Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Geography of Hate

Richard Florida took the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of hate groups by state and correlated group prevalence with other criteria about each state (voted Obama or McCain, religiosity, socio-economic status, and others).

Map of US states with Montana and Mississippi highlighted as having the most hate groups
Florida calls it the Geography of Hate. Minnesota, it turns out, has the lowest number of hate groups per million people. Vermont has the lowest number of groups (two).

The two states with the highest concentration of hate groups are Mississippi and Montana; northern plains and southern states round out the top ten list. Florida's premise is that frustration from low education and economic status leads group members to take out their aggression on the "other" -- based on race, sexual identity, or immigrant status. Which seems pretty obvious, but when you look at his scatter graphs, it doesn't explain Montana.

On the "working class" criterion, for instance, Mississippi swings toward the blue-collar end of the spectrum, but Montana is in line with states like Minnesota; Wisconsin, for instance, is much more working class than Montana but is second lowest on the concentration of hate groups.

Education level is even more anomalous -- Montana has one of the highest levels of education; for religiosity, Montana is in the bottom third of states.

I have some speculation about why Montana comes out so high on the concentration of hate groups list (small population, large land area, tradition of leaving each other alone, which attracts outsiders with a crazy agenda), but Florida never mentions any of that.

By the way, the SPLC defines a hate group as one that has "beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics."

1 comment:

Pete Hautman said...

Yes, population. With fewer than a million people, Montana only needs about ten "hate groups" to put it into the red.