by trolls for whom the sole purpose is to ambush and derail.
This is one of many reasons why there is little point in engaging with the hate preachers of the far-right: even when you think you’ve won the argument, it will be cast as losing, slapped on YouTube with a headline about being “owned” or “destroyed” by the hater.
In this context, there is a certain arrogance in thinking that you will be the one who prevails, who will “win” using calm logic and clear reasoned debate – when in reality, all that’s ever achieved by such an exchange is amplification of hate, giving it more platform, more reach and more legitimacy.
When American journalist Jeremy Scahill pulled out of Bill Maher’s Real Time, because the show was also hosting Milo, it was premised on this understanding.
As Scahill wrote, the alt-right provocateur “has ample venues to spew his hateful diatribe. There is no value in ‘debating’ him.”
As every shock jock and far-right agitator knows, there is something compulsive about the shock in this context, a morbid fascination combined with a sort of earnestly breathless anthropological drive to understand why the spewer of hate is so awful.
This is what the erroneous invocation of “free speech” is effectively providing cover for – it operates as a seemingly principled and intellectual framing of something that is often propelled by less worthy impulses.
Again, it works only if you are not a target of the abuse and don’t comprehend the harm in it. But this does in part explain why toxic far-right talk is so ubiquitously sought out and hosted – it might advocate the most appalling hatred against Muslims, or women but, wow, look at those retweets.
It’s why lucrative book deals and TV slots are available. And it’s why there will always be Milos – because we seem intent on making sure that they will always have an audience.
Rachel Shabi is a journalist and author of Not the Enemy: Israel’s Jews from Arab Lands.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.
UN, EU Slam Israeli Plan to Raze Entire Palestinian Village
United Nations officials slammed an Israeli plan to demolish an entire Bedouin village in the West Bank Wednesday to make way for settlement construction in an escalation of demolitions, saying that the vulnerable communities in question already struggle to meet minimum living standards under full Israeli occupation.
“This is unacceptable and it must stop,” Robert Piper, U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, said in statement after visiting the village.
“Khan al-Ahmar is one of the most vulnerable communities in the West Bank struggling to maintain a minimum standard of living in the face of intense pressure from the Israeli authorities to move.”
At least 140 structures including a primary school are due for destruction by Israeli forces after residents of Khan al-Ahmar received demolition orders.
The village is in Area C of the occupied West Bank which falls under the full control of the Israeli Army and where many of the government-sanctioned illegal settlement are.
The destruction of Khan al-Ahmar and several Bedouin villages in the area would allow Israeli authorities to build thousands of homes for Jewish-only settlements nearby.
Area C constitutes 60 percent of the West Bank, which Palestinians hope to be part of their future state. “The developments in Khan al-Ahmar are not unique,” Piper said.
“Thousands of families live in fear of demolitions at any moment, and entire communities exist in chronic instability.
“When schools are demolished, the right to education of Palestinian children is also threatened. This creates a coercive environment that forces certain Palestinian communities to move elsewhere. ”
Israel, which says the structures in those villages are illegally built without permits, normally avoids demolitions in Area C, according to Haaretz, because of the involvement of European, U.S. and U.N. diplomats with the local communities.
The U.N. and other rights groups in Palestine and Israel repeatedly said that building permits are almost never granted for Palestinians in Area C.
Scott Anderson, the director of U.N. Relief and Works Agency Operations in the West Bank slammed the actions by Israel against the Bedouin communities in the area, saying “many of these Palestine refugee families have already had their homes demolished several times within the last couple of years.”
The European Union missions in Palestine also issued a statement Wednesday condemning the demolition Palestinian homes which conflicts with its obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law, Palestinian State agency WAFA reported.