teapartyHatred is getting a lot of press this week as reports of violent harassment against Congressional Democrats continue to surface. It began last weekend with Tea Party activists shouting racist and bigoted comments at House Democrats during the final push for health care reform.

But new research shows the Tea Party may be the nice guys amid soaring numbers of hate groups.

An "astonishing" 363 anti-government or "Patriot" groups appeared in 2009, with the totals going from 149 groups to 512, according to a report released by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

That's a 244 percent increase in one year. Many of the "Patriot" groups are militias. Before 2009, there were 42. Now, there are 127. Hate groups overall stayed at a record high of nearly 1,000 despite the disintegration of one of the largest neo-Nazi groups in the country.

According to the SPLC, a non-profit dedicated to fighting intolerance, the numbers are cause for "grave concern."

An excerpt:

Individuals associated with the Patriot movement during its 1990s heyday produced an enormous amount of violence, most dramatically the Oklahoma City bombing that left 168 people dead.

Already there are signs of similar violence emanating from the radical right. Since the installation of Barack Obama, right-wing extremists have murdered six law enforcement officers. Racist skinheads and others have been arrested in alleged plots to assassinate the nation’s first black president. One man from Brockton, Mass. — who told police he had learned on white supremacist websites that a genocide was under way against whites — is charged with murdering two black people and planning to kill as many Jews as possible on the day after Obama’s inauguration. Most recently, a rash of individuals with antigovernment, survivalist or racist views have been arrested in a series of bomb cases.

Democratic leaders and many political commentators have said the GOP is not only refusing to condemn recent hate crimes as they should, but encouraging it to gain political leverage.

A Boston Globe columnist wrote that instead of discussing the bill, the GOP stoked the hatred.

"Republicans chose to gin up the masses with unbridled fear, with House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio declaring the vote “Armageddon.’’

The San Francisco Chronicle wrote that "demagoguery hit a fever pitch" as lawmakers called one another "baby killer" for supporting health care reform and mobs outside called Congressman "ni**er" and "fa**ot."

It seems to have worked. A recent CBS poll trumpeted by GOP leaders shows that 62 percent of Americans believe the Republican Party should keep fighting the health care bill.

As a result, Republicans have become the "Party of No."

Glenn Beck's take on the outrageous abuse against Democrats should come as no surprise. According to him, it's President Obama and the Democrats who are using the "politics of fear" in an attempt to "silence the Tea Partiers."

Chip Berlet, a veteran analyst of the American radical right, wrote earlier this year that the US is "in the midst of one of the most significant right-wing populist rebellions in history."

"We see around us a series of overlapping social and political movements populated by people [who are] angry, resentful, and full of anxiety. They are raging against the machinery of the federal bureaucracy and liberal government programs and policies including health care, reform of immigration and labor laws, abortion, and gay marriage."