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Number of hate groups down for third year: report

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The number of extremist hate groups in the U.S. fell for a third consecutive year in 2021 despite concerns that the Jan. 6 Capitol attack would embolden such organizations.

In its annual report, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) said it recorded 733 active hate groups in 2021, a drop of nearly 300 from when the group recorded a record high of 1,020 in 2018.

The SPLC also recorded 488 anti-government groups in 2021, a drop from the 566 groups that were recorded in 2020. For the most part, the number of anti-government groups recorded by the SPLC has dropped since spiking in 2012.

However, the nonprofit noted that these numbers may not be indicative of diminishing influence of what these groups push.

“Rather than demonstrating a decline in the power of the far right, the dropping numbers of organized hate and antigovernment groups suggest that the extremist ideas that mobilize them now operate more openly in the political mainstream,” said the SPLC.

As the organization noted, the majority of people who have been arrested for their involvement in the Jan. 6 attack were not formally tied to any hate groups, were middle-aged and received most of their news from mainstream sources. 

“Extremist organizing doesn’t need to take place in fringe hate groups when right-wing extremist narratives circulate widely, and their proponents hold real institutional and social power.”

In order to address extremism, the SPLC said the U.S. must treat extremism as a social problem that calls for investments into social programs.

Tags Extremism hate groups Southern Poverty Law Center

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