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 Reason.com 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.