The Conversation

The SPLC Claims No Knowledge of Sarah Palin Map They Mentioned After Tucson

CNS News has an excellent interview with Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Dees claims to have no knowledge of the controversy over Sarah Palin's district targeting map despite his website having commented on it at the time.

You may recall that SPLC's "hate map" was used by Floyd Lee Corkins to target the Washington DC offices of the Family Research Council. He arrived in their lobby with ammunition and Chick-fil-a wrappers but was stopped after wounding one person.

Given this history, CNS reporter Elizabeth Harrington asked Dees if he had considered pulling down the "hate map." Dees replied "having a group on our Hate Map doesn’t cause anybody to attack them anymore than they attacked us for one thing or another." In other words, maps don't motivate mass shooters.

This led naturally to the next question "Do you see any double standard about how Sarah Palin was used—they said the Tuscon shooting was because she had a target of that district—and they blame her for violence—"

Incredibly, Dees suddenly claimed to have no knowledge of it, telling CNS News "I’m not familiar with it, I’m not familiar with what you’re talking about there."

Perhaps Dees should go back and have a look at the article written by the group's President on Jan. 10, 2011 titled "Tragedy in Arizona."

We may never get a clear picture of what was going through the confused mind of the Tucson gunman. But as my colleague Mark Potok explained on NPR this morning, with all the vitriol on the airwaves, it's not surprising that someone has taken deadly aim at an elected official.

Tea Party darlings like Sharron Angle talk about using "second amendment remedies" to change the course of the country. The shameless Glenn Beck feeds the lunatic fringe with talk of the government herding Americans into FEMA concentration camps and of imminent violence from mysterious forces "from the left." Sarah Palin uses phrases like "don't retreat, reload" and shows the districts of various Democrats in Congress, including that of Tucson's Gabrielle Giffords, in the crosshairs.

Is that the map Dees is not familiar with? The one his site accused of being part of the vitriol that would inevitably lead to shooting an elected official, even if it hadn't in this particular case. The piece continued:

The problem isn't so much a lack of politeness. We should expect sharp elbows and a healthy degree of ridicule to be thrown around by those in the political arena. The problem is the incendiary rhetoric, with its violence-laced metaphors, and the spinning of paranoid fantasies. The problem is the non-stop demonization one hears from political opportunists trolling for votes and their media allies trolling for ratings.

You can add to that list of demagogues the left-wing websites trolling for money and influence on the basis of a tragedy they know nothing about.


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