In my first piece for Quartz, I looked through the geographic distribution of US anti-government and hate groups - which have exploded in number under the Obama administration - and which regions, if any, hold a stranglehold on these organizations:
A recent Rolling Stone article pondered whether a “Confederate Spring” was congealing on the backs of “intensifying white supremacy in the South recently.” But while the recent rise in Confederate apologia is no doubt concerning—and points to a terminal confusion between patriotism and treason in numerous pockets of the country—the South doesn’t own a monopoly on either anti-government or hate groups.
In reality, if we look at SPLC’s figures, Idaho, Montana, Mississippi, Vermont, and South Dakota all rank within the top 10 for both anti-government and hate groups per capita. ... Idaho—home of Ruby Ridge, the Aryan Nations, and state legislators who proudly wave Confederate flags—emerges as the only state in the upper echelon for both anti-government and hate groups per capita. Idaho’s status “is due to historic reasons,” says the SPLC’s Mark Potok. “The whole idea [of groups like Aryan Nations] for about 15 years was pervasive on the right: you have to move to Idaho, away from the miserable elites. Several hundred people moved to Idaho on the basis of extreme right-wing politics.”
Meanwhile, over at Medium, I tossed up some findings as to how Azerbaijani lobbyists have manipulated American media - editors and readers alike - and why they may soon begin the practice again:
To be sure, masquerading as an unbiased observer — all while on a dictatorship’s dole — is not solely an Azerbaijani phenomenon; this malfeasance is why FARA was created in the first place, after all. But Azerbaijan’s track record of recruiting those who’d forego ethical disclosures on American op-ed pages has seemingly surpassed all others over the past few years, at least within the realm of post-Soviet kleptocracies. And unless editors remain vigilant — or readers are willing to contact the editors outright — there’s little reason to think this push, while momentarily on pause, won’t pick up as soon as oil begins its eventual climb back.