The number of anti-government “patriot” groups, including paramilitary hate organizations, reached an all-time high in 2012, fanned by President Barack Obama’s reelection and talk of gun control following the Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre, according to a report issued Tuesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center amd reported upon by Huffington Post:
“Patriot groups — those dedicated to federal government overthrow in the belief it will confiscate weapons and impose socialism — expanded in number and size for the fourth consecutive year, the law center said. The groups’ recruiting was fueled by the sluggish economy, anxieties about the country’s shifting demographics and their ability to push their ideas and conspiracy theories into the mainstream, the report said. The growth intensified at the end of 2012 with the election and the school massacre.
“As in the period before the Oklahoma City bombing, we now are seeing ominous threats from those who believe that the government is poised to take their guns,” wrote Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center and a member of the Department of Homeland Security working group on violent extremism.
“The Southern Poverty Law Center, a Montgomery, Ala.-based nonprofit that monitors hate groups and crimes, said in a letter to U.S. Attorney Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that patriot groups now hold the potential for a wave of domestic terrorism. The groups overshadow the danger posed by more traditional hate groups — neo-Nazis and others dedicated against blacks, Latinos, Catholics and Muslims, for example, the report found. The group’s letter urged federal officials to create a new task force to assess federal resources devoted to the threat.”