Journalist Alert: Beware the Politicized “Hate Group” Designations by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)
Christian groups are celebrating with the news that the Federal Bureau of Investigation appears to have scrubbed the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) from its hate crimes webpage, where the controversial group was listed as a resource and referred to as a partner in public outreach.
A letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, drafted by Lieutenant General (Ret.) William G. Boykin, Executive Vice President of the Family Research Council (FRC), calls such an association “completely unacceptable.”
Signed by fourteen other conservative and Christian leaders, the letter calls SPLC “a heavily politicized organization producing inaccurate and biased data on ‘hate groups’ – not hate crimes.” It accuses the SPLC of “providing findings that are not consistent with trends found in the FBI statistics.” Where the FBI has found hate crimes and hate groups declining significantly in the past ten years, SPLC claims hate groups have increased 67.3% since 2000. Where once SPLC’s hate list was reserved for groups like the Aryan Nation and the KKK, in 2010 SPLC started citing as hate groups those Christian groups that oppose same-sex marriage or believe homosexuality is not inborn, or are otherwise critical of homosexuality. Among the Christian groups targeted by SPLC was FRC.
In the fall of 2012, Floyd Lee Corkins, armed with a loaded semi-automatic pistol and 100 rounds of ammunition, entered FRC headquarters not far from FBI headquarters in downtown Washington, D.C. Corkins shot the front desk security guard and tried to gain entrance to the upper floors where he intended to kill FRC employees. Though wounded, the front desk security guard subdued Corkins, who became the first person ever convicted under the Washington, D.C., domestic terrorism law. Corkins said he got the idea of killing FRC employees from reading the SPLC hate list and made use of a map of the FRC office found on the SPLC website.
The Boykin letter concludes that “it is completely inappropriate for the Department of Justice to recommend public reliance on the SPLC hate group lists and data.” The letter demanded that all ties between the FBI and SPLC be severed.
SPLC has come under severe criticism from the left and the right in recent years.
Writing in the left-wing website Counterpunch, Alexander Coburn called SPLC founder Morris Dees “king of the hate business.” Coburn wrote, “Ever since 1971, U.S. Postal Service mailbags have bulged with Dees’ fundraising letters, scaring dollars out of the pockets of trembling liberals aghast at his lurid depictions of hate-sodden America, in dire need of legal confrontation by the SPLC.” In fact, so prolific is Dees at direct mail that he is in the Direct Marketing Association Hall of Fame.
Writing at the Harper’s Magazine blog in 2007, Ken Silverstein said, “What [the SPLC] does best… is to raise obscene amounts of money by hyping fears about the power of [right-wing fringe] groups; hence the SPLC has become the nation’s richest ‘civil rights’ organization.”
A critical analysis published recently by Professor George Yancey of North Texas University concluded that SPLC targets only those groups its leaders disagree with politically while leaving liberal groups who use extreme language alone.
A 2013 article in Foreign Policy concluded that SPLC exaggerates the hate crimes threat, saying SPLC is not an “objective purveyor of data,” instead calling them “anti-hate activists” and suggesting that their reports need to be “weighed more carefully by news outlets that cover their pronouncements.”
Though SPLC sits on a bank account of $250 million and raises some $40 million a year in direct mail, some have suggested that the decline of racist groups and therefore the need to tap new sources of funds might have led Dees and his colleagues to target Christian groups as new sources of revenue. Weekly Standard writer Charlotte Hays says, “…several critics with whom I spoke speculated that the last might represent another of Dees’s efforts to tap via mailing lists into a well-off and easily frightened donor base: gays.”
What has concerned Christian groups in recent years is that their inclusion on the hate list and the use of the hate list by the FBI is unfair and even dangerous to their civil liberties. After all, holding the view that gayness is not inborn and opposing same-sex marriage are hardly against the law.
FRC president Tony Perkins said, “We commend the FBI for removing website links to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that not only dispenses erroneous data but has been linked to domestic terrorism in federal court. We hope this means the FBI leadership will avoid any kind of partnership with the SPLC.”
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is a national, nonprofit, public-interest, membership organization of concerned citizens who share a common belief that our nation’s immigration policies must be reformed to serve the national interest.
FAIR seeks to improve border security, to stop illegal immigration, and to promote immigration levels consistent with the national interest—more traditional rates of about 300,000 a year.
