hate groups on the rise

It's a frightening, alarming fact. There is hate in this country. Serious, ugly, targeted hate. So much hate, in fact, that the hate takes the form of groups. Rapidly growing groups who are finding every excuse to direct their anger at something, anything. And they're growing: Growing hate groups blame Obama, economy.

According to The Year in Hate, the Southern Poverty Law Center's annual report on hate groups, the number of hate groups has grown by 54 percent since 2000. The study identified 926 hate groups -- defined as "groups with beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people" -- active in 2008. That's a 4 percent jump, adding 38 more than the year before.

What's fueling the rise in hate groups? Obama, apparently. The nation's first African American president, and a busted economy, as well as the issue of Latino immigration, are creating backlash among those who want someone to blame for their troubles. Obama has become sort of a "visual aid" that is helping to respark a sense of purpose among the haters.

The thing that surprised me most about this article is that fact that while most of the hate groups are located in the South, the state with the highest number of documented hate groups is California, with 84. Eighty-four freaking hate groups? I'm shocked.

The findings are scary, but informative. It shows that we've made quite a bit of progress in this country, but no doubt, we still have a hell of a long way to go, and it's not going to be easy. Read more about the Southern Poverty Law Center's Year in Hate report here.

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