Earlier this week, a number of my esteemed colleagues and I signed a letter calling out America’s leading source of information on U.S. charities, Guide Star, on its use flagrant use of the SPLC’s hate labels in smearing conservative organizations.
We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, write to express our strong disagreement with Guidestar’s newly implemented policy that labels 46 American organizations as “hate groups.” Your designations are based on determinations made by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a hard-left activist organization. As such, SPLC’s aggressive political agenda pervades the construction of its “hate group” listings.
The SPLC has no bona fides to make such determinations. It is not a governmental organization using a rigorous criteria to create its lists, and it is not a scientifically oriented organization. The SPLC is merely another “progressive” political organization. It gained credibility attacking Klansmen, neo-Nazis, and skinheads – many of whom were engaged in violence. The SPLC is now trying to export the same tactics into areas of mainstream political discourse including debates about immigration and sexual-identity politics.
The “hate group” list is nothing more than a political weapon targeting people it deems to be its political enemies. The list is ad hoc, partisan, and agenda-driven.1 The SPLC doesn’t even pretend to identify groups on the political left that engage in “hate.” Mosques or Islamist groups that promote radical speech inciting anti-Semitism and actual violence are not listed by the SPLC even though many have been publicly identified after terrorist attacks. Radical, violent leftist environmentalists or speech suppressing thugs – like the rioting “antifa” movement – receive no mention from the SPLC.
Despite its denials to the contrary, this highly refined method of ostracism and dehumanization practiced by the SPLC isn’t just about verbal debate – it can foreseeably lead to violence. The SPLC’s primary goal is to achieve the political submission of its opponents, but its practice of sustained demonization in one’s community – which is what a “hate map” is all about – inflames passions of hatred and animus against its targets……
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History has shown us that the norming of lies, libel, and smear is the road to hell. Literally.
An unsuspecting public takes assumes the hatemongering SPLC is some kind of neutral player, when it is an uber-left attack machine using its “hate group” designation to destroy and defame those who oppose their anti-freedom agenda. But it classifies no Islamic jihad groups as “hate groups.” It even dropped the violent and racist Nation of Islam from its hate group list.
The SPLC, traffics in blood libel and incitement to murder, is a hate group that the left counts on to smear, defame and destroy those brave enough to oppose their totalitarian agenda. This is the hardcore leftist group whose members have targeted family group leaders for assassination.
SPLC uses its hate group listings to demonize conservatives and anyone who dissents from its statist, authoritarian agenda. Its hate group list is so tendentious and politically motivated that they were recently removed from a government website’s listing of resources on hate groups. The SPLC lists my organizations and me as hate groups.
GuideStar announced this month that it would classify 46 nonprofits as hate groups based on the SPLC’s imprimatur. GuideStar CEO Jacob Harold told the Associated Press the move was justified by an increase in “hateful rhetoric” across the country.
Aided by a veneer of objectivity, the SPLC has for years served as the media’s expert witness for evaluating “extremism” and “hatred.” But while the SPLC rightly condemns groups like the Ku Klux Klan, Westboro Baptist Church and New Black Panther Party, it has managed to blur the lines, besmirching mainstream groups like the FRC, as well as people such as social scientist Charles Murray and Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a critic of Islamic extremism.
A clear illustration of the SPLC’s pervasive and insidious influence is the March riot at Middlebury College, where Mr. Murray had been invited to speak. “The SPLC is the primary source for the protesters at my events,” Mr. Murray told me. “It is quotes from the SPLC, assertions by the SPLC that drive the whole thing.”
Mr. Murray’s politics are libertarian, but the SPLC labels him a “white nationalist.” In reporting on the Middlebury fracas, numerous news organizations repeated the SPLC’s characterization without noting it was false. The AP even put it in a headline: “College Students Protest Speaker Branded White Nationalist.”
