Has the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a non-profit legal organization founded on battling hate groups, become a hate group itself? Accusations that they’ve become a political attack machine intent on crushing their opponents into oblivion are widespread, due largely to a preponderance of examples of such attacks. Even some in the mainstream media have wondered aloud if they’ve strayed far from being a civil rights advocate.
But now something is actually happening about it. Conservative groups and individuals, who believe the SPLC has targeted them maliciously, are now fighting back, and their opening salvos are hitting the SPLC where it hurts — right in its prodigious pocketbook.
WHAT THEY WERE
The SPLC was founded in 1971 and won early victories against white supremacist groups. As Politico writer Ben Schreckinger penned, they put “some of the last nails in the coffin of the Ku Klux Klan.”
But then the SPLC found themselves in need of new targets — and funding.
WHAT THEY ARE NOW
The SPLC is now ensconced in a gleaming monolith that looks more like a modern art piece than a building in the heart of downtown Montgomery, Alabama. It exudes the scent of wealthy donors.
Schreckinger noted that the non-profit organization has “a huge endowment — more than $200 million — that is disproportionately large for its operating costs.”
How do they get people to donate so much of the hard-earned cash? By painting a picture of haters lurking around every corner in America.
SPLC founder Morris Dees “is a marketing genius,” notes Politico, pointing to the rapid growth of the non-profit in recent years. The organization receives a massive amount of funding from not only individuals but companies like Amazon, Bank of America, Lyft, and J.P. Morgan, according to PJ Media.
But Schreckinger says the SPLC’s critics are accusing it of “overplaying its hand, becoming more of a partisan progressive hit operation than a civil rights watchdog.”
HOW THEY ATTACK
The SPLC’s best-known tactic for crushing their political opponents is by labeling them as “hate groups” on their site or putting individuals on “extremist watch” lists. The news media often shares those labels, too. By doing so, not only does the organization tarnish their opponents’ reputations, they also make them so toxic that their opinions are no longer regarded as valid by mainstream America.
WHO THE SPLC IS TARGETING
Self-proclaimed white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and those trying to revive the Ku Klux Klan obviously make the list of the SPLC’s targets, but outrageously lumped into the same category are conservative groups, family values advocates, organizations founded on upholding biblical values, and former Muslims warning America about the dangers of Islamic extremism.
Somali-born human rights icon Ayaan Hirsi Ali got placed on the SPLC’s “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists,” according to the Daily Wire. Why is she considered so hateful? Because she speaks out against violence being done in the name of Islam.
Dr. Ben Carson, who now serves as the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, was denounced as an extremist because he’s opposed to gay marriage and said that Adolf Hitler would have had a harder time conquering Europe if average citizens were armed, the Daily Wire reported. After complaints, SPLC removed Carson from their “Extremist Files” list.
PragerU, a non-profit group that creates viral videos to educate people about conservative values, got labeled as a “hate group,” according to Western Journal. Founder Dennis Prager believes that the source of that label comes from an interview PragerU did where they scrutinized and disagreed with Stefan Molyneux, who draws links between people’s race and intelligence.
And then there’s the Family Research Council, which the SPLC has denounced as an
“anti-LGBT hate group,” along with its president Tony Perkins. SPLC published Perkins’ quotes where he warns against Sharia Law in America, the normalization of homosexuality for kids, and disproportionately high number of pedophilia incidents in the homosexual community.
If these are “hate” groups and “extremist” individuals, then the definitions of those words have been radically changed.
LABELS CAN BE DEADLY
In addition to ostracizing organizations that are intent on doing good in the world and demolishing the reputations of people who call for peace instead of violence, the SPLC is smothering many mainstream American values under a dung pile of hate labels. Unfortunately, calling someone a “hater” can have deadly consequences.
In 2012, an armed LGBT advocate walked into the Family Research Council’s office building in D.C. with the intent of murdering as many people as possible and smearing their faces with Chick-fil-A sandwiches as they lay dying, according to CNN. Miraculously, gunman Floyd Corkins was stopped by the first person he attacked, a building manager who tackled to him to the ground despite being shot.
What was Corkins’ motive? He said that seeing the SPLC’s “anti-gay” label for the Family Research Council (FRC) made it his target.
Even after the attack, the SPLC defended their denunciation of the FRC for “its demonizing lies and incendiary rhetoric about the LGBT community.” Would their response have been more apologetic if Corkins had successfully slaughtered a dozen or two innocent people?
WHO IS NOT A TARGET
The SPLC has been accused of not treating many liberal groups the same way even if those groups cause violence or call for assassinations. Antifa, which shows up at rallies armed for a street melee, gets a free pass, according to Western Journal. And Black Lives Matter, which is known for chanting in the streets about killing police officers, gets rated as tamer than mild-mannered Ben Carson.
“The reality is that the SPLC is a leftist hack advocacy group which picks and chooses what standards to apply to its labels, consistently turning a blind eye to leftist and pro-Democrat groups and individuals while targeting, often unfairly, their enemies on the right,” wrote Aaron Bandler of the Daily Wire.
HATE LURKING AROUND EVERY CORNER
The SPLC has also been accused of massively overstating the number of hate groups in America in order to make the country appear to be riddled with hatred. Their hate map paints a bleak picture of our beloved land.
Patrick Brennan of the National Review pointed out that the SPLC tends to list every chapter of a “hate group” as a separate “hate group.” The Council of Conservative Citizens, for example, is listed 37 times.
BUT NOW PEOPLE ARE FIGHTING BACK
London-based think-tank Quilliam works hard to combat Islamic extremist, so they didn’t take kindly to the SPLC including them in their “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists,” the Daily Wire reported. They threatened legal action, and amazingly, the SPLC paid Quilliam a $3.375 million settlement.
That was announced on June 18. Then on June 20, at least 47 non-profit groups that have been impugned by the SPLC told the group that they weren’t going to sit by and let themselves be mislabeled as hateful anymore.
According to PJ Media, they’re working together on filing lawsuits against the SPLC. They also sent a very stern warning to anyone who uses SPLC’s “hate” labels against them.
"Editors, CEOs, shareholders and consumers alike are on notice: anyone relying upon and repeating its misrepresentations is complicit in the SPLC's harmful defamation of large numbers of American citizens who, like the undersigned, have been vilified simply for working to protect our country and freedoms," the nonprofit groups wrote in a signed statement.
Nonprofits living under the shadow of SPLC’s attacks are turning the tables, revealing that an organization that claims to be so intent on exposing hate in America may have vastly overstepped its mission and may be using hateful tactics of its own to crush the freedom of speech — and keep its own coffers full.