Southern Poverty a Poor Choice for America

splc Southern Poverty Law Center

In a normal nonprofit, $3.3 million would take a big bite out of any organization’s bottom line. But then, there’s nothing “normal” about the $477 million dollar Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) — including its methods, which has the “hate” labelers backing up or crawfishing as we would say in Louisiana.

Earlier this week, conservatives everywhere cheered the comeuppance for SPLC in its legal battle with Muslim Maajid Nawaz, who was listed — ironically enough — as an anti-Muslim extremist on the group’s website. In its suit for defamation, Nawaz and his Quilliam Foundation won, forcing the SPLC to fork over a multi-million dollar settlement, complete with a voluntary apology. As usual, Morris Dees’ group had no real basis for the label other than its disagreement on policy grounds. Although SPLC has been forced to withdraw or retract other groups and individuals from its lists before (Dr. Ben Carson, for one), this mistake was quite public and, in many ways, quite costly.

“It’s a shame that it took impending litigation for the Southern Poverty Law Center to finally set the record straight and admit it was wrong all along,” said Nawaz’s attorney. Imagine, NRO pointed out, “if everybody whom the SPLC has erroneously smeared over recent years — the individuals, the groups, the scholars and activists — took this precedent to launch legal actions of their own?” After all, Douglas Murray went on, “The SPLC has a vast endowment of tens of millions of dollars. But going by this precedent, if everybody decided to correct the lies that the SPLC has taken upon itself to spread over recent years, then the SPLC, which failed to shut itself down when its work was done, could be shut down by the very people it has spent recent years trying to shut up. Which would not just be poetic, but justice too.”

Either way, the biggest takeaway from this week’s mea culpa should have been this: the SPLC cannot be trusted. The mainstream media had begun to suspect as much after two gunman were linked to the group (Floyd Corkins who admitted he found FRC on SPLC’s “hate map,” and congressional baseball shooter James T. Hodgkinson, who “liked” SPLC on Facebook). Then there was the public distancing from SPLC by the FBI, U.S. Army, and even Obama Justice Department. The wagons that used to circle SPLC couldn’t drive away fast enough. Then, in an unlikely savior, came Donald Trump, whose election was a cash cow for the former civil rights watchdog. Suddenly, the group was back in the money — and liberal giants’ good favor.

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Tech titans like Facebook, Google, YouTube, Amazon, and Twitter admitted they all trust SPLC to help them flag “hateful” content. But, as 48 conservative leaders are making quite clear: the time for trusting SPLC is over. In an open letter, groups like FRC are calling on the news media, social media, government agencies, and corporations to “dissociate themselves from SPLC and its ongoing effort to defame and vilify mainstream conservative organizations” which is putting people’s lives in danger.

“Editors, CEOs, shareholders, and consumers alike are on notice: anyone relying upon and repeating its misrepresentations is complicit in the SPLC’s harmful defamation of large numbers of American citizens who, like the undersigned, have been vilified simply for working to protect our country and freedoms.”

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law. (Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)
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