The Unabomber and the Oklahoma City bombing proved that domestic terrorism can be just as devastating as threats from abroad. Unfortunately, experts who study hate crimes are becoming increasingly concerned about what they see to be an increase in hate-related incidents here at home, particularly “toward gay people and immigrants, as well as anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.” They point to some very real statistics to back up this claim:
The number of active hate groups in the U.S. has grown from 474 in 1997 to 762 in 2004, according to the SPLC [Southern Poverty Law Center], and in the past four years the number of hate Web sites has risen from 366 to 468.
The FBI reports more than 9,000 hate-crime victims in 2003 (the most recent reporting year). When an estimate of unreported crimes is added in, according to the SPLC, the total may be closer to 50,000 a year.
Meanwhile, white-supremacist groups, experiencing the recent demise and disaffection of national leaders, are splintering, creating smaller and potentially more dangerous cells. Experts wonder whether this “leaderless resistance” (as radical right-wing theoreticians call for) will peter out or instead breed more “lone wolf” domestic terrorists — more Timothy McVeighs and Eric Rudolphs.
What is the Department of Homeland Security, which is responsible for terrorist threats both at home and abroad, doing to address this problem? Well, with their political blinders on, they see no problem:
A draft planning document from Homeland Security obtained by Congressional Quarterly includes a survey of domestic threats notable for an excessive focus on extremist groups on the political left…. Glaringly omitted are the militia fanatics, white supremacists and other violent groups at the other end of the spectrum – antigovernment groups like Aryan Nation and anti-abortion extremists with a proven appetite for murderous violence.