Hate group

From Academic Kids

A hate group is an organized group or movement that advocates hate, hostility or violence towards one or more groups of people or organizations upon spurious grounds, despite a wider consensus that these people are not necessarily better or worse than any others.
Hate groups usually assert that the targets of their attacks are harmful to society, malicious, less fit to be members of society, or operating some hidden cabal, usually presenting poorly-corroborated "evidence" with the target's intrinsic religion, belief, race, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability being the common element. The evidence is usually tied together by arguing either that members of the target group are guilty by definition or overwhelmingly tend to be guilty (making blanket statements against the group possible).

Some hate groups try to reduce criticism by saying that not all individuals in their target groups are this way, or that they do not "hate" or wish to hurt them. But that rarely prevents the hate group from asserting that they view all members of the target group, and the group itself, as a problem.

Although their evidence is usually inaccurate, sub-standard and widely rejected by society, the hate group continues to propagate assertions, myths, narratives and rumours, playing upon fear, xenophobia, blame or jealousy, with the aim of harming the individuals and groups they target, and inciting others to distrust or hate them also. The ultimate aim of a hate group is commonly the de-legitimization, elimination, and exclusion of groups, or the harm, deportation, or death of individuals. Hate groups often use their victims as scapegoats to blame for discontent in society.

Webster's dictionary (1913 edition) defines hate as "To have a great aversion to, with a strong desire that evil should befall the person toward whom the feeling is directed; to dislike intensely; to detest; as, to hate one's enemies; to hate hypocrisy."

How hate groups work

Hate groups disseminate historically inaccurate information about these persons or organizations. This inaccurate information is used for vilification or may be the reason for hostility. Typically, they prejudge each individual in the target group as "unworthy" or "inferior" and want to exclude or hurt them. A hate group commonly works to achieve its goals using fear, hate, and intimidation as its modus operandi (or commonly used methods). In the democratic West, organizations dedicated to the incitement of racial violence, including white supremacist, black supremacist are commonly described as hate groups. Generally, these groups do not avoid classification; they openly admit hating their targets. Sometimes Al-Qaeda, an Islamic terrorist organization, is classified as a hate group.[1] (http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,182746,00.html) Two main elements are present in hate group literature and tactics:

  • Dehumanizing or demonizing the target;
  • Conspiracy theories, possibly not well backed up or referenced;

Some people claim, without referring to scholarly works, that there are two additional characterizations:

  • Claiming to be a minority that speaks for a silent majority;
  • Proclamation of scholarly or scientific support for their theories. The support may turn out to be non-existent, pseudo scientific, partisan, or one-sided on closer examination.

Hate groups throughout history

Violence by hate groups

The California Association for Human Relations Organizations (CAHRO) asserts that mainstream hate-groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and the White Aryan Resistance preach violence against racial, religious, sexual and other minorities in the USA. These groups have hate hotlines, Internet websites and chartrooms, and a hate propaganda distribution networks designed to transform the fears of the economically challenged, the paranoid and the ignorant into violence, and to brutalize minorities and vandalize their property. They further assert that pseudo-mainstream hate groups are perhaps the most dangerous. Most of the population automatically tunes out messages from known racist groups like the Ku Klux Klan, because they know what their agenda is, but groups with a mainstream cover, who use mainstream terminology to spread their message, can find a much wider audience and thus be more dangerous.

An article by Joseph E. Agne, sees hate violence as a result of the successes of the Civil Rights Movement and assert that the Ku Klux Klan has resurfaced and new hate groups formed. The article talks about the use of propaganda via the use of magazines, songs, the Internet, cable TV, comic books, and other media to carry their message of hate. They field political candidates and boast of leaders at the highest levels of churches, corporations, and institutions. Agne asserts that it is a mistake to underestimate the strength of the hate-violence movement, its apologists, and its silent partners. [2] (http://gbgm-umc.org/advance/Church-Burnings/hategrup.html#consult)

Verbal violence

Dr. Ehud Sprinzak (http://t8web.lanl.gov/people/rajan/CT2002/BIO/sprinzak.htm) an expert in terrorism and hate crimes asserts that verbal violence is "the use of extreme language against an individual or a group that either implies a direct threat that physical force will be used against them, or is seen as an indirect call for others to use it." Sprinzak argues that verbal violence is often a substitute for real violence, and that the verbalization of hate has the potential to incite people who are incapable of distinguishing between real and verbal violence to engage in actual violence1.

