Questions about the Southern Poverty Law Center continue

SPLC's Montgomery-based headquarters.

The group who once combatted hate groups like Ku Klux Klan (KKK) is now labeling pretty much any group, person or term they disagree with as “hate.”

Birmingham’s Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a non-profit that claims it is “dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society,” is under scrutiny once again for trying to profit from “selling” hate, rather than tracking it.

Libertarian TV personality and  author John Stossel is among those who have recently questioned some of the SPLC’s hate labels that he doesn’t believe amount to hate whatsoever:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali grew up in Somalia, where she suffered female genital mutilation. So now she speaks out against radical Islam. For that, SPLC put her on its list of dangerous “extremists.”

Maajid Nawaz was once an Islamic extremist. Then he started criticizing the radicals. SPLC labels him an “anti-Muslim extremist,” too.

…They call the Family Research Council a hate group because it says gay men are more likely to sexually abuse children.

In the Wendesday piece,  Stossel went on to assert the SPLC is no longer stopping hate, but “selling hate.” He went on to say:

I suspect SPLC labels lots of groups “haters” because crying “hate” brings in money.

… SPLC is now a hate group itself. It’s a money-grabbing slander machine.

And Stossel isn’t the only one who thinks so.

William Jacobson, a law professor at Cornell and critic of the SPLC, told POLITICO over the summer the group has wrapped itself in the mantle of the civil rights struggle to engage in partisan political crusading.

“Time and again, I see the SPLC using the reputation it gained decades ago fighting the Klan as a tool to bludgeon mainstream politically conservative opponents,” Jacobson said.

“For groups that do not threaten violence, the use of SPLC ‘hate group’ or ‘extremist’ designations frequently are exploited as an excuse to silence speech and speakers,” Jacobson added. “It taints not only the group or person, but others who associate with them.”

That doesn’t stop others from seeing the SPLC as the answer to America’s divisiveness.

Just last year Apple CEO Tim Cook informed employees that his company is giving $1 million to SPLC and matching employee donations. J.P. Morgan Chase also pitched in $500,000, specifically to further the SPLC’s “work in tracking, exposing and fighting hate groups and other extremist organizations,” said Peter Scher, the bank’s head of corporate responsibility.

But what exactly is their money paying for?

According to same POLITICO piece, Ken Silverstein, a liberal journalist and another critic of the group “attributes the growing scope of the SPLC’s censures to a financial imperative to wade into hot-button issues that will rile donors.”

“The organization has always tried to find ways to milk money out of the public by finding whatever threat they can most credibly promote,” Silverstein told the publication.

On Christmas, the SPLC ranked hashtags they found offensive. Shockingly, “#MerryChristmas” topped the list as the second most offensive hashtag of the day. The Hate Tracker website also listed #Christmas, #MerryChristmasEve and #Jesus in its top hateful trends used by what it deems “far-right Twitter users.”

“The SPLC is willing to lump anyone who says “Merry Christmas” or “Jesus” in with the most violent and racist groups in America,” Liberty Counsel stated. “This is one more way that the SPLC is exposing its own radical, discredited, anti-Christian hate.”

The SPLC said it’s not tracking hate, just hateful“far-right Twitter users” and what they’re saying.

“‘Hate Tracker’ webpage doesn’t actually track hate – it just tracks what is being tweeted by allegedly hateful people,” said the SPLC.

Nevertheless, many are still left wondering if the SPLC’s mission-focused days are a thing of the past, and if a simple difference of opinion is all it takes to be labeled a hater.


  1. Some SPLC factoids:

    1. In 2015, the SPLC dropped the “Civil Rights Organization” descriptor from its website and other fundraising materials. It now refers to itself as a “civil rights advocacy group” which allows it to weigh in on the Progressive “horreur du jour” without making any actual “civil rights” connections.

    2. In April, 2017, Charity Navigator noticed that donations to the SPLC were up by a staggering 1400% over the same quarter in 2016. That is an increase from $12.5 million to $187,500,000 for a single quarter. If that trend remained steady throughout the fiscal year (and the Charlottesville riots in August only accelerated donations) the company could be looking at $800 million to ONE BILLION in donations for FY 2017, on top of the $300 million in unrestricted cash-on-hand with which they began the fiscal year.

    3. Also in 2015, the company assigned 40 “hate groups” to New Jersey, giving that state the fourth highest total in the land and causing Mark Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League to publicly denounce the SPLC’s bogus counts.

    “According to Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the SPLC has a habit of counting single individuals as groups or chapters, which can give a skewed impression of hate groups in any given state.”

    “The Southern Poverty Law Center’s list is wildly inflated,” said Pitcavage. “They list skinhead groups in places where there are no organized groups, but instead it’s just a couple of individuals.”

    When your own brothers-in-arms denounce your “statistics” as “wildly inflated” it ought to give clear-thinking people pause.

    By the way, after being outed by the ADL, the SPLC slashed New Jersey’s “hate group” total from 40 to 21 overnight. According to the same scrupulous SPLC “statistics,” Texas alone went from FIVE Klan chapters in 2014 to FIFTY chapters in 2015 to NINE chapters in 2016. Data doesn’t come much harder than this, apparently.

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