Charlottesville Violence’s Track,- The weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia in which a 32-year-old woman was killed as she protested a gathering of white supremacists there. Raises a host of troubling questions obviously but maybe the most troubling one of all is, is this an indication that there is an increase in the number of white hat groups or nationalist groups in the country or are they simply becoming more visible?

A look at the evidence suggest that while the movement may be more visible, it isn’t necessarily growing in size or strength. One way to gauge that is to look at some statistics gathered by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate group activity in the U.S. It is found that the number of hate groups operating in the U.S. last year rose to 917 from 892 the previous year. And while the number of groups was up in 2016, it’s actually down about 100 from the 1018 found in 2011, which was of the all time high. The number of specifically Neo-Confederate groups rose by 23 percent but the number of Ku Klux Klan chapters fell by 32 percent. In the other words, the overall number of hate groups seems to have been holding pretty much steady.

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Meanwhile, the center found there’s was actually a slight drop in the number of rallies and incidents involving these groups outside of a burst of activity as some of them celebrated the victory of President Donald Trump in the 2016 election. So the picture overall that emerges is of a movement that’s not necessarily growing but that may be more visible, number of explanations for this. President Trump yesterday condemned these groups. He said, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred bigotry and violence. It has no place in America”.

Yet there’s still no doubt that some of them were energized by his victory over Hillary Clinton in the campaign in 2016. Meanwhile there’s also been a movement in Southern states among leaders there who want to kind of take out of circulation some of the signs and tributes to the confederacy that have been on display for years and years there. And that’s excited a bit of a backlash among some of these white supremacist groups. In addition they can organize more easily as all political groups can right now.

So that kind of activity has in fact stirred dangerous passions and we saw the tragic consequences in Charlottesville this weekend.