President Donald Trump’s successful campaign and election win unleashed a level of hatred not seen in the United States in decades. According to the latest annual intelligence report from civil rights advocacy group the Southern Poverty Law Center, 917 hate groups were active across the nation last year, up from 892 in 2015, and 784 in 2014. Hate-group activity burst into the open this past weekend when white nationalist groups convened on Charlottesville, Virginia. They fought with counter-protesters that led to the death of one person.
Because these groups have a tendency to hide the nature of their organizations, these tallies — while the best available numbers — likely underestimate the true levels of hate group activity. Based on data provided by SPLC, Montana leads the nation with 9.6 known active hate groups for every 1 million state residents. Indiana rounds out the list of 10 with 3.9 hate groups per 1 million. Nationwide, there are 2.8 hate groups for every 1 million Americans.
> Hate groups: 5.7/million
> Number of hate groups: 38
> Pct. pop. identifying as white: 77.7% (25th lowest)
> Pct. pop foreign born: 5.0% (21st lowest)
There are approximately 38 active hate groups in Tennessee, including 11 under the KKK umbrella. There were 221 hate crimes, mostly racially motivated incidents, reported in the state in 2015.
For members of hate groups, perhaps especially in Tennessee, the decline of the manufacturing sector and the growth of immigrant populations have perhaps helped fuel hate sentiment. According to SPLC expert Mark Potok, there is a perception among hate groups members, particularly the whites, of a lost country. These composition changes in the population and industry go against their belief that the United States ought to mostly contain and largely benefit the white population. Tennessee’s manufacturing sector remains relatively dominant, accounting for 14.4% of non-farm employment, the ninth largest share compared with other states. But the number of Tennessee manufacturing jobs has dropped by 16.7% since 2006, one of the larger such declines in the nation. Tennessee has a relatively small foreign-born population, at just 5.0% of the population. Of foreign-born Tennesseans, 63.6% are not U.S. citizens, the seventh highest such share.
Active hate groups in the United State rose dramatically after former President Barack Obama’s election in 2008. According to SPLC’s count, the number of hate groups surged 800% from 2008 to 2012, when the tally peaked at 1,360 groups. Obama’s race likely led to the hate group spike in 2012. SPLC’s observations suggest the promotion of far-right radicalism in Trump’s campaign rhetoric led to the more recent rise in hate crimes.