Is the Southern Poverty Law Center Itself a “Hate Group”?

Originally posted in April, 2012

POWERLINE has recently posted on this in two parts (Part 1 | Part 2). Here is a portion of their PART ONE:

I didn’t realize that I was following in the footsteps of former Vanderbilt political science professor Carol Swain, who called the SPLC’s number in a post she wrote about it for the Huffington Post in September 2009. Professor Swain concluded the post: “Rather than monitoring hate groups, the Southern Poverty Law Center has become one.”

This could not stand. In today’s Wall Street Journal Professor Swain tells the rest of the story:

The SPLC’s retaliation was vicious and effective. On Oct. 17, 2009, my photo appeared on the front page of my local newspaper, the Tennessean, with the headline “ Carol Swain is an apologist for white supremacists.” That was a quote from Mark Potok, at the time the SPLC’s national spokesman. The context for Mr. Potok’s attack was a review I gave for a film titled “A Conversation About Race.” I endorsed it for classroom use because it offered a perspective on race rarely encountered on university campuses. Mr. Potok argued that the filmmaker was a bigot. I felt then and now that the perspective needed to be heard.

This negative article was featured on the front pages of several newspapers and it went viral, especially in black media outlets. The attacks did not subside until this newspaper’s website published a lengthy article titled “In Defense of Carol Swain.”

Being targeted by the SPLC has had a lasting impact on my life and career. Offers from other universities ended and speaking opportunities declined. Once you’ve been smeared in this way, mainstream news outlets are less likely to cite you as an expert of any kind.

Professor Swain knows she is in good company:

[T]oday I wear the SPLC’s mud as a badge of honor because I know I am in the company of many good men and women who have been similarly vilified for standing for righteousness and truth. Other SPLC targets have included Ben Carson (who eventually received an apology and retraction), Somali refugee Ayaan Hirsi Ali, terrorism expert Steve Emerson, political scientist Guenter Lewy (who successfully sued the SPLC), attorney Robert Muise, Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, and Princeton professor Robert P. George. The SPLC has tagged Mr. George, a devout Catholic intellectual, as “anti-LGBT.”…..

(read it all)

And the video at the top of this update is from PART TWO. But the Wall Street Journal article is a “pay-to-play” article. I have found a decent excerpt at FOX NEWS. BARB WIRE has a decent article as well. PART THREE is more of a biography and statement of amazement regarding Professor Swain:

….According to her Wikipedia entry, Swain grew up in a shack without running water. She and her eleven siblings shared two beds. She did not have shoes and thus missed school whenever it snowed. She did not attend high school, dropping out in ninth grade.

When her mother and abusive stepfather moved the family to Roanoke, Swain appealed to a judge to be transferred to a foster home. When her appeal was denied, she lived with her grandmother in a trailer park.

Intimately familiar with the south and with poverty, Swain also knows about the law, having earned a master’s degree from Yale Law School. This was the culmination of an education that begin with a GED, and was followed by an associate degree from Virginia Western Community College; a B.A. in criminal justice from Roanoke College; a master’s degree in political science from Virginia Tech; and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Swain went on to become a professor at leading universities and the author of several books. One was cited by Supreme Court Justices Anthony Kennedy and Sandra Day O’Connor. Two dealt with the topic of white nationalism.

There is an obvious disconnect when an African-American from the south rises from extreme poverty to glittering scholarly success, only to be branded an “apologist for white supremacists” by the Southern Poverty Law Center….

So what is the hub-bub about with the SPLC? One blogger calls it as they see it:

The Montgomery, Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), has quite a racket going on. Now, they don’t practice poverty law as their name suggests, but they do spread hate, and lots of it too. In the name of the almighty dollar, the SPLC will slander and defame anyone it chooses. Especially those with the temerity to oppose their extreme, leftwing ideological views.

[….]

The SPLC is a racket. Contrary to it’s name, the Southern Poverty Law Center does not practice poverty law, but instead serves a 2-fold purpose: 1) lining the pockets of Morris Dees, the SPLC’s staff, its directors, and various cronies; and 2) serve as attack dogs for the government and radical left (did I repeat myself?).

(Classic Liberal)

The Southern Poverty Law Center bills itself as a watchdog of hate groups. But is this just a cover for its true aims? Journalist and author Karl Zinsmeister explains.

Take note as well that many Black groups and individuals stand against the SPLC, as Godfather Politics points out:

A coalition of African-American pastors and pro-family Christian and Jewish leaders held a press conference outside the headquarters of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, to protest the SPLC’s smearing of pro-family groups that oppose homosexual activism as “hate groups.”

The SPLC has been co-opted by a Leftist, pro-homosexual, anti-Christian agenda. If you don’t agree with the SPLC leftist litmus test, then you are a de facto “hate group.” With its new definition of what constitutes a hate group, the SPLC has become a fund-raising machine. It’s no wonder that the organization is flush with cash. At the end of fiscal year 2010 SPLC’s endowment stood at $216.2 million. Ultimately, the tactic is to strike fear in middle-America so the checks keep rolling in. Most communities don’t see skinheads or even KKKers, so the SPLC needs a tangible enemy.

In other words, a money maker from its left leaning donors. Conservapedia points out the obvious, that by labeling Michele Bachmann, Glenn Beck, Ron Paul, and Judge Napolitano, as well as conservative Christian oragnizations that stand against same-sex marriage in with other hate groups, that this “proves that the SPLC is a left-wing political organization rather than one focused on racism and civil rights.” (I wish to point out that Conservapedia includes as normative some groups I would not have, like the John Birch Society, VDARE, and others.)

While I can understand and maybe support their position on the John Birch Society and Alex Jones… the main point still stands: This … further proves that the SPLC is a left-wing political organization rather than one focused on racism and civil rights.

The following half-hour / in-depth review of the SPLC is by the John Birch Society, which… for the record — I do not endorse nor recommend their [John birch Society’s] resources. However, this presentation is a decent excoriation of the “craziness” over at this liberal propaganda machine:

The problem with this whole venture by the left is that it destroys the institutions it touches. The SPLC at one point may have had honorable goals, but when leftism infects things, it destroys them. So the power behind the original ideas and goals of the SPLC are negated — rendered ineffective/powerless — by their newer political goals. As Dennis Prager points out in regards to whatever the Left touches:

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