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Hate takes a holiday -- in Georgia

Pick your poison; Georgia high in hate groups

Georgia is the fourth most hateful state in the nation.

The number of hate groups in Georgia nearly doubled from 16 in 1999 to 30 in 2000, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center's quarterly publication Intelligence Report. Only Alabama, Florida and Texas have more.

The number of hate groups in the U.S. grew by 10 percent last year to top 600. Georgia's jump may be accounted for, in part, by increasing unrest over the state's now-stripped Confederate-themed flag.

"Because of the flag issue, these groups have kind of arisen and radicalized," says the report's editor, Mark Potok, tracing the trend to South Carolina's flag controversy. "It really begins with the NAACP saying, 'We're going to take it down in South Carolina.' I hate to say it this way, but it's like the fight was picked from the other side."

Fifteen of Georgia's hate groups are neo-Confederate, but not all neo-Confederate groups are hate groups. The Sons of Confederate Veterans, for example, says Potok, are neo-Confederates but they are not a hate group. To make the Alabama-based center's active list, a group has to have distinguished itself, possibly by reaching an incendiary level of racist rhetoric.

Alabama and Florida each have 39 active hate groups. Alabama hosts 18 Klan klaverns, more than any other state except that bastion of the Old South ... Ohio, which has nine. (In recent years the Klan has capitalized on unemployment in the Rust Belt.)

Says Potok: "Alabama ranks where it does mainly because of one group — the Alabama White Knights, and frankly, they're not terribly active."

Georgia has two active Ku Klux Klan klaverns (the KKK is not a neo-Confederate group), four neo-Nazi pods, three black separatists groups, one Skinhead faction and five groups of undetermined hate, spread mostly across the top half of the state. South Georgia is almost hate-group free. As is west Texas, although Texas rates third in the nation, primarily due to its 14 neo-Nazi groups.

With just a little more hate, fifth-ranked California could easily overtake Georgia. The "Left Coast" state is home to 29 hate groups.??