Posts Tagged ‘Brian Levin’

SPLC – 2012 – Still Caucasian after all these years

March 12, 2012

Click image to enlarge

It’s 2012, and here are the leaders the Southern Poverty Law Center. Presented here, according to the SPLC’s most recent IRS Form 990,  are “the nation’s leading civil rights group’s” top nine, highest paid executives, their titles and compensation packages and any significant changes in their base salaries from the previous year:

Richard Cohen — President/CEO — $339,764
Morris Dees — Founder and Chief Trial Counsel — $343,676 (-$1,133)
Joseph Levin — Director and General Counsel — $184, 411  (-$58)
Mary Bauer — Legal Director — $164,103 (-$94,566, Ouch!)
Teenie Hutchinson — CFO — $156,623 159,752 (+$3,129)
Wendy Via — Development Director — $148,537
Mark Potok — Intelligence Director — $151,392  (
+$4,116)
David Utter — Director — Miami — 
$155,777 (+$18,521)

Not shown is Michael Toohey, the SPLC’s COO, $230,181 (+$4,416).  If anyone knows of a public photo of Mr. Toohey, please pass the info along to Watching the Watchdogs.

While there is some minor fluctuation in the compensation numbers, these need to be compared to the 4-,5- and even 6-digit raises the execs voted themselves the year before.

If you examine the photos closely, you may note a surprising coincidence: ALL of the SPLC’s highest paid executives are white.

Some people may find it odd that a civil rights organization, headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama, the very birthplace of the American Civil Rights Movement and home to Rosa Parks, would be run by white millionaires. Despite being located literally in the back yard of Dr. Martin Luther King’s home church, the Southern Poverty Law Center has NEVER hired a person of color to a highly paid position of power in its entire 41-year history!

Even the SPLC’s laughably named “Teaching Tolerance” program, which preaches diversity to K-12 schoolchildren and their teachers has been managed by “whites only” for 20 of its 21 years!

As long ago as 1994, Dan Morse, an investigative reporter for the Montgomery Advertiser noted the lack of diversity in the SPLC’s executive suite, and the situation has not changed whatsoever in the 17 years since.

(Dan Morse, “Equal Treatment? No blacks in center’s leadership,” Montgomery Advertiser, February 16, 1994.)

“Inside [SPLC headquarters], no blacks have held top management positions in the center’s 23-year history, and some former employees say blacks are treated like second-class citizens.”

The article continues:

“I would definitely say that there was not a single black employee with whom I spoke who was happy to be working there,” said Christine Lee, a black graduate of Harvard Law School who interned at the Law Center in 1989.”

In his defense, SPLC founder Morris Dees offered the following statements:

“There ain’t no plantation mentality. If that was the case, I don’t know what the blacks would be doing in the positions they are…” In 1994, when Dees made this eloquent statement, the SPLC’s highest paid African American employee was in charge of the mail room, where she had worked for the previous 20-plus years.

“It is not easy to find black lawyers. Any organization can tell you that.” This could be true. After all, for decades NFL and NBA team owners made the exact same arguments to explain their all-white executive suites, right?

“Well, we would hire a black head coach, only there aren’t any…”

And not to get nit-picky, but lawyers make up only about half of the SPLC’s top dogs. Apparently, it’s not easy to find black accountants, computer experts or public relations people in 2012, either.

Supporters of the SPLC will often point to the diverse “Board of Directors” posted on the SPLC’s web site as proof of inclusion at the top:


A veritable rainbow of diversity and multiculturalism, however the IRS Form 990 indicates that the board members are unpaid volunteers, which is not uncommon among such boards in the corporate world. The real question is how much influence does the board have over SPLC policies and practices?

During the same week-long investigative report of the SPLC, Dan Morse noted that most of the board members were old friends and cronies of Morris Dees who regularly rubber-stamped whatever the maestro put before them. Some of the board members in Morse’s 1994 report are still on the SPLC board today.

(Dan Morse, “Friendly Board,” Montgomery Advertiser, February 19, 1994.)

Conspicuously absent from the pantheon of highest grossing SPLC Movers and Shakers is Dr. Heidi Beirich. Dr. Beirich began working at the SPLC in the late 90s, around the same time as her boss Mark Potok, yet her longevity and advanced education have not done much to advance her career.

Dr. Beirich holds a PhD and two master’s degrees, compared to Mark Potok’s single Poli-Sci bachelor’s degree, yet even when an earlier IRS Form 990 included execs whose compensation dipped into the mere $70,000s, Dr. B. was nowhere to be found.

In short, it seems that Heidi Beirich, who gets as much face time on the networks as Mark Potok, is paid about half of what her less-educated male boss makes.

