Jordan Candler / Feb. 16, 2017

SPLC Hides Behind Its Own Hate

The center finds 917 "hate groups," but what about its own rhetoric?

If there’s one defamatory term that gets thrown around more than any other today, it’s “hate.” Politics has devolved to the point in which simply disagreeing on anything is cause for getting thrown into the Doghouse of Hate. That’s not to say there aren’t factions whose sole purpose is to promulgate hurtful and harmful rhetoric and deeds. That’s what ISIL does. And the KKK. And numerous other groups. Some are obviously more hostile than others, but there’s no limit to the extremes people will go to on both sides of the political and social divide. However, the “hate” label can also be used to script narratives, which the Southern Poverty Law Center does in its annual “Year in Hate and Extremism” publication.

This week, the center reported that 2016 saw a three-fold increase in what it calls “anti-Muslim hate groups.” By it’s metrics, the U.S. now contains 101 so-called Islamaphobic groups whose retaliatory crimes include wrecking “a mosque in Victoria, Texas, just hours after the Trump administration announced an executive order suspending travel from some predominantly Muslim countries.” Moreover, it adds, “In the first 10 days after [Trump’s] election, the SPLC documented 867 bias-related incidents, including more than 300 that targeted immigrants or Muslims.” All told, SPLC currently identifies 917 hate groups whose ideologies vary anywhere from neo-Nazism to black separatist advocacy to “general hate.”

To its credit, The Washington Post’s coverage describes SPLC as “a liberal-leaning advocacy group.” But the reasons for skepticism toward the group go far beyond that. For one, “general hate” can be construed to mean anything in this world of moral relativism. The thresholds that delineate meanings now can and most certainly will change in the future. And all conservatives have bona fide reasons to fear falling victim. Secondly, if we’re playing by the same rules, the SPLC itself could be described as a hate group. As Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins wrote in a recent column, “For years, the anti-Christian Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) bragged about its work with the FBI. Their partnership on issues like ‘hate crimes’ helped fuel the Obama administration’s fierce targeting of mainstream pro-family groups. That abruptly ended in 2014, when the agency distanced itself from the controversial organization.”

He adds, “Despite being linked in federal court to domestic terrorism, SPLC, the self-anointed authority on ‘hate,’ had remained a go-to ally of the Obama administration. That all changed, emails reveal, when FRC took our concerns to Congress about the ties between SPLC and the gunman who walked into our lobby in 2012 and shot Leo Johnson. … The concerns we expressed to our friends in Congress was not just about FRC and our safety, it was about the dozens of pro-family groups and Christian organizations that the SPLC has targeted because of their biblical view of human sexuality. Just how outside the mainstream are the claims of SPLC? This was the Obama FBI that distanced itself from SPLC.”

There is no justification for those who intentionally target anyone merely because of ideological differences. And the SPLC is right to call them out. But there’s also no justification for the SPLC’s true motive, which is to purge America of conservatism and anything else it considers “not inclusive.” When your own rhetoric results in getting good people like Leo Johnson shot, there’s a serious need for self-reflection. Because that’s the very definition of hate.

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