My article from the August 20, 2012, issue of Front Page Magazine:
Smearing Conservatives, Raking In Cash
By Matthew Vadum
After the Southern Poverty Law Center – a quarter-billion dollar leftist attack machine funded by George Soros – labeled the conservative Family Research Council a “hate group,” a gay rights activist shot up FRC headquarters in Washington, D.C. last week.
FRC president Tony Perkins acknowledged “the gunman is responsible for the shooting,” but blamed the SPLC for “recklessly” labeling groups “like FRC that they disagree with as ‘hate groups,’ that created this hostile environment.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center’s behavior isn’t reckless as such. It’s far worse than that. It is calculated and malicious, intended to foment hatred and raise oceans of cash by bamboozling gullible liberals into giving money to what is one of the wealthiest nonprofit groups in the history of the United States.
The paranoid conspiracy theorists of the SPLC deliberately conflate conservative groups with genuinely extremist groups such as the infamous Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, another SPLC-designated hate group. In declaring FRC a hate group, it asserts that FRC is the moral equivalent of other SPLC-classified hate groups such as the Aryan Brotherhood, Nation of Islam, and New Black Panther Party. Even liberal Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank calls it “absurd” for SPLC to place FRC “in the same category as Aryan Nations, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Stormfront and the Westboro Baptist Church.”
FRC is trying to change American culture just as SPLC is trying to push the culture in a different direction. Most Americans would say the two groups have a difference of opinion. SPLC, which pretends to champion “tolerance,” doesn’t see it this way and routinely smears FRC as a hate group in order to discredit it and the ideas it stands for.
Put another way, SPLC attacks the Family Research Council because the latter is opposed to homosexuality.
Every other complaint SPLC generates about FRC is a mere detail emanating from this central truth. To SPLC founder Morris Dees and his followers those who do not approve of homosexuality are guilty of hate, or if you prefer, thought crime. It follows that those who oppose same-sex marriage are also guilty of hate even though every time the question has been put on the ballot anywhere in the United States – even in irretrievably liberal California— Americans have voted same-sex marriage down. America, it turns out, is guilty of hate.
But SPLC is selective in singling out anti-gay “hate” groups. The Center ignores many Muslim organizations that are violently opposed to homosexuality. Instead the group attacks people like David Horowitz, Pamela Geller, and Robert Spencer who worry about the threat that radical Islamists pose to America, accusing them of anti-Muslim bigotry for daring to speak out.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has been at this game a long time, making money by smearing conservatives. It is so fabulously wealthy that it stashes money in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, two of those tax haven countries the Left keeps complaining about. In addition to those foreign accounts, in its most recent publicly available tax return the SPLC discloses an absolutely astounding $238.1 million in net assets.
SPLC’s robust balance sheet dwarfs those of other big leftist groups. For example, the highly influential Center for American Progress, founded by Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta, discloses net assets of just $36.6 million, or less than one-sixth of SPLC’s bank ledger.
And the Southern Poverty Law Center guards its assets carefully, responding angrily when it is called out for its vicious nonsense.
SPLC “senior fellow” Mark Potok called Perkins’s accusation “outrageous.”
“For more than 40 years, the SPLC has battled against political extremism and political violence,” said Potok. “We have argued consistently that violence is no answer to problems in a democratic society, and we have strongly criticized all those who endorse such violence, whether on the political left or the political right.” [italics added]
This is demonstrably false. The SPLC habitually ignores labor violence. SPLC didn’t care when SEIU thugs beat up black conservative Kenneth Gladney for selling Gadsden flags, the Revolutionary Era flags emblazoned with “Don’t Tread On Me,” outside a town hall meeting.
The SPLC probably believes Gladney brought the attack on himself. According to Potok the Gadsden itself is a symbol of hate that in “contemporary society [is] the flag of the militia movement.” The flag says “Don’t mess with us,” and implies, “Don’t mess with us at the point of a gun.”
SPLC let a powerful Democratic lawmaker off the hook. Left-wing Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, a Democrat who filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and who used to be a paid recruiter for the ultra-violent Ku Klux Klan, got a free pass from the SPLC. Byrd eagerly volunteered for a bit part in the 2003 movie Gods and Generals, portraying Paul Jones Semmes. Semmes wasn’t merely a Confederate brigadier general: he was a slave-owning plantation owner.
Opposed at one time to efforts to racially integrate the military, Byrd wrote he preferred to “die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds!” A spokeswoman for SPLC, which raises millions of dollars each year claiming the nearly extinct Klan somehow poses a mortal threat to society, downplayed Byrd’s KKK ties. “It’s not just Robert Byrd who was touched by this, but many, many people … The fact of the matter is, for many years, the Klan wasn’t very far off the mainstream of American politics,” she said in 2005.
Nothing to see here; move along.
Potok blamed right-wingers when the mentally ill Jared Lee Loughner shot then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and when Joe Stack flew his plane into an IRS office in Texas.
To the extent that either man had any kind of a discernible belief structure, they sure didn’t seem like conservatives. Loughner listed the Communist Manifesto as one of his favorite books and Stack’s online suicide note ended with “The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.”
We’ll probably never know for sure if the “hate group” designation SPLC slapped on the Family Research Council inspired would-be mass murderer Floyd Lee Corkins II to shoot FRC security employee Leo Johnson.
But we do know that the nasty propagandists of the Southern Poverty Law Center aren’t going to give up on their odious campaign to de-legitimize their opponents any time soon.