Last week, the Southern Poverty Law Center released its annual report, “The Year in Hate and Extremism 2021.”
The group, which trains and shares intelligence with law enforcement on hate and anti-government extremist groups, makes clear this year’s report is different. It comes in the wake of the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol — an event involving a number of the groups tracked by the SPLC. The event brought home a disturbing reality, the SPLC says in its report: “that extremist leaders can mobilize large groups of Americans to use force and intimidation to impose their political will.”
“The reactionary and racist beliefs that propelled a mob into the Capitol that day have not dissipated,” the report reads. “Instead, they’ve coalesced into a political movement that is now one of the most powerful forces shaping politics in the United States.”
Rallying around “big lie” conspiracy theories about a stolen 2020 election, the report says, hard right extremists have found a new mainstream respectability within the Republican party and, while disrupting public school board and local government meetings around the country, routed moderates within the party itself.
This week, a by-the-numbers look at the SPLC’s new report and some of the implications of its findings.
(Sources: Southern Poverty Law Center, Rasmussen Reports, Chicago Project on Security & Threats)
1,221 – the number of active hate and anti-government groups documented by the SPLC across the U.S. in 2021
733 – the number of active hate groups the SPLC counts among that number (that’s down from for the third year in a row, from a historic high of 1,020 in 2018)
488 – the number of active anti-government groups the SPLC documented in 2021 (that too is down from 566 in 2020)
While those declining numbers are welcome, the SPLC warns that it likely represents people previously attracted to fringe hate and anti-government extremist groups now operating more openly in traditional politics. The group cites studies showing extremist beliefs being adopted by a growing percentage of Republicans.
49 – the percentage of likely voters who said they agree with the idea advanced by groups like the Proud Boys, conservative media pundits, and Republicans elected officials that protesters arrested during the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol were being held as “political prisoners,” according to a September survey by Rasmussen Reports
“Extremist organizing doesn’t need to take place in fringe hate groups when right-wing extremist narratives circulate widely, and their proponents hold real institutional and social power,” the SPLC report notes.
72 – the number of active Proud Boy chapters documented by the SPLC in 2021 (that’s up from 43 in 2020)
114 – the number of public events where the Proud Boys had a documented presence in 2021, according to the SPLC report (they largely targeting local governments and community institutions such as public schools, according to the report)
775 – the total number of people so far arrested or charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack
40 – the number of known Proud Boys members arrested in connection with the attack
An analysis by the Chicago Project on Security & Threats, an international security affairs institute at the University of Chicago, examined the 716 arrested by January of this year. They came from 46 states, according to the analysis.
95 – the percentage of those people who were white, according to the same analysis
86 – the percentage of those people who were male, according to the same analysis