There are 65 known white supremacist groups in the state of Georgia – racist organizations that believe a black man, President Barack Obama, has no place in the White House.
And the hating is getting worse.
Take Georgia bar owner Patrick Lanzo, a hate-filled resident who claims that he’s not a racist but insists on plastering the N-word on a large roadside sign outside his Georgia Peach Oyster Bar to describe his political views.
“I do not support the nigger in the White House,” the sign reads.
There is nothing illegal about Lanzo’s racist message. The U.S. Secret Service doesn’t appear to be investigating since Lanzo hasn’t actually threatened the president. The NAACP has protested Lanzo’s sign and Paulding County officials say there is nothing they can do about it since Lanzo isn’t breaking any laws.
And, after all, we do live in a country that supports freedom of speech.
But Lanzo has clearly crossed the line and his bigoted political statement will only fire-up the racists in Georgia who are hell bent on spewing hate and disrespecting Obama every chance they get. Lanzo and his warped crew don’t care about Obama’s call for unifying America; they aren’t interested in the president’s mission to care for all Americans – they just want Obama out of the White House and they’re tired of seeing his black face on CNN every day.
And Lanzo, as expected, is not remorseful – not that I’m looking for an apology.
“I say just because you’re offended by it doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to say something just the opposite,” Lanzo said told Atlanta’s Fox 5. “I don’t feel bad about anything whatsoever. Therefore, they can go out and put their own sign in their own yard and I will not be offended.”
Lanzo is part of a racist culture that dates back decades. He says his saloon is a “Klan bar” where many well-known white supremacists have gathered over the years. In 2009, Lanzo posted an inflammatory sign that infuriated many African-Americans: “Obama’s plan for health-care: nigger rig it.”
Sadly, Lanzo is not alone.
Since Obama took office in 2008, the number of hate groups has increased significantly from coast to coast. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks white supremacist groups, there are 1,018 active hate groups in the United States. Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Georgia, according to the Center, has the second-largest number of hate groups in country. California leads the nation with 84 hate groups.
“Strands of the radical right – hate groups, nativist extremist groups and Patriot organizations – increased from 1,753 groups in 2009 to 2,145 in 2010, a 22 percent rise,” the Southern Poverty Law Center reported. “That followed a 2008-09 increase of 40 percent.”
Experts say there are several factors that can be attributed to the rise in white supremacist groups: resentment over the changing racial demographics of the country, frustration over the lagging economy – and the election of Obama.
“Far-right extremists remain highly energized, even as politicians across the country co-opt many of the radical ideas and issues that are important to them,” Mark Potok, editor of the Intelligence Report wrote in a recent study. “This success in having their voices heard in the political arena, where they have long occupied the fringe of conservative thought, might eventually take the wind out of their sails, but so far we’re not seeing any sign of that.”
Here are just a few recent offerings by Southern Poverty Law Center: In College Park, Maryland, a noose and hate messages were left in two classroom buildings on the University of Maryland campus; in Zebulon, North Carolina, Michael Stanley Mazur, 48, and his wife, Anne Marie Mazur, 46, were charged with ethnic intimidation for allegedly using racial epithets and taunting a black neighbor; in Toledo, Ohio, an elderly white man was allegedly beaten by a group of six youths, both black and white, who made anti-white remarks; in Salt Lake City, Utah, a 38-year-old woman allegedly yelled a racial epithet at three black female joggers and tried to hit them with her car; and in Ostego Township, Mississippi, a racial slur and the word `leave` were spray-painted on a black family’s residence.
It’s a shame that in 2012, nearly 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, racial hatred toward African-Americans is on the rise, in large part, because Barack Obama was elected as America’s first black president.
If Obama is re-elected to the White House in November, I wonder what more we can expect from right-wing racists in the next four years.