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Inside the 'Poverty Palace'

Tony Perkins · Mar. 23, 2019

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has survived lawsuits, shady financial dealings, multi-million-dollar settlements for defamation, embarrassing retractions, even a link to domestic terrorism in court. But will it survive this latest revelation? After years of the media’s Teflon-provided protection, the group’s downfall may be coming from a place no one expected: the inside. If you thought the Morris Dees allegations were shocking, buckle up. One former employee says it’s nothing compared to the cancerous workplace he called home.

“In the decade or so before I’d arrived,” Bob Moser writes, “the center’s reputation as a beacon of justice had taken some hits from reporters who’d peered behind the façade… Co-workers stealthily passed along these articles to me — it was a rite of passage for new staffers, a cautionary heads-up about what we’d stepped into with our noble intentions.” Young women, he tells the New Yorker, were warned about Dees’s reputation as a sexual predator. They heard that Richard Cohen, SPLC’s president, “made staffers pessimistic” that the real issues would ever be addressed. In most cases, by the time they found out they were all pawns in a “highly profitable scam,” it was too late.

Moser, who left the group in 2004, paints a sinister picture of the organization — especially when it comes to the civil injustice his group was supposedly fighting. “Nothing was more uncomfortable than the racial dynamic that quickly became apparent: a fair number of what was then about a hundred employees were African-American, but almost all of them were administrative and support staff — ‘the help,’ one of my black colleagues said pointedly. The ‘professional staff’ — the lawyers, researchers, educators, public-relations officers, and fund-raisers — were almost exclusively white. Just two staffers, including me, were openly gay.”

Bewildered, he asked one of his coworkers about it. “‘Well, honey, welcome to the Poverty Palace,’ she said. ‘I can guaran[tee] that you will never step foot in a more contradictory place as long as you live.’ ‘Everything feels so out of whack,’ I said… ‘Where’s the diversity? What in God’s name is going on here?’ … ‘Clearly,’” she laughed, “‘you didn’t do your research.’”

When Dees was fired last week, Moser explains, “the queasy feelings came rushing back.” Suddenly, the SPLC alumni were reconnecting he says. Each wondering: why now? “It could be racial, sexual, financial — that place was a virtual buffet of injustices,” one former coworker told Moser. But, as a lot of current staffers told him, firing Dees doesn’t solve the deeper problem. There’s a “widespread pattern of racial and gender discrimination,” they argue. The question is, “How many chickens will come to justice before this long-overdue reckoning is complete?”

For SPLC, the timing of this latest scandal couldn’t come at a worse time. It erupted, Moser points out, “at a moment when the SPLC had never been more prominent, or more profitable. Donald Trump’s presidency opened up a gusher of donations…” Even when he was there, the staff used to joke at the memorial near the organization’s lunch center with the Martin Luther King, Jr. quote “Until justice rolls down like waters” — and joke, “Until justice rolls down like dollars.”

The annual “hate group” list, Moser notes, the same one that led Floyd Corkins to our door determined to commit mass murder, is just another sign of Dees’s “marketing talents.” The more people SPLC targets, the more money it can raise pointing to the rising tide of hate. “‘The SPLC — making hate pay,’ we’d say.” But there was nothing funny about it, he muses. Not even then.

“For those of us who’ve worked in the Poverty Palace,” he says, “putting it all into perspective isn’t easy, even to ourselves.” Moser felt like they were working with “a group of dedicated and talented people, fighting all kinds of good fights.”

And yet, all the time, dark shadows hung over everything: the racial and gender disparities, the whispers about sexual harassment, the abuses that stemmed from the top-down management, and the guilt you couldn’t help feeling about the legions of donors who believed that their money was being used, faithfully and well, to do the Lord’s work in the heart of Dixie. We were part of the con, and we knew it.“

”…Were we complicit, by taking our paychecks and staying silent, in ripping off donors on behalf of an organization that never lived up to the values it espoused? Did we enable racial discrimination and sexual harassment by failing to speak out? ‘Of course we did,’ a former colleague told me, as we parsed the news over the phone… A couple of days later, she texted me: ‘I’m having SPLC nightmares.’ Aren’t we all, I thought.“

Originally published here.


Moving the Golan Posts: Trump’s Israel Pitch


Standing in the Golan Heights today, it’s hard to imagine the beautiful stretch of rocky land full of Israeli soldiers. The tanks that rolled through the colorful plateau beside the Sea of Galilee are gone, replaced over the last 50-plus years by miles of orchards, wineries, and hotels. Israel has claimed this patch of countryside between Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon since seizing it in the Six-Day War of 1967. Now, decades later, President Trump says it’s time to make that claim official.

There was a time, the New York Times writes, when the Golan Heights was an "Arab rallying cry.” “Not anymore,” the paper points out. This strategic patch of land “was always seen as the carrot that Israel would cede for peace with Syria,” Kareem Sakka explained in an interview. But now, “peace doesn’t matter, Syria doesn’t matter, and maybe Syria doesn’t exist at the table as the legitimate owner of the land.”

The area’s 500 square miles have been incredibly important over the years for whichever region controlled it. “The Syrian military used it to shell the Galilee, and Israel seized it as a strategic asset that it considered necessary for its own security, displacing tens of thousands of the area’s Arab inhabitants in the process.” But the Syrian civil war has left the country so devastated since then that it’s hardly in a position to argue over the area. “The public, when they think about Syria,” one activist told the Times, “will be more concerned with the death and suffering than with the official loss of something that has been gone for a long time.”

