Big-box stores abet hate groups?
April 12, 2012
Walmart, the biggest of the big-box stores, creates some big problems for communities, including a surge in the formation of hate groups, a major university study suggests. [San Francisco Chronicle]
The study’s lead author, Dr. Stephan Goetz of Penn State, noted that “Walmart clearly has done good things in the communities studied, especially in terms of lowering prices.” But a downside to such commerce is becoming apparent, he added, because “there may be indirect costs that are not as obvious as other effects.”
Goetz said the researchers discovered an undeniable correlation between the number of Walmart stores in any given county, and local hate group activity. By driving away small businesses in the community, Goetz said, community values are eroded, civil engagement limited, and social bonds broken — all of which provides fertile ground for an uptick in hate group activity. The researchers said they selected Walmart for the study partly because the store’s presence usually indicates other big-box stores, such as Target and Home Depot, are nearby.