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Do the Ozarks Attract Hate Groups?

The Ozarks are known for stunning beauty - and as a hotbed for  racism. (Photo by OakleyOriginals)
The Ozarks are known for stunning beauty - and as a hotbed for
racism. (Photo by OakleyOriginals)
Harrison, Arkansas has a history of racial hatred rooted in riots in 1905 and 1909. In the first one, blacks were whipped and beaten and a white mob shot out windows, burned about 30 homes of blacks and ordered blacks to leave the city, according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture.

By Steve Pokin
[Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center] thinks the Ozarks area — particularly Harrison, Ark. — has consistently been home to hate, patriot and militia groups over the decades.

The region, like a good soil, provides some of the main nutrients needed to sustain hate groups, he said.

The area has a predominantly white population, conservative religious views and a general attitude that government should stay out of people's business.

"A certain portion of the population, they don't want to be told by the government who they should like or dislike," he said.

It doesn't mean that whites, or religious conservatives, or those favoring limited government are racists, he said. Or criminals. Or dangerous.

What it means, Potok said, is that some people twist their notion of freedom from government into freedom to hate.

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