Archive for February, 2011

SPLC — The Biggest Lie Keeps Getting Bigger

February 27, 2011

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.)

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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.

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“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:

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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SPLC — Good Return on Investment?

February 25, 2011

The SPLC recently released the 2010 edition of its all time fund-raising machine, the spurious “Hate Map.”

The graph used by the SPLC to demonstrate the steady rise of “hate groups” over the past decade looked surprising similar to another SPLC-related graph.

Coincidence, no doubt…

Endowment Fund Levels by Year

Source: SPLC

Still, it seems a bit odd that the more money the SPLC takes in, (more than a third of a BILLION tax-free dollars since 2003), the more “hate groups” they seem to find.

And no matter how much the donors send in, the number of “hate groups” never goes down… not even a little… not once… not ever… in FORTY YEARS…

One has to wonder if the donors are getting a good return on their investment, no?

SPLC — Recordbreaking Bloat

February 24, 2011

The Southern Poverty Law Center has released its financial numbers for Fiscal Year 2010 and once again it looks like business has been goood for the Captains of the Hate Industry.

F/Y 2010 was the second best year in SPLC history, with $31,023,148 tax-free donor-dollars pouring into the coffers.

Just as impressive were the $26,563,924 tax-free interest dollars that pushed the SPLC’s already over-bloated Endowment Fund to record levels.                        (Click chart for larger image)

The SPLC's Endowment Fund

The SPLC’s Endowment Fund now tops $216 MILLION dollars. Despite taking a $50 million dollar hit in 2008, the SPLC rebounded in record time. Not bad considering the nation has been in the grip of the worst recession in decades. Not bad for a non-profit organization.

No wonder the SPLC handed out 4-, 5-, and even 6-digit raises to its all-white executive team last year!

The good news is that the Endowment Fund has finally reached critical mass. The fund was the brainchild of SPLC founder Morris Dees, who sought to “…build for the future [of the SPLC] by setting aside a certain amount of its income for an endowment, a practice begun in 1974 to plan for the day when nonprofits like the SPLC can no longer afford to solicit support through the mail because of rising postage and printing costs.”

That day has arrived, Mr. Dees! In fact, it arrived in 2007 when the Endowment Fund began to generate more than enough cash to cover annual operating expenses, minus the SPLC’s 19% fund-raising costs.

Except for the Madoff bubble in 2008 that crippled so many non-profits and charities, the Endowment Fund has generated cash to spare:

Year      Fund Revenues               SPLC Expenses

2007        $26,080,536                  $24,575,509

2009        $33,486,550                  $23,987,044

2010        $26,563,924                  $25,587,864

Not only will the Endowment Fund continue to grow, but once dead-weight public relations staffers like Mark Potok, and his grossly underpaid helper Dr. Heidi Beirich, are dropped from the payroll, the costs of doing business will go down even more!

With no more bogus “reports” needed to perpetuate the SPLC’s decades-long fear campaign, the eminent Mr. Potok can return to his career as a stringer for that hard-hitting bastion of journalism, USA Today, or take up selling Ginzu knives at carnivals; something worthy of his talents.

Even more gratifying is knowing now that Morris Dees will never again have to labor over yet another demeaning fund-raising letter. With the Endowment Fund turning a profit, Dees can give up huckstering and concentrate on the SPLC’s core business… law, right?

Well… not so much…

While its hard to believe, according to SPLC financial documents, of the more than one-third of a BILLION dollars the SPLC has generated since 2003, only 2.6% of that money went toward legal case costs.

Whatever the core business of the all-white millionaires who run the Southern Poverty Law Center is, it definitely isn’t law.

SPLC — 2011– Forty Years of White Supremacy

February 6, 2011

Richard Cohen

Meet the dedicated men and women of 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 eleven, highest paid executives, their titles and compensation packages and any significant changes in their base salaries from the previous year:

Richard Cohen — President/CEO — $340,818
Morris Dees — Founder and Chief Trial Counsel — $344,809
Joseph Levin — Director and General Counsel — $184, 469
Rhonda Brownstein — “Outgoing” Legal Dir.– $137,256 (-$29,942, Ouch!)
Teenie Hutchinson — CFO — $156,623 (+$4,598!)
Wendy Via — Development Director — $148,537  (+$11,244!)
Mark Potok — Intelligence Director — $147,276  (
+ $7,310!)
Mary Bauer — Dir. Immigrant Justice — $258,669 (+$119,063!!)
David Utter — Director — Miami — $137,256


Not shown are Michael Toohey, the SPLC’s COO, $225,765 (+$118,233!!!) and IT Chief Thomas Brinkman ($135,060). If anyone knows of a public photo of Mr. Toohey or Mr. Brinkman, please pass the info along to Watching the Watchdogs.

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, but that’s nothing compared with the fact that in its entire 40 year long history, the Southern Poverty Law Center has NEVER hired a person of color to a highly paid position of power.

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, NFL and NBA team owners made the exact same observation for decades when explaining why there were no black head coaches, right?

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.)

“Well, what about Julian Bond and Lecia Brooks?” say the die-hards, “They’re African Americans.”

On page 132 of his 1991 autobiography, “A Season for Justice,” (reprinted verbatim in 2003 as “A Lawyer’s Journey“), Dees writes about the earliest days of the SPLC when he was preparing to mail out the very first of that organization’s fund-raising appeals, (using the 700,000-plus names on the donor list he received for “volunteering” to serve as finance manager for George McGovern’s presidential bid.)

Dees had made his millions in direct mail, not law, and he knew how to write a successful sales pitch:

“Before we could ask for money, we had to establish credibility. We needed a prominent figure whose presence would announce the center’s values and promise. Julian Bond seemed the perfect choice.”

“I had never met Julian Bond. My friend Chuck Morgan… working for the ACLU… arranged a meeting in Atlanta. When I told [Bond] about our hopes and plans, he agreed to serve as president of the Law Center, a largely honorary position.”

Dees does not mention any money changing hands, so it is quite possible that Mr. Bond was eager to lend his good name to two white lawyers from Montgomery, of whom he had never heard, for free. Whether Mr. Bond was paid or not, he held no real power at the SPLC. (Bond gets two paragraphs in Dees’ 335 page memoir and is never heard from again…)

This is a classic case of celebrity endorsement and nothing more. If Bond held no power as “honorary president,” one has to wonder how much he now wields as an honorary board member?

As for Lecia Brooks, whose title of Outreach Director probably makes her the highest paid minority at the SPLC, it appears that she is neither highly paid, nor in an executive, decision-making position. Page 7 of last year’s IRS Form 990 also listed the SPLC’s highest paid executives, including Michael Toohey, whose paltry $73,454 salary was the lowest on the list.

While Mr. Toohey received a six-digit raise since then, Ms. Brooks did not make the list, meaning her salary was less than $73k, or roughly half of what the next tier of (white) execs were pulling down.

We won’t denigrate the intelligent, talented and dedicated Ms. Brooks with the term “token,” but a highly paid executive in a position of power she clearly is not.

One last note on the hypocrisy of Morris Dees. Below is a Google Map snapshot of the SPLC’s multi-million dollar “Poverty Palace,” in downtown Montgomery, marked with a letter “A.” In the same photo, at the top right, and ironically, nearly in the shadow of the SPLC, is the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Dr. Martin Luther King’s first church.

For forty years now, the executives of the Southern Poverty Law Center have been able to look down on Dr. King’s church from their penthouse suites. For forty years whites have remained supreme at the SPLC. Somethings just never change in Montgomery.

 


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