The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is a left-wing attack dog operation that defames and bullies those with whom it disagrees about politics. Its designation of political adversaries as “hate groups” — which amounts to an ideological fatwa — is widely used in the liberal mainstream media and employed even by parts of the U.S. government.
How to explain this? For one thing, the SPLC is still riding the good work it performed decades ago in taking on the Ku Klux Klan. For another, the SPLC (its name notwithstanding) is rich. Its endowment is $319.3 million; its staff is 250 strong. Resources like these foster influence, especially if you’re a left-leaning outfit.
Finally, as I have just suggested, the liberal media and many liberals in government probably rely on the SPLC because they share its warped view that strong political adversaries are hate groups. Groups designated as such by the SPLC include the Family Research Council, the Center for Security Policy, our friends at the Center for Immigration Studies, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Many liberals hate these groups and individuals, and are delighted to use the SPLC’s “hate group” label to smear them.
Now, however, the SPLC seems to be overreaching. As Scott discussed here, the SPLC labeled Quilliam, a London-based group run by Maajid Nawaz that aims to counter jihadism, a hate group. Nawaz responded by suing the SPLC. When he appeared on Bill Maher’s show, the comedian said he’d like to support Nawaz’s suit.
Nawaz is no one’s ideal of a conservative. He considers himself a liberal and, in fact, ran for parliament as a liberal democrat. In addition, when he talks about the jihadist threat, he speaks from first hand knowledge, as a former member of the extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir.
As I said, the SPLC has overreached. Some liberals are beginning to notice.
In a long article Politico asks, “Has a Civil Rights Stalwart Lost Its Way?” The answer, reporter Ben Schreckinger strongly suggests is: yes (see below).
Schreckinger’s piece betrays a liberal bias — as in its characterization of Frank Gaffney as an “anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist.” But that’s what makes the piece so significant. It shows that mainstream liberals may finally have had enough of the SPLC. When you’ve lost Bill Maher and Politico…
Thus, Schreckinger’s verdict, though understated, is ominous for the SPLC:
Is tough immigration control really a form of hate, or just part of the political conversation? Does rejecting a religion make you an extremist? At a time when the line between “hate group” and mainstream politics is getting thinner and the need for productive civil discourse is growing more serious, fanning liberal fears, while a great opportunity for the SPLC, might be a problem for the nation.
The big question, though, is whether mainstream media outlets and others will keep relying on the SPLC’s “hate group” designation. So far the signs are mixed, as is illustrated by the case of GuideStar, which monitors the finances of more than 1.6 million NGOs and nonprofits. Not long ago, it added the SPLC label to more than 40 nonprofits. Then, it announced it was dropping the designation. Now, apparently, it is thinking of resuming the practice.
Whatever happens with GuideStar, I agree with Mark Krikorian (one of the SPLC’s targets) that the left-wing outfit is “losing its sting.” It seems to me that its ideological fatwas — which in at least one case and maybe another contributed to violence against a designated group — will continue to lose their force.
Riding the wave of leftist hatred of President Trump, the SLPC will prosper financially. But it likely will come to be viewed as what is is — just another left-wing propaganda machine.
NOTE: I have the changed the title of this post slightly from the original version.