A New York Times story views "white power" music with alarm, noting Sikh temple shooter Wade M. Page's history in bands such as End Apathy and Definite Hate. It warns that the genre, a.k.a. hatecore, is "helping keep the [white supremacist] movement energized and providing it with a powerful tool for recruiting the young and disaffected." How powerful? The Times notes in passing that Arno Michaelis, a former white supremacist who founded the organization Life After Hate, used to lead Centurion, a band with a CD that "has sold 20,000 copies worldwide." Apparently that's a monster hit for a hatecore album, but it is three orders of magnitude shy of the sales generated by top-selling mainstream albums. Michael Bublé's Christmas album sold more copies in three days last year than Centurion ever will.
Even so, the number of people who bought Centurion's CD seems to be much bigger than the number of organized white supremacists in the United States. Last year, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) counted 1,018 "active hate groups," an umbrella term covering various different flavors of bigotry and including every local chapter of groups such as the KKK and the Nation of Islam, even if they had only a handful of members. According to the Times, the SPLC's research indicates that "the number of ultra-right-wing militias and white power organizations has grown sharply since the election of President Obama in 2008," but "the movement is more decentralized and in many ways more disorganized than ever." It might even be smaller, as measured by total members, although The Christian Science Monitor claims it's "on the rise." Stormfront's Don Black, the go-to white supremacist for major news outlets, tells the Times "there is plenty of frustration and defeatism in the white nationalist movement."
But according to the SPLC, a weaker, smaller, disorganized, frustrated, and defeated white supremacist movement is especially dangerous:
The decentralization of the white supremacy movement may also encourage isolated actors—as Mr. Page appears to have been—to strike out, said Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
"When there are not large organizations, you are more likely to see lone wolves like Wade Page," he said. "We are seeing a movement full of white-hot rage and frustration because they feel they have lost the battle to make America a white country."
In other words, no matter how many people are joining these groups, the threat is dire. A shrinking movement is just as worrisome as a growing movement. And did you know that donations to the Southern Poverty Law Center are tax-deductible?
Puzzled by the fizzling of organized racism, "despite the recruiting opportunities presented by an economic recession and the election of a black president," the Times settles on a tentative explanation:
One reason for the disarray might be the growth of a more mainstream movement, the Tea Party, whose successful forays into electoral politics have siphoned energy and support from violent fringe groups, said Chip Berlet, a Boston-based journalist who writes about right-wing groups.
Don't you see? The KKK attracts angry white people, and so does the Tea Party. Hence the Tea Party is a "more mainstream" version of the KKK, siphoning off violent racists from older organizations. By that logic, the same thing is true of the Occupy movement.
More on the Tea Party's alleged racism here.