The Widening Gyre

Rogues' Gallery
Signs of the Times

Morris Dees

Finance Campaign Director for George McGovern and Jimmy Carter. Co-founder and Chief Trial Counsel of the Southern Poverty Law Center. (Picture of Morris Dees taken at Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church, Unitarian Universalist in Charlottesville, Virginia on March 28, 1998.)

In the News

The Culture of Intolerance and the Democratization of Hate

Speaking at a Conference on Dismantling Racism, Morris Dees said, "'America is still deeply divided along a lot of lines. Sexual orientation ... gender lines, religion and especially class lines. Probably the line we're divided the deepest along is the racial line ... I think [racism] has to do with whose America this is, and whose version of America will prevail" (Maria Sanminiatelli, The Daily Progress, March 29, 1998).

Dees also spoke about intolerance and about hate groups. The number of hate groups operating in the United States in 1997 rose to 474, some 20% over 1996. This count includes all known chapters of hate organizations, including previously undocumented identity ministries and several black separatist groups with racist or anti-Semitic platforms. The list does not include Patriot groups (SPLC Intelligence Project Report, Winter 1998)

Virginia alone has 13 active hate groups (5 Klan, 4 Identity, and 4 Other) -- at least three of which have web sites (SPLC Intelligence Project Report, Winter 1998) Dees says that an equal number whites have died due to hate crimes by African Americans as African Americans have died due to hate crimes by whites in 1997, leading to what he calls the democratization of hate.

Through lawsuits brought by attorneys such as Mr. Dees, the SPLC challenges racist and other hate groups throughout the country, and has brought to bankruptcy the United Klans of America and the White Aryan Resistance. The SPLC's Klanwatch monitors organized racist activity across the US, and its Militia Task Force tracks more than 400 unauthorized militia units in 50 states. SPLC's Teaching Tolerance project has distributed over $4 million in educational materials free of charge to public schools, churches, and community groups.

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