Hate group

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A hate group is an organized group or movement that advocates hate, hostility, or violence towards members of a race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or other designated sector of society, or that supports and publishes assertions and argumentation characteristic of hate groups without necessarily explicitly advocating such hate or violence that otherwise characterize hate groups. The term "hate group" is a political neologism. It is not used by these groups themselves, but rather by those who oppose them, and sometimes by sociologists or historians who study them.[citation needed] Many groups described this way disagree with the term as misconstruing their motives or goals. In the term itself, and discussion of the groups, the word "hate" is often used to denote what is in fact bigotry, a symptom of the continuing equivocation between the two concepts.

Hate groups usually assert that the targets of their attacks are harmful to society, malicious, less fit to be members of society, or are operating some hidden cabal. The evidence hate groups present for these assertions is usually poorly corroborated, and is often based explicitly on the hate group's negative beliefs about the social groups to which the target is or is imagined to belong, e.g., groups based on race, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, etc.

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 delegitimization, 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.

How hate groups work

Hate groups often disseminate historically inaccurate or distorted 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 and black supremacist, are commonly described as hate groups.

Two main elements are present in hate group literature and tactics:

  • Dehumanizing or demonizing the target;

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, pseudoscientific, partisan, or one-sided on closer examination.

Violence by hate groups

The California Association for Human Relations Organizations (CAHRO) asserts that mainstream hate-groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, New Black Panther Party 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 chatrooms, and hate propaganda distribution networks designed to transform the fear 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.

Joseph E. Agne wrote an article in which he sees hate violence as a result of the successes of the Civil Rights Movement and asserts that the Ku Klux Klan has resurfaced and new hate groups have formed. Agne talks about the use of propaganda via the use of magazines, songs, the Internet, cable TV, comic books, and other media to carry messages of hate. Hate Groups also 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.[1]

Verbal violence

Dr. Ehud Sprinzak, 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

By characterizing speech acts as "violence", anti-hate groups have attempted to sideline freedom of speech objections to the silencing of hate groups, particularly on 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).

Psychopathology of hate groups

According to a report published in 2003 in the FBI Law Enforcement bulletin3, a hate group, if unimpeded, passes 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. The report points to a transition period that exists between verbal violence and acting that violence out, separating hard-core haters from rhetorical haters. Thus, hate speech are seen as prerequisites of hate crimes and as a condition of their possibility. Similar stages have been proposed for genocide.

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 who otherwise would be ineffective become empowered when they form or join groups. In addition, groups provide a welcome anonymity in which to express 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 of 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; however, the ultimate destiny of hate is the physical and psychological destruction of both the hater and the hated.

Hate crimes & terrorism

Since terrorism is defined as using violent acts to achieve one's goal using fear, hate groups at stages 6 and 7 may be classified as terrorist groups.[citation needed] These groups are typically characterized as being increasingly dangerous and extremist. Alleged terror groups such as Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah began as small groups that followed the steps of the typical hate group.[citation needed]

"Hate itself is not a crime...However, the federal government can and does investigate and prosecute crimes of bias as civil rights violations, which do fall under its jurisdiction."[2] “Crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, including the crimes of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter; forcible rape; robbery; aggravated assault; burglary; larceny-theft; motor vehicle theft; arson; simple assault; intimidation; and destruction, damage or vandalism of property”[3] directed at the U.S. government involving hate groups and hate crimes may be investigated as acts of domestic terrorism[4] including hate crimes targeting any segment of the American population, an individual, a business, or institution[5] "whether or not the offender's perception of the victim as a member or supporter of a protected group is correct.”[6]

Federal investigations of hate crimes are primarily predicated on five federal statutes:

1) Title 18, United States Code (U.S.C.), Section 241 (Conspiracy Against Rights);

2) Title 18, U.S.C., Section 245 (Interference with Federally Protected Activities);

3) Title 18, U.S.C., Section 247 (Damage to Religious Property; Obstruction in Free Exercise of Religious Beliefs);

4) Title 42, U.S.C., Section 3631 (Criminal Interference with Right to Fair Housing). 5) Title 18, U.S.C., Section 844 (h) (Using Explosives or Fire in the Commission of a Felony)

The federal government does not have jurisdiction to investigate hate crimes motivated by a sexual orientation bias. Investigations of hate crimes motivated by a disability bias are generally limited to incidents interfering with the victim's fair housing rights.[7]

Hate groups on the Internet

In the mid-1990s, the popularity of the Internet brought new international exposure to many organizations, including groups with beliefs such as white supremacists, homophobia activists, Holocaust deniers, Islamophobes 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. Targets of such attacks include Ken McVay, founder of the Nizkor Project; and Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Hate groups and the anti-cult movement

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.

