Account Login

2,304,235 Views
Oct 12, 2017
Presented by
Karl Zinsmeister

The Southern Poverty Law Center bills itself as a watchdog of hate groups. But is this just a cover for its true aims? Journalist and author Karl Zinsmeister explains.

The leftwing Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) uses its “hate list” as a weapon against its political enemies.

  • Originally founded as a civil-rights law firm in 1971, the SPLC reinvented itself in the mid-1980s as a leftwing political attack group.View Source
  • The SPLC started taking down the KKK, and made a lot of money doing it. Opponents have criticized the organization for having an endowment ($200 million in 2017) that is disproportionate to its operating costs.View Source
  • Every year the SPLC produces a new list of people and charities it claims are a “hate groups.” Over the years, the SPLC has included more and more groups and individuals on the right to their list of “extremists,” including mainstream conservatives and libertarians.View Source
  • Aided by glowing coverage from the establishment media, the SPLC’s hate list has become a weapon for taking individuals and groups they disagree with and tarring them with ugly associations.View Source

The SPLC profits off fear, raking in millions of dollars from donors by exaggerating threats from rightwing extremists.

  • The SPLC finds a small extremist organization, with barely any followers, no address, and no staff, and blows them up into a dangerous movement — supposed “proof” that there are neo-Nazis lurking everywhere.View Source
  • The SPLC’s “Hate Map” lists 917 separate hate groups in the US. To help inflate the numbers, they include every individual chapter of larger groups as separate groups.View Source
  • The SPLC uses fear mongering to increase its donations. Gloria Browne, a former SPLC lawyer, said that SPLC campaigns are designed to profit from “black pain and white guiltView Source
  • J.M. Berger, a research fellow with the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism at The Hague, is worried the SPLC has gone too far stretching the definition of extremism, saying, “The problem partly stems from the fact that the organization wears two hats, as both an activist group and a source of information.”View Source

The leftwing SPLC maliciously smears legitimate political voices it opposes by associating them with extremists.

  • The SPLC frequently smears legitimate conservative voices. For example, SPLC lists the Alliance Defending Freedom as a “hate group.” The ADF has a network of 3,000 attorneys from all across the U.S. who’ve donated more than a million volunteer hours in defense of religious liberty. They’ve had a role in 49 victories at the U.S. Supreme Court. Putting the Alliance Defending Freedom on a list with 130 Ku Klux Klan chapters is not only wrong, it’s malicious.View Source
  • According the SPLC, one of the most influential social scientists in the U.S. — Charles Murray — is a, quote, “white nationalist.”View Source
  • Ayaan Hirsi Ali, perhaps the most eloquent spokesperson for the rights of Muslim women, is, to the SPLC, an “anti-Muslim extremist.”View Source
  • Maajid Nawaz, a liberal advocate for Muslim reform and an anti-extremist was also added to the list of Anti-Muslim Extremism.View Source
  • The SPLC has tried to link groups like the Tea Party organizations that are wary of centralized government with militia movements and white nationalists.View Source
  • Mark Potok, a leader of SPLC, was caught on video telling a group of supporters the organization’s true intentions: “the press will describe us as ‘monitoring hate crimes’…. I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups, to completely destroy them.”View Source

Instead of reducing hate and violence, the SPLC’s name-calling against its political enemies incites it.

  • The SPLC has helped inspire leftwing extremist action. In perhaps the most notorious example, in 2012, a gunman attempted mass murder at the Family Research Council, and failed only because the first man he shot managed to disarm him. He targeted the Family Research Council because it was listed as a “hate group” by the SPLC.View Source
  • In March 2017, Charles Murray was trying to discuss his acclaimed book “Coming Apart” at Middlebury College, when he was violently attacked by protesters inflamed by the SPLC’s labeling of him as a supposed “racist.”View Source
  • In June 2017, a man who had “liked” the SPLC on Facebook shot Rep. Steve Scalise, seriously wounding him.View Source
  • Mark Potok, a leader of SPLC, was caught on video telling a group of supporters the organization’s true intentions: “the press will describe us as ‘monitoring hate crimes’…. I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups, to completely destroy them.”View Source

Despite its overtly partisan bias, the SPLC continues to be regularly quoted by the media—and rake in millions in donations.

  • The establishment media constantly quote the SPLC. Why? One reason is that scare stories about right-wing stormtroopers are a sure way to attract readers and viewers, and fit nicely with the biased media’s own preconceptions of the “dangerous reactionaries” lurking in middle America.View Source
  • In 2015, the SPLC received $50 million in contributions, yet they only spent $61,000 on legal services that year.View Source
  • The SPLC uses tragedy, like the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville to solicit donations from billionaires.View Source
  • Related reading: “A Demagogic Bully” – Mark Pulliam, City JournalView Source
  • Related reading: “Has a Civil Rights Stalwart Lost its Way?” – Ben Schreckinger, PoliticoView Source

The SPLC gets tens of millions in donations but only spends a small percentage of it on the legal services it’s supposed to be providing.

