Southern Poverty Law Center: Wellspring of Manufactured Hate


By Capital Research Center (September 25, 2012)

Attorneys Morris Dees and Joseph Levin Jr. founded the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in 1971. It bills itself as “a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society.” People familiar with the SPLC may describe it differently. (For a previous CRC profile of the Center, see “The Southern Poverty Law Center: A Twisted Definition of ‘Hate,’” Organization Trends, November 2006.)

Early on it made a name for itself fighting genuinely extremist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and breaking down barriers of discrimination in the South. But today it is primarily a leftist attack machine. It devotes most of its sizeable resources to a systematic smear campaign against respected organizations and opinion leaders whose legitimate policy differences put them to the right of the SPLC..

Following a speech at a New York college in 2009, a student asked former Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) about a quotation attributed to him in a textbook. It said, “illegal immigrants were ‘coming to kill you and kill me and our families.’” Taken aback, Tancredo subsequently called the publisher to learn where the fake quotation had come from. “The Southern Poverty Law Center,” was the reply.

This is a familiar pattern. In 2007, SPLC labeled the Federation for American Immigration Reform a “Hate Group” as part of an effort to smear opponents of open borders and illegal immigration. In this effort, SPLC had no qualms associating itself with the National Council of La Raza (in Spanish, “the Race”), one of whose subordinate groups, the Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan, is notorious for the motto, For La Raza todo. Fuera de La Raza nada (“For The Race everything. Outside The Race, nothing”).

In a 2010 report detailing SPLC’s efforts, Jerry Kammer of the Center for Immigration Studies wrote:

Rather than engage in a debate, La Raza and its allies have waged a campaign to have the other side shunned by the press, civil society, and elected officials. It is an effort to destroy the reputations of its targets. It also seeks to intimidate and coerce others into silence. It undermines basic principles of civil society and democratic discussion.

SPLC senior fellow Mark Potok doesn’t mince words about illegal-immigration opponents: “Sometimes the press will describe us as monitoring hate crimes and so on … I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups, to completely destroy them.…” (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnTz2ylJo_8&feature=relmfu.)...

In the “Hate and Extremism” section of the SPLC website, the group lists 1,274 “Patriot Groups.” This category includes nonviolent conservative organizations like the Oath Keepers, the Constitution Party, Tea Party Patriots...

In addition to fomenting hatred for groups with which it disagrees, the SPLC is the author of dangerous provocations...

A Morally Bankrupt Organization Founded by a Morally Bankrupt Man

SPLC’s co-founder, Morris Dees, has been harshly criticized by former SPLC employees, a former business partner, and many liberal critics. They see him as little more than a rank opportunist and the SPLC’s chief purpose as raising money for SPLC coffers.

Though trained as a lawyer, Dees is best known for his fundraising ability...

With over $238 million in net assets, the SPLC is one of the wealthiest nonprofit organizations in the United States. Despite this massive endowment, the Center devotes almost 20 percent of its $34.5 million operating expenses – $6.5 million in 2011 – to fundraising. This includes $1 million for fundraising services and $5.5 million in fundraising staff salaries and administrative expenses...

SPLC received $36 million in contributions in 2011... Each year the SPLC is able to add tens of millions of dollars to its endowment. Despite being a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, supposedly with nothing to hide, some of SPLC’s assets are squirreled away in untraceable Bermuda and Cayman Island accounts. Why?

SPLC’s leaders are among the highest paid in the nonprofit field. As Chief Trial Counsel, Morris Dees receives $343,676. Richard Cohen, the Center’s president, is paid $339,764.

SPLC boasts many high-dollar donors. The top 10 for recent years are: Picower Foundation ($3,813,112, 1999 – 2008); Cisco Systems Foundation ($1,620,000, 2001 – 2004); Grousbeck Family Foundation ($1,600,000, 2007 – 2011); Grove Foundation ( $875,000, 2001 – 2011); Rice Family Foundation ($535,000 , 1999 – 2010); Rockefeller Philanthropy ($510,000, 2008 – 2010); Unbound Philanthropy ($500,000, 2006 – 2010); Public Welfare Foundation ($500,000, 2008 – 2010); Vanguard Charitable Endowment ($469,120, 2006 – 2011); Rocking Moon Foundation ($350,000, 2006 – 2010); and the Jewish Community Fund ($347,274, 1999 – 2010)...