Some new religious movements (NRMs) have seized upon anti-cult movement (ACM) critique and what they see as hostile acts of their unfavorable former members, and cited them as examples of religious intolerance, persecution, and bigotry.

CESNUR’s president Massimo Introvigne, writes in his article "So many evil things: Anti-cult terrorism via the Internet"[8], that fringe and extreme anti-cult activism resort to tactics that may create a background favorable to extreme manifestations of discrimination and hate against individuals that belong to new religious movements. Somewhat in concurrence with Introvigne, professor Eileen Barker asserts that the controversy surrounding certain new religious movements can turn violent by a process called deviancy amplification spiral.[9]

"Normalization" of hate groups

Using the pervasiveness of the Internet, hate groups are promoting a more "professional" veneer which may appear as more scientific and intellectual 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 claim to address intolerance and hate groups are the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)[10] and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).[11] The ADL and the SPLC maintain a list of what they deem to be hate groups, to be supremacist groups, anti-Semitic, anti-government or extremist groups that have committed "hate crimes."

"Hate group" as a label

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 pejorative characterization slung against one's opponents has come to be used by a wide variety of people and groups:

  • Scientologist Bob Lippman called the old Cult Awareness Network a "hate group"[12];
  • Gay rights activists and some progressive Christians label Christian conservative groups such as the American Family Association, Family Research Council, NARTH, and Concerned Women for America as hate groups.[citation needed]
  • The Westboro Baptist Church is also considered a hate group by gay rights activists and many others, since this particular hate group is publicly against the Irish, Americans, Swedes, Canadians, and many others, although their main platform calls for the demise of gay people.[13]


  1. The Church's Response to Hate-Group Violence
  2. Federal Bureau of Investigation - Civil Rights - Hate Crime Overview - FBI Jurisdiction [1]
  3. The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program - Data Quality Guidelines for Statistics - APPENDIX III—A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE HATE CRIME PROGRAM [2]
  4. Federal Bureau of Investigation - Civil Rights - Hate Crime Overview - The FBI’s Role [3]
  5. Hate Crime Statistics, 2006 [4]
  6. 1999 Developing Hate Crime Questions for the National Crime Victim Survey (NCVS) Pg. 1 [5]
  7. HATE CRIMES [6]
  8. CESNUR - "So Many Evil Things": Anti-Cult Terrorism via the Internet
  9. Fathom :: The Source for Online Learning
  10. ADL: Fighting Anti-Semitism, Bigotry and Extremism. Retrieved on 2008-04-13.
  11. SPLCenter.org...forwarding to index.jsp. Retrieved on 2008-04-13.
  12. CNN - Group that once criticized Scientologists now owned by one - Dec. 19, 1996
  13. The year in hate 2005, Southern Poverty Law Center.


  • Sprinzak, Ehud. Brother against Brother: Violence and Extremism in Israeli Politics from Altalena to the Rabin Assassination. New York: The Free Press (1999)
  • Goldhagen, Daniel Jonah, Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans the Holocaust (Knopf, 1996), p. 124.
  • Schafer,John R. MA & Navarro. Joe, MA . The seven-stage hate model: The psychopathology of hate groups. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, March 2003[1]
  • Denning, Dorothy E., and Peter J. Denning. Internet Besieged: Countering Cyberspace Scofflaws. New York: ACM Press (1998)
  • Perry, Barbara - ‘Button-Down Terror’: The Metamorphosis of the Hate Movement. Sociological Focus Vol. 33 (No. 2, May 2000): 113.
  • Jessup, Michael The Sword of Truth in the Sea of Lies: The Theology of Hate, Google Print, p.165-p.166, in Robert J. Priest, Alvaro L. Nieves (ed.), This Side of Heaven, Oxford University Press US, 2006, ISBN 019531056X
  • J. Wayne Dudley, Phylon, Vol. 42, No. 3 (3rd Qtr., 1981), pp. 262-274 (JSTOR)

See also

External links


*Some information provided in whole or in part by http://en.wikipedia.org/
  1. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin,The: The seven-stage hate model: the psychopathology of hate groups