Carrie Johnson of the Washington Post offers "Bad Economy May Fuel Hate Groups, Experts Warn/Experts Warn That Downturn Could Drive Discontent, Help Extremists Recruit" (link), which is basically the same article as that offered by Jesse Washington of the AP and others back in November, albeit updated for the current economic conditions. She starts out with the possibility that Obama's win, immigration, and the slumping economy could lead to rising membership in "hate" groups. Aside from the "experts" quoted, she provides no evidence in support of her assertion, and at the end she provides current statistics that don't show a massive uptick in "hate". And:
1. The much greater crime wave to be unleashed by the recession involves simple economic crimes such as muggings. Would Johnson write an article looking into past rises in violent crime during recessions? No doubt there will be more victims of such economic crimes in a week than in all "hate" crimes over the next few years, but - oddly enough - that's completely off the WaPo's radar. And, even if they looked into that, would they look into the races of the perpetrators and the victims, and do so in such a racist way as the current article? We know the answer to that.
2. Johnson does not provide any context for this:
The number of U.S. hate groups has increased by 48 percent, to 888, since 2000, according to experts at the Southern Poverty Law Center, an independent organization that monitors racist movements... Although questions persist about the ability of such groups to carry out violent plans, several recent national developments have combined to worry analysts, said Mark Potok, chief of the law center's Intelligence Project. In addition to the economic downturn, he cited rising immigration, demographic changes that predict whites will not be a majority within a few decades, and what some might see as "the final insult -- a black man in the White House."
What Carrie Jonson forgot to mention is that the SPLC's definition of a "hate" group is rather fluid, and it basically means any group that opposes the SPLC; the rise in their numbers is more a reflection of them lashing out at those who oppose them. Johnson also forgot to mention that Mark Potok has been caught misleading about statistics in the past. And, when discussing immigration matters, it would be helpful to point out that the SPLC has an indirect link to the Mexican government. Note that Potok was also involved in the earlier wave of similar articles.
3. Johnson forgot to mention whether any of the quote sources have a financial incentive to hype "hate". The more hype they can gin up, the more the SPLC receives in donations, and they currently have millions and millions of dollars on hand. She also quotes sources from the Bureau of Alchohol Tobacco and Firearms; they may be completely sincere, or they too might be trying to hype "hate" in order to obtain funding for their projects.
Sun, 01/11/2009 - 22:25 · Importance: 4