The Hypocritical SPLC, the Hateful Hate List People
There’s enough truth in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s famous list of hate groups to hide one huge example of hate: the SPLC’s own. Look at how they treat views that everyone considered mainstream America just a couple decades ago — views that a majority of Americans still consider right and good.
Did you know that among the hate goups SPLC lists are these: the Family Research Council, Alliance Defending Freedom, the Liberty Counsel, the Ruth Institute, and the American Family Association? People from most of those write for The Stream. If you search its list for “family,” you find the group lists these conservative groups with groups like the National Socialist Movement and the Church of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Really?
That “Hate List” may be the highest-earning public relations trick in all non-profit fund-raising. The SPLC makes a killing from donors off it, while also trying to kill off a lot of legitimate conservative people and groups. The left loves the SPLC. The media loves it, too. But now, the SPLC is showing its true colors.
All that liberal love is going to be a lot harder now. Its internal hypocrisy was exposed in reports published this week — from the very sources that have loved the group and made it so influential (and rich). There are only a few remaining faults that everyone still regards as sin, and hypocrisy tops that list. Which explains why even The Los Angeles Times was willing to criticize the SPLC this week.
The organization has recently decided to fire co-founder Morris Dees, for unspecified reasons. Without concluding this was the reason for Dees’ dismissal, the Times noted that “the organization … has been wrestling with complaints of workplace mistreatment of women and people of color.”
A statement like that is almost astonishing. (Almost. I’ll come back to that.) If true, it runs completely counter to the SPLC’s founding purpose, when a lawyer named Joe Levin, Jr., joined with Dees to launch the organization almost 50 years ago.
Their first projects were in support of African Americans’ voting rights. Soon they were defending poor African Americans charged with crimes. Arguably their initial purpose was authentic: They wanted to help people.
Good Purposes Gone Corrupt
Arguably, too, within a decade or so, based on a New Yorker article this week by former staffer Bob Moser, their purpose changed. What the SPLC’s top leaders really wanted was to raise a lot of money. They took aim at the KKK when people in the know were perfectly aware the KKK had become virtually irrelevant. They raised tons of money off people who weren’t so much in the know. “The only thing easier than beating the Klan in court,” says Moser, quoting one of Dees’ associates, “… was raising money off Klan-fighting from liberals up north.”
Before long the SPLC was identifying “hate groups” on a list that now numbers more than 1,000. Meanwhile, though, says Moser, the group was as internally segregated as the old South. There were blacks on its staff, but very few in professional roles. Most of them by far were “the help,” says Moser.
Dysfunctional and Unjust — Now What Will the Donors Do?
Moser describes a desperately unhealthy internal culture during his tenure there in the early 2000s. Harper’s and The Progressive had written exposés of the Center’s fund-raising tactics. “Co-workers stealthily passed along these articles to me,” says Moser. New female staff members were quietly warned about Dees’ “reputation for hitting on young women.” Creativity was squashed by what one of Moser’s colleagues said was like a “monarchy.”
Which, again, is almost surprising — but not really. The SPLC’s public hypocrisy has been plain for all to see ever since it started adding legitimate, thoughtful conservatives to its “hate” list. It bills itself as crusading for justice, but its hate list is both biased in content and powerful in effect, which is a pretty good definition for injustice.
The SPLC was willing to be hypocritical in public; why be surprised to find them acting the same way in private?
The greater question now, though, is whether donors will finally back out of funding the SPLC over this. The bad news on that: It’ll only happen if more mainstream media pick up the story. If they do that, then I really will be surprised. Hypocrisy may still be a sin to the left. It remains to be seen whether it’s a greater sin than letting one of their favored groups suffer the proper consequences.
Tom Gilson is a senior editor with The Stream, and the author of A Christian Mind: Thoughts on Life and Truth in Jesus Christ. Follow him on Twitter: @TomGilsonAuthor.