Saturday, March 10, 2012

KKK Numbers Decline As Hate Group Membership Explodes

It's a mistake not to stay informed about the state of the KKK, the "nation's oldest domestic terrorist organization", as it struggles to keep pace with its competition, the "hate group" phenomenon.

Some are aware of the history of the Ku Klux Klan and the resurgence of the group after the 1915 release of D. W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation. You might have seen footage of the thousands of white robed Klansmen marching near the Capitol during its heyday in the 1920s, declining from millions to between 3000-5000 members today.  In 2012, Slate contributor Brian Palmer reports the Klan lost one-third of its chapters in one year, shrinking from 221 to 152.

The Klan struggles to keep pace with the rising number of racist hate groups. Mergers change the number of its chapters, but doesn't change the number of members. Defections from the Klan to newer outside groups shift individuals to a more selective universe that caters to specialized "taste".  While the target audience tends to be "rural, uneducated, and technologically unsophisticated", white supremacist competitors offer new choices. No longer limited to hating general populations i.e., African Americans or Jews, hate groups offer new selectivity. Anti-Muslim, homophobic, xenophobic or "suit-and-tie"-name your poison and you can find a hate group that focuses on your specific interest.

The availability of the web and social media allow racist individuals to feed their need to link with those of similar interest, to either join a group, or to participate as an unconnected individual. These choices affect the numbers. You can find groups that advocate the level of violence they support or those who pursue a discourse of intellectualism which offers pseudo-scientific "proof" for claims of white supremacy.

Terrorist are still out there, so don't be fooled by the shell games. Racism is alive and well and growing by leaps and bounds. Keep your eye on the ball.

(Photo by Getty)

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