KKK, Other Racist Groups Growing, Fed by Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric

Between 2000 and 2005, hate groups mushroomed 33% and KKK chapters by 63%, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which counts as many as 150 Klan chapters with up to 8,000 members nationwide. More than 800 hate groups exist around the country, Southern Poverty research shows. Historically, the Klan’s focus had been to terrorize African Americans—through race riots, lynchings and other killings—but it reached peak membership at more than 4 million in the 1920s by focusing on immigration. Newcomers from Ireland and Germany were portrayed as Catholic usurpers invading the United States, taking jobs from those born in the US and undermining the social fabric. Said the SPLC”s director: “It’s remarkable to look back at the nativist sentiments toward Catholics—it’s very similar to what we’re seeing with Mexicans now.”

read more from the Associated Press

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