By Peter Kaufman
In 2012, there were over 1,000 documented hate groups in the United States. A hate group is pretty much what it sounds like: a collection of individuals who come together based on their shared animosity toward others. Whether they focus on race, religion, sexual orientation, or nationality, these organizations mobilize around a clearly defined difference that they perceive to have with other people. Groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Brotherhood, Westboro Baptist Church, and the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement, use these differences not only as a basis of their hatred, but also to justify acts of hostility, aggression, and violence against those they deem to be “outsiders.”
Although most of us would acknowledge that the attitudes and actions of these hate groups are extreme, few of us are immune to engaging in similar but less severe forms of selective separation. An example that many young people can relate to is the scene in the movie Mean Girls when Cady (Lindsay Lohan) is introduced to the seating arrangement of the various “tribes” in the high school lunch room. Cady quickly learns that everyone sits with people who are deemed to be just like them: preps, nerds, Asians, Blacks, wannabees, burnouts, band geeks, etc.