Archive for May, 2018

SPLC — Cashing in on MS-13

May 28, 2018

When you have “tracked” the Southern Poverty Law Center for as long as we have, you take it for granted that the company will find a way to make money off the latest tragedy or controversy du jour. The SPLC now has more than 300 full-time employees, many of them involved in marketing, public relations and fundraising and they are not about to let an opportunity to cash in pass them by.

Just over a week ago, President Donald Trump ruffled feathers by referring to members of the violent and deadly Salvadoran gang MS-13, which has infiltrated many American cities and even smaller towns, as “animals.”

Considering the gang’s lengthy record of brutal murders, decapitation, torture and rape, “animals” is one of the kinder terms that could be used to describe them.

Naturally, Mr. Trump’s comments were clumsy and poorly articulated, as usual. Naturally, the SPLC and other Hate Industry players jumped on a chance to claim that the president was referring to all immigrants as “animals.”

Virtue signalers across the country couldn’t get their wallets out fast enough. Despite all the “outrage” and toga rending, Donald Trump has been a gold mine for these “advocacy groups.” The very mention of his name is guaranteed to agitate the donors and the money will soon follow.

According to its online tax records, the SPLC took in over $132 million in donations in 2017, up from $50 million in 2016. Its cash-on-hand endowment fund grew from $319 million to $432 million over the same period. Fully 98% of the endowment fund is designated as “unrestricted” in use.

Ironically (a term one uses so often when describing the company), the SPLC issued several statements declaring that: “Dehumanizing rhetoric — unacceptable from anyone — is especially dangerous when it comes from the mouth of the president.”

Considering the hundreds of millions of tax-free donor-dollars the SPLC has generated over the past decades specifically through the use of “dehumanizing rhetoric,” such as the ever-profitable “hate group” label, “domestic extremists” and “radical traditionalists” one has to wonder how the company avoids choking on its own hypocrisy.

“Unacceptable from anyone…”

Some readers may remember the SPLC’s longtime spokesman, Mark Potok, who was unceremoniously fired from the company in March, 2017, after 20 years of highly lucrative service, most of which was built squarely upon the use of “dehumanizing rhetoric.” Apparently, this usage was quite acceptable when Mr. Potok was channeling millions of donor-dollars into the company’s coffers.

One prime example can be found in a 2007 speech Mr. Potok gave before a hate crime conference in Michigan:

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that these are human beings and it’s a mistake to regard them as just a bunch of sociopaths… though most of them are.”

That zinger drew a laugh from the assembled anti-haters, oddly enough. Potok continued with the statement:

“Let me say… our aim… sometimes the press will describe us as monitoring hate groups and so on. I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups. Completely destroy them!”

Feel the love. Donate early and often.

This brings us to the SPLC’s latest fundraising scheme. Just as the company found ways to cash in on the Confederate flag controversy in 2015 and the tragic death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville in 2017, the SPLC’s growing team of PR professionals have come up with another classic fundraising scam:

“TELL PRESIDENT TRUMP TO STOP USING RACIST AND DEHUMANIZING RHETORIC,” proclaims the page on the SPLC website. “This kind of rhetoric is unacceptable from anyone,” they remind us, in a brief statement that completely omits any reference to MS-13 whatsoever.

How best to do this? A link to the White House website? No. Mr. Trump’s personal Twitter handle? Nope. Maybe a useful email link to your senators or members of Congress? Not seeing any.

Instead, the SPLC has conveniently provided a short online form where you can enter your name, location and email address. That’s all you have to do.

Tell Trump

What happens to your personal information when you hit the blue button? The site doesn’t say. Maybe your name goes on a petition, though wouldn’t you’d think they’d mention that?

No. Just as with the SPLC’s brilliant, though now-retired, “Stand Strong Against Hate” map and its lucrative offspring, the “Wall of Tolerance,” your contact information will go directly to the company’s massive, in-house fundraising machine, and you put it there yourself, of your own free will.

Just as tens of thousands of SPLC donors, new and old, believe that they are “fighting hate” with their annual donations when their money actually goes to third party telemarketers, you haven’t “taken a stand against hate” any more than you have taken a solemn oath to “work for justice, equality and human rights.”

All you’ve done is given the Southern Poverty Law Center’s fundraisers your personal contact information.

Operators are standing by.

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ADL – Anti-Semitic Posts on Twitter

May 13, 2018

A recent report released by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) claims that the organization tracked some 4.2 million anti-Semitic tweets between January 2017 and January 2018. The Media, both traditional and social, repeated the claims widely, giving an impression that Twitter was a hotbed of anti-Semitism.

As with all matters concerning “hate,” in the Media, a closer look is warranted.

First off, anti-Semitism is a very real and a very dangerous social phenomenon. While even one hateful tweet is one too many, the definition of “hate” is nebulous at best and often tailored to the goals of the people defining it. To fully understand the reality on the ground it is imperative to review the definitions and methodologies used in creating  such reports. Let’s check the facts.