With more than 250,000 members and supporters nationwide, FAIR is a non-partisan group whose membership runs the gamut from liberal to conservative. Our grassroots networks help concerned citizens use their voices to speak up for effective, sensible immigration policies that work for America’s best interests.
FAIR’s publications and research are used by academics and government officials in preparing new legislation. National and international media regularly turn to us to understand the latest immigration developments and to shed light on this complex subject. FAIR has been called to testify on immigration bills before Congress more than any organization in America.
True Immigration Reform:
A Policy that Serves the Interests of the American People
The mission of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is to examine immigration trends and effects, to educate the American people on the impacts of sustained high-volume immigration, and to discern, put forward, and advocate immigration policies that will best serve American environmental, societal, and economic interests today and into the future.
Today the United States is receiving more immigrants than at any time in our history. Immigration has become an important issue because it affects virtually every aspect of life in America. With more than a million legal and illegal immigrants settling in the United States each year, immigration has an impact on education, health care, government budgets, employment, the environment, crime and countless other areas of American life. It is evident to most Americans that large-scale immigration is not serving the needs and interests of the country.
FAIR advocates a temporary moratorium on all immigration except spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and a limited number of refugees. A moratorium would allow us to hold a national debate and devise a comprehensive immigration reform strategy. A workable immigration policy is one that would allow us time to regain control of our borders and reduce overall levels of immigration to more traditional levels of about 300,000 a year.
FAIR believes America can and must have an immigration policy that is nondiscriminatory and is designed to serve the social, economic and environmental needs of our country. It is a policy that all recent polls show has the overwhelming support of the American public.
Since it was founded in 1979, FAIR has been leading the call for immigration reform. Representatives of our organization are routinely interviewed by the major news networks, radio talk shows and the print media about all aspects of the immigration debate. FAIR is one of a growing group of reliable sources of information on this subject. Our research and publications are relied on by academics and government officials involved in formulating immigration policy. We testify regularly before Congress on all immigration-related legislation.
Along with a satellite office in Seattle and field representatives across the nation, FAIR activities include research, public education, media outreach, grassroots organizing, government relations, litigation and advocacy at the national, state and local levels.
7 Principles of True Comprehensive Immigration Reform
True immigration reform, as the overwhelming majority of Americans envisage it, entails establishing a coherent set of national interest principles for immigration policy and then enforcing our laws. In response to efforts by open border advocates to cloak themselves in the mantle of “immigration reform,” FAIR, the nation’s largest immigration reform organization, has laid out Seven Principles of True Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
- to end illegal immigration through enforcement of existing immigration laws as well as the application of new technology;
- to set legal immigration at the lowest feasible levels consistent with the national security, economic, demographic, environmental and socio-cultural interests of the present and future.
- to increase public awareness and understanding of the causes and effects of immigration through sharing research and policy analysis;
- to inform leaders in academe, government, and the media, as well as the public at large of the costs of uncontrolled immigration;
- to influence public policy directly by lobbying (to the extent permitted by our tax status) and by protecting the citizens’ rights in the courts.
- that our immigration laws must be fairly and effectively enforced;
- that the means exist to end illegal immigration by humane measures that are consistent with our democratic ideals and existing laws;
- that immigration should not be permitted to undermine opportunities for America’s poor and vulnerable citizens to improve their working conditions and wages;
- there should be no favoritism toward or discrimination against any person on the basis of race, color, or creed; that all admissions of immigrants come within a single, stable ceiling which is periodically reviewed on the basis of reasoned, explicit population goals for the United States;
- that three criteria should guide selection of immigrants: (1) our fair share of refugees, with ultimate resettlement a key part of the program (2) our national manpower policy, and (3) concerns for reunification of nuclear families;
- that the United States should not contribute to a brain drain that entices away the skilled and talented who are desperately needed in their homelands; we should meet our need for skilled professionals by training and retraining our own;
- that the United States should make greater efforts to encourage population stabilization, economic development, and alleviation of poverty worldwide and especially in countries of great migration;
- that the era of mass international migration to the United States as a solution to international problems must come to an end; problems of poverty and overpopulation must be vigorously confronted where people live, rather than postponing their solution by either the export or the importation of masses of people;
- that determining its own immigration and population policy is the sovereign right and responsibility of every nation.