Stooping to a new low, even by Southern Poverty Law Center’s standards, the SPLC recently smeared well-regarded family-values organizations as ‘hate groups’ for championing faith-based moral views, including opposition to gay marriage and support for the military’s DADT policy.
The Family Research Council (FRC) was among the insulted parties and decided to fight back, using the modern tools of intellectual warfare.
On December 15th the organization launched StartDebatingStopHating.com, a website and newspaper ad (the latter appearing in Politico and the Washington Examiner) that denounced the speech-chilling “character assassination” tactics of the SPLC, while supporting the “vigorous” and “responsible” exercise of free speech. Those who sign an online petition show their solidarity with the FRC, American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, and others who are protecting the traditional family. Many heavy hitters signed the full-page ad including Michele Bachmann, Jim DeMint, Tim Pawlenty, Phyllis Schlafly, Frank Gaffney, Alveda King, and David Limbaugh.
The Alabama-based non-profit, started by attorneys Morris Dees and Joseph Levin, Jr. in 1971, tracks the speech and conduct of those they dub as ‘haters’ (e.g. the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan), and champions the civil rights of destitute minorities. But in recent years the SPLC has become known for its aggressive campaign of slamming mainstream conservatives and independent thinkers by likening their views to, say, those of the National Knights of the KKK. In addition to the FRC, the SPLC has slimed Iowa Congressman Rep. Steve King (R-IA), Indian-born writer Dinesh D’Souza, African-American law professor Carol Swain, and prominent immigration enforcement leaders and writers, to name a few. Even the films “Gods and Generals” and “The Lord of the Rings” are suspect. The former is scorned because the Civil War flick “is told from the Confederate perspective,” and the latter is suspect because it is “Eurocentric.”
If that isn’t ridiculous enough, consider that Richard Cohen, SPLC president even wrote a letter to CNN’s president, last year, asking that newscaster Lou Dobbs be ‘removed’ from the airwaves, because Dobbs was promoting “racist conspiracy theories” (i.e. daring to have an open discussion about President Obama’s citizenship bonafides).
In 1998, Teaching Tolerance, a publication of the SPLC aimed at impacting public education, featured a friendly interview with commie-sympathizer Bill Ayers. No mention was made of his past as a violent Weather Underground member. Instead, Ayers was merely described as a “radical anti-Vietnam War activist, teacher, and author.” The SPLC also opposes the Arizona immigration law and can’t be bothered to stick up for Americans who have been victimized by the heinous actions of repeat offender criminal illegal aliens or transnational gangbangers.
Then there’s the money. With its net assets of nearly $200 million, Harper’s has colorfully described the organization as having more wealth than the “annual GDP of the Marshall Islands.” Clearly, poverty and injustice are the last things on Dees’ mind these days. But don’t look to the MSM to expose such blatant hypocrisy. The SPLC wouldn’t have come this far, this fast without a mountain of favorable words and pictures from the old guard and new vanguard media establishment.
This past summer, the Montgomery Advertiser published, with a straight face, scores of photos of the house that Morris Dees shares with Susan Starr, his current wife. A suburban tract home it’s not. Casa Dees, complete with guest quarters, features surrealistic decorations (a matador’s costume hanging in an office bathroom and a rickshaw parked near the swimming pool). The pretty missus is an avant-garde artist who designs transparent coats and whose clientele is society’s crème de la crème.
Mark Potok, an SPLC spokesperson and Huffington Post contributor, is frequently interviewed or quoted (as a credible authority on everything from right-wing ‘extremism’ to militias to racism) by NPR, the Associated Press, the Washington Post, the New York Times, cable show talking heads, etc. etc. Ted Koppel, former “Nightline” anchor, has said that “Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center has a long and distinguished record of fighting for civil rights.” Newsweek notes that, “Teaching Tolerance is a winner among programs providing moral education.” While U.S. News and World Report thinks that the SPLC’s Intelligence Project investigators have “bested the nation’s mighty law enforcement agencies.” In 1991, NBC even showed a made-for-TV flick lauding Dees’ legal accomplishments.
Unfortunately, the positive publicity has brought the oily organization serious street cred. Among the FBI’s recommended resources on its “hate crime” page is a link to the – you guessed it – the Southern Poverty Law Center. Ditto for the U.S. Department of Justice.
There’s even a Morris Dees Justice [sic] Award at the University of Alabama law school.