Southern Poverty Law Center — the SPLC — Settles for Intolerance

splc Southern Poverty Law Center

You know a radical sea change is underway when the headline of the Washington Post is: ‘The Southern Poverty Law Center Has Lost All Credibility.’ But a change is exactly what this week’s bombshell demanded after the SPLC admitted to a gross defamation of character. One of the few, unfortunately, that it’s actually being held accountable for.

Marc Theissen is the latest to take the extremists at SPLC to task after including a Muslim reformist on its list of anti-Muslim radicals. Much to SPLC’s chagrin, Maajid Nawaz wasn’t about to sit back and watch the labeling affect his fundraising and personal safety — as the group’s false smear campaigns have done to others. He sued, insisting (rightly) that, “They put a target on my head. The kind of work that I do, if you tell the wrong kind of Muslims that I’m an extremist, then that means I’m a target.”

That’s not a situation, as Theissen points out, to take lightly. “In 2010, it placed the Family Research Council (FRC) — a conservative Christian advocacy group that opposes abortion and same-sex marriage — on its “hate map.” Two years later, a gunman walked into the FRC headquarters with the intention to ‘kill as many as possible and smear the Chick-fil-A sandwiches in victims’ faces.’ He told the FBI that he had used the SPLC website to pick his target.”

After being linked to two shooters (including SPLC Facebook fan and congressional baseball gunman, James T. Hodgkinson), you’d think the mainstream media would get the hint. The FBI, U.S. Army, and Obama Justice Department did, backing away from the group’s resources after complaints that it was simply smearing individuals and organizations who didn’t agree with SPLC politically. Finally, that practice of reckless labeling came back to haunt them. SPLC was forced to fork over nearly $3.4 million in a legal settlement to Nawaz, but the price to its legitimacy is much steeper.

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“Unfortunately, the settlement that the SPLC reached with Nawaz is not likely to deter it from smearing others — $3.4 million is a drop in the bucket for the center, which raised $132 million between November 2016 and October 2017 and has a $477 million endowment, including a reported $92 million in offshore accounts. Sliming conservatives is big business.

The only way to stop the SPLC is if people stop giving it money and the media stop quoting it or taking it seriously. The SPLC once did important work fighting the Ku Klux Klan. But when it declares Maajid Nawaz, the Family Research Council, Ben Carson and Charles Murray as moral equivalents of the Klan, it loses all integrity and credibility.”

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

Tony Perkins
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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