SPLC — “White Nationalists on the Rise!”

September 1, 2019

Ever since the Southern Poverty Law Center released its “Hate Map” fundraising tool for 2018 this past February, the party line has been that “White Nationalist groups are on the rise!” The SPLC bolsters this claim by noting that it had assigned 100 White Nationalist “hate groups” to the US for 2017 and that number had exploded by 48% to 148 for 2018.

Scary news, no doubt, until you recall that the SPLC is the sole arbiter of the “hate group” label. It can claim as many alleged groups as it likes for a given year and nobody in the Media will bother to vet the company’s claims.

Fortunately, we at Watching the Watchdogs are more than happy to take a look. Using nothing more than a desktop computer and basic web searching techniques that any journalist, researcher or donor could easily replicate, we attempted to see how many of the SPLC alleged groups could be located online, if they had physical addresses that could be identified, or any other information that would make their existence seem likely.

We do not claim that these results are absolute by any means. If any of our readers can provide corroborating information we will update our results immediately.

Better still, since the SPLC is known to monitor this blog, perhaps they would be willing to share their information about these alleged groups with us and the donors.

Big claims demand big proof, or any proof, for that matter.

We have color coded our results to highlight important aspects of the claims. Those highlighted in red appear to be defunct, based on news reports or results from the Intern Archives amazing Wayback Machine that indicate a website has been offline for months or more.

Those groups highlighted in blue are new to the “Hate Map” tool, or were at least not present on the 2017 map.

Those highlighted in yellow are the SPLC’s infamous “statewide” phantoms for which the company provides absolutely no documentation whatsoever, not even an alleged city or town. As such, these claims are meaningless and discarded from the get-go.

The SPLC lists 322 of its 1,020 alleged groups as “statewide” for 2018. The company added 107 brand new “statewide” phantoms in 2017 alone, and nobody in the Media called them out on it.

Let’s begin with those alleged groups for which no information could be found. If anyone has information on the location of these alleged groups, please contact us directly, especially the claimants from the SPLC.

WN-No Location-2018

The Shieldwall Network is a new addition to the “Hate Map,” which the SPLC attributes to the known neo-Nazi Billy Roper. According to their own estimates, they are a pretty sad “group” and not much of a threat.

The SPLC actually had a pretty good fix on the one-man “group” known as New Albion last year. After his election to the office of Town Manager for Jackman, Maine, (Population 900), Tom Kawczynski, made no secret of his white nationalist beliefs and his plans to establish a “new Albion” populated by whites only.

As the Daily Kos reported in January, 2018, the people of Jackman pitched in $30,000 out of their own pockets to pay off the racist and send him on his way. Kawcynski told the Daily Kos that he was packing up his one-man website and leaving town.

Jackman’s other “hate group,” the New Right also vanished from the Internet when Kawcynski left town, though nothing definite was found tying the two together.

Identity Evropa was the big winner in this category. In 2017, the SPLC claimed 15 chapters of this group, with four assigned to particular states and the other 11 being “statewide” phantoms. By 2018, the SPLC claimed that the group had more than doubled to 38 alleged chapters, half of which were “statewide,” as we will see below.

From what we can find, Identity Evropa’s main claim to fame is putting stickers on traffic signs and leaving flyers proclaiming “It’s okay to be white!” on college campuses. Other than several “bannering” events where a handful of people have gathered to unfurl banners from overpasses, usually decrying illegal immigration, most of their activity seems to occur late at night as the acts of individuals.

Again, we only have the SPLC’s word for it that these chapters actually exist, as no information for them in these particular states could be found online. Single individuals, just like one-man websites, are not “groups” and the physical threat of Identity Evropa has yet to be proven, especially by the SPLC.

Speaking of one-man websites, we next explore those alleged White Nationalist groups for which nothing more than a website and post office box or private mail box (PMB) from, say, the UPS Store or other mailing services, could be found.

For years, the SPLC denied tracking one-man websites on its annual “Hate Map,” using the boilerplate disclaimer that: “Websites appearing to be merely the work of a single individual, rather than the publication of a group, are not included in this list. “

The 2017 “Hate Map” included this disclaimer, which was subsequently dropped for the most recent, 2018 map:“Entities that appear to exist only in cyberspace are not included because they are likely to be individual Web publishers who likely to falsely portray themselves as powerful, organized froups [sic].”

