Domestic terrorism and hate groups

BCJ 4201, Race and Ethnic Relations 1
Course Learning Outcomes for Unit VI
Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:
5. Examine law enforcement response strategies to the War on Terror within multicultural communities.
5.1 Discuss the relationship between domestic terrorism and hate groups.
Course/Unit Learning Outcomes
Learning Activity
Unit Lesson
Article: “Understanding the Terrorist Mind”
Book: Understanding terrorism in America: From the Klan to Al Qaeda, pp. 23–52
Unit VI Assessment
Required Unit Resources
There are no chapter readings for this unit. Please review the following required unit resources.
In order to access the following resources, click the links below.
Bruneau, E. (2016, November 21). Understanding the terrorist mind. Cerebrum. Dana Foundation
Read Chapter 3 on pp. 23–52 in the resource below. You can access the following resource by clicking on the link provided in the Unit VI tab within Blackboard.
Hewitt, C. (2003). Understanding terrorism in America: From the Klan to Al Qaeda. Routledge.
Unit Lesson
This unit introduces the relationship between race, ethnicity, and terrorism. The unit lesson will specifically address domestic terrorism and hate groups.
Terrorism is the use of violence or threat of violence by individuals or groups to advance a social, political, or religious ideology (U.S. Department of Homeland Security [DHS], 2018). An ideology is composed of the values and beliefs that hold a specific group together and motivates their behavior. According to Bruneau (2016), it is not just a single element of ideology or violence but, rather, the combination of the two, which constitutes terrorism. Many people share ideologies that do not promote violence, just as many acts of violence are not motivated by ideology; these incidents are not categorized as terrorism (Bruneau, 2016). Unfortunately, many of these ideologies are rooted in conspiracy theories (Johnson, 2017).
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), there are two categories of terrorism: international and domestic (FBI, 2016). International terrorism is made up of acts of terror that originate with groups outside of one’s country. Therefore, for those living in the United States, any terrorism associated with groups or countries outside of the United States is considered to be international terrorism. For example, the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center are considered to be the result of international terrorism. Commonly known international terrorist organizations include al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Islamic State of
Terrorism and Minorities
BCJ 4201, Race and Ethnic Relations 2
Iraq and Syria (ISIS). International terrorist groups can be composed of individual organizations or state-sponsored organizations (FBI, 2016)
Domestic terrorism is terrorism that takes place within one’s country. Therefore, for those living in the United States, any terrorism associated with groups within the United States is considered to be domestic terrorism (FBI, 2016). For example, the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh in 1995 was an act of domestic terrorism. To this date, this incident is considered to be the deadliest incident of domestic terrorism in the United States (Hess, 2009) Specific ideologies typically motivate domestic terrorist threats, such as sociopolitical issues, anti-government ideals, racial separatism, animal rights, and environmental rights, among others. The FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice do not provide lists of specific domestic terrorism groups; instead, they have altered their terminology to discuss in terms of movements and threats (Bjelopera, 2013). Commonly known domestic terrorist movements include the Earth Liberation Front, the Animal Liberation Front, and the Ku Klux Klan (Hess, 2009). The FBI (2016) is responsible for the investigation of domestic terrorism in the United States.
Hate Groups in America
Hate groups are organizations whose mission or ideology promotes hate and/or violence against others based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and religion, among other items. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC, n.d.-d), in 2018 there were 1,020 hate groups operating within the United States. Each of the continental states contained anywhere from one to 83 groups. The SPLC applies 15 categories in which hate groups may fall: White nationalist, Black nationalist, Ku Klux Klan (KKK), neo-Nazi, racist skinhead, Christian Identity, neo-Confederate, radical traditionalist Catholicism, anti-LGBT, anti-Muslim, anti-Immigrant, hate music, Holocaust denial, male supremacy, and general hate groups (SPLC, n.d.-d). There is difficulty in accurately comprehending the number of active groups and member totals, as some groups are very migratory, meaning that participants, particularly skinheads, may not belong to a specific group.
Hate Group Category Number of active groups % of active groups Black Nationalist 264 25.88% White Nationalist 148 14.51% General Hate 127 12.45% Neo-Nazi 112 10.98% Anti-Muslim 100 9.80% Racist Skinhead 63 6.18% KKK 51 5.00% Anti-LGBT 49 4.80% Neo-Confederate 36 3.53% Christian Identity 17 1.67% Anti-Immigrant 17 1.67%
Aerial view of the Murr
Aerial view of the Murrah building in Oklahoma City after ah building in Oklahoma City after the bombing by Timothy McVeigh in 1995the bombing by Timothy McVeigh in 1995
(Brakebill, 1995)
(Brakebill, 1995)
BCJ 4201, Race and Ethnic Relations 3
Hate Group Category Number of active groups % of active groups Hate Music 15 1.47% Radical Traditionalist Catholicism 11 1.08% Holocaust Denial 8 0.78% Male Supremacy 2 0.20% Grand Total 1020 100.00%
Note: Please keep in mind that these categorizations are designated by the SPLC.
• Black Nationalist: In 2018, hate groups which identified with Black nationalist ideology were the most prevalent. At that time, there were 264 known groups, making up approximately 26% of groups in the United States (SPLC, n.d.-d). Black nationalists are often anti-White and anti-Semitic, advocating for institutional separation for Black people. The most common Black nationalist groups are the Nation of Islam and the New Black Panther Party (SPLC n.d.-a.).
• White Nationalist: White nationalist groups were the second most common hate group in 2018, with a total of 148 groups (SPLC, n.d.-d). White nationalists also believe in a separation of the races or White supremacy. Their ideology often overlaps with that of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and the skinheads (SPLC, n.d.-f).
