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Finally: The Southern Poverty Law Center is on the Defensive

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The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) claims to be watchdogs over “hate groups and racial extremists throughout the United States.” However, some believe the SPLC is a radical left-wing organization itself, with an extremist agenda of its own. According to a June 21, 2017 article in the Wall Street Journal, “Aided by a veneer of objectivity, the SPLC rightly condemns groups like the Ku Klux Klan and New Black Panther Party, but it has managed to blur the lines, besmirching mainstream groups like the Family Research Council, as well as people such as social scientist Charles Murray and Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a critic of Islamic extremism.”

SPLC founder, attorney Morris Dees, began his career as a direct mail marketer, raising money for Jimmy Carter and George McGovern. As President of SPLC, according to attorney Gloria Browne, a former SPLC employee, “SPLC’s programs are calculated to cash in on black pain and white guilt.”

The group’s 2015 IRS filings declared $10 million of direct fundraising expenses, but the SPLC, which boasts a staff of 75 lawyers, spent only $61,000 on legal services. In sum, the SPLC took in $50 million in contributions in addition to its $328 million holdings of cash and securities. SPLC’s 2015 business tax return shows that the SPLC, a U.S. legal defense fund, has “financial interests” in the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, and Bermuda.

In an interview with this writer, Laird Wilcox, founder of the Wilcox Collection on Contemporary Political Movements at the University of Kansas, leveled this charge: “The dirty little secret behind the SPLC is that they actually need racial violence, growing ‘hate groups,’ and more racial crime to justify their existence and promote their agenda. With each violent act, additional ‘hate’ group, and racial incident, the SPLC’s status improves: fundraising goes up, they get more media exposure, their credibility increases, and their political usefulness to the far left surges.”

Former Congressman Tom Tancredo has stated, “As a vocal opponent of uncontrolled immigration, I am a frequent target of the Southern Poverty Law Center … I am still shocked to see myself quoted as saying, illegal immigrants were ‘coming to kill you and kill me and our families.’”

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Those branded as “haters” by the SPLC include: World Net Daily journalist Joseph Farah; best-selling author Dinesh D’Souza; former Senator and now U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions; and former Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul.

Writing in the Christian Post, author and radio host Dr. Michael Brown has stated that the SPLC’s “criteria includes the knowing dissemination of false information and the demonizing of other people and groups. This describes the SPLC to a tee when it comes to their defamation of Christian conservatives.”

Here’s one example of how SPLC’s influence works. The Family Research Council (FRC) “advances faith, family and freedom in government and culture from a Christian worldview,” according to its profile on the website of GuideStar, the nation’s premier philanthropic rating agency. GuideStar gives the FRC a “silver” rating for demonstrating a “commitment to transparency.” But the profile page also declares: “This organization was flagged as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.”

GuideStar announced this month that it would classify 46 (mostly conservative and Christian)     nonprofits as hate groups based on the SPLC’s imprimatur. GuideStar CEO Jacob Harold told the Associated Press the move was justified by an increase in “hateful rhetoric” across the country.

Leah Durant, Executive Director of Progressives for Immigration Reform told this writer, “The SPLC has lost much of its credibility over the years, by sensationalizing hate groups – both real and imagined as a marketing tactic.” She insists: “The fact is that as an African American woman, I am personally appalled at any organization that characterizes me, or anyone else who seeks to achieve a rational immigration policy, as racist.”

Now it seems, the SPLC may have to spend some of its legal action budget in self-defense.

D. James Kennedy Ministries (DJKM) has filed a lawsuit against the SPLC for defamation, religious discrimination, and trafficking in falsehood. The SPLC listed DJKM as a “hate group,” for its opposition to same-sex marriage. “These false and illegal characterizations have a chilling effect on the free exercise of religion and on religious free speech for all people of faith” contends Dr. Frank Wright, president of DJKM. Wright declared that according to the SPLC, “If you support traditional marriage, you’re a hater.”

The SPLC also faces a federal complaint from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Their filing alleges that the organization repeatedly violated its non-profit tax status nearly 50 times during the 2016 presidential election.

The SPLC is an IRS-designated nonprofit organization and therefore prohibited from engaging in partisan politics. Even a cursory review of its website belies its nonpartisan status. During the 2016 election, the SPLC posted such stories as “Margins to the Mainstream: Extremists Have Influenced the GOP 2016 Policy Platform,” and “Here Are the Extremist Groups Planning to Attend the RNC in Cleveland.” The Democratic platform and convention received no such coverage.

FAIR’s complaint to the Treasury Department accuses the SPLC of participating in communication activities prohibited by the IRS in a “flagrant, continued, and intentional campaign” targeting presidential candidate Donald Trump and other Republican candidates. “The SPLC went way over the line in this last election,” says Dan Stein, FAIR’s president. FAIR argues that the SPLC “publicly engaged in deep, deliberate, and unlawful participation during the 2016 presidential election cycle, flagrantly violating its nonprofit tax status.”

Perhaps the SPLC “legal defense” operation will be facing their day in court.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author and are not not necessarily either shared or endorsed by iPatriot.com.

Peter Gemma

Peter B. Gemma is an award-wining freelance writer and a veteran political consultant. He has been published in a variety of venues including: USA Today (where more than 100 of his commentaries have appeared); The Daily Caller; American Thinker; Op/Ed News; Military History; The Washington Examiner; Chronicles; the New American; and Human Events.

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