"Patriot" Groups on the Rise, Says SPLC
As you probably know, this is the flag that Alex Jones and his ilk operate under.
Antigovernment "Patriot" groups - militias and other extremist organizations that see the federal government as their enemy - came roaring back to life over the past year after more than a decade out of the limelight.
The SPLC documented a 244 percent increase in the number of active Patriot groups in 2009. Their numbers grew from 149 groups in 2008 to 512 groups in 2009, an astonishing addition of 363 new groups in a single year. Militias - the paramilitary arm of the Patriot movement - were a major part of the increase, growing from 42 militias in 2008 to 127 in 2009.
The SPLC takes pains to note that it is not talking about the "Tea Party" crowd, while noting that those groups may be a fertile recruiting ground for the Patriots:
The Patriot movement has made significant inroads into the conservative political scene, according to the new report. "The ‘tea parties' and similar groups that have sprung up in recent months cannot fairly be considered extremist groups, but they are shot through with rich veins of radical ideas, conspiracy theories and racism," the report says.
Surprisingly, perhaps, I found a balanced commentary at the Huffington Post:
There is, however, an important caveat to add to the findings. For all of the unglamorous work it does documenting the rise of extremism, the SPLC has been accused of occasionally making mountains out of molehills. Some of the groups it classifies as threats can be better described as having a threatening message but being impotent in reality.
In March 2007, Ken Silverstein of Harpers Magazine, pointed to the massive financial resources the group had on hand (per its tax filings) and concluded that: "What [SPLC] does best... is to raise obscene amounts of money by hyping fears about the power of those groups; hence the SPLC has become the nation's richest "civil rights" organization."
I'm pretty much in the middle on this one; the Patriot groups are crazy, as the Huffpost notes rather succinctly:
And, most remarkably of all, so-called "Patriot" groups -- militias and other organizations that see the federal government as part of a plot to impose "one-world government" on liberty-loving Americans -- came roaring back after years out of the limelight."
I don't think they're dangerous per se; the problem is that lone wackos who agree with their claims may do crazy things in reaction.