Here's a slightly different take on Perception and Reality.
I was at a birthday party several years ago and was speaking with an acquaintance. Let's call her Ceci. She's very intelligent and very successful. Princeton undergrad, an Attorney, tall, good-looking and black. She was born and raised in New Jersey. I was raised in central Pennsylvania. Her take on Pennsylvania is that everyone past Philadelphia regularly walks around in white hoods, carrying a torch in one hand. At the time, I was merely bemused. Later on, as I thought back, I was mildly offended. I don't think I was deeply offended, but I was deeply affected. I continued to replay that interaction, testing it for perception vs reality.
Recently, I had the chance to do a little research into her perception. If you'd like your nice suburban butt kicked out of your comfort zone, go browse The Southern Poverty Law Center website. My analysis is going to be far from a thorough scientific report, but it will give you some idea of where reality lies. Lays. Lies. What's true and not.
Pennsylvania has 46,058 square miles and 37 known hate groups, which equals 1 hate group per 1,245 square miles. New Jersey, at 8,722 square miles, is about 1/5 the size of its neighbor. New Jersey has 40 known hate groups, which equals 1 hate group per 218 sq miles.
Pennsylvania has a population of about 12,500,000 people which is about 1 hate group per 337,840 people. New Jersey has a population of about 8,680,000 people. That's 1 hate group per 217,000 people.
I'm not picking on New Jersey. Some of my best friends are from New Jersey. They can be very nice. ;-) I just wanted to check Ceci's perception. And defend Pennsylvania. She, like most people, are comfortable at home, no matter what "home" actually is. It could, in fact, be dangerous, abusive, toxic. But not knowing what's out there, the unfamiliar, is UNcomfortable, even scary. What is that saying about the known evil? Help me out here. Think about the extreme situation where a child is abused in her own home. But it's home and normal to her. She grows up and what? Another abusive situation. Feels like home. How about you? What do you take for granted as being safe and even, good? but is merely familiar?