Mark A. Potok heads up the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project and is editor of Intelligence Report magazine. The SPLC, founded as a law firm specializing in protecting civil rights, is one of the chief monitors of race-based hate groups and other extremist activities. Before coming to the SPLC in 1997, Potok spent almost 20 years as an award-winning reporter. While at USA Today, he covered the 1993 siege in Waco, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the trial of Timothy McVeigh. In 1996 he was nominated by his editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his stories on racism in Texas public housing.
The SPLC has reported that the number of hate groups and hate crimes has risen since the election of President Obama. How do you explain this increase?