• Neo-Nazi: There are 112 active neo-Nazi White supremacy groups documented in the United States. Their platform varies from pro-fascist government to hate (SPLC, n.d.-d). One of the most common groups is the Aryan Nation (SPLC, n.d.-e).
• Anti-Muslim: There are 100 anti-Muslim groups identified, with the largest being ACT for America (SPLC, n.d.-d).
• Racist Skinheads: There are 63 racist skinhead White supremacy groups operating in 24 states (SPLC, n.d.-d).
• KKK: The KKK, also referred to as Ku Klux Klan, is one of the most well-known as well as one of the oldest hate groups in the United States. The KKK was established in 1865 in opposition to the post-Civil War reconstruction efforts by the Republican Party to establish racial equality. Since then, the KKK’s animosity has expanded toward not only African Americans but also Jews, Catholics, immigrants, and homosexuals (A&E Television Networks, 2009). In 2018, there were 51 KKK groups operating in the United States.
• Anti-LGBT: There are 49 groups that operate in 23 states. The majority of these groups operate under the guise of Christianity; however, they frequently use myths and hate to garner favor (SPLC, n.d.-d).
• Neo-Confederate: There are 36 neo-Confederate groups operating in 12 southern states under the name League of the South (SPLC, n.d.-d).
• Christian Identity: There were 17 Christian identity groups active in 2018. While called Christian, their anti-Semitic beliefs do not align with traditional American Christians (SPLC, n.d.-b).
• Anti-Immigrant: There are 17 primary anti-immigrant groups fighting against immigration to the United States (SPLC, n.d.-d).
• Hate Music: Hate music originated in Britain as a form of hard-core rock. However, the “White power” music has grown in popularity in the United States over the past 3 decades (SPLC, n.d.-c). There are 15 known hate music producers or record companies operating in the United States (SPLC, n.d.-d).
• Radical Traditionalist Catholicism: There are 11 radical traditionalist Catholic groups that exist in the United States. As with the Christian identity ideology, their name does not align with the beliefs of traditional Catholics or the Vatican in Rome (SPLC, n.d.-d).
• Holocaust Denial: There are eight holocaust denial groups that actively reject aspects of the Holocaust or its entire existence (SPLC, n.d.-d).
Table 1: Active hate groups in America in 2018
(SPLC n.d.-d)
BCJ 4201, Race and Ethnic Relations 4
• Male Supremacy: There are two male supremacy groups known to operate, one in Texas and one in Washington, D.C. These groups assert that women are inferior and should be under the control of men (SPLC, n.d.-d).
• General Hate: General hate groups made up the third-largest (12.45%) type of hate groups in the United States in 2018, with 127 groups that do not fit into a specific ideology (SPLC, n.d.-d).
Recent years have seen a resurgence of both White and Black nationalist violence. Many Black nationalist groups advocate hate against not only Whites but also Jews and other marginalized populations. They believe to overcome centuries of oppression and discrimination, they should take possession of a portion of the United States to develop their own Black nation (Johnson, 2017). During 2016, there were several incidents of cop killings in protest of officer-involved shootings. Two separate events, one in Louisiana and another in Minnesota, resulted in police killing two Black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. These cases combined with other high-profile issues of discrimination led to the death of 11 police officers, five in Dallas and six in Baton Rouge. It was later determined that both of the shooters had connections to Black hate groups. Much of the focus today is directed toward law enforcement and is encouraged by group leaders such as Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam, who has specifically called for the death of their perceived oppressors (Johnson, 2017).
Conversely, the following summer, White supremacy groups made the national news as they held a Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, to protest the city’s plan to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee. The protestors were made up of members of several groups such as White nationalists, the KKK, neo-Nazis, and neo-Confederates. During the 2-day event, an anti-racist protestor, Heather Heyer, was killed by a car driven through the crowd by a White supremacist (Beirich, 2018). While the FBI called the vehicle attack an act of domestic terrorism, the driver ultimately pled to multiple counts of a hate crime, along with malicious wounding and murder.
A&E Television Networks. (2009). Ku Klux Klan. History.
AgnosticPreachersKid. (2017, August 28). Memorial for Heather Heyer on 4th Street SE in Charlottesville, Virginia [Photograph]. Wikimedia.
Beirich, H. (2018, February 10). After Charlottesville: Can we please finally put an end to White supremacy? SPLC Intelligence Report. Southern Poverty Law Center.
Bjelopera, J. P. (2013). The domestic terrorist threat: Background and issues for Congress [CRS Report No. R42536]. Congressional Research Service.
Memorial for Heather Heyer with a sign of her final Facebook post,
Memorial for Heather Heyer with a sign of her final Facebook post, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.””If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”
(AgnosticPreachersKid, 2017)
(AgnosticPreachersKid, 2017)
BCJ 4201, Race and Ethnic Relations 5
Brakebill, L. (1995). Aerial view of en: Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building after bombing, 1995 [Photograph]. Wikimedia.
Bruneau, E. (2016, November 21). Understanding the terrorist mind. Cerebrum. Dana Foundation.
Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2016). Terrorism.
Hess, K. M. (2009). Introduction to private security (5th ed.). Wadsworth.
Johnson, D. (2017, August 8). Return of the violent Black nationalist. SPLC Intelligence Report. Southern Poverty Law Center.
Southern Poverty Law Center. (n.d.-a). Black separatist.
Southern Poverty Law Center. (n.d.-b). Christian identity.
Southern Poverty Law Center. (n.d.-c). Hate music.
Southern Poverty Law Center. (n.d.-d). In 2018, we tracked 1,020 hate groups across the U.S.
Southern Poverty Law Center. (n.d.-e). Neo-Nazi.
Southern Poverty Law Center. (n.d.-f). White nationalist.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (2018, August 18). Insider threat – Terrorism.

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