The ADL’s report, Quantifying Hate: A Year of Anti-Semitism on Twitter (no authors are named) claims that a review of English language tweets over 2017, using both computer algorithms and human review, yielded 4.2 million anti-Semitic tweets and re-tweets by 3 million users.

“The current findings are based on a complex Boolean query designed to identify language frequently used by anti-Semites.

The query was broadly written to encompass obvious expressions of anti-Semitism, including classic anti-Semitic stereotypes; code words and symbols sometimes used in an anti-Semitic fashion; and also subtle references to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.”

The query was indeed “broadly written” and was “designed to detect anti-Semitism in the following categories:

  1. Classic anti-Semitic stereotypes (e.g. references to Jews as greedy; controllers of banks, media, governments and academia; under-miners of culture and racial purity; cursed for killing Jesus; etc.)

  2. Positive references to or promotion of known anti-Semitic personalities, authors, books, articles, videos and podcasts

  3. References to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories (e.g. Jewish control of the Federal Reserve; the existence of a “Zionist Occupation Government,” etc.)

  4. Holocaust denial

  5. Epithets used for Jews (e.g. “kike”) and against Jews (e.g. “goddamn Jews”)

  6. Code words and anti-Semitic symbols such as the “echo symbol” (“((( )))”)

The current report includes criticism of Israel or Zionism when such criticism makes use of classic anti-Semitic language or conspiracy theories, or when it ascribes evil motivations to significant numbers of Jews. General criticism of Israel or its policies is not counted as anti-Semitism.

That covers a lot of territory, and, as the report’s Table of Contents indicates, includes several topics that may be, at best, tangentially associated with actual anti-Semitism.

ADL TOC

Including references to Harvey Weinstein, George Soros, Zionism and “globalists” will undoubtedly uncover many genuine anti-Semitic references but will also include many legitimate criticisms of cultural and political movements and players.

Let’s dig a little deeper:

  • As of 2017, Twitter had 330 million active users, of which 100 million were active daily
  • Over 500,000,000 tweets are sent every day, or 182 BILLION a year. A 2012 survey estimated that 38% of all tweets were in English, though this percentage has most certainly changed since then. The ADL study limited its sample to English language tweets only.
  • The United States makes up 21% of all Twitter users worldwide. Lacking demographic data later than the 2012 report referenced above, and excluding all tweets from other English speaking countries, (The UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc.) and tweets in English from other countries, a simple one-for-one extrapolation (21% of users accounting for 21% of tweets) would suggest that Americans sent more than 38 billion tweets in 2017.

    Obviously, not all American tweets were in English, but even 75% of this incredibly low-balled estimate would yield 28 billion tweets, of which the ADL found 4 million to be questionable, or .014%.

  • An ADL press release notes that, whatever the actual number of English tweets studied for 2017, only 55,000 “were manually reviewed for the presence of anti-Semitism.”
  • A 2017 peer-reviewed study estimated that between nine and 15% of all Twitter users were computer generated “bots.”

In short, the methodology used in the ADL’s Twitter report was, at best, “broad,” and at worst, unreliable. The report includes a disclaimer referencing “the rise of ‘QAnon’ conspiracy theories” that illustrates just how broadly the term “anti-Semitism” was interpreted:

“The vast majority of QAnon-inspired conspiracy theories have nothing to do with anti-Semitism. However, a small percentage of tweets referencing QAnon also referred to Israel, Jews, Zionists, Rothschilds … , or George Soros. 

This study’s methodology does not allow us to determine how many of the QAnon tweets containing those terms actually expressed anti-Semitic sentiment, but an impressionistic review revealed some troubling examples.”

“Impressionistic reviews” revealing “some troubling examples” are not the stuff of hard research. It should be noted that the Anti-Defamation League, like the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), is a private “advocacy group,” which by its very definition means that the organization is “advocating” a particular point of view.

Online tax records indicate that the ADL averaged between $50- and $60 million dollars in donations a year between 2011 and 2016, with 2% to 2.5% of that money going to “program services,” such as this anonymous survey, and 40% to 45% going to “Executive compensation, other salaries and wages.”

With tens of millions of dollars in compensation at stake, a strong financial incentive to interpret anti-Semitism as broadly as possible cannot be ignored.

As we noted at the beginning of this post, the Media, in all its forms, gladly repeats the claims of the ADL and SPLC without performing any review. Lurid claims of “hate groups” everywhere and anti-Semitism on the rise make for profitable click bait. The Media also have an undeniable financial incentive for promoting such “reports” without ever asking to see the evidence.

Again, anti-Semitism is a very real thing and must not be tolerated in any way, but lumping criticism of George Soros’ political activities and re-tweets of anonymous QAnon conspiracy theories is not a legitimate method of documenting it.

Research for the report was allegedly performed by two ADL in-house organizations, the ADL’s Center on Extremism and Center on Technology and Society, with no external peer review or oversight.

If the data is good the results ought to be easily replicable independently. Anonymous reports generated by in-house organs simply do not meet basic research standards.

Big claims demand big proof and the ADL needs to show its work. A poorly estimated 4 million suspicious tweets out of tens of billions posted in 2017 is statistically insignificant.

Prove it or remove it.


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