Also in 2017, long-time SPLC frontman Mark Potok was claiming that: “We make a big effort to separate a man, his dog and a computer from a group with on-the-ground activity.” (Ironically, that same year Mr. Potok, quoted in Esquire magazine, described the neo-Nazi website, The Daily Stormer, as “mostly Andrew Angelin, his dog, and a computer.”

Potok claimed 32 chapters of The Daily Stormer website for 2017 (one in Ohio and 31 “statewide” phantoms) and 21 for 2018, all of which are “statewide.”

On February 21, 2019, SPLC “Outreach Manager” Kate Chance told a crowd of 300 in Mankato, MN, that: “An online presence isn’t enough to be added to the list; a group has to meet at least once a year at a physical location.”

WN-Website 1-2018

WN-Website 2-2018

We counted six alleged “groups” that had physical addresses that could be verified by Google Maps street view tool, but several turned out to be private residences or online vendors.

Patriotic Flags of Summerville, SC, an online vendor, has been on the “Hate Map” for ten years now. While they do offer Confederate battle flags, they also offer historic Confederate state flags, numerous iterations of the US flag with varying numbers of stars, flags of every nation on Earth, including all of Africa, Asia and Israel, “Peace” flags, as well as a number of LGBT “rainbow” flags. Not your typical “white nationalist” fare.

Radix Journal is the blog for the National Policy Institute website, but the SPLC counts them as two separate “groups.”

The H.L. Mencken Club is primarily a website, though they do offer annual conferences, with registration fees starting at $250.

The Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation is another website that offers the occasional get-together. In February, 2019, they invited members to join them for an evening of Viennese waltzing at the Organization of American States embassy in Washington, DC.

The FGF event previous to the Grand Ball was an 80th birthday tribute to publisher Jon Utley in 2014 and a PowerPoint presentation from 2011. This spotty social calendar would seem to fall short of Kate Chance’s claim that “groups” needed to meet at least once a year.

Red Ice Radio, as the name implies, is an online radio station based in Sweden. Its Internet ISP provider is listed as Magill University, in Montreal, Canada. The physical street address given is for a UPS Store in Harrisonburg, VA. Does it seem right that Harrisonburg should be tarred with a “hate group” for a private mail box to a Swedish website?

Website Right Stuff 1

The Right Stuff is the big winner of the website category, growing from 21 alleged chapters with ten “statewide” for 2017, to 34 alleged chapters with 14 “statewide” for 2018. Even the SPLC describes TRS as a blog, but that doesn’t stop them from counting it 34 times.

It’s worth noting that ten TRS chapters are making their “Hate Map” debut this year, with eight others that were listed in 2017 having vanished altogether.

This takes us through 91 of the SPLC’s 148 alleged White Nationalist “hate groups,” and we don’t have a lot to show for it. Let’s wind this up with a peek at the SPLC’s “statewide” phantoms for this category, for which they provide no proof whatsoever.

WN-Statewide-1-2018

As mentioned previously, many of Identity Evropa’s alleged chapters are “statewide,” including many that are making their debut. (Editor’s note: The Washington DC chapter should have been included in the previous IE graphic and not this one. Our apologies.)

WN-Statewide-Evropa-2018

Also mentioned were The Right Stuff’s phantoms, including many new chapters claimed by the SPLC.

WN-Statewide-Right Stuff-2018

The Patriot Front grew from four alleged chapters in 2017, with one assigned to Chicago and the other three “statewide” phantoms, to 15 alleged chapters for 2018, all 15 of which are “statewide.”

The SPLC appears to be losing its “hate groups” faster than it can create them.

WN-Statewide-Patriot-2018

And there we have it. Of the 148 White Nationalist groups claimed by the SPLC for 2018 a full 57 of the alleged groups, or 39% of the total, are “statewide” phantoms, up from 35% in 2017. Another 41% appear to be mainly websites, with little, if any, on-the-ground activity.

Using the same tools available to journalists and donors, we could not find any verifiable evidence for the remaining 20%.

Again, we don’t claim that because we could not find a group that it did not exist, but it is not up to us, to journalists or to donors to prove the SPLC’s claims. It falls squarely to the Southern Poverty Law Center to show their work, to document their claims where everyone can see their proof.

With the hundreds of millions of donor-dollars the SPLC took in over the past two years alone, based largely on their “hate group” claims, we do not feel that this is too much to ask.

Trust, but verify.

 

SPLC — North Carolina’s “Hate Groups” 2018

August 24, 2019

As part of our continuing series investigating the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “hate group” claims on a state-by-state basis, we will be having a look at the Tar Heel State of North Carolina.

As our decade-long research on the SPLC’s “hate group” methodology indicates, there is plenty of tar, and no shortage of feathers, to go around.

Our choice of North Carolina for the next installment in the series was prompted by a news story about an official proclamation passed by the Boone Town Council on August 15 of this year.  Mixed in among the 14 “Whereas’s” and pithy quotes by Einstein, Emerson and Plato, is the oft-repeated, seldom investigated, claim by the SPLC of 1,020 “hate groups” in the US for 2018.

We broke our results into three separate categories – those with confirmed physical addresses or no confirmed information whatsoever, those appearing to be online entities only (websites, blogs or vendors) and those that the SPLC has designated as “statewide.”

Before we begin, here are a few important points that need to be mentioned:

  • There is no legal or universal definition for “hate group”
  • The SPLC is the sole arbitrator of the lucrative “hate group” label, based on its own intentionally broad definition: “All hate groups attack or malign other groups.”
  • Post Office boxes or Private Mail Boxes (PMBs) are not “hate groups”
  • Web entities are not “hate groups,” even by the SPLC’s own definitions.
  • The SPLC’s “statewide” designation is meaningless, as it provides no verifiable information whatsoever that a donor or journalist could use to verify the claim. The term is therefore meaningless and all “statewide” groups are considered to be null and void. Fully 322 of the 1,020 alleged groups designated by the SPLC for 2018 are “statewide” phantoms, or one-in-three. The SPLC added 107 “statewide” groups in 2017 alone.
  • Watching the Watchdogs reviewed this list using basic web-searching techniques available to all journalists, researchers and donors. We do not imply that the results are in any way flawless, nor does this review imply advocacy or promotion of the beliefs or doctrines of any of the groups listed.
  • We welcome all corrections, comments or other verifiable information. We would especially appreciate hearing directly from the SPLC itself, as they are known to monitor this blog.

With that out of the way, onward to North Carolina!

Of the 40 alleged “hate groups” assigned to North Carolina by the SPLC for 2018, we were able to find physical addresses for 11 of them, using basic web searching techniques and verifying the results using Google Maps’ street view app.

We do not claim that this methodology is fool-proof, or necessarily the final word on the subject. It is not up to us or anyone other than the SPLC to prove that the groups they claim in their fundraising materials actually exist.

Since we know the SPLC monitors this blog, we invite and encourage them to contact us and show their work. If they have the proof in hand, how hard can it be to show it?

NC Address

North Carolina – 2018

Keen-eyed readers may notice that all 11 groups listed fall under the SPLC’s “Black Nationalist” category. In all, 19 of the 40 groups assigned to North Carolina last year are black, or nearly half the alleged total.

According to the SPLC, North Carolina’s 19 alleged Black “hate groups” outnumber all of the state’s alleged Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Confederate, Neo-Nazi, Racist Skinhead and White Nationalist groups COMBINED, and 13 out of 14 of the latter are “statewide” phantoms (versus only one alleged Black group).

As we have noted on numerous other postings, the SPLC claims that Black Nationalist groups are the largest and fastest growing category of “hate group” on its nationwide  “Hate Map” fundraising tool.

According to the SPLC, Black “hate groups” outnumber ALL of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Confederate, neo-Nazi and Racist Skinhead “groups” on the “Hate Map” COMBINED, at 264 versus 262. Strip out the “statewide” phantoms and Black “hate groups” outnumber the other four categories combined BY THREE TO ONE, at 252 versus 82.

It turns out that 13 of North Carolina’s alleged Black “hate groups” are Black Hebrew or Black Israelite groups, whose main claim to infamy, according to the SPLC, is that they have the hate-filled audacity to “assert that black people are the biblical “chosen people” of God.”

Despite the evidence of their own numbers, the SPLC continues to claim that white “hate groups” are on the rise, a claim parroted by the Media and ultimately found in the recent Boone proclamation.

NC Website

North Carolina 2018

Next up, we have 12 groups for which no physical address could be found, or only a website or Facebook page was located. Granted, just because we were unable to find any information on these alleged groups it in no way proves that they do note exist. That being said, it’s not up to us to prove a negative.

If the SPLC has the evidence, make them produce it.

To that end, while we were not able to find a physical address for the Loyal White Knights of the KKK, we did find a recent video interview by the Charlotte Observer with three people who claim to belong to the group.

“BeaSSt Productions” would seem to be an online vendor of neo-Nazi music, but no sign of them could be found online today. Our review of other state “hate group” claims have found several cases where the accused has either moved to another state or has vanished from the Internet entirely.

With more than 300 full time employees on the payroll, nobody at the SPLC appears to have been tasked with checking on these older claims. But really, why would they? It’s not as if anyone in the Media is going to call them on it.

Last, and by all means least, we have those infamous groups for which the SPLC can provide no documentation whatsoever. Instead, the company buries them under the categorical slush fund known as “statewide.”

NC Statewide

North Carolina 2018

Since the SPLC couldn’t bother to allege a known city or town for these groups, they can be discarded out of hand. Big claims demand big proof, or any proof, for that matter.

Just for laughs, since nearly half of the alleged groups the SPLC assigned to North Carolina last year are homeless phantoms, it might be instructive to see how some of those “statewide” groups stack up nationwide.

Statewide 2018

SPLC “Statewide” groups -2018

As it turns out, 169 of the 210 alleged “hate groups” listed above are “statewide,” or 80% of the total. There are still more than 100 others on the nationwide list, but we thought it would be instructive to show in just how many cases all, or nearly all, of the alleged “groups” turn out to be unverifiable, homeless ghosts.

So there you have it. Of the 40 alleged “hate groups” assigned to North Carolina by the SPLC last year, only 11 have verifiable, physical addresses, and all of those are black “hate groups.”

In the final analysis, fully 90% of North Carolina’s alleged “hate groups” are either Black or invisible, and at least two, if not three, of the four groups remaining are websites.

The Town of Boone’s official proclamation, which cites the SPLC’s spurious claims and bemoans an alleged “rise in white nationalism” is little more than self-serving virtue signaling.

Ironically, it seems that Boone’s demographics are 94% white and less than 4% Black. Only one member of the town council is non-white.

North Carolina is only 68% white. Maybe the town council should look into its own issues of “white supremacy” and see what it can do to bring Boone out of 1919 into 2019.

That’s what the SPLC would want them to do.

—————————————————————————————————-

Considering the Southern Poverty Law Center took in over $111 million donor-dollars in 2018 and $130 million more, based largely on these flimsy claims, some of you readers might consider reporting this to your state attorneys general as potential consumer fraud.

Watching the Watchdogs will be happy to provide any additional information upon request.

SPLC — New England’s “Hate Groups” 2018

August 18, 2019

Recently we posted a review of the alleged “hate groups” the Southern Poverty Law Center had assigned to the Commonwealth of Virginia for 2018. We broke our results into three separate categories – those with confirmed physical addresses or no confirmed information whatsoever, those appearing to be online entities only (websites, blogs or vendors) and those that the SPLC has designated as “statewide.”

That review began with a lengthy, but necessary, preamble, which we will condense here:

  • There is no legal or universal definition for “hate group”
  • The SPLC is the sole arbitrator of the lucrative “hate group” label, based on its own intentionally broad definition: “All hate groups attack or malign other groups.”
  • Post Office boxes or Private Mail Boxes (PMBs) are not “hate groups”
  • Web entities are not “hate groups,” even by the SPLC’s own definitions.
  • The SPLC’s “statewide” designation is meaningless, as it provides no verifiable information whatsoever that a donor or journalist could use to verify the claim. The term is therefore meaningless and all “statewide” groups are considered to be null and void. Fully 322 of the 1,020 alleged groups designated by the SPLC for 2018 are “statewide” phantoms, or one-in-three. The SPLC added 107 “statewide” groups in 2017 alone.
  • Watching the Watchdogs reviewed this list using basic web-searching techniques available to all journalists, researchers and donors. We do not imply that the results are in any way flawless, nor does this review imply advocacy or promotion of the beliefs or doctrines of any of the groups listed.
  • We welcome all corrections, comments or other verifiable information. We would especially appreciate hearing directly from the SPLC itself, as they are known to monitor this blog.

And with the formalities out of the way… on with the show.

We chose New England for the second review because it covers six states together, many of which are home to thousands of Progressive SPLC donors. It is our hope that this information will help to illustrate just how spurious the SPLC’s “hate group” claims are.

For starters, 19 of New England’s 35 alleged groups are “statewide” phantoms, or 54% of the total, right off the top.

Connecticut 2018

Connecticut – 2018

Four of the six alleged groups the SPLC assigned to Connecticut this year are “statewide” phantoms. All Eyes on Egipt [sic] is part of a chain of black-owned bookstores.

ACT for America is an online advocacy group that no longer identifies local chapters, though some maintain individual Facebook pages, with no physical locations provided. ACT requires new members to register as individual activists only. The SPLC claims 47 ACT chapters across the country, but provides no physical address information.

Maine 2018

Maine – 2018

Two of Maine’s alleged groups are “statewide” phantoms, and while there is a Facebook page for a Maine chapter of ACT, there was no information connecting it to the town of Norway.

A bizarre situation played out in the tiny town of Jackman, Maine, (population 900) last year. The Jackman Town Manager, Tom Kawczynski, made no secret of his white nationalist beliefs (after he was elected to office) and promoted an all-white utopia he called “New Albion.”

As the Daily Kos reported in January, 2018, the people of Jackman pitched in $30,000 out of their own pockets to pay off the racist and send him on his way. Kawcynski told the Daily Kos that he was packing up his one-man website and leaving town.

Even though this “group,” and presumably the “National Right,” also allegedly of Jackman, (one wonders who was behind that site?), have vanished from the Internet, the SPLC keeps them on the 2018 “Hate Map” because all fundraising materials for 2019 are based on a fixed number of 1,020 “hate groups,” and removing any for any reason would smack of fallibility.

Mass 2018

Massachusetts – 2018

Four out of eleven of the Bay State’s alleged groups are “statewide” phantoms. Three of four of its alleged Black Nationalist groups have physical addresses that can be verified on Google Maps. The remainder appear to be websites only.

As we noted on the Virginia groups posting, the SPLC claims that Black Nationalist groups are the largest and fastest growing category of “hate group” on its “Hate Map” fundraising tool.

The SPLC’s Black Nationalist groups fall into three broad segments: Militant groups, such as the New Black Panther Party and its clones. Some 76 Nation of Islam mosques, which are not labeled as “Muslim hate groups,” as they would challenge the existential threat from the SPLC’s 100 highly lucrative “anti-Muslim hate groups,” of which nearly half are ACT for America Facebook pages.

At least another 120 groups are Black Hebrews, whose main claim to “hate” comes from the fact that have the audacity to “assert that black people are the biblical “chosen people” of God.”

According to the SPLC, Black “hate groups” outnumber ALL of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Confederate, neo-Nazi and Racist Skinhead “groups” on the “Hate Map” COMBINED, at 264 versus 262. Strip out the “statewide” phantoms and Black “hate groups” outnumber the other four categories combined BY THREE TO ONE, at 252 versus 82.

Remember the narrative, folks: “White hate groups are on the rise!”

New Hampshire 2018

New Hampshire – 2018

New Hampshire presents an interesting case as six of ten of its alleged groups are “statewide.” ACT for America maintains a Facebook page for Hollis, NH, which is right next-door to Nashua, and, oddly enough, the Hopkinton Facebook chapter is out of Hopkinton, Massachusetts… oops!

The Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary are a Catholic organization located in the woods of tiny Richmond, NH, (population 1,155). The group has been disavowed by the Catholic Church proper, all the way up to the Pope.

IHS Media is the online bookstore for the Slaves, located in the same building, but the SPLC likes to count some groups twice.

Rhode Island - Vermont 2018

Rhode Island – Vermont – 2018

Since all three of the alleged groups assigned to Rhode Island and Vermont are homeless phantoms, we’ll just combine the two states and ignore all of the claims at the same time.

Just for laughs, since more than half of the alleged groups the SPLC assigned to New England last year are homeless phantoms, it might be instructive to see how some of the Northeast’s “statewide” groups stack up nationwide.

Statewide 2018

SPLC “Statewide” groups -2018

As it turns out, 169 of the 210 alleged “hate groups” listed above are “statewide,” or 80% of the total. There are still more than 100 others on the nationwide list, but we thought it would be instructive to show in just how many