(CNSNews.com) - The nation must address the "atmosphere of hate" and the "moral ugliness in our midst," NAACP President Cornell William Brooks said on Sunday.
And that will take money, he indicated: "We have to allocate resources to address these hate groups and these hate crimes," Brooks told CBS'S "Face the Nation."
Brooks noted that the murder of nine people in a Charleston Church last week may have happened in mere moments, "but it came into being over some time."
He said the suspect, 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof, "was indoctrinated, radicalized, if you will, with an ideology of white nationalism or a racism, and so the point being here is we have got to look at not only this individual act of brutality. We also have to look at the atmosphere from which it emerged.
"And we have to address that. When we think about the fact that, in this country, there are 784 hate groups, the level of hate crimes in this country has remained constant over years. We have to allocate resources to address these hate groups and these hate crimes."
According to Brooks, the Justice Department vastly underestimates the number of hate crimes in the U.S. because "they have to rely on self-reporting." He estimated the true number of "hate crimes" at 200,000 to 300,000 a year, and he called it "inconsistent with our values as Americans. So, we have got to address that."
The liberal Southern Poverty Law Center, which counts 784 active hate groups in the United States, says all of those groups "have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics."
It also says hate group activities "can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing." Except for criminal acts, all of those activities are protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Host John Dickerson asked Brooks on Sunday if the mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church was the act of a "crazy, evil person," or if it stemmed from a "larger cultural racism."
"This young man was wearing a flag of the pre-Nelson Mandela apartheid era South Africa," Brooks responded "He also wore a flag of the nation of Rhodesia, drove a car embellished with the Confederate Flag.
"Each of these symbols is illustrative of an underlying racism in this country among a minority of Americans, but a level of racism and racial bigotry and racist ideology that we cannot blink, we cannot ignore, we have to address. It is a moral ugliness in our midst, but we have got to address that.
"And so that means very specifically our houses of faith have to speak to this challenge. We, as democratic and moral leaders in this country, have to speak to that, but we also need vigorous prosecution and vigorous investigation of these hate groups and the resources to do so.
"To be clear, we cannot tolerate a de minimis amount of racism and bigotry in our country. It must be stamped out, and particularly this which is of a violent nature.
"The fact that you can have young man enter a Bible study -- think about that, a Bible study -- and target this particular church, this particular city, this particular category of Americans, namely African-Americans, and carry out this brutality and evil in our midst, it has to be addressed, with resources, with a moral commitment, with a prosecutorial commitment."
Brooks noted that the NAACP has boycotted the State of South Carolina for years because the Confederate battle flag still flies on the State House grounds. "The fact of the matter is, that flag represents exclusion, it represents bigotry, it represents bias," he said.
"There are white nationalist groups across the country who see that flag as representing their values. The fact of the matter is, our American flag represents the values of the majority of Americans. That is inclusion, that is democracy, that is the spirit of our Founding Fathers and our founding mothers.
"That Confederate Flag does not represent those values. And in 2015, it's an anachronistic emblem of a bygone era, at best, and most likely and most representative of a set of values that run contradictory, that run counter to who we are as Americans. It has to come down. It must come down."
In a "special report" issued in 2010, the NAACP exposed "the links between certain Tea Party factions and acknowledged racist hate groups in the United States. These links should give all patriotic Americans pause," the report said.