Long before the current banalities of GOP frontrunner Donald Trump arrived on the scene, imagine being an award winning New York Times journalist and accepting an invitation to speak at what seems like an innocent fundraising event for a benign sounding organization called the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). In October, 2014, Ross Douthat, a columnist for the New York Times accepted an honorarium and found himself speaking before an audience of rabid Right Wingers who believe the LGBTQ community poses a threat to religious liberty. ADF is considered one of the most extreme anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-Muslim groups in the country.
It wasn’t long before Douthat issued a public apology saying, “I was not aware in advance that this event was a fundraiser and had I known, I would not have agreed to participate…I understood this to be a public conversation about religious liberty. This is my fault for not doing my due diligence, and I will be declining the honorarium.” I think a quick Google search would have turned up the fact that the ADF had been named a “Hate Group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
Douthat might have been caught unaware, but make no mistake, groups such as the ADF are commonplace in the US. America has a huge and growing hate network consisting of thousands of well- financed and powerful organizations with their own radio stations, Internet sites, blogs, Facebook pages and publications.
Donald Trump understands how much money and power these groups have over the political process. Trump’s demonization of Latinos, Muslims, immigrants and even African Americans is a long held tradition in the United States. He’s just capitalizing on it and giving people permission to jump on the hate bandwagon. Trump even used bogus statistics from a Hate Group called The Center for Security Policy during one of his speeches when he claimed that a quarter of American Muslims are violent jihadists.
For 51 years the SPLC has tracked “official” hate groups and hate hasn’t had a public figure the status of Donald T. Trump in decades, since the 1960s Civil Rights Movement gave us George Wallace. In fact, the business of hate is booming in the US. Hate Groups were up 15 percent in 2015 alone, and there are now 892 “Hate Groups” and 998 “Patriot Groups.” What’s the different between a Hate Group and a Patriot Group? Not much, primarily just who you hate and how you identify your hate. See the full report here: SPLC Intelligence Report on Hate
When is the last time you saw what looked like a very patriotic sounding group raising money or touting American values? Here are just a few Hate Groups with innocent sounding names: Americans for Prosperity, the National Organization of Marriage (NOM), American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, American Vision,Focus on the Family, ACT! For America, and the Institute for Historical Review. Another one, Liberty Counsel, is the legal organization that advocates for anti-LBGTQ discrimination and who represented Kim Davis of Kentucky. Did you notice how patriotic these monikers sound? There is a reason for that. Research shows that anything sounding patriotic automatically gets an endorphin release from our Right Wing brethren. Seriously!
Another organization that I discovered came to me by way of personal experience after my son came out as a gay man a few years ago. My son grew up with a little girl named “Abby.” Abby was one of three sisters in a Conservative Catholic family. My son and Abby were often mistaken as twins and spent sleepovers, family outings, and birthdays together. Fast forward to 2013 when Abby started proselytizing for a group called CRU (formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ).
I Googled CRU and found out that it is massive with hundreds of thousands of “volunteers” working in 191 countries. It was ranked No. 20 on Forbes magazine list of the largest charitable organizations in American with receipts of $543 million in 2013. They conveniently dropped “Christ” and “Crusade” from their name in 2011. CRU is also a powerful anti-gay force across the world and has called for the death penalty for the “crime” of homosexuality. CRU’s beliefs: “Thirty-three percent of homosexuals are pedophiles, gay couples are coming to Africa to steal children and turn them homosexual, and gay people are 15 times more likely to be murderers than straight people.” I confronted Abby about CRU last year only to be told that she didn’t advocate for the death of anyone. She may not, but the organization that she has dedicated her life too certainly does.
Lastly, you have “general hate groups,” who pretty much hate everyone who is not exactly like them. These groups are the ones that have featured so largely in Trump’s rallies such as the Ku Klux Klan. The KKK used to be one unified organization but today there are 190 active KKK groups in the US and dozens of them compete against one another. There are also Neo-Nazi, White Nationalist, Racist Skinhead, Christian Identify, Neo-Confederate and Black Separatists groups. The Southern Poverty Law Institute put their number at 892, but also states that they may be many more because some of these groups tend to be migratory.
While it seems to most of us that Trump has brought out the worst in some Americans or his rhetoric is an invitation to come out of the shadows, make no mistake, hate is big business in American and Trump loves big business. Or as the writer George Elliott once said, “Hate is like fire; it makes even light rubbish deadly.”
Trump’s campaign slogan should be “Burn Baby, Burn.”
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