April 17, 2008

Recently, the Associated Press breathlessly proclaimed, “€œNumber Of Hate Groups Rising, Report Says,”€ parroting claims from the Montgomery, AL based Southern Poverty Law Center.  Despite the group’s assertion, there is not a proliferation of hate groups, just an ever expanding definition of “€œhate”€ the SPLC uses to include perfectly mainstream conservatives and opponents of illegal immigration, most recently the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

With funding from groups like George Soros”€™ Open Society Institute, The SPLC has an endowment of over two hundred million dollars, making it “€œthe nation’s richest civil rights organization”€ according to USA Today. The SPLC was founded to push typical liberal advocacy on issues like homeless and prison, but it made its reputation by winning high profile law suits against cartoonish Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups. There are some serious First Amendment issues behind these lawsuits, but it is hard to have too much sympathy for such extremists.

In the last few years, the SPLC has used its reputation as the leading opponent of hate groups to go after conservatives who they group together with marginal, but genuinely violent and racist, organizations. In 2003, the SPLC documented how hate has gone “€œinto the mainstream”€ and accused the major conservative foundations”€”Scaife, Olin, and Bradley”€” as well as the American Enterprise Institute, the Free Congress Foundation, and David Horowitz’s Center for Study of Popular Culture of “€œspreading bigotry.”€  In 2004, the Center went after Christian conservatives like James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, and James Kennedy for their criticism of homosexuality, holding akin to “€œblood libel against the Jews”€ and making the charge that Christian conservatives “€œsubject the objects of their scorn to the very real possibility of violence and even death.”€ They have since list organizations like the Young Americans for Freedom and the Traditional Values Coalition as “€œhate groups,”€ on the same level with the Ku Klux Klan. 

In full disclosure I have been attacked by the Southern Poverty Law Center last fall. They don”€™t cite a single word I”€™ve written or spoke, but claim I”€™m “€œa man with a network of racist connections.”€  The extent of my “€œnetwork”€ is that I work for Pat Buchanan who they call a “€œwhite nationalist,”€ am facebook friends with a Washington Times reporter, and once had a panel on race with an editor of National Review and an African American conservative from the group Project 21. I will also mention that I”€™m half Asian and half Jewish.

In the last year or so, the SPLC’s main focus has been trying to keep opponents of illegal immigration out of the debate. They recently named the Federation for American Immigration Reform as a hate group. FAIR is the largest immigration control organization in the country. It is official policy that in their opposition to mass immigration, “there should be no favoritism toward or discrimination against any person on the basis of race, color, or creed.”  FAIR has a number of minorities on staff and the group has done a great deal of outreach on the negative effects illegal immigration has on blacks and legal Hispanic immigrants.

If you look at the SPLC’s profile on FAIR, they do not list a single “€œracist”€ statement”€ ever written for a FAIR publication, made on TV or at a FAIR event by one of their staffers, or uttered by one of their experts at Congress.  Instead, they take quotes”€”many of which are perfectly defendable”€”made by the FAIR’s founder (who is no longer involved with the organization) John Tanton focus on other “€œhate groups”€”€”real or imagined”€”that Tanton is tenuously linked to. 

The SPLC does not hide the fact that they want to FAIR to be blacklisted from the mainstream media and Congress.  If they can successfully silence FAIR, then they could do the same to many other anti-illegal immigration groups who they will no doubt “€œlink”€ to their newest hate group.  

The SPLC justifies their suppression of free speech by the supposed rash of anti-Hispanic Hate Crimes caused by the rhetoric from FAIR as well as Lou Dobbs, Glen Beck and Pat Buchanan.  In their report “€œImmigrant Backlash, Hate Crimes Against Latinos Flourish”€ they document a grand total of four murders and fourteen assaults”€”many of which were robberies or bar fights”€”over a period of three years.  The four murders included a yet to be convicted border patrol agent who claims self defense, an African American serial killer with no apparent racial motives, and a Hispanic killed by a racially mixed group of people.  Most amazingly, the SPLC included the wrongly imprisoned Hispanic border patrol agents Ramos and Compean as “€œhate crime”€ perpetuators and use examples to claim there is a epidemic of race hate against Hispanics sweeping the country.  Of course, the SPLC is not concerned with the over 2,100 people murdered by illegal aliens each year.

Compared to the ACLU and other left wing legal organizations, the SPLC’s agenda is not known to most conservatives.  I am shocked at how many have not even heard of the organization.  The ACLU pushes policies we strongly oppose, but the SPLC tries to keep us from even being allowed to oppose them.  While the ACLU’s agenda is well known, the press routinely quotes the SPLC as a non-bias watch dog that “€œmonitors the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups.”€  The New York Times recently reprinted an infograhic as if it were fact without any commentary.  The SPLC uses their “€œhate crime training”€ to law enforcement outfits across the country and its “€œTeaching Tolerance”€ series is used to indoctrinate students at Public Schools.

Across Canada and Europe, conservatives have been fined and even jailed for making statements critical of homosexuality, radical Islam, and illegal immigration that you would not be surprised to hear from Sean Hannity or Ann Coulter. Fortunately, we have the First Amendment, but well funded groups like the SPLC are doing everything they can to get around that and silence anyone to the Right of John McCain. We ignore them at our peril.


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