I agree with you that it appears that hate groups (November/ Downtown), however defined, seem to be on the rise. Some of that apparent increase in numbers and activity may be the result of more extensive coverage in the media but this country does seem to have lost, to a great extent, the capacity to disagree without being “disagreeable” and committing acts of verbal and physical violence.
That said, I find it curious that you based your article on SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center) information when that organization can be considered to be a hate group itself based on its own definition. One example was its listing of The Family Research Council as a hate group when that group simply expressed its views of marriage and took other politically incorrect positions on current issues. They have been very careful to avoid any expression of support for anything other than reasoned and even-handed debate over the serious issues that seem to divide us these days. They have never, to my knowledge, “attacked or maligned an entire class of people” for mutable or immutable characteristics. If the SPLC has evidence of such an attack, as opposed to merely a statement of an opposing opinion, I will stand corrected.
If simply expressing an opinion contrary to what the SPLC believes is correct makes a hate group, our country is in even more serious danger that I thought. It is also interesting to note that the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, and the FBI have all distanced themselves from the SPLC recently because of its biased and distorted view of what defines a hate group.
Thank you for your coverage of this very sensitive and important topic but I believe that a broader and more balanced presentation of the issue would have better served your readers and perhaps might have even contributed to a better understanding of the opposing positions and perceptions of each respective “other side.”