The Southern Poverty Law Center today released its annual Year In Hate and Extremism report for 2016, quantifying the emboldenment of the radical right over the course of a year that saw Donald Trump lead a winning presidential campaign fueled by xenophobia and misogyny. As SPLC senior fellow Mark Potok puts it, "Trump's run for office electrified the radical right, which saw in him a champion of the idea that America is fundamentally a white man's country."
In addition to an interactive map that pin drops individual hate groups by state, the report breaks out some key statistics. Most significant, Polok says, was the nearly 200 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate groups: from 34 in 2015 to 101 in 2016. In addition to Trump's suggestions about a Muslim registry and active efforts to ban travel from majority-Muslim countries, SPLC posits the upsurge may have been driven by the mass murder at a night club in Orlando, Florida last summer, carried out by radical Islamist.
Close to 50 of the anti-Muslim groups are local chapters of ACT for America. Michael Flynn—Trump's disgraced and, now, former, security adviser—is apparently a member of the ACT board.
Overall, the number of hate groups increased about three percent nation-wide last year, from 892 in 2015 to 917 in 2016. That's about 100 fewer than the 2011 peak of 1,018. That year, the number had been rising steadily since 1999.
New York has one of the highest hate group counts, at 47, though Polok says the totals tend to track with population. Florida, California and Texas each have more than 50 groups, while North Dakota has one.
As the Washington Post notes, many of the groups that made the list openly denounce the label. "Our listings of hate groups have nothing to do with criminality or violence," Polok told Gothamist. "It's strictly about ideology."
SPLC also singled out several new groups that cropped up in 2016 that "were almost entirely focused on Trump and seemed to live off his candidacy." Among them is New York-based The Right Stuff, associated with an alt-right blog of the same name. The blog's founder, who goes by Mike Enoch online, was recently revealed to be a website developer named Mike Peinovich. As Enoch, Slate details how Peinovich often discussed deporting Muslims and African Americans, and killing Jews.
Peinovich's followers reportedly learned his identity last month, and were shocked to learn that his wife is Jewish. Soon afterwards, apparently to re-confirm his alt-right views, Peinovich crashed Shia LaBeouf's (recently nixed) anti-Trump live stream project outside the Queens Museum.
SPLC also posits that their count doesn't account for the full scale and reach of hate groups in America, since so much activity takes place online these days. Dylann Roof, who was convicted last year of killing nine black people inside of a church in Charleston, South Carolina, developed his white supremacism on the internet.
There was a drop in hate group rallies last year, with most taking place in the immediate aftermath of the presidential election. "There hardly seemed a reason to organize their own rallies," Potok posits, "when extremists could attend a Trump event filled with just as much establishment vitriol as any extremist rally."
Also today, the New York City Commission on Human Rights announced a 60 percent increase in discrimination complaints in 2016. The commission also filed 883 cases in 2016, up from 824 the year before.
"While we believe the rise in xenophobic rhetoric on the national level is likely a contributing factor to the increase in discrimination reports in NYC, the Commission additionally has made great strides over the last year to ensure that vulnerable communities across the city understand their rights and recognize the Commission as a venue for justice," said spokesman Seth Hoy.