Historian Daniel Goldhagen discussing anti-semitic hate groups, argues that we should view "verbal violence ... as an assault in its own right, having been intended to produce profound damage–emotional, psychological, and social–to the dignity and honor of the Jews. The wounds that people suffer by ... such vituperation ... can be as bad as ... a ... beating."2

Verbal violence and the Internet

In 1996, the Simon Wiesenthal Center of Los Angeles asked Internet access providers to adopt a "code of ethics" that would prevent extremists from publishing their ideas online. Internet providers that adopt the code would refuse service to individuals or groups that "promote violence and mayhem, denigrate and threaten minorities and women, and promote homophobia." In the same year, America Online Inc. said it may face charges in Germany for permitting German citizens to access neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic material on the global computer network (Los Angeles Times, 3 February 1996.)

The European Commission (EC) formed in 1996 the Consultative Commission on Racism and Xenophobia (CRAX), a pan-European group to "encourage the mixing of people of different cultures" from both inside and outside Europe, tasked to "investigate and, using legal means, stamp out the current wave of racism on the Internet" and hoping that the EC "will take all needed measures to prevent the Internet from becoming a vehicle for the incitement of racist hatred" (Newsbytes News Network, 31 January 1996).

See also Hate speech.

Psychopathology of hate groups

According to a report published in 2003 in the FBI Law Enforcement bulletin3, a hate group, if unimpeded, pass through seven successive stages of hate. In the first four stages, hate groups vocalize their beliefs and in the last three stages, they act on their beliefs. They point to a transition period that exists between verbal violence and acting that violence out, separating hard-core haters from rhetorical haters.

Stage 1: Grouping

Haters feel compelled to have others hate as they do. Through peer validation, they get a sense of self-worth and at the same time prevent introspection. Individuals that otherwise would be inefficient, become empowered when they form or join groups. In addition, groups provide a welcome anonymity in which to express their hate without being held accountable.

Stage 2: Self-definition

Hate groups create identities through symbols, mythologies, and rituals, designed to enhance the members' status and at the same time, degrade the object of their hate.

Stage 3: Disparaging the target

By verbally debasing the object of their hate, haters enhance their self-image, as well as their group status. Researchers have found that the more often a person thinks about aggression, the greater the chance for aggressive behavior to occur. Thus, after constant verbal denigration, haters progress to the next stage.

Stage 4: Taunting the target

Time cools the fire of hate forcing the hater to look inward. To avoid introspection, haters increase their use their rhetoric and violence to maintain high levels of agitation. Taunts and offensive gestures serve this purpose.

Stage 5: Attacking without weapons

This stage is critical because it differentiates vocally abusive haters from physically abusive ones. Violence coalesces hate groups and isolates them from mainstream society. The element of thrill-seeking appears in this stage. The adrenaline "high" intoxicates the attackers. Each successive hate derived thought or action triggers a more violent response than the one that originally initiated the sequence. Anger builds on anger. Adrenaline-high combined with hate becomes a deadly combination.

Stage 6: Attacking with weapons

Some attackers use firearms to commit hate crimes, while others prefer close-contact weapons. Requiring the attacker to be close to the victim, shows the personal-anger aspects of hate. Some attackers choose to discharge firearms at a distance, thus avoiding personal contact. Personal contact empowers and fulfills the deep-seated need of the hater to have dominance over the object of their hate.

Stage 7: Destroying the target

The ultimate goal of haters is to destroy the object of their hate. With the power over life and death comes a great sense of self-worth and value, the very qualities haters lack, however, the ultimate destiny of hate is the physically and psychologically destruction of both the hater and the hated.

Hate groups on the Internet

In the mid-1990s, the popularity of the Internet brought new international exposure to many organizations, including groups with extremist beliefs such as white supremacists, Holocaust deniers, and other groups. A number of authority figures stated publicly that the Internet allowed hate groups to introduce their messages to a widespread audience, and it was feared that their memberships would gain in popularity and numbers as a result. Some scholars suggest that the information overload brought forth by the Internet may be manipulated for the purpose of damaging specific groups or organizations.

Since the advent of the Internet, a common tactic by hate groups is the use of Cyberstalking. Several white supremacist groups have founded Web sites dedicated to attacking their perceived enemies, such as Ken McVay, founder of the Nizkor Project; or Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center. These web sites, which gather "dirt" on their targets and claim to reveal the "truth," have been known to resort to slander and libel to attack their foes.

Hate groups and new religious movements

White nationalists and white supremacists have created a number of religions. William Pierce, founder of the National Alliance, also founded the religion of Cosmotheism. The former "World Church of the Creator", now renamed the Creativity Movement, is led by Matthew F. Hale and is tied to violence and bigotry.

New religious movements have seized upon the hostile acts of their former members and cited them as examples of religious intolerance, persecution and bigotry. See also Apostasy in new religious movements and New religious movements and their critics.

"Normalization" of hate groups

Using the pervasiveness of the Internet, hate groups are promoting a more "professional" veneer which may appear as more scientific than hateful. This apparent normalization is considered a dangerous trend in the United States:

"..the hate movement in the United States has taken on a new, modern face. The strength of the contemporary hate movement is grounded in its ability to repackage its message in ways that make it more palatable, and in its ability to exploit the points of intersection between itself and prevailing ideological canons. In short, the hate movement is attempting to move itself into the mainstream of United States culture and politics." 5

Listing of hate groups

In the USA, two of the several organizations that try to counter intolerance and hate groups are the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The ADL and the SPLC list hate groups, supremacist groups, anti-Semitic, anti-government, or extremist groups that have committed hate crimes.

"Hate group" as a characterization

The classification of other groups as a hate group is controversial and little or no consensus has developed as to whether political, religious or anti-religious movements deserve the label hate group. The term "hate group" as a characterization slung against one's opponents has recently come to be used by a wide variety of people and groups outside the original racism area where the term arose:

  • Some advocates have applied it to some radical activists who engage in questionable and often illegal methods to achieve their goals, such as Operation Rescue. [3] (http://www.skeptictank.org/hs/or-hate.htm)
  • Other advocates who regard certain new religious movements as spurious and condemn their methods, also call them hate groups, as in the case made against Scientology. In turn, a number of new religious movements have used the term hate group to label certain former members of these groups, as in the case of the Ex-Premies.
  • In the contentious debate about SCO and Linux, Robert Enderle, from the Enderle Group, refers to Linux users as zealots and compare their behavior with those of hate groups. [4] (http://www.sco.com/2004forum/agenda/Enderle_keynote_SCO-Forum2004.html).

Generally, hate group watch organizations and governments do not consider these groups serious or violent enough to mention them in their lists.

See also New religious movement.

See also


  1. Sprinzak, Ehud. Brother against Brother: Violence and Extremism in Israeli Politics from Altalena to the Rabin Assassination. New York: The Free Press (1999)
  2. Goldhagen, Daniel Jonah, Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans the Holocaust (Knopf, 1996), p. 124.
  3. Schafer,John R. MA & Navarro. Joe, MA . The seven-stage hate model: The psychopathology of hate groups. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, March 2003 [5] (http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2194/is_3_72/ai_99696469)
  4. Denning, Dorothy E., and Peter J. Denning. Internet Besieged: Countrering Cyberspace Scofflaws. New York: ACM Press (1998)
  5. Perry, Barbara - ‘Button-Down Terror’: The Metamorphosis of the Hate Movement. Sociological Focus Vol. 33 (No. 2, May 2000): 113.

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