In May 2007, Barack Obama was placed under 24/7 Secret Service protection—the earliest ever for a presidential candidate—after receiving numerous racist death threats. The election of the nation's first black president has become a potent recruiting tool for the extreme right, according to a new assessment from the Office of Intelligence and Analysis at the Department of Homeland Security.
[R]ightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues. The economic downturn and the election of the first African American president present unique drivers for rightwing radicalization and recruitment.
If the "uncertain economy" and a "perceived rising influence of other countries" continues, "rightwing extremism is likely to grow in strength," the report adds. "[L]one wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent rightwing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States."
The Southern Poverty Law Center adds the "number of hate groups operating in the United States continued to rise in 2008 and has grown by 54 percent since 2000—an increase fueled last year by immigration fears, a failing economy and the successful campaign of Barack Obama."
The recent shooting rampage in Pittsburgh that killed three officers was appatrently committed by a man who posted numerous racist and anti-Semitic messages on white supremacist websites.