The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) recently released the 2010 edition of their famous “Hate Map.” As expected, the number of “hate groups” went up… again.
Since these “Hate Maps” generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the SPLC, it only seems right to take a closer look at what the numbers actually mean, (something the mainstream media steadfastly refuse to do.)
Before we begin, let’s get our terminology straight, so we know what we’re talking about. Since the “Hate Map” purports to identify “hate groups,” it is important to understand exactly what is being discussed here.
First of all, there is NO legal definition for “hate group,” which is why even the FBI does not, can not, “track hate groups.” Even the SPLC’s $147,000 donor-dollar-a-year public relations guru Mark Potok has admitted this simple fact.
“The FBI does not monitor groups just because they have “hateful” ideology. There must be some evidence of criminal wrongdoing.“ (www.usatoday.com, May 17, 2002)
Basically, a “hate group” is pretty much anything Mark Potok says it is. In the past, Potok has said on several occasions that: “…a “hate group” has nothing to do with criminality… [or] potential for violence…” Rather, as Potok put it, “It’s all about ideology.”
Nothing to do with criminality or violence, just “wrong thinking.” That has to streamline the “hate group” designation process.
Let’s look at the legend Mr. Potok included with the latest “Hate Map” for more information.
“The [SPLC] counted 1,002 active hate groups in the United States in 2010″ based on its own vague and highly subjective criteria. “Only organizations [...] known to be active in 2010 are included.” Really? Let’s take a closer look.
Of the 1,002 alleged “hate groups” listed, 262 of them, (26%) were not associated with any known location. Mr. Potok can’t tell us where the “group” is, but he can tell us they were active. Trust him.
In some states, the percentage of ghost “groups” runs as high as 80-100%
Let’s look at a couple of examples of Mr. Potok’s hard-hitting investigative reportage:
Two of New Hampshire’s alleged “groups” are homeless, (40%), and the two listed in tiny Richmond, NH, (2009 population, 1,167), are one and the same Catholic monastery, (Yes, Virginia, traditional Catholics are a “hate group” too.) Nothing like a little double-dipping to pad out the numbers, Mr. Potok. Check out West Virginia:
Six out of thirteen of WV’s alleged “hate groups” are phantoms (46%). The largely defunct National Alliance in flyspeck Hillsoboro, (2008 population, 223!!), gets counted three times. Potok even admits that the NA is non-entity, but that doesn’t keep them off the map. Remember, the numbers never go down.
“But the Alliance has shriveled to a nearly dead group, and Resistance has been losing money for years.“ Big threat there, Mr. Potok.
Also notice that two of the alleged “groups” produce “racist music,” a category which does not include racist, misogynist, cop-killer Gangsta rap or Mexican “narcocorrido” ballads that extol the virtues killing gringos and selling drugs to their children. No hate there, Mr. Potok.
Even more instructive is the inclusion of five Ku Klux Klan groups. According to interviews given by Mark Potok in the Fall of 2010:
“The Klan of today is small, fractured, impotent and irrelevant,” Potok said. (www.timesfreepress.com, September 12, 2010)
“The Klan is a sorry shadow of its former self. It’s common for the KKK to brag about big numbers, but usually they are largely outnumbered by the counter-protestors, Potok said.
Even on the white supremacist scene, the Klan is seen as less important today, he said.” (www.chronicle.augusta.com, October 21, 2010)
WTW UPDATE: “But Potok said the Klan has disintegrated. “There is no Klan now,” he said, only a collection of squabbling organizations. (www.sanluisobispo.com, March 23, 2011)
Fractured, impotent, irrelevant and a shadow of its former self, yet even after Mr. Potok declares that “There is no Klan now,” he still felt compelled to include the Klan on his “Hate Map” 221 times, (22% of the total), and 109 of these “groups,” (49%) are HOMELESS. Are you seeing a pattern here yet?
“All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics,” says Mr. Potok, and yet, the Boy Scouts of America have said publicly for decades that gay men lack the “moral values” required to be Scout Leaders. That sounds like a malignant attack on an entire class of people, and yet you won’t find a word about the BSA on the SPLC’s web site, and they’re certainly not on the “Hate Map.
The BSA receives millions of dollars in public funding each year, and their core business, their entire raison d’être, is to mold the minds and shape the characters of millions of American boys, but somehow this doesn’t cross the SPLC’s scrupulous “hate group” threshold. Why not, Mr. Potok?
Mr. Potok accuses the 17 anti-gay “hate groups” on his map of “describing LGBT people as “perverts” with “filthy habits” who seek to snatch the children of straight parents and “convert” them to gay sex,” but this is somehow different than saying that gay Scout Leaders are inherently immoral? How so?
Mr. Potok explains that “Opposition to equal rights for gays and lesbians has been a central theme of Christian Right organizing and fundraising…” which explains that anti-gay “hate groups” are exclusively Christian, yet the BSA says the “…the board also agreed that duty to God is not a mere ideal for those choosing to associate with the Boy Scouts of America; it is an obligation.”
So, when is a conservative Christian “hate group” NOT a conservative Christian “hate group”?
The answer is simple. Many of the SPLC’s mostly elderly donors were Scouts, or the proud parents/grandparents of Scouts, and linking the almighty donors to a “hate group” is bad for business. Fighting “hate” is all well and good until it cuts into the bottom line.
At least we know that the entire resources of the vaunted Southern Poverty Law Center went into creating this extensive document, right? After all, the SPLC has generated more than a third of a BILLION tax-free dollars since 2003, and that ain’t chump change. The donors and the IRS can rest assured that all that money is going toward “fighting hate.”
“This list was compiled using hate group publications and websites, citizen and law enforcement reports, field sources and news reports,” reads the Map legend.
Interestingly, despite having more than $350 MILLION tax-free dollars at his disposal, “Mark Potok, who has directed the SLPC’s Intelligence Project for 12 years, said the report relies on media, citizen and law enforcement reports, and does not include original reporting by SPLC staff.” (www.postcrescent.com, July 6, 2009)
Hmmm, no original reporting, more of a “news clipping service” kind of thing. Well, no matter, as we’ve seen, at least the data is carefully vetted.
“Potok acknowledged that some of the groups may be small and said it is impossible for outsiders to gauge the membership of most of the groups.” (David Crary, Associated Press Online, March 10, 2008)
Hard to gauge, got it. But at least we’re talking about real groups of people here, right?
“Potok says inclusion on the list might come from a minor presence, such as a post office box.” (www.sanluisobispo.com, March 25, 2009)
“Websites appearing to be merely the work of a single individual, rather than the publication of a group, are not included in this list”
Hmm, okay, so a group doesn’t have to be an actual group to get a star on the Walk of Shame, and it’s important to draw a distinction between individual-owned web sites, which can reach millions of people with one click of the mouse, versus individual-owned P.O. boxes in booming metropolises like Yadkinville, NC, and Splendora, TX. You gotta have standards, after all.
At least we know that only violent, criminal “groups” are listed on the Map, though.
“Listing here does not imply a group advocates or engages in violence or other criminal activity.” No, of course not, just because your church or business appears on the world famous “Hate Map,” who in their right mind would imply that you were doing anything wrong?
Of course, if you really were committing hate-filled acts, what kinds of laws would you be breaking?
“Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing.” You know, a lot of misinformed people actually believe that marches, rallies, speeches, meetings and publishing are protected RIGHTS under the United States Constitution. Who knew they were lumped in with criminal acts and other “hate group” activities? Mr. Potok knew.
Didn’t Martin Luther King give some speeches and lead some marches? I know I saw Barack Obama at a rally at least once or twice. Who could have guessed that the millions of Egyptians who gathered and met in Tahrir Square last week were part of the greatest “hate group” meeting ever? Mr. Potok knew.
Fortunately, all is not lost. The “Hate Map” legend also offers clean, decent people a chance to hit back, and hit back hard. As a more positive counterpoint to the somewhat grim “Hate Map,” Mark Potok dreamed up a brilliant device he calls the “Stand Strong Against Hate” map.
In exchange for nothing more than your full name, postal and e-mail addresses, you too can “stand strong” and become a digital pinhead on an interactive national map. Your first name and last initial will be duly recorded, like an AA meeting.
By simply adding their personal information to the SPLC’s massive mailing list, pinheads are assured that they are doing their part in “stopping the racist backlash from infecting your community.”
Interestingly, Mr. Potok makes no mention of exactly how becoming a pinhead will stop the backlash, (“Heckfire, Billy-Bob, the cross burnin’ is off fer tonight. Sez on this here SPLC map that Rosemary Q. has taken a strong stand agin us. Shoot!“), or what becomes of your personal information? It’s not like there’s any kind of market for that sort of information. Trust him.
So who is to blame for the blatant lies of the SPLC’s infamous “Hate Map”? You can’t blame Mark Potok for this. Before coming to the SPLC, Mr. Potok was a part-time stringer for that bastion of hard-hitting journalism, USA Today. There’s no way he was pulling down six figures in that job, and let’s face it, the odds of him finding a better paying gig are slim to none. Mark Potok has a huge financial stake in the “Hate Map.”
You can’t blame Morris Dees, the founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center either. Potok’s “Hate Map” has been the SPLC’s prime fund-raising tool, bringing in nearly $236 MILLION tax-free donor-dollars since 2003 alone. This is probably why Dees gave Potok a $7,300 donor-dollar raise last year. Mo Dees and the SPLC have a huge financial stake in the “Hate Map” as well.
And if you were the sole arbiter of the incredibly lucrative “hate group” label, basing it on nothing more than your own personal opinion, wouldn’t you keep cranking up the numbers every year? Wouldn’t you find “hate groups” behind every rock and tree too? After all, it’s not like anyone is going to look at your data, right?
And that, dear friends, is where the ultimate blame belongs. Google the term “Hate Map” and see how many so-called news organizations simply regurgitated the SPLC’s slick press release without bothering to vet a single fact. These are the real criminals, the people we trust to be our so-called “public watchdogs,” the people we trust to do their jobs as professional journalists and reporters to investigate a story before reprinting it as fact.
Even so, blaming the alleged media isn’t entirely accurate either. With 24-hour news cycles and miles of blank newsprint and web pages to fill every single day, you can’t really even blame them for taking short cuts. So when a slickly written, pre-formatted press release pops up in the e-mail, for free, no less, why would you spend good money on a reporter to type up the same amount of “news”? The media have a financial stake in the “Hate Map” too.
Ultimately, the fault lies within ourselves, for being too lazy to do our own fact-checking, especially if the SPLC is saying something that millions of decent people want to hear.
I’m not a journalist or a reporter, yet I was able to find all of the information above using my own home PC. The year is 2011, not 1911, and people are no longer beholden to whatever crumbs of information the Media Elite deign to throw their way. Almost all of this information comes directly from SPLC sources, as is the case throughout the entire Watching the Watchdogs blog. I go to great lengths to cite these sources so that others can find the same information and read it for themselves.
The so-called “mainstream media” has no interest, financially or morally, to uncover this information for us. Fortunately, we live in an age of wonders where average people can find the truth for themselves. Those who won’t make the effort have no one but themselves to blame.
In the few hours it took me to crank out this rant on a Sunday morning, Mo Dees earned $120 donor-dollars and Mark Potok racked up just over $48 donor-dollars while sitting at home, eating breakfast.
Nice work if you can get it, no doubt, and more than this blog will ever generate. But then again, unlike the SPLC and the other titans of the Hate Industry, Watching the Watchdogs is a genuinely non-profit organization. We don’t make a dime from our efforts, and we never will.