Fears of a coming economic collapse that could spark widespread violence, even civil war, fueled the continued explosive growth of conspiracy-minded antigovernment “patriot” groups in 2011.
That’s the conclusion of a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups in the United States. The organization’s quarterly Intelligence Report, issued Thursday, found that the number of patriot groups grew from 824 to 1,274 between 2010 and 2011, up from 149 in 2008.
Earlier analysis by the SPLC, headquartered in Montgomery, Ala., found that the patriot movement was largely inspired by concerns that whites would become a minority in the US by mid-century – symbolized by the election of President Obama, the nation’s first black president, in 2008. Now, however, the movement is also drawing energy from conspiracy theories about globalization, the loss of individual rights and opportunity, and economic doom.