I opened my mail today from the Southern Poverty Law Center and found this:
Just in case you are wondering, those dots represent 2145 active extremist groups in the US. Arizona is circled because that’s where I live. There is a quotation on the flyer from Daryl Johnson, former Homeland Security analyst:
My greatest fear is that domestic extremists in this country will somehow . . . [carry] out a mass-casualty attack.
Many Americans like me fear the same thing, and with with the number of extremist groups in the US at a record number, topping 1000 for the first time, the likelihood of such an attack from within continues to grow (SPLC 2010).
I am thinking more about such a possibility after Monday when Anders Behring Breivik, a native Norwegian and a 32-year-old right-wing Christian who railed against multiculturalism and Muslim immigration, assassinated at least in Oslo, Norway, 92 using a car bomb and gun. Norway was as unprepared for an attack from within as we are; The Financial Times reported Monday that in its annual threat assessment published in January, the Norwegian security service said “far-right and far-left extremist communities will not pose a serious threat to Norwegian society in 2011” But it also noted there had been increased activity within some of these groups during 2010.
Hate, it seems, knows no borders.
According to the information I received from the SPLC, in 2010, the US was home to the following:
- 221 Ku Klux Klan groups
- 170 Neo-Nazi groups
- 149 Black Separatist groups
- 136 White Nationalist groups
- 136 Racist Skinhead groups
- 122 General Hate groups
- 42 Neo-Confederate groups
- 26 Christian Identity groups
And list doesn’t include the Rick Perry’s, Joe Arpaio’s, Russell Pearce’s, Bill O’Reilly’s, Rush Limbaugh’s, Michelle Malkin’s, Peter King’s, Robert Bentley’s, Glenn Beck’s, Nathan Deal’s, Joe Wilson’s, (oh how this list goes on) or Fox News. I’d say it’s clear we have plenty to fear from within.
As I noted in an earlier post, America’s Islamophobia blinds us the growing number of right-wing extremists, Christian fundamentalists, teabaggers, and others like them. Their belief that American ought to be different–free of people of color, of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered people, of non-Christians, of liberals, of Jews, intelligent, independent women, doctors who preform abortions, the New Deal, non-Christian schools and social programs, black Presidents–drives them to commit horrific acts such as the assassination of Dr. George Tiller, the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, the murder of Emmett Till, the bombing of the Oklahoma Alfred P. Murrah Federal building, the torture and murder of Matthew Shepard, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr and Robert Kennedy to name a few horrors of the 20th century.
This afternoon I was reading James Ridgeway’s “Anders Breivik, Stieg Larsson, and the Men with the Nazi Tattoos” in Mother Jones, and was struck by the history of Stieg Larsson’s (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo et al) battle “against the far-right movements that he saw as the scourge of Scandinavia and a threat to modern European society,” as well as the argument that Larsson embedded the actions of the far-right in his Millennium Trilogy. These books are on my shelf, but I have yet to read them; still, nothing I have read about them has even hinted at this. In fact, most responses to the books have been apolitical.
Yet according to Eva Gabrielsson book, “There Are Things I Want You to Know” About Stieg Larsson and Me, “[all the violence] described in The Millennium Trilogy has happened at one time or another to a Swedish citizen, journalist, politician, public prosecutor, unionist, or policeman. Nothing was made up.” Ridgeway quotes Matthew Goodwin, an expert on British fascist movements, writing in the Guardian, who suggests that the massacre in Oslo might “prove to be a watershed moment in terms of how we approach far-right followers, groups and their ideology.” Ridgeway ends with this: “If so, European governments will at last be heeding Stieg Larsson’s warning.”
And how many warnings about neo-nazi, right-wing, Christian fundamentalists, and other hate groups have America readers ignored? As the number of these groups grow, we might consider paying serious attention to these alerts. Our lives might well be at stake.