How did the SPLC become the default journalistic resource on purported hate speech, racism and extremism? Morris Dees, still the SPLC’s chief trial attorney, founded the organization in 1971 along with Joseph Levin Jr. , now an emeritus board member. In its early years, the SPLC made a name for itself by winning some high-profile cases against the KKK and other white-supremacist groups. But over time its mission changed. In recent years it has focused on “tolerance education,” hate-group tracking (including an online “hate map”) and fundraising.
Although the SPLC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and therefore statutorily prohibited from engaging in partisan politics, even a cursory review of its website belies its nonpartisan status. During the 2016 election, the SPLC posted “Margins to the Mainstream: Extremists Have Influenced the GOP 2016 Policy Platform” and “Here Are the Extremist Groups Planning to Attend the RNC in Cleveland.” The Democratic platform and convention received no such scrutiny.
An SPLC post titled “Electoral Extremism” ostensibly profiles “a dozen 2014 candidates, including Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, independents and others.” Only a single Democrat is profiled, along with five Republicans and five third-party candidates. All of those listed are considered “right wing” or conservative, including the third-party ones. Even the Democrat on the list formerly belonged to the Constitution Party.
Last August SPLC senior fellow Mark Potok tied Donald Trump to David Duke, whom Mr. Trump had denounced. “Anyone with two brain cells to rub together can see the denunciations [of Mr. Duke] are not sincere,” Mr. Potok told the Huffington Post. “The sad reality is that David Duke and Donald Trump are appealing to precisely the same constituency.” Not quite. Mr. Trump took 58% of the vote in Louisiana. Mr. Duke, running for U.S. Senate on the same ballot, managed only 3%.
The SPLC reflexively plays down threats from the left. This February Mr. Potok wrote that in the 1990s “the American radical right” was “deprived of the bogeyman of communism.” Even when condemning far-left groups, the SPLC shows an odd deference. Describing black separatists, the SPLC avers that “much black racism in America is, at least in part, a response to centuries of white racism,” and “the racism of a group like the Nation [of Islam] may be relatively easy to understand.”
Kori Ali Muhammad allegedly murdered three white people in California in April. The SPLC reports that on Facebook Mr. Muhammad wrote of “grafted white devil skunks” and repeatedly referred to the mythical “Lost Found Asiaiatic [sic] Black Nation in America.” Yet in contrast with its unequivocal (and false) tagging of Mr. Murray, the group describes Mr. Muhammad as a “possible black separatist.”
The SPLC’s work arguably contributes to the climate of hate it abhors—and Middlebury isn’t the worst example. In 2012 Floyd Lee Corkins shot and wounded a security guard at the Family Research Council’s headquarters. Mr. Corkins, who pleaded guilty to domestic terrorism, told investigators he had targeted the group after learning of it from the SPLC’s website. The SPLC responded to the shooting with a statement: “We condemn all acts of violence.”
Last week the SPLC found itself in the awkward position of disavowing the man who opened fire on Republican members of Congress during baseball practice. “We’re aware that the SPLC was among hundreds of groups that the man identified as the shooter ‘liked’ on Facebook,” SPLC president Richard Cohen said in a statement. “I want to be as clear as I can possibly be: The SPLC condemns all forms of violence.”
Some journalists harbor doubts about the SPLC. “Any time a group like that is seen as partisan it undermines itself and its noble mission,” a network anchor told me on condition of anonymity. “Anti-LGBTQ bigotry is heinous, but classifying the Family Research Council in the same terms as Nazis did not help SPLC in its nonpartisan mission.”
Still, as long as journalists serve up what the SPLC dishes out, the group has little to gain by directly engaging its critics. (It did not respond to three inquiries for this article.) Now the GuideStar partnership may further burnish its credentials as an unbiased arbiter of hate.
Nonprofit Tracker Smears Dozens of Conservative Organizations as ‘Hate Groups’
Rachel del Guidice / Daily Signal, June 21, 2017:
The nation’s leading source of information on U.S. charities faces mounting criticism for using a controversial “hate group” designation in listings for some well-known and broadly supported conservative nonprofits.
GuideStar, which calls itself a “neutral” aggregator of tax data on charities, recently incorporated “hate group” labels produced by the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center.
