30 Faces of Domestic Hate Groups

Southern Poverty Law Center puts a ‘hate watch’ on America’s leading extremists.
From left to Right: anti-gay Christian extremist Jason “Molotov” Mitchell, former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, anti-Muslimist Pamela Geller, and Holocaust “agnostic” Prof. Kevin MacDonald.
May 25, 2012· 2 MIN READ
Originally from Baltimore, Oliver lives and writes on a quiet, tree-lined street in Brooklyn.

Kevin MacDonald isn’t your typical white supremacist. The 68-year-old professor of psychology was once an anti-Vietnam War activist and aspiring jazz pianist. Much of his early research studied how parents interact and play with children. In 1995, he was honored with a Distinguished Faculty award from Cal State University in Long Beach.

Aside from that, MacDonald has also published a trilogy of books that, in part, argue Jews have historically engaged in “group evolutionary behavior” at the expense of others. Not surprisingly, neo-Nazi organizations have touted MacDonald as a new intellectual leader. This perception was solidified in 2000, when MacDonald testified on behalf of a Holocaust denier and was quoted saying he was “agnostic” on the Holocaust.

The real change, according to the SPLC’s Potok, has been the rise of “Patriot Groups,” militia organizations that have been forming ever since the 2008 election.

MacDonald is just one of the “Thirty New Activists on the Radical Right” named by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in its Summer 2012 issue of Intelligence Report.

Keeping MacDonald company on the list are familiar names like David Duke, former Ku Klux Klan leader and runner-up for governor of Louisiana in 1991, and newcomers like Jason “Molotov” Mitchell, a 32-year-old former wedding videographer and Christian extremist who gained a following for his viral videos endorsing the hanging of homosexuals and subjugation of women.

It’s the second such list for the SPLC, which issued “40 to Watch” in 2003. Founded by civil rights lawyers Morris Dees and Joseph J. Levin Jr. in 1971, the center has a long history of fighting discrimination cases in the United States. Some of its earliest victories were against the KKK. SPLC’s innovative 1981 Klanwatch project (which monitored Klan activities) has evolved into Hatewatch, which monitors a wider range of domestic organizations promoting intolerance and discrimination.

Mark Potok, the editor-in-chief of Intelligence Report, tells TakePart that there’s been a considerable shift in the radical right since the SPLC’s 2003 assessment of the movement’s leadership. This year’s list has expanded to include a number of anti-gay leaders, such as Christian extremist Lou Engle, and revisionist historian David Barton, who unlike the others, isn’t affiliated with any one group. In addition, more women are making the hate right grade, such as Pamela Geller, an anti-Muslimist blogger.

The real change, according to the SPLC’s Potok, has been the rise of “Patriot Groups,” militia organizations that have been forming ever since the 2008 election.

“In many ways, we’re in the middle of a radical right that is exploding in the past three years since Obama has been in office,” says Potok. “This is our attempt to pull together a snapshot of who are the really important people on the radical right today, a very different group than the one we looked at about a decade ago.”

With any luck, the SPLC’s new list will have the same impact as its 2003 version. Then, the radical right was dominated by a few major groups, principally the World Church of the Creator, National Alliance and Aryan Nations. To hear Potok tell it, the Intelligence Report article helped spell the end of these racist organizations.

“Each one of those groups has been decapitated and very nearly destroyed in the last 10 years,” says Potok. “In the case of Aryan Nations, we sued them in 2000 and pretty much crushed the organization, and then its leader died in 2004. After the leader of the National Alliance [William Pierce] died in 2002, we wrote a piece that revealed embarrassing details about the alliance and created many splits in the organization. Now the National Alliance is very much a shadow of its former self, like the Aryan Nations.”

“As for World Church of the Creator, which is a neo-Nazi skinhead organization that fell to pieces in 2003, its leader, Matt Hale, was sent to federal prison for soliciting the murder of a federal judge,” says Potok, adding dryly, “which is a bad thing to do, if you get caught.”

Have you had any personal experiences with the radical right? Let us know in the COMMENTS.