Posted on | August 17, 2012 | 15 Comments
Professor William Jacobson has spent two years wondering about the Neo-Nazi menace in Rhode Island, a threat that the Southern Poverty Law Center warns about in its annual “hate group” listing, but which it seems no one has ever actually documented:
SPLC’s hate map at the time listed a total of three hate groups in Rhode Island, but there was no information as to the other two supposed groups, reflecting how SPLC inflates the number of hate groups. SPLC also counts each supposed state branch of each hate group as a separate group, which again inflates the numbers. If some neo-Nazi website claims to have branches in all states, that would be 50 hate groups to SPLC.
This “inflate the hate” tactic explains why the SPLC added the Family Research Council to its “hate group” listings in 2010: By steadily expanding the categorical definition of “hate,” the SPLC can present “hate” as an ever-growing threat in the alarmist fundraising letters it sends to its donor base of elderly liberals.
For those who don’t know the history of the SPLC, it is necessary to explain that Morris Dees is a direct-mail fundraising genius who began his “civil rights” group with the mailing list of the 1972 George McGovern presidential campaign — a reliable group of wealthy liberals who have since funded the group to the tune of $200 million. And even though the SPLC’s ever-increasing endowment would enable the group to operate in perpetuity even if nobody ever gave them another penny, the fundraising letters still rake in millions more in tax-exempt dollars every year.
Liberal journalist Ken Silverstein long ago exposed the SPLC as ruthlessly cynical fundraising scam. Even if you are a liberal who shares the general beliefs of the SPLC, the group’s shameless dishonesty — as they encourage liberal donors to pour millions of dollars down a useless rathole of disinformation — should be offensive to you. (Media Matters for America has exploited a clever variation of the same 501(c) scam, showing once again that a fool and his tax-exempt money are soon parted.) It is demonstrable, I believe, that the SPLC irreversibly descended into hucksterism in the mid-1990s when they hired Mark Potok, who was responsible for making “right-wing militias” and other hyped-up threats a lucrative staple of the group’s fundraising appeals.
It was under Potok’s leadership that the SPLC began expanding the definition of “hate” to list groups that had never advocated violence including, inter alia, the Federation for American Immigration Reform and mainstream “traditional values” groups like the Family Research Council.
The SPLC’s demonization of traditional values groups has been implicated in gay terrorist Floyd Lee Corkins’s violent attack on the FRC office Wednesday. Donald Douglas asks if the SPLC should be labeled a “hate group,” and it is a serious question.
There is no question at all, however, that Mark Potok is an dishonest and irresponsible demagogue who should be ashamed of his poisonous contribution to public discourse.