Apparently, it’s a man’s world at the SPLC, Dr. Beirich. A white man’s world.

Brian Levin and his one-man”Center for the Study of Hate”

October 28, 2009

Earlier posts on this blog pointed out how groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center use public relations press releases to craft their public image and propagate their ideology. While the SPLC pays its PR guru a six-digit salary to keep the tens of millions of donor dollars coming in, not every “watchdog” group has such deep pockets.

Take the case of Brian Levin, a professor and self-described “Director” of the “Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism” at California State University at San Bernardino (CSU/SB). That’s an extremely impressive title, however, all signs indicate that Mr. Levin is the entire staff of the “Center for the Study of Hate.”

There just doesn’t seem to be anyone else there for the “Director” to direct.

A brief view of the evidence does little to dispel this impression:

  • The “Center’s” web site languished for 8 years with virtually no updates since 2001.
  • Mr. Levin eventually updated the site in August, 2009, although, as of this writing, not much has changed on this site either.

Given that this is allegedly an academic center at a prestigious university, does it not seem just a little bit odd that in eight years the “Center” couldn’t assign a single staff member, intern or extra-credit seeking computer geek to maintain its most important public asset?

  • The staff directory, located on the home page of the web site, indicates NO staff.
  • The contact information listed on the site includes a telephone number to the main office of the Department of Criminal Justice at CSU/SB, not to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, and the only e-mail address is to Mr. Levin’s free AOL account.
  • The “Center’s” only other public manifestation, its blog, is hosted on a free blogger site, rather than a CSU/SB server.

Granted, I’m no expert on academic centers, but I’m pretty sure that if they have actual staff, at least one person would be tasked with answering the phone calls coming in to the center’s OWN telephone number, and e-mails would go to a csusb.edu address and NOT to a free AOL account.

Obviously, there is much to be said for free blog sites, (like this one), but you’d be hard put to find another academic center that relies on them.

  • Mr. Levin also issues press releases, much like his mentors and former employers, the SPLC, which tout his expertise and willingness to comment on the “hate” topic du jour, such as this one, dated October 21, 2009.
  • This “academic center” produces very little in the way of academic studies. When pressed, (see below), Mr. Levin can produce a string of articles published chiefly between 1992  and 2006, as well as a couple of book chapters, but all of them are authored by B. Levin.

Is there no one else at the “Center” producing academic research?

In August, 2009, I had a rare opportunity to discuss these issues with Mr. Levin, albeit indirectly. After posting the same observations made above in the comment section of an article featuring Mr. Levin’s comments in OC Weekly, I was surprised and gratified that the Director took time out of his busy day to rebut my accusations. (See the “comments” section here)

While not addressing me directly, Mr. Levin explained his side of the story.

  • “I don’t list a lot of the people who assist us (both professional and interns) because I don’t need them to be harassed by bigots too.”
  • “I won’t get into much detail about why I use my personal email or blogs, but it relates to web security and convenience.”
  • “I don’t think we put out many press releases, probably less than a dozen in ten years is my guess, but I haven’t checked.”
  • Mr. Levin produces an impressive list of university board members, (no one doubts that his “Center” is part of CSU/SB, just that it’s more than a one-man show), and an even longer list of distinguished advisers, none of whom have written anything under the aegis of the “Center for the Study of Hate.”

At the end of the day, after some rather clumsy efforts to smear the messenger, (“bigot,” “shadowy,” “white nationalist,” dishonest, etc.), Mr. Levin STILL fails to produce a single iota of proof that his “Center” is anything more than a classic Bernaysian front group.

What is so remarkable about Mr. Levin’s “Center” is that he doesn’t need it. Brian Levin is one of the most experienced people in his field, his recent work on the plight of homeless people is admirable.

Unlike his mentors at the SPLC, to my knowledge, Brian Levin has never solicited a single dime for himself or his center. Whatever his “Center” is doing for him, it’s not making him rich.

What Mr. Levin’s “Center” is doing for him is lending an aura of authority to his own personal opinions. There’s no real crime in this, perhaps, but any real news organization should be suspicious from the get-go. The front group is one of the oldest tricks in the PR book.

It’s also entirely possible that I’m completely wrong about the “Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism,” but given the available evidence, either Mr. Levin’s “Center” is a one-man show, or he has gone to great lengths, shunned all academic orthodoxy, in order to make it appear as one.

Mr. Levin… tear up this paper “Center”.

Watching the self-appointed watchdogs

August 30, 2009

Welcome to Watching the Watchdogs. Our purpose here is to examine the publications and pronouncements of the Southern Poverty Law Center and other self-appointed “hate watchdogs” attempting to influence public policy.


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