CNN’s Hate Group List Smears Some Great Organizations

By Tom Gilson Published on August 17, 2017

CNN has just published a map and listing of “all the active hate groups where you live.” I’ve got serious problems with lists like this, but apparently CNN doesn’t. It seems to me that if they believe in “hate group” lists, they really ought to include themselves on it.

A list like this one, published days after Charlottesville, is, in theory, meant to warn Americans against groups that might carry similar violence into other cities. Some of the groups on this list, which was developed and has been kept updated by the Southern Poverty Law Center, truly fit that description. Others simply don’t belong there.

Disagreement Isn’t Hate

The Alliance Defending Freedom is a legal group. I’ve worked with some of their attorneys, and from personal contact I can attest to the fact that they don’t actually hate people. They’ll confront people with persuasive arguments, but even liberals should be able to handle that without an SPLC danger warning.

The American Family Association publishes print, web, video and broadcast media, and sends people out to speak. I did some media work with them last week, which will be released in a week or two from now. I can tell you from even more direct personal knowledge that I don’t hate people I disagree with. I abhor and condemn violence.

There’s a reason we have one word for disagreement, another one for hate: They’re not the same thing.

Why are the ADF, AFA and other similar groups are on the SPLC’s list? It’s mostly because they stand for the sort of marriage and moral values that supports and strengthens families, communities and society for the long term. As such they advocate for beliefs that liberals find disagreeable. But disagreement is not hate. If it is, then CNN — which is hardly known for agreeing with everything it reports on — is a hate group, too.

It would be silly to tar CNN with that label just for disagreeing, though, just as it’s silly to do the same with the ADF, AFA and other conservative advocacy groups. There’s a reason we have one word for disagreement, another one for hate: They’re not the same thing. Not even if you hate the fact that I disagree with you. (Putting it that way actually reveals where the hate really lies.)

Hateful Accusations of Hate

Still CNN could be labeled a hate group on other grounds. They’ve listed the ADF, AFA, etc. alongside groups like Bomb Islam, the Supreme White Alliance and the KKK, which implies that they’re despicably racist and potentially violent in similar ways. That’s a hateful implication for the SPLC to make. It’s hateful for CNN to publish it without clarifying the truth. Would you tell the world I was aligned with white supremacists if you didn’t hate me?

Still I wouldn’t put CNN on a hate group list. I think there’s something fundamentally wrong with the whole idea of this kind of list. The search for people who “hate”is too subjective and too easily contaminated with smug self-righteousness. That’s where the SPLC list went wrong. (A mistake that led in 2012 to an attempted massacre at the offices of the Family Research Council in 2013.) 

Lists That Might Do Some Good

Neither the SPLC nor CNN should be so paternal as to tell us what we’re supposed to think

Now, I could see the value in a list of known racist groups, if we called it (pardon my excessive creativity) a “List of Known Racist Groups.” We could use a list of groups known to advocate violence, if that’s what we called the list. Groups like these are obviously motivated by hate, but that’s not what the public really needs to know about them. We’re mature enough to draw our own conclusions about what’s behind these groups’ actions and beliefs.

We might even disagree over what motivates some groups. We should have the freedom to do so. Neither the SPLC nor CNN should be so paternal as to tell us what we’re supposed to think about them. So I’ll feel free to think there’s something hateful in this list — but I won’t add either the SPLC or CNN to any hate group list of my own.


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  • brothergc

    humm, CNN ? You mean The “Clinton News Network ” ? ROFL

  • Hmmm…


  • Paul

    Conservative groups are on SPLC lists because the SPLC is a biased bunch of libs.

    • Mensa Member

      >> the SPLC is a biased bunch of libs.

      Did you look at the list? Would “a biased bunch of libs” put so many black groups on there?

      • Andrew Mason

        A lot of the Black groups are just local branches. If you go to the SPLC extremist files it lists 10 groups. Contrast that with anti-LGBT. SPLC lists 45 groups, most having a single facility.

      • Paul

        Go to their homepage, the lib bias is obvious. Klan this, neonazi that, a photo of Trump for added effect, and a laundry list of lib causes. Angry white men and smiling minorities… it’s bleeding of lib stereotypes and you think adding the Nation of Islam and New Black Panthers on a map gives them cover? Good grief. Are you really that gullible or just hope others are?

      • Patmos

        Why are you still posting here, fake Christian troll? Go away, you have been exposed.

        • John Connor

          It’s a public forum. No membership required. Quit whining

          • Chip Crawford

            Quit enabling. Can’t you see how badly he is doing? He’s won no one over, just exposed his faux persona in all regards.

      • Chip Crawford

        Just report your failed mission; they’ll give you another assignment. Who knows, you may find some suckers at the next place?

  • Andrew Mason

    SPLC doesn’t even pretend to be a neutral party – their focus is exclusively on the so called radical right.

  • faithmcdonnell

    “It seems to me that if they believe in “hate group” lists, they really ought to include themselves on it.” Yup.

  • BetterYet

    Just another reason why I stopped watching “Chicken Noodle News”… Over two years ago, actually. Before Trump even came along.

  • Christine Wright

    Wow… They have listed the Clarion Project as an anti-Muslim hate group? It’s RUN largely by MUSLIMS!!!!! Practicing Muslims! How can they “hate” themselves! All they do is speak out against extremism.. This is ridiculous, plus what… They just put a target on these people’s backs? Wow… just wow.. the audacity of these people to put good people in such danger..

  • The media is a business that like all businesses is driven by the bottom line: it must make a profit to stay in business. It’s reporters must, therefore, write articles that motivate its readers to come back for more and who will therefore become loyal customers.

    This requires sensationalism and sensationalism doesn’t lend itself to the truth. Consequently, no one should expect truth to be of paramount importance to the media, especially being the Author of truth is of little significance to the mainline media sources.

    Deuteronomy 8:3 charges us to live “by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of Yahweh.” The word of everyone else should only be accepted based upon the criterion of “two or three witnesses,” per 2 Corinthians 13:1.5 Seldom is this statute observed by the media. Instead, they find their own preferred sources that contribute to their desired sensationalism (e.g., the Southern Poverty Law Center), citing them as their experts, and then broad brush everyone they’ve targeted as the same. Truthful, unbiased testimony is seldom the objective.

    Whereas the bottom line is of paramount necessity, it’s not the media’s paramount objective. The media is not impartial. It has an agenda like everyone else. To know what that agenda is, one needs to ascertain whether the media is known for being conservative or liberal? As for the mainline media, it should be self-apparent that theirs is not a conservative agenda.

    The impression of an independent press in America is part of its illusion. In 1898, at an annual dinner of the American Press Association, John Swinton, the one-time editor-in-chief of the New York Times, was called upon to toast journalism and America’s free press. He responded in a surprising way:

    “There is no such thing in America as an independent press, unless it is in the country towns. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write his honest opinions, and if you did you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid $150.00 a week for keeping my honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with—others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things—and any of you who would be so foolish as to write his honest opinions would be out on the street looking for another job. The business of the New York journalist is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to revile, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of Mammon, and to sell his race and his country for his daily bread. You know this and I know it, and what folly is this to be toasting an “Independent Press.” We are tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are jumping-jacks; they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.” (John Swinton (1829-1901), Editor-In-Chief of the New York Times, speech at an annual dinner of the American Press Association, sponsored by the New York Press Club, quoted by Upton Sinclair, The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest (New York, NY: Lyle Stuart Inc., 1963) p. 482.)

    For more, see blog article “The Lying Pens of Today’s Scribes.” Click on my name, then our website. Go to our Blog and click on the top entry.

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