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One of the beautiful things about America is that we have an unencumbered right to free speech. Unlike in many European countries where there are strict anti-defamation laws, in America one has the right to say hateful things about another person or group of people (as long as there is no incitement of violence). Likewise, one has the right to accuse others of engaging in hateful and bigoted activities, irrespective of the veracity of the charge.
Nevertheless, just because we have the right to engage in libel and defamatory name calling, it doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.
Yesterday’s shooting at the Family Research Council brings to mind something that has bothered me about self-described civil rights organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center. For years, the SPLC has ingratiated themselves to the public by evincing an image of a politically neutral organization that serves as the one-stop resource for information on bigoted and violent organizations. But instead of focusing exclusively on true “hate organizations” like white supremacists and Islamic jihadists, the SPLC has pursued a political agenda in recent years to defame conservative organizations by lumping them in with neo-Nazis and skinheads.
The SPLC has prided itself as the preeminent authority on racism because they have gathered every last morsel of data on neo-Nazi organizations with a membership 3.4 people, most of which have never been heard from. However, they use their reputation as the authority on white supremacist groups as a front to assail legitimate conservative policy organizations by seamlessly lumping them in with white supremacists and labeling them as hate groups. They list people like David Horowitz and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in the same “hate reports” as white supremacists serving prison time for murder.
In 2010, SPLC labeled the Family Research Council as a hate group and listed them together with no-name neo-Nazi groups on their site. They did the same for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group that simply advocates lower levels of immigration out of fiscal and national security concerns. When did we get to a point where groups that have a different political agenda from the SPLC are branded as hate groups?
The SPLC would have you believe that an organization that doesn’t want their children to be exposed to a homosexual curriculum or opposes open homosexual promiscuity in the military is a hate group. If you’re concerned about your children being exposed to literature about sex-change operations, you are a racist according to them. Anyone who opposes their licentious agenda and upholds Judeo-Christian values – the very values upon which this country was founded – is tantamount to a white supremacist. In their view, FRC is like the Westboro Baptist Church. It’s surprising that they haven’t yet labeled God a hater or condemned the Bible from the public square.
If I were to stoop to the same intellectual level as the SPLC, I would label them a hate group for equating civil rights to the so-called plight of transgendered individuals.
They fatuously label people as racists simply for taking a different position on a specific piece of legislation. Do you support the right of states to define marriage as …marriage? You’re a racist. Do you believe that the 14th amendment was conceived to protect native-born blacks from disenfranchisement and not the children of illegal aliens? You are a hater. Are you concerned about the pervasiveness of pedophilia among homosexuals? You’re like the KKK. We’re rapidly approaching the point when support for the Ryan budget will be labeled as bigoted activity.
Unfortunately, their tactic is highly effective. Most people are conditioned to stay far away from any individual or organization that is even rumored to harbor racist views. The SPLC effectively projects that bigoted image toward their political enemies so that people will automatically see their accusations the first time they research the organization. Whatever you think of their politics, you don’t mix in people like Frank Gaffney and David Horowitz with David Duke. On their website, they list “30 New Activists Heading Up the Radical Right.” Gaffney is thrown in with Duke and Black Panther leader Malik Zulu Shabazz. Yup, even though Shabazz largely supports the views of the SPLC, he is labeled as a radical right leader.
Yesterday’s shooting should serve as a watershed event. While we all agree that Floyd Lee Corkins II is the only one responsible for the attack on FRC, it is clear that the libelous accusations from groups like the SPLC helped fan the flames of derision so that a loose cannon was able to associate this Christian organization with authentically bigoted groups. The SPLC has the right to disseminate their propaganda at will, but they should understand that tarring a political opponent with the same brush as neo-Nazis is an incendiary exercise of political discourse.
Groups like the SPLC have gotten away with their defamatory McCarthyism for far too long. It’s time we expose these radical intolerant liberal front groups as the political bottom-feeders that they have always been.
The SPLC purports to “provide educators with free resources that teach school children to reject hate, embrace diversity and respect differences.”
Well game on, SPLC.