SPLC — Business as Usual

On August 12, 2020, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s new president and CEO, Margaret Huang issued a press release commemorating the third anniversary of the death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Huang replaced long-time SPLC president Richard Cohen in April of this year after the latter abruptly quit the company in disgrace in 2019. It was Cohen who kept SPLC founder Morris Dees on the company payroll despite decades of allegations of sexual harassment by female employees and who perpetuated Dees’ 48-year policy of not hiring minorities to senior SPLC positions of authority. Dees was just too popular with the donors to let go, it seems.

Huang had solid civil rights bona fides, including serving as executive director of Amnesty International USA, and showed great promise for leading the SPLC back to its glory days of doing actual civil rights work, the “poverty law” work for which the company was founded in 1971. It really looked like the new president would bring a new day to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Sadly, it was not to be.

As yesterday’s press release shows, Ms. Huang has merely picked up the company’s perpetual fear and outrage campaign right where Mr. Cohen dropped it in the dirt as he bolted for the door.

Perhaps this comes as no surprise, as Huang was hired by the same SPLC Board of Directors who kept Messrs. Dees and Cohen gainfully employed all those years and who even saw fit to pay the gentlemen their full six-digit salaries despite their bringing ignominy and shame upon the institution’s reputation. Most of those Board members are still on the job today.

“Three years ago today in Charlottesville, Virginia, our nation was forced to recognize an uncomfortable truth: hate is alive and flourishing in the United States. Since that day, we have seen white supremacists become more emboldened and vocal about their intentions for the future of our nation,” wrote Huang yesterday. 

Ironically, her company’s own fundraising propaganda paints a very different story.

2019 Hate Groups

The table above lists the number of alleged “hate groups” in the US over the past three years, as claimed by the SPLC’s insanely lucrative annual “Hate Map” fundraising tool. There is no legal definition for “hate group” so the company relies on its own intentionally elastic definition that essentially boils down to  “All hate groups say mean things about other groups.”

The numbers in red indicate an alleged increase in groups by category from the previous year. Those highlighted in yellow show a decline and those marked in blue indicate no change from the previous year.

The “Statewide” heading indicates those alleged groups for which the SPLC provides no corroborating information whatsoever, not so much as a known city or town that a donor or journalist could use to verify the company’s claim. “Trust us!”

“Statewide” does not include the dozens of other groups which have been pinpointed to locations such as “Southern California,” “Eastern Pennsylvania” or “Chickasaw County,” though it does, by necessity, incorporate over 100 online-only and one-man websites that the SPLC claims it does not count, except it apparently does.

Note the abundance of yellow cells in the table, indicating a steady decline in “hate groups” over the past three years, which ironically (there’s that word again) coincides with the Trump Administration, according to the experts at the SPLC. Note the number of “statewide” phantoms for the traditional white supremacist groups Ms. Huang claims are “flourishing”: Ku Klux Klan, 31 out of 47, neo-Nazis, 46 out of 59, and an incredible (literally) 44 out of 48 alleged skinhead groups (92%!!!).

Even the alleged increases in Anti-LGBT and white nationalist groups turn out to be little more than “creative accounting” on the part of SPLC fundraisers, with the latter category seeing far more “statewide” phantoms added in 2019 over 2018 than actual jackboots on the ground.

[Never heard of “neo-Volkish” groups before? Neither have most people on the planet. According to the SPLC, these evil souls worship Norse and traditional Germanic gods, and “while outward-facing violence rarely erupts from the Folkish,” these threats to humanity embrace “traditional gender roles,” unlike, say, Orthodox Jewry, the Amish or many Muslim and Hispanic immigrant groups. Be afraid… be very afraid.]

The one category of SPLC-designated “hate groups” that does seem to be “flourishing,” and is curiously overlooked by Ms. Huang and other commentators, are Black nationalist groups, which are roughly equal to all alleged KKK, Nazi and skinhead groups COMBINED, at 255 to 261, respectively.

Strip out the “statewide” phantoms from each column, and even throw in the handful of neo-Confederates, and Black “hate groups” outnumber their combined white counterparts by two-to-one, according to Margaret Huang’s own company.

Who is it Ms. Huang says we’re supposed to be fearing this year?

The SPLC’s annual “hate group” counts are spurious fundraising ploys which are backed by little to no verifiable proof and are never vetted by the media. Ms Huang is fully aware of this and is, presumably, the one person who can put a stop to this charade once and for all. Will that happen any time soon? Don’t bet on it.

SPLC profits

The numbers above were taken from the SPLC’s annual IRS Form 990 tax-exemption reports. They show a steady growth in revenues over the past decade, with record increases since 2017.

The SPLC’s staff has grown from 291 in 2016 to 441 in 2019, with a massive increase in “volunteers” from 16 to 440 over the same period, and yet the “law center” routinely spends eight to ten times more of its budget on fundraising over actual legal case work.

What business is the SPLC actually in?

Margaret Huang isn’t naive. She knows that selling fear and outrage brings in tens and even hundreds of millions of donor-dollars each year. Dees and Cohen have bailed out with their golden parachutes but the same cronies who kept them on the payroll are the same ones who hired Ms. Huang. Granted, the new figurehead isn’t a white male, but otherwise, its big business as usual at the SPLC.

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