By Renee Lewis / Al Jazeera America / Nov. 6, 2015
The hacktivist group Anonymous on Thursday released of a list of at least 1,000 names of alleged Ku Klux Klan members. Experts who track hate group activity in the United States said the focus on the KKK ignores other, more powerful white supremacist groups operating around the country.
Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), says the KKK has been declining for decades and now has only some 40,000 members nationwide in “divided” and “squabbling” groups.
“Today the Klan members are almost universally rural, working-class or below. They tend to be very uneducated, and often the groups are made up of a man, his family, and his neighbors,” Potok said.
The SPLC tracks some 1,600 extremist groups in the U.S., from anti-immigrant to black separatist organizations. But among the most active and powerful white supremacist groups are Christian Identity, in addition to neo-Nazi, racist skinhead, and white nationalist groups.
Below is a summary of SPLC information on the origin, activities and membership of some groups.
Based on a racist interpretation of the Bible, Christian Identity has about 50,000 members. It views nonwhites as having no souls and Jews as descendants of Satan. Other racist and anti-Semitic groups have mimicked the organization’s beliefs.
Christian Identity was connected to incidents of domestic terrorism in the 1990s. In 1995, an Oklahoma Identity leader, Willie Ray Lampley, planned to carry out a series of bombings in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, according to a report by the Anti-Defamation League.
The death of influential leaders and aggressive policing by law enforcement has led to recent declines in membership, especially among youths.
These groups are connected by a shared hatred for Jews, although they also hate minority groups including the LGBT community, immigrants, and some Christians. Neo-Nazis admire Adolf Hitler and some hope to create a new fascist political state similar to Nazi Germany.
The largest of these groups is the National Socialist Movement, which specializes in theatrical protests in which members wear Nazi uniforms — attracting substantial media coverage. The National Alliance is another prominent group, but its ranks have been declining since the death of its leader, William Pierce. Pierce infamously authored “The Turner Diaries,” about a futuristic race war, which some say inspired the Oklahoma City bombing.
White nationalist groups:
The Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) group evolved out of an older group called the White Citizens Council, which fought desegregation in the 1950s and 1960s. The St. Louis–based CCC’s mission statement remains similar to that of its parent organization, which says it opposes “all efforts to mix the races of mankind.”
Another white nationalist group, the Pioneer Fund, founded in 1937, focuses on linking race and intelligence and has given large grants to racist “scientists” to study the topic. In 2012, members of the group ran as candidates in U.S. political races, none of which were successful. Although it changed its name in 2013 to the American Freedom Party, in an apparent attempt to have a broader, political appeal, the group was widely discredited as racist during 2014 elections.
Racist skinhead groups:
Volksfront, founded in prison by leader Randal Krager, is one of the country’s most important skinhead groups. It had over a dozen chapters across the country in 2012, but in the same year Krager shut down all U.S. operations after a law enforcement crackdown on the group following neo-Nazi Wade Page’s 2012 mass murder at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
Die Auserwahlten, another skinhead group whose name translates to “the chosen few,” was formed in Pleasanton, Nebraska, in 2013. The group had a short but violent history. The same year it was founded, its leader, Jonathan “Monster” Schmidt, was arrested for allegedly pulling a man from his vehicle and fracturing his skull. Another member, Jeremy Moody, was arrested around the same time in South Carolina for the alleged murder of a local man who was a registered sex offender.