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Hate Groups

NCJ Number
S E Thompson
Date Published
112 pages
This overview of hate groups considers the historical rise of hate groups, the nature of hate groups, hate crimes and violence, messages of hate within the parameters of free speech, and ways to challenge and reduce hate in communities.
The introduction notes that judging a person strictly on appearance or background is called prejudice, and prejudice arises most often in connection with race, religion, ethnic background, or sexual orientation. People who share fears, prejudices, and a need for quick solutions and easy targets sometimes join together in a hate group. Hate group members affirm their prejudices in uniting against people of a different race, religion, ethnic background, or sexual orientation. An overview of the history of hate groups begins with the Know- Nothings, who targeted Roman Catholic immigrants in the mid- 1800's for hate activities, including stoning their homes, burning their churches, and forcibly preventing them from voting. Histories of other hate groups focus on the Ku Klux Klan, which intimidated, vandalized, and murdered African-Americans in the South after the Civil War. The activities of the Klan are traced up through the challenges to segregation in the 1950's and 1960's. Other hate groups discussed are the Nazis in Germany, contemporary neo-Nazis in America, the Skinheads, and Christian Identity, organized by Wesley Swift to promulgate the belief that whites are the only true children of God. The section on the nature of hate groups addressed their fears, the importance of symbols to hate groups, the secrecy and mystery they foster about themselves, and the means they use to recruit new members and gain influence in the political arena. The section on hate crimes and violence provides statistics on hate crime in the United States from 1989-1992 and profiles the activities of the most violent groups, skinheads and other neo-Nazi groups. Also discussed are weapons stockpiles, racist motives, and the victims of hate. Another major section focuses on how the constitutional right of freedom of speech has been interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court (the St. Paul case) to protect even cross-burning by the Ku Klux Klan in front of a person's house. The section on "Turning Off the Hate" suggests how to punish and weaken hate- group members through the law and how to organize communities to challenge and undermine the messages and activities of hate groups. 27 references, a list of organizations to contact, 7 suggestions for further reading, and a subject index