SPLC’s biggest benefactor, the Picower Foundation, made the most of its money from the Bernie Madoff scam. Founder Jeffry Picower, who was friends with Madoff for 30 years, profited by $5 billion from his “investments” with his friend, an amount larger than Madoff personally “earned.” ...

Dees’ first business partner was Millard Fuller, who later went on to found Habitat for Humanity. In an article in The Progressive, he described their relationship:

Morris and I, from the first day of our partnership, shared the overriding purpose of making a pile of money. We were not particular about how we did it; we just wanted to be independently rich. During the eight years we worked together, we never wavered in that resolve. (See http://www.secondclassjustice.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Egerton-Poverty-Palace-July-1988.pdf.)

Many of Dees’s most virulent critics are on the Left. Nation magazine’s Alexander Cockburn wrote a scathing article in 2009, “King of the Hate Business.” ...

Harper’s also published a letter from Stephen Bright, president of the Southern Center for Human Rights, to the University of Alabama, declining an invitation to a “Morris Dees Justice Award” presentation. Bright called Dees “a con man and fraud,” ...

SPLC’s first president was Julian Bond, a socialist who has supported and participated in socialist, communist, and other radical leftist organizations and activities his entire life. As a rising star in the Left he received the early endorsement and support of the Communist Party USA, and he assisted, endorsed, and campaigned for radical causes and politicians, according to DiscoverTheNetworks.org...

Along with radical activists such as Ella Baker, Bond co-founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960. SNCC was later led by black separatists Stokeley Carmichael and H. Rap Brown, who openly advocated guerrilla warfare in U.S. cities. In 1967 Bond served as co-chair of the National Conference for New Politics (NCNP), described by the late Sen. James Eastland as a group “working hand-in-glove with the Communist Party” to foment “revolution in the United States.”

Bond’s most significant contact as co-chair of the NCNP was fellow NCNP member Herbert Marcuse. A Marxist who fled Nazi Germany in 1933, Marcuse ultimately took up residence in a number of American universities, including Columbia, Harvard, Brandeis, and the University of California, San Diego, where he mentored the black communist, Angela Davis...

Bond visited Castro’s Cuba in 1959 and was “enchanted by the revolution.” Following a repeat visit in 2006 he said that it “simply reinforced my admiration for the Cuban people and the society they are building.” (See http://www.medicc.org/cubahealthreports/chr-article.php?&a=1027.) Bond remains on SPLC’s board to this day.

SPLC’s board of directors also includes James Rucker, who co-founded Color of Change in 2005 with self-described communist Van Jones. Before that, Rucker was grassroots organizing director at the Soros-funded activist group MoveOn.

Another board member, Patricia Clark, spent time as National Criminal Justice Representative of the American Friends Service Committee. This nominally Quaker organization was created by socialist Quakers in 1917 and began colluding with Communists in the 1920s, when it worked with Soviet agents Jessica Smith, Harold Ware, and John Abt. (See http://keywiki.org/index.php/American_Friends_Service_Committee.)

Gabrielle Lyon, an SPLC research fellow, has spoken glowingly of domestic terrorist Bill Ayers. Ayers is famous for his Weather Underground years and has yet to be tried, along with his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, for the murder of San Francisco police Sgt. Brian McDonnell in 1970. Larry Grathwohl, the only FBI informant to ever successfully penetrate the Weathermen, has testified under oath that Ayers told him of their complicity in the bombing that killed McDonnell. This case is still open. (See http://www.usasurvival.org/docs/Grathwohl_names_Dohrn.pdf.)

More recently, an editorial written by SPLC’s Mark Potok was published in the Communist Party USA newspaper, People’s World...

King of Sophistry

Radical leftists are extremely adept at the use of language and propaganda. They have to be. An ideology that has brought more hardship, misery, and death over the last century than all the wars of history combined always needs image makeovers. The Soviet Union’s first leader, Vladimir Lenin, explained, “We can and must write in a language which sows among the masses hate, revulsion, and scorn toward those who disagree with us.”

The entire leftist movement has adopted this technique. Thus, any person who opposes illegal immigration becomes a “xenophobe.”... Any person who opposes affirmative action is a “racist.”..

Straw man arguments, misinformation, and other forms of sophistry, coupled with vitriolic smears of opponents can easily intimidate average citizens, who haven’t the time or inclination to look deeper and are naturally anxious about being tarred with the same brush. With sufficient media promotion, this fraudulent narrative becomes accepted as the “truth,” even chic. Most people want to be seen as siding with the “good guys.”

