By Ben Wallace | LSU Student
Nationally, organized hate is alive and well, and anyone who believes differently needs only an Internet connection and a computing device to find out just how close the nearest Louisiana chapter of some 27 identified organizations dubbed hate groups is located. Click here to view the map
Since 1990, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in Montgomery, Ala. has published an annual hate map, plotting the locations of "hate groups," such as the KKK, Aryan Nations and the Nation of Islam, mostly as an educational tool for both citizens and law enforcement, said SPLC senior fellow and editor of SPLC's Intelligence Report, Mark Potok.
"The vast majority of Americans I think are very surprised to see how many of these groups are out there," Potok said.
In all, the SPLC names and locates 27 hate groups in Louisiana, including KKK, white nationalists, neo-Confederate, or neo-Nazi units in New Orleans, Slaughter, Calhoun, Acadia, Converse, Walker, Thibodaux, Logansport, St. Amant, Shreveport and Mandeville. Black separatists groups have been indentified in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Monroe, St. Tammany Parish and Gueydan.
In 2011, the SPLC counted more than 1,000 active hate groups, including the groups' various chapters, throughout the United States.
The historically racial hotbeds of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama account for about ten percent of the listings, which is significant given there are only about 12 million people among the three states, according to the 2010 census report.
The basic criteria for inclusion in the list requires the group to deem "an entire group of human beings somehow less," said Potok, whether in its platform statement, on websites, or in speeches by the groups' leaders.
Although they do not contact the groups themselves, the SPLC claims on its website to only publish names of the groups who are active, based on their intensive annual investigation to determine who all is out there.
Some hate groups identified by SPCC, like the KKK, are no-brainers, said Potok, but others can be more complicated to place, such as a statewide presence for the Jewish Defense League.
The Nation of Islam falls into the category of an "easy call," Potok said.
"For us, the problem with the Nation of Islam is that they're very anti-white and very anti-gay and very anti-Semitic, and they will not change a core piece of their ideology which was that white people were created some 6,000 years ago in a test tube," said Potok, referring to core tenets preached by one of the Nation's early leaders, Elijah Muhammad.
Minister Ava Muhammad, national spokesperson for their leader, Minister Louis Farrakhan, disagreed with the hate label, but could not be reached a second time to comment on the core beliefs.
"We don't attack anyone, period," Muhammad said. "We're Muslims, we follow the law of Islam which prohibits aggression and prohibits attacks on Christians or individuals or groups."
Muhammad described the nation's purpose as uniting African American Muslims and promoting economic self-sufficiency to its people. "We don't single out anyone."
However, not all groups feel like "hate group" is an unfair label.
"If you want to classify Aryan Nations as a hate group, you can go ahead and do that," said the group's world leader, Morris Gulett. "We hate things vile, and things disgusting and things unjust. Do we hate other people because of the color of their skin? No, we don't."
"What I hate is what multiculturalism, and diversity, has done to America," Gulett said.
The self-appointed world leader does believe the report is flawed though, since he made several distinctions between the listings of his Louisiana chapters and what actually exists.
Rusty McGill serves as the local leader of the Ark-LaTex Council of Conservative Citizens, for which the SPLC has two chapters listed in Louisiana, eight in Mississippi, and six in Alabama.
"It is not a hate crime to go by God's moral laws of segregation purity," McGill said. "CCC should not even be on it. It's a political heritage group that promotes the constitution and European heritage."
McGill believes desegregation "is the biggest hate law that was made in this century," adding, "I believe white Christians ought to be with white Christians."
McGill, as well as both Muhammad and Gulett, adamantly denied any supporting any form of violence within their respective organizations.
"We're as violent as a Sunday meeting at a church," McGill said.