The number of hate groups in the US increased to 1,018 in 2011, up from 1,002 in 2010 and 602 in 2000. The "striking" rise is fuelled by "superheated fears generated by economic dislocation, a proliferation of demonizing conspiracy theories, the changing racial makeup of America, and the prospect of four more years under a black president who many on the far right view as an enemy to their country," according to the report.
The SPLC has kept track of such groups for 30 years, and has traced the steady rise of organizations that stand against specific racial, religious, sexual or other characteristics, The New York Times reported. Anti-gay groups, for example, now number 27 this year, up from 17 in 2010.
The study also found surprising growth in the number of anti-government organizations known as patriot groups, which do not usually meet the center's definition of a hate group, Slate reported. There were 1,274 such active organizations in the United States last year, a sharp rise from 824 in 2010, according to the report.
“They represent both a kind of right-wing populist rage and a left-wing populist rage that has gotten all mixed up in anger toward the government,” Mark Potok, the author of the report, told the Times.
The FBI counted 6,624 hate crimes in 2010 in the United States, the Huffington Post reported. The agency has yet to calculate 2011's statistics.
The US government does not monitor groups that participate in hate-based speech; its' focus is on paramilitary groups and others that have shown some indication of violence, Daryl Johnson, a former senior domestic terrorism analyst for the Department of Homeland Security, told the Times.
The states with the largest numbers of active hate groups are California, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey and New York, according to the report's "hate map."
The SPLC is a nonprofit organization based in Alabama that fights against racism and intolerance.