Critics are isolated and polarized, and despite the Left’s phony characterization of a deep-pocketed Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, the Left’s critics are usually independent voices of little or no means, not necessarily even conservative, with scant resources to defend themselves against defamation campaigns and frivolous lawsuits, which are favored tactics of the well-heeled SPLC and other leftist groups. Far-left agitator Neal Rauhauser even admitted as much when he advocated for a policy of “lawfare” against political opponents:

We’re dealing with people who have likely had no interaction with the court system beyond a traffic ticket; the potential for a pro se litigant to force them into expensive, long distance, lengthy, discovery laden litigation doesn’t seem to cross their minds. The reality of travel, or frightful expenses, or summary judgments needs to be made real. We probably need to make a very visible example of at least one of them before the rest understand. (See http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/middle-class-guy/2012/jun/28/who-neal-rauhauser/.)

Cultural Marxism and Hate Crimes

This kind of sophistry also has roots in the teachings of Julian Bond’s friend and leftist icon Herbert Marcuse. He was an influential member of the Marxist Institute for Social Research that was founded in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1923 and modeled after Moscow’s Marx-Engels Institute. It came to be known simply as “the Frankfurt School.” Marcuse and other scholars affiliated with the Institute reestablished it in the U.S. following their exodus from Germany, and developed philosophical studies specifically dedicated to subverting American culture.

Marcuse was often called the Father of the New Left, and he helped pioneer the ideas of political correctness and hate crimes. In a 1965 tract called “Repressive Tolerance,” Marcuse declared:

This essay examines the idea of tolerance in our advanced industrial society. The conclusion reached is that the realization of the objective of tolerance would call for intolerance toward prevailing policies, attitudes, opinions, and the extension of tolerance to policies, attitudes, and opinions which are outlawed or suppressed….

As he explained, the way to fix the “repressive tolerance” that Americans suffer because of the First Amendment is to suppress all voices except those from the Left:

Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left... Not ‘equal’ but more representation of the Left would be equalization of the prevailing inequality.

Today you can see this tactic in operation every day when left-wing professors, journalists, and politicians ridicule, misrepresent, ignore, or threaten anyone they disagree with. The Southern Poverty Law Center assists in this effort.

Even more ominously, but in line with Marcuse’s call to arms, the SPLC is a consultant to both the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, and the latter has labeled conservatives potential “domestic terrorists.” The SPLC has not been identifying enemies of America. It has been identifying enemies of the Left...

By cataloging the statements and writings of individuals and groups with whom they disagree, the SPLC is also creating a paper trail to use if and when hate crimes laws are strengthened sufficiently to provide pretexts for lawsuits or other legal action. This is a not-so-subtle threat. That sort of attack has begun to happen in Canada, Britain, and Sweden.

The SPLC’s interaction with the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI carries another threat. By deliberately mischaracterizing conservatives and tea partiers as “extremists,” the SPLC implies they have a potential for violence and thus offers a justification for the government to keep tabs on these potential “domestic terrorists.”

The Left, on the other hand, has a firmly established record of militancy, violence, and treasonous, unscrupulous and disgusting anti-social behavior...

Why are none of these groups listed in the SPLC’s “Intelligence” files? What about the Communist Party? What about union thugs like AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, implicated in murder, or United Steelworkers’ president Leo Gerard, who exhorted Occupy Wall Street to “more militancy?” All prone to violence, and they proudly say so!

Despite a mountainous record of violence from left-wing individuals and groups, there have never been any left-wing groups identified on the SPLC’s “hate groups” list.

Come to think of it, why isn’t the SPLC listed?

After a bombing attempt on May Day this year by five Occupy Cleveland activists was thwarted, a reporter for National Review asked the SPLC if it planned to put Occupy Wall Street on its “hate group” list? SPLC’s stunning answer: “We’re not really set up to cover the extreme Left.”

Conclusion

The Southern Poverty Law Center is a wealthy, well-connected, organized attack machine of the extreme political Left. It shares strategies, goals, and tactics with other similar organizations and colludes with them in campaigns of defamation, disinformation and legal threats to silence and/or criminalize political opponents.

The SPLC has unjustifiably secured itself a position of influence within our government and society. Its very presence threatens our freedoms and First Amendment rights. It abuses our system of justice, while hiding behind a Constitution for which it has little respect.

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