Members of the National Socialist Movement, based in Myrtle Beach, rallied against the removal of the Confederate battle flag outside from the S.C. Statehouse on July 18, 2015. The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies them as a hate group.
The Southern Poverty Law Center says that President Donald Trump's inauguration in January and his subsequent equivocation on white supremacy helped boost the number of operational hate groups in 2017.
The Alabama-based law center recorded 954 such groups in the United States in 2017, a four percent increase from 2016, in its "Year in Extremism and Hatred" report released on Wednesday.
There are now 14 hate groups operating in South Carolina. Three of them, the black nationalist group Nation of Islam, the white nationalist groups Patriotic Flags, and Red Ice, operate in Charleston. The last two are headquartered in the Holy City.
“President Trump in 2017 reflected what white supremacist groups want to see: a country where racism is sanctioned by the highest office, immigrants are given the boot and Muslims banned,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at the law center. “When you consider that only days into 2018, Trump called African countries ‘shitholes,’ it’s clear he’s not changing his tune. And that’s music to the ears of white supremacists.”
Groups operating statewide include the neo-Volkisch Asatru Folk Assembly. Neo-Volkisch adherents worship Norse or Germanic gods and are "organized around ethnocentricity and archaic notions of gender," according to the law center.
Also functioning statewide are the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer.
Consequently, Trump's rhetoric and the rising visibility of white nationalists, one of whom killed counter-protester Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Va. in August 2017, has fueled black nationalist movements such as the Nation of Islam.
Black nationalist groups, not to be confused with anti-racist groups like Black Lives Matter, typically engage in "anti-Semitic, anti-LGBT, anti-white rhetoric and conspiracy theories," according to the report.
The SPLC found four black nationalist groups in South Carolina, and three of them are chapters of the Nation of Islam. One chapter operates in Charleston.
The SPLC also added male supremacy groups to its growing list for the first time ever.
Functioning as a backlash to the feminism exemplified by women's marches across the country, the #MeToo movement, and the rush of women running for office in 2018, the Houston-based A Voice for Men and the Washington, D.C.-based Return of Kings join the usual suspects in the annual report.
The law center also identified 689 anti-government groups across the country.
South Carolina has 12 anti-government groups, which peaked right after President Barack Obama's inauguration in 2008. Of those 12, the III% Security Force, the III% United Patriots, and the South Carolina Light Foot Militia are armed anti-government militias operating in the Palmetto State.