  • In 2015, the SPLC received $50 million in contributions, yet they only spent $61,000 on legal services that year.View Source
  • Related reading: “Has a Civil Rights Stalwart Lost its Way?” – Ben Schreckinger, PoliticoView Source
  • Related reading: “The SPLC smear machine is being funded by liberal billionaires -- why?” – Fred Fleitz, Fox NewsView Source
  • Related reading: “A Demagogic Bully” – Mark Pulliam, City JournalView Source
  • WATCH: John Birch Society Exposes the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)View Source

The highly partisan SPLC uses its “hate list” to smear its political enemies on the right—and the media empowers them to do it. 

  • Aided by glowing coverage from the establishment media, the SPLC’s hate list has become a weapon for taking individuals and groups they disagree with and tarring them with ugly associations.View Source
  • Every year the SPLC produces a new list of people and charities it claims are a “hate groups.” A large percentage of them are right-leaning groups.View Source
  • Related reading: “A Demagogic Bully” – Mark Pulliam, City JournalView Source
  • Related reading: “Has a Civil Rights Stalwart Lost its Way?” – Ben Schreckinger, PoliticoView Source
  • Related reading: “The SPLC smear machine is being funded by liberal billionaires -- why?” – Fred Fleitz, Fox NewsView Source
  • WATCH: John Birch Society Exposes the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)View Source

Shutting down people you don’t agree with is about as un-American as you can get.

Rigorous debate, honest discussion, open exchange of ideas—that’s the American way.

But free thinking and speech are threatened today by a group with a sweet-sounding name that conceals a nefarious purpose. This group is called the Southern Poverty Law Center, or SPLC.

Originally founded as a civil-rights law firm in 1971, the SPLC reinvented itself in the mid-‘80s as a political attack group. Every year now it produces a new list of people and charities it claims are “extremists” and “haters.”

Aided by glowing coverage from the establishment media, the SPLC’s hate list has become a weapon for taking individuals and groups they disagree with and tarring them with ugly associations.

The SPLC employs a two-pronged strategy:

First,  find a handful of crazies with barely any followers, no address, and no staff, and blow them up into a dangerous movement— proof that there are neo-Nazis lurking everywhere. On their notorious “Hate Map,” the SPLC lists 917 separate hate groups in the U.S.! No one has even heard of more than a handful of them.

The second strategy of the SPLC is to undermine legitimate political voices that they oppose by associating them with extremists like the KKK.

Take the charity known as the Alliance Defending Freedom. The SPLC lists them as a “hate group.” Is that fair? Well, the ADF has a network of 3,000 attorneys from all across the U.S. who’ve donated more than a million volunteer hours in defense of religious liberty. They’ve had a role in 49 victories at the U.S. Supreme Court. Putting the Alliance Defending Freedom on a list with 130 Ku Klux Klan chapters is not only wrong, it’s malicious.

According to the SPLC, one of the most influential social scientists in the U.S.— Charles Murray—is a, quote, “white nationalist.” Ayaan Hirsi Ali, perhaps the most eloquent spokesperson for the rights of Muslim women, is, to the SPLC, a “toxic... anti-Muslim extremist.”

Scores of other individuals and charities active in mainstream conservative or religious causes have likewise been branded by the Southern Poverty Law Center as threats to society.

Mind you, it is entirely fair to disagree with any of those folks. But it is utterly unfair to call them haters or extremists. The largest category listed by the SPLC as extremists—with 623 entries—covers groups like the Tea Party organizations that are wary of centralized government. Last time we checked, favoring smaller government was a mainstream and perfectly honorable American tradition.

What is not honorable is the course prescribed by a leader of the SPLC, Mark Potok, who was caught on video proclaiming the organization’s true intentions. He told a group of supporters, quote, “the press will describe us as ‘monitoring hate groups’…. I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups, to completely destroy them.”

Portraying someone with political views different from your own as a public menace is bullying.

And it’s a dangerous game. Instead of reducing hate and violence, the SPLC’s name-calling directly incites it.

In March 2017, Charles Murray was trying to discuss his acclaimed book Coming Apart at Middlebury College when he was violently attacked by protesters inflamed by the SPLC’s labeling of him as a racist. A professor escorting Murray ended up in the hospital.

In 2012, a gunman attempted mass murder at the Family Research Council, and failed only because the first man he shot managed to disarm him. The attacker told the police he acted because the SPLC had listed the Family Research Council as a hate group.

It’s a vicious irony: while promoting itself as a monitor of “hate groups,” the SPLC has, in practice, become a fomenter of hate.

Yet the group rolls on, bigger than ever. What keeps them going?

For one thing, the establishment media constantly quote them.

Scare stories about right-wing storm-troopers are a sure way to attract eyeballs, and fit nicely with the media’s own preconceptions of the “dangerous reactionaries” lurking out there in middle America.

Second, alarmism is a great fundraising technique. Convincing people there are fascists everywhere has turned the SPLC into a cash machine. Last year, the group hustled $50 million dollars out of frightened liberal donors, adding to the $368 million dollars of assets they were already sitting on.

So, the next time you see the Southern Poverty Law Center quoted in the news, just remember: the masterminds behind the SPLC aren’t eliminating hate. They are fueling it.

I’m Karl Zinsmeister for Prager University.

You Earned A Badge

Course: The "Anti-Hate" Group That Is a Hate Group

Join PragerU now to claim it

  1. Watch The Video
  2. Claim Your Badge
  3. Take the Quiz
  4. Gild Your Badge

Like what you see? Support PragerU today