With Syria in complete disarray, the time has come, President Trump declared, “for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!” Back in 1981, Israel annexed the Golan Heights in a move that was never internationally acknowledged. Doing so now would give the country an important foothold — not against Syria, which is essentially a non-factor, but against Iran — who, as Netanyahu warns, has been using Syria “as a platform to destroy Israel.”

Israel officially annexed the Golan Heights [38 years ago], after almost a million Israelis signed a petition demanding it. The law is known to have set a record, passing all three Knesset votes in one day. The UN Security Council, however, declared that it was not valid under international law, and the law sparked a crisis between Israel and the U.S. under president Ronald Reagan.

In the subsequent decades, several prime ministers, including Netanyahu, have taken part in negotiations to give up the Golan Heights in exchange for peace with Syria. We now know, after years of civil war in Syria, what a massive mistake that would have been,“ the editors of the Jerusalem Post muse. "If we had given up the Golan Heights, we would have Iran, our greatest and most powerful enemy, on the banks of the Sea of Galilee, threatening us from the high ground overlooking much of Israel’s North.

U.S. Democrats, meanwhile, continue to bicker over the party’s stance on Israel. The caucus’s internal war, which exploded in the wake of Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-Minn.) anti-Semitism, is only mushrooming, as members like Rep. Dan Brown (D-N.Y.) criticize the president’s announcement. "I think it’s wrong. For decades, American policy, and also, UN resolution has been calling for the withdrawal of Israel from those lands that are occupied as a result of force… What I would rather see, in terms of ultimately what happens with the Golan Heights, is that is part of a larger conversation of negotiating Middle East peace.”

That’s interesting, since House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) has, as recently as January, agreed with Trump’s position. Earlier this week, the Jewish tension that’s plagued the Left boiled over when news broke that the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates were taking their marching orders from MoveOn.org and boycotting the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) annual meeting. Until Rep. Omar’s tweets, the group was hardly considered controversial. In fact, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), along with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) are both speaking when the event kicks off this Sunday. But the hopefuls’ shunning, along with the tension over Omar’s remarks, is creating an even bigger headache for Democrats.

As for President Trump, he continues to prove that he means business when it comes to America’s Middle East ally. Words have power and meaning when they’re linked to action. In the recent past, the promises of America’s leaders have meant little to the international community, because their words rarely came with a commitment to action. Under President Trump, the world sees and understands that the United States is a true friend and ally of Israel as he makes one historical decision after another. Whether it’s the recognition of Jerusalem as the eternal, indivisible capital of Israel — or Israel’s sovereignty over the land that it rightfully possess like the Golan Heights and the biblically significant area of Samaria and Judea — President Trump’s words are shaping history.

Originally published here.


Two’s Company — 10,000’s a Crowd!


A whopping 82 percent of Americans disagree with the Left’s infanticide agenda — and on Wednesday, it felt like every single one of them was at the Illinois capitol. Fuming over the state’s push to make killing newborns legal, so many thousands of people turned out for the bill’s debate that police had to close the building due to overcrowding.

Mary Kate Knorr of the Illinois Right to Life Action doesn’t think anyone should be surprised. After New York threw a virtual street parade over the legal killing of infants, every national poll has shown just how alone Democrats are in their abortion agenda. “There is widespread outcry from the people of Illinois against these extreme anti-women and anti-children bills since they were introduced a month ago,” said Mary Kate Knorr of Illinois Right to Life Action. “Residents from all corners of Illinois are expressing outrage at this proposed legislation.”

More than 10,000 people filed witness slips against the legislation — “the strongest opposition,” LifeNews reported, that pro-lifers in the state had ever seen. Other groups, like Pro-Life Action League, are convinced the visual of so many Illinoisans packing out the capitol will be difficult for even Democrats to ignore. “This is certainly going to make an impact,” said Eric Scheidler. “Even people who say they’re pro-choice, even elected officials who say they’re pro-choice, are reluctant to support such extreme measures as this.”

In another deep blue state, Massachusetts, the public outcry was equally fierce. The Bay State just had its biggest pro-family lobby day at the state house ever. Led by the Massachusetts Family Institute, locals streamed onto Beacon Hill to protest a late-term abortion bill that would let mothers take their baby’s life right up to the moment of birth, thanks to the loose “mental health” restriction.

Unfortunately, voters had another reason to rally in Boston, since the state is also considering a dangerous therapy ban for teenagers struggling with their sexuality. Lately, the other side has been on the warpath to keep people from experiencing the freedom this kind of counseling can offer. If it didn’t work — transforming lives and bringing others out of bondage — extremists wouldn’t bother. But, as a growing movement of courageous men and women are telling the world, this ideology is a sham. Read the stories of these young people. Change is possible. As Walt Heyer explains in the Federalist, if a ban like Massachusetts had succeeded 30 years ago, he’d probably be dead.

Down in Mississippi, voters actually had cause to praise — not protest. Governor Phil Bryant (R), who’s vying for most conservative governor in America with Kentucky’s Matt Bevin (R), just signed a bill into law that would outlaw abortion after about six weeks. “We will all answer to the good Lord one day,” he said. “I will say in this instance, ‘I fought for the lives of innocent babies, even under threat of legal action.’”

Originally published here.


This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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