In a revelation that might set alarm bells ringing in the US, the number of hate-groups has doubled since 2000 and experts attribute the increase to immigration, election of a black president and rising unemployment levels. This trend was again brought in focus after the gunman who wreaked havoc at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin last Sunday turned out to be a leader of a racist white-power band.
Wade Michael Page, 40, of South Milawaukee was kicked out of the Army in 1998 and according to a statement released by the Southern Poverty Law Center, he was a frustated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band.
Though the motive behind the shooting spree is being assessed, the FBI has said that it is looking at Wade Page's ties with white supremacy groups. This follows the statement from the Southern Poverty Law Center that among a database of more than 20, 000 people, the center identifies as white supremacists, neo-nazis and other members of hate groups, Page has been on its radar since 2000.
Heidi Beirich, who leads the Center's Intelligence Project, said in 2000 that Page tried to purchase material from National Alliance, a neo-Nazi group that influenced Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
“He showed up on the "hate music" scene, leading bands including one called Youngland and another called End Apathy,” USA Today quoted Beirich as saying. "He's not a guy we profiled as one of 30 to watch … but if you are involved in a hate music band, you've taken a step, you are an activist," Beirich added.
Sikhs, with beards and turbans have been attacked many times in the US but the attacks have intensified after September 11 attacks, as they were mistaken for Muslims. But this shooting doesn't seem to be a case of mistaken identity as the white supremacy hate groups are not only voicing their hatred against Muslims but all the immigrants, which they believe will end their dominance.
Pertinent to mention here is that hate group activity has risen significantly after the US got its first black president in the form of Barack Obama
. According to Beirich, the center listed 1018 hate groups in the US in 2011, almost doubling up from 602 in 2000. Beirich believes that the rise in immigration, especially of Latinos is the major reason as these groups beleive that Whites will no longer be a majority in the US by 2040. Another reason, she believes, is the bad economy, as people take to extremist activities when they are unemployed and frustrated.
Page was also a member of the Hammerskins, one of the oldest hard-core racist groups in the US and posted on the white supremacist website Storm Front under the name of Youngland. His groups played at music festivals aimed at white supremacists, skinheads and neo-Nazis. His band also played in a festival called Uprise in 2010 besides attending other festivals including Hammerfest, one of the largest festivals. "It's like the Lollapalooza of hate," Beirich said.
“I think all of us recognise that these kinds of terrible, tragic events are happening with too much regularity for us not to do some soul-searching and to examine additional ways that we can reduce violence,” Obama was quoted as saying in this AFP video. But the White House
maintained that the shooting wouldn't change the President's stand supporting private gun ownership. The ownership of guns has come under severe attack from various quarters in the recent past, particularly after the Colorado cinema shooting.