I'm also not surprised to learn that my home state of Missouri has at least 30 known hate groups. And I guess I always knew in the back of my mind that there were surely some racist organizations around my own area of southwest Missouri. This is the Ozarks after all, land of hillbillies and rednecks. But I was somewhat surprised, not to mention dismayed, to learn that there so many so close to me. There's something like 5 or 6 within an hour of my home!
I don't know quite how to feel about the Christian Identity brand of hate group and its connections to Norse neopagans. According to the SPLCenter:
In recent years, deep doctrinal disputes, the lack of a central church structure, and a shift among white supremacists towards agnosticism and racist variations of neo-Paganism have weakened the Identity movement and reduced the number of its adherents.
I've always been aware that a very small subset of Neopagans was of the racist variety but to see it discussed in such a matter of fact manner is chilling, to say the least. As far back as 1998 the SPLC has been discussing the racist varieties of Asatru and Odinism but did at least concede that:
Some 40 Websites are devoted to forms of Asatrú (most of them nonracist).A later 2001 interview with a Swedish expert goes farther. A professor from Stockholm, Mattias Gardell, states that there are three distinct types of Norse neopagans:
There are really three positions: the militant racists, the nonracists and, in between, a third, "ethnic" position.While I'm not of the Nordic persuasion I think Gardell did a pretty fair job of making it plain that just because one is a Norse neopagan does not necessarily mean one is a racist. He does, however, tend to lump all neopagans into one group. Or, rather, he simply leaves out the non-Norse neopagans. But as he is discussing racism within neopaganism he can perhaps be forgiven for that.
There's also another map worth visiting at the SPLC site. It's the the interactive Stand Strong Against Hate map which allows visitors to add their name and home state information in a show of tolerance. It might not really accomplish much but it is nice to see so many positive green spots on the map as opposed to the red hate group dots. Said page also has a list of recently reported hate crimes which is, again, depressing as hell but important nonetheless.
As I said on Inauguration day:
I don't know if today is the fulfillment of King's dream or just the beginning of the fulfillment of his dream.We have an African-American president; we have made great strides. But racism, religious hatred and all that goes with it are still very much alive in this country. The above links speak to that. We haven't achieved all of our progressive goals simply because Obama won the election. We've turned a corner, yes, but we still have a long way to go now that the haters of this country are redoubling their efforts.