The decision by the tracker of nonprofits prompted 41 conservative leaders to protest the move in a letter provided exclusively to The Daily Signal. The letter, dated June 21, asks the website to drop the “hate group” labels put on 46 organizations. (Read the full letter below.)
GuideStar’s use of the “hate group” designation for certain organizations, many of them Christian, unfairly and inaccurately adopts the “aggressive political agenda” of Southern Poverty Law Center, the leaders write.
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Among the organizations represented are the Family Research Council, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, the Immigration Reform Law Institute, the American College of Pediatricians, the National Task Force for Therapy Equality, the American Family Association, the London Center for Policy Research, and the Jewish Institute for Global Awareness.
In the letter to GuideStar President and CEO Jacob Harold, the conservative leaders write:
We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, write to express our strong disagreement with GuideStar’s newly implemented policy that labels 46 American organizations as ‘hate groups.’ Your designations are based on determinations made by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a hard-left activist organization. As such, SPLC’s aggressive political agenda pervades the construction of its ‘hate group’ listings.
A biography of Harold on GuideStar’s website describes him as a “social change strategist.” He is seen in this tweet participating in the Jan. 21 Women’s March in Washington, D.C., which opposed new President Donald Trump:
Prior to joining GuideStar, Harold worked for the Hewlett Foundation’s philanthropy program, as a “climate change campaigner” for Rainforest Action Network and Greenpeace USA, and as an organizing director at Citizen Works.
Signers of the letter sound their concern that GuideStar, which calls itself a neutral public charity, is using the Southern Poverty Law Center’s much-contested language to flag “hate groups,” organizations that SPLC disagrees with.
“I think that what GuideStar is doing is another attack on conservative Christian organizations and individuals,” William G. “Jerry” Boykin, a retired Army general who is executive vice president of the Family Research Council, told The Daily Signal in an interview, adding:
We have seen the same thing from other places to include certain media outlets. GuideStar says that they are neutral, but they are anything but neutral. In fact, they are, I would say at this point, they are becoming an arm of the ultra-left.
Mat Staver, who also signed the letter and is the founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, a legal group focused on religious liberty, told The Daily Signal in a phone interview he detects purposeful motivation behind GuideStar’s flagging.
“The intent there obviously is to harm, I think, these organizations,” Staver said.
Foundations, corporations, and other institutions look at listings by such organizations as GuideStar when they determine where to make tax-exempt contributions. They are unlikely to donate money to any organization labeled as a hate group, the conservative leaders argue.
A GuideStar spokesperson told The Daily Signal in an email Wednesday that the website will change some of the language:
GuideStar draws information from thousands of distinct sources, each of them imperfect. In aggregate, those sources help us offer a multidimensional view of nonprofits. However, we recognize that the SPLC data is especially controversial. We are changing the text description of this data and reconsidering where and how we present it on our website.
The changes will appear within a few days, the spokesperson said.
Family Research Council’s Boykin said GuideStar has two options.
“I think their choices are either take this label [down] that you have put on these different organizations, all of which are conservative Christian organizations, or acknowledge that you are a politically active arm of the liberal progressive movement in America,” he said.
Staver said his organization, one of those flagged by GuideStar as a hate group, asked Harold to promptly remove that label.
“So, 41 organizations are joining together, we are asking GuideStar’s CEO to respond to me within a very quick turnaround time to reverse its course and cease this false and defamatory labeling that it is using on its website,” Staver told The Daily Signal, referring to the letter.
Among the signers is Edwin J. Feulner, founder and president of The Heritage Foundation, the parent organization of The Daily Signal. Two other fixtures of the conservative think tank, Heritage board member Edwin Meese III and Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham, also signed the letter. Heritage is not labeled a hate group by either SPLC or GuideStar.
Organizations such as the Family Research Council are well aware of the implications of the messaging that GuideStar is perpetrating, Staver said.
Floyd Corkins, the man convicted of a 2012 attempt to massacre employees at the Family Research Council, was inspired by SPLC’s description of the Christian pro-family research organization as a hate group, he noted.
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