A BEAUTIFUL spring day in East Texas — the sun not even yet hinting at summer temperatures to come, new foliage turned from pale into a uniform shade of green — God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world.
Really, it doesn’t get any better than this.
But looking at a report that arrived in the mail last week, I’m reminded that there’s always that worm in the apple.
The spring report of the Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Montgomery, Ala., leads off with a story that U. S. hate groups now number more than1,000, and are found in all the lower 48 states.
Only organizations and their chapters known to be active during 2010 are included.
THE SPLC Report asserts that all hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics — another way to say “things you can’t change, like skin color.”
This list was compiled using hate group publications and websites, citizen and law enforcement reports, field sources and news reports.
It defined hate group activities as including criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing. Websites appearing to be merely the work of a single individual, rather than the publication of a group, are not included.
THERE IS ALSO the caveat that the SPLC’s listing does not imply a group advocates or engages in violence or other criminal activity.
Texas is reported to have 59 hate groups, more than any other state except California, which is said to have 68. Florida comes in third with 49 and Mississippi fourth with 40.
Wills Point, home of the Aryan Nation 88, a neo-Nazi group, joins Forney among the smallest Texas towns hosting hate groups.
Forney, along with Marshall, Longview and “the Ark-La-Tex region,” is the home of the United White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which can be found in 19 Texas places.
TYLER AND Lubbock are said to have the neo-Nazi National National Socialist Movement.
You could find the Confederate Hammerskins, defined as racist skinheads, in Dallas.
Lest you think the hate groups might be defined as white racists, consider this: A black separatist movement, the Nation of Islam, has chapters in Houston, Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth. The National Black Foot Soldier Network has units in Houston, Dallas and Beaumont, and the New Black Panther Party calls Houston home.
There are no hate groups shown on the SPLC map north of Lubbock, west of Midland-Odessa or south of San Antonio.
THIS IS because they are clustered around the biggest cities (Forney is in the Dallas metro area, or Metroplex, as the locals now call D/FW.)
Mark Potok, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project, is quoted:
“Far-right extremists remain highly energized, even as politicians across the country co-opt many of the radical ideas and issues that are important to them.
“This success in having their voices heard in the political arena, where they have long occupied the fringe of conservative thought, might eventually take the wind out of their sails, but so far we’re not seeing any sign of that. We are, however, seeing increasing violence from radical-right extremists.”
These extremists may be “energized” but they are flying under the radar as far as getting public attention. You’re not likely to see a KKK meeting notice in any of our area newspapers.
A shame, too, for the bright light of publicity could help run them out of town, a consummation devoutly to be wished, as old Will Shakespeare might have put it.