244% Increase In “Patriot” Militia Groups In One Year. Is Violence Far Behind?

As an avowed Dirty Freaking Hippy I am often stunned by the level of vitriol on the Right. It is not that you can not find some folks on the political Left that are, well, on the fringe. You can on almost any political blog you look at and more if you really go digging in the backwaters of the internet. The big difference is the lefties you will find while very angry and vocal are not talking about violence. This is not the case on the political Right.

"Originally posted at Squarestate.net"

As much as it might pain some in the Republican party, the reality is that most violent rhetoric and action comes from people who agree with them. This is not an opinion, it is a fact based on the information from groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

Yesterday the SPLC released its annual report on the number of hate and extremist groups in the United States. The scariest number is the 244% increase in “Patriot” groups in a single year. These groups have surged from 42 in 2008 to 147 in 2009. You read that right, in the first year of President Obama’s presidency; groups that consider it patriotic to talk about violent action against the government have exploded.

The main area of growth is militia groups. We have seen what the growth of militias can do back in the Clinton administration, with their infamous crowning achievement of the Oklahoma City bombings. Even though we all remember that attack, during the 1990’s militia and hate groups were responsible for many other smaller scale attacks, including the bombing of the Atlanta Olympics.

Since President Obama was inaugurated, rightwing extremists have killed six police officers. Last year the SPLC was lambasted by the Republicans for their report, The Second Wave; Return of the Militias, but they seem to have been right on the money with their predictions.

What is particularly troubling this time around are two things, first off the level of on air support the central ideas of these groups have in commentators like Glenn Beck, who routinely spouts insane conspiracy theories. The last time we saw a surge of these self described “patriot” groups there was very little main stream acceptance of their ideas or support for them. Now we have the Fox News channel as the clearing house for such ideas as FEMA interment camps.

In case you were wondering, the one of the newest groups in the “Patriot” movement the Oath Keepers is part of the SPLC’s list. For those of you have not heard of them, you can read this post I wrote two weeks ago. They are a group of veterans, active service military and law enforcement officers who have listed ten orders they have sworn to disobey. If you go to their site and read the explanation the level of conspiracy theory and anti-government hate jumps off the page.

The scary thing about the Oath Keepers is that they do recruit from police and active duty military. This means some of the very people we should be able to count on if there is trouble from the rightwing fringe are part of that very fringe.

The other major difference between now and the 1990’s is how the hate groups, the nativist extremists and the “patriot” groups have cross pollinated. You can find racist rants on the patriot websites; you can find anti-government conspiracy theories at the nativist websites.

Are these groups coalescing? It is hard to say one way or another. Still the rise in the numbers of these groups and the way their rhetoric seems to be crossing from one to another is troubling. The recent introduction of “Tenth Amendment Resolutions” in 37 State legislatures does not help matters. Any official encouragement of these groups is like Miracle Grow for them.

All of this is not to say that I think they are in any way an existential threat the to the United States. They are not. However, given the amount of damage that even a few people can do (Oklahoma City, after all, was carried out by two guys with the support of a few more) it is something we should be aware of and concerned with. These nut cases will never take over our nation, but they can kill many of our fellow citizens.

It is good that we have groups like the SPLC who spend their time watching these groups. It is too is all too easy to write them off as crackpots and loudmouths who talk a lot of shit, but don’t act. The problem is that unlike their counterparts on the political left these groups are more likely to be armed and they have a long record of violence. We will have to be aware of these groups and ready to act if and when some of their number cross the line from talk to action.

The floor is yours.

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