The Southern Poverty Law Center has released its annual “Hate Map” fund-raising tool today. The SPLC claims it has designated 1,018 “hate groups” in the US in 2011.
Let’s have a look those numbers, but first, a few background facts are in order:
1. There is NO legal definition of “hate group,” which is why even the FBI does not, cannot, designate “hate groups.”
The SPLC uses the deliberately meaningless term “hate groups” in its fund-raising materials because it allows them to denigrate groups and individuals with which it disagrees without accusing them of any actual crimes, as noted in the last line of the “Hate Map” legend:
“Listing here does not imply a group advocates or engages in violence or other criminal activity.”
The fact of the matter is that the whole reason for a “Hate Map” is to imply that the “groups” on it are violent criminals. This has been the foundation of the SPLC’s ongoing fear campaign for more than 30 years. To this end, the “Hate Map” legend also states that:
“Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing.”
Marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, etc. are all Constitutionally protected under the Bill of Rights. The SPLC deliberately conflates these basic civil rights with criminal acts and “hate group” activities because it frightens their mostly elderly donor base.
2. The SPLC provides no information on the exact location of these groups or their membership numbers. In fact, they don’t even bother to affiliate 247 of these “groups” with any known city or town. That’s 24% right off the top. In many cases, 60%, 80% and even an incredible 100% of the “hate groups” in a given state are homeless.
Watching the Watchdogs questioned the SPLC’s public relations guru, Mark Potok, about these wild discrepancies last fall. Potok, who is responsible for the “Hate Map” numbers, admitted on camera that his “Hate Map” numbers were “anecdotal,” “a very rough estimate,” and “an imperfect process.”
Sadly, the media cannot bother to vet Mr. Potok’s spurious claims and simply regurgitate his bogus numbers as fact. Fortunately, Watching the Watchdogs is very willing and able to examine the numbers, and, as usual, we find them sadly wanting.
See them for yourself. Judge them for yourself.
Because the “Hate Map” is the keystone to SPLC fund-raising efforts, Mark Potok is forever making claims of “explosive growth” in the number of “hate groups” in his press releases and media interviews.
Last year his “hate group” count “exploded” from 1,002 to 1,017, or 1.5%. In 2009, the first year of the Obama Administration and the worst year of the Great Recession, the count “exploded by 6 groups, or six-tenths of a percent, the lowest increase in SPLC history.
In 2010, Potok bumped the number of “hate groups” up by 70, but the number of homeless “hate groups” actually increased by 99 for the same year.
True to form, Mr. Potok bumped his numbers up by 15 “groups” for 2011, including 20 entries for a new “group,” the Georgia Militia. Oddly enough, Mr. Potok can’t seem to locate 18 of those units.
This is hard data? NPR, the New York Times and MS-NBC all seem to think so. Look for them to quote Potok’s figures in the coming weeks.
Last year Mr. Potok warned of “explosive growth” in the number of “hate groups” in the Northwest:
“Montana is developing into a hotbed,” said Mark Potok, director of the SPLC Intelligence Project (ABC News, June 22, 2011)
The number of “hate groups’ in Montana actually dropped by 23%, from 13 to 10. Overall, the number of “groups” in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho “exploded” from 59 to 61, and 25% of those ‘groups” are homeless.
Another Potokian “explosion” turns out to be a damp squib.
Even if Mr. Potok’s powers of prognostication are somewhat lacking, the one thing we can always count on is that the number of “hate groups,” like the millions of tax-free dollars in the SPLC’s “Endowment Fund,” will continue to rise.
The more money the Southern Poverty Law Center makes, the more “hate groups” they seem to find.