There are a number of advocacy groups around who agitate for or against a particular cause. They try to get useful legislation passed, or raise awareness of an issue, or collect money to help victims, or any of a number of ways to advance their particular causes. What happens, though, when they have largely succeeded in their goals? When there is really little further need for their advocacy?
They could simply disband. This almost never happens. Any group that is at all successful has managed to accumulate a great amount of funds and managers who can commands large salaries. Hardly anyone is willing to simply walk away from a good paying job.
The March of Dimes faced such a crisis. They were founded by President Roosevelt in 1938 to combat polio. They did a wonderful job funding research and taking care of polio victims. However, their mission became largely obsolete when Jonas Salk developed the polio vaccine in 1955, which led to the rapid elimination of polio as a threat, at least in the developed world. The leaders of the March of Dimes decided to change their focus on birth defects and premature births and have remained relevant to this day.
Another alternative to resolving this crisis is to simply double down on previous efforts, past the point of diminishing returns. Mothers Against Drunk Driving was founded by Candice Lighter in 1980 after her daughter was killed by a drunk driver. MADD was done a lot to limit the damage done by drunk driving. They have successfully lobbied to have a national standard blood alcohol limit of .08% and have worked to raise the drinking age to 21 nationwide. They have also been instrumental in making drunk driving more socially unacceptable. Drunk driving will always be a problem, but the problem with MADD is that they have done almost everything that can be done to reduce drunk driving. They have lobbied for even stricter blood alcohol limits and their focus has slowly shifted to a neo-prohibitionist stance. Candice Lighter left the organization over this change in focus and it is clear that MADD, having largely accomplished its goal really has no further purpose, except, perhaps to join forces with the Prohibitionist Party.
Then we come to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Southern Poverty Law Center was founded in 1971 by Morris Dees and Joseph J. Levin, for the purpose of handling civil rights cases and fighting hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Nations. They have achieved many notable successes, including putting the Aryan Nations out of business and have done a lot of good. The problem is that like MADD and the March of Dimes, the Southern Poverty Law Center has largely succeeded in its mission. Hate groups will always be with us, but “right-wing” racist groups have been marginalized to an extent never before seen in American society and their combined membership must surely be at record lows. It would seem that there is little left for the SPLC to do and that they had best disband or refocus their mission. Morris Dees and the SPLC have decided not to do that.
Instead they have decided to pursue a dishonest path by redefining “hate group” and fudging numbers. They have redefined the term hate group to mean any vaguely Conservative organization and they lump them together with Nazis and racists who have openly called for violence. For example, according to the SPLC, the Family Research Council is a hate group. Why are they labeled a hate group? Because they are opposed to same-sex marriage and some of the demands of the more radical homosexuals. Have they ever called for violence or discrimination against homosexuals? Not to my knowledge. As Daniel Horowitz at Red State explains.
For years, the SPLC has ingratiated themselves to the public by evincing an image of a politically neutral organization that serves as the one-stop resource for information on bigoted and violent organizations.? But instead of focusing exclusively on true ?hate organizations? like white supremacists and Islamic jihadists, the SPLC has pursued a political agenda in recent years to defame conservative organizations by lumping them in with neo-Nazis and skinheads.
The SPLC has prided itself as the preeminent authority on racism because they have gathered every last morsel of data on neo-Nazi organizations with a membership 3.4 people, most of which have never been heard from.? However, they use their reputation as the authority on white supremacist groups as a front to assail legitimate conservative policy organizations by seamlessly lumping them in with white supremacists and labeling them as hate groups.? They list people like David Horowitz and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in the same ?hate reports? as white supremacists serving prison time for murder.
In 2010, SPLC labeled the Family Research Council as a hate group and listed them together with no-name neo-Nazi groups on their site.? They did the same for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group that simply advocates lower levels of immigration out of fiscal and national security concerns.? When did we get to a point where groups that have a different political agenda from the SPLC are branded as hate groups?
The SPLC would have you believe that an organization that doesn?t want their children to be exposed to a homosexual curriculum or opposes open homosexual promiscuity in the military is a hate group.? If you?re concerned about your children being exposed to literature about sex-change operations, you are a racist according to them.? Anyone who opposes their licentious agenda and upholds Judeo-Christian values ? the very values upon which this country was founded ? is tantamount to a white supremacist.? In their view, FRC is like the Westboro Baptist Church.? It?s surprising that they haven?t yet labeled God a hater or condemned the Bible from the public square.
If I were to stoop to the same intellectual level as the SPLC, I would label them a hate group for equating civil rights to the so-called plight of transgendered individuals.
They fatuously label people as racists simply for taking a different position on a specific piece of legislation.? Do you support the right of states to define marriage as ?marriage?? You?re a racist.? Do you believe that the 14th amendment was conceived to protect native-born blacks from disenfranchisement and not the children of illegal aliens?? You are a hater.? Are you concerned about the pervasiveness of pedophilia among homosexuals?? You?re like the KKK.? We?re rapidly approaching the point when support for the Ryan budget will be labeled as bigoted activity.
They fudge the numbers too. If your hate group has chapters in two different cities in the same state, than each one is labeled a separate group. If your membership increases from 4 to 5 than that is an alarming 25% increase in membership. Here is an interesting post in Legal Insurrection about the alarming increase of the number of hate groups in that hotbed of hatred and prejudice, Rhode Island.
I decided to look at SPLC’s most recent annual hate group report, covering 2011, to see what was listed for Rhode Island.
I was pleased to see that SPLC had dropped the claim of a Klan group, but now there is listed a neo-Nazi group, the National Socialist Movement.
But once again, my suspicions were raised because no city was listed for the group in Rhode Island, unlike the listing for some other states.
The website of the National Socialist Movement listed a Rhode Island branch, but again no city or information, only a link to a Gmail account. I assume the listing in the website was the source of SPLC’s information. If so, that was a very thin basis on which to list the National Socialist Movement as having a real branch in Rhode Island.
I live in Rhode Island, and I have not heard of any active neo-Nazi groups. I searched the state’s paper of record, The Providence Journal, and found no references to such groups. I did Google searches, and still nothing. Google searches turn up the SPLC’s listing.
I checked the SPLC website, and the last hate crime listed in Rhode Island was in 2010, when a swastika was painted on a synagogue. Could that be the group? No, that was two ignorant youths who painted the swastika backwards, and when caught, were described by the police as very remorseful and not motivated by anti-Semitism.
As with the prior listing of the Klan, I can’t say that there isn’t some guy or gal someplace in Rhode Island who has a Nazi flag hanging on the wall or who shares the sentiments of the National Socialist Movement. If there is such a group, they are doing a really good job of keeping it quiet.
The notion that Rhode Island has a real, active neo-Nazi movement in the state appears to be just another exaggeration by the SPLC.
These exaggerations, as I have pointed out in my prior posts, cause real damage. Every minute or resource we spend chasing SPLC’s phantom hate groups is a minute or resource we do not devote to real threats:
Real threats, Islamic extremists or environmental terrorists are not so politically correct and don’t give the SPLC the opportunity to bash Conservatives. The point I want to make in this overly long and rambling post is that the Southern Poverty Law Center is simply not to be trusted as any sort of authority on the subject of hate groups. Maybe they were in the past, but their leadership has decided to adapt to changing circumstances by becoming politicized and dishonest.