The rise of the KKK - is Donald Trump to blame?

The rise of the KKK - is Donald Trump to blame?

President-elect Donald Trump was championed by the KKK (Ku Klux Klan) and other white supremacist groups during his election campaign, and is now set to carry his racist baggage into the White House.

A study has revealed the number of KKK groups in the US more than doubled between 2014 and 2015, underlining the recent rise of far-right American hate groups.

The Southern Poverty Law Center's findings showed the number of KKK-affiliated groups went up from 72 in 2014, to a staggering 190 in 2015.

Overall there were 892 hate groups active in the US last year, among them almost 200 Neo-Nazi and White Nationalist groups that weren't associated with the KKK.

It's worth noting 180 of the hate groups were classed as Black Separatist and 18 as Christian.

The rise of the KKK - is Donald Trump to blame?

KKK groups held over 350 rallies last year, donning white hoods, burning crosses and preaching white supremacist propaganda.

All this is happening in a country of 320 million people famous for touting its values of freedom and democracy, but this same country has also elected Donald Trump as its new President.

One KKK chapter in North Carolina, called the Loyal White Knights, has claimed it will even stage a victory parade for President-elect Trump in early December.

Last weekend, a white supremacist group called the National Policy Institute (NPI) held its annual conference at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington DC.

The NPI's leader addressed members with the Nazi salute and cried out "Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!"

While President-elect Trump condemned the NPI and disavowed its actions, the question still has to be asked:

Auckland based academic Dr Maria Armoudian believes there is, as both Trump and the hate groups have harnessed the power of the unfiltered internet.

"One of the things that has happened in the last decade or so is the eroding of the base for traditional journalism simultaneous with this rise of unmoderated, unfiltered messages coming from what we would call the far-right," says Dr Armoudian.

"This is reflective of the internet which we had believed would be this great democratising force and the best ideas would rise to the top, but what's happening instead is that some people are getting louder and louder and they're using what I would call hate-frames."

Dr Armoudian says the far-right wasn't able to communicate its messages effectively outside of its own membership before the emergence of the internet, but now anyone is within reach, including frustrated white people on dwindling incomes.

"These hate frames are coming through unfiltered sources, and they're laying blame for America's inequality problems on one particular group or two particular groups when they're much more complex than that.

"You cannot blame one group for this kind of inequality problem, so this is now touching on groups that are vulnerable to these messages, and that's increasingly divided what you're seeing in the US.

"If more people get persuaded by these messages and point fingers at a minority group for problems that have not been caused by a minority group, than that causes additional problems."

President-elect Trump frequently used social media during the campaign; his tweets were often viewed as racist, fear mongering and misogynist.

The rise of the KKK - is Donald Trump to blame?
The rise of the KKK - is Donald Trump to blame?

The graph below shows the true colour of the US election.

The rise of the KKK - is Donald Trump to blame?

As you can see, 58 percent of white Americans voted for Trump, while only 8 percent of black Americans did.

"I think the rhetoric being used by Donald Trump clearly did make it racial," says Dr Armoudian

"But because he made so many inflammatory remarks it became more and more difficult for anybody who was a person of colour to support him and I think that Trump's rhetoric also inflamed people who were already vulnerable to these messages in the white population.

"There are some concerns from a lot of scholars that the political parties are becoming increasingly divided down racial lines. That's not a good thing, not healthy, but I'm not sure we can make that conclusion just yet."

"They pose a threat to people around them, and if they find a home in the US government and it sounds like there might be a home for some representatives in the Trump administration, it's hard to say just yet, but if they do find a home in the federal government it becomes more of a threat."

"I suspect yes, it's really hard to say. Some of the appointments he has made so far have alarmed non-profit organisations that generally work on racial equity.

"Groups like the NWACP (National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People) or CHIRLA, that represent immigrants, they're quite alarmed and concerned, and there's also been a bit of a rise in a lot more blatant remarks being made to people of colour that are insulting, and suggest that they don't belong in the US.

"So it's already made a turn for the uglier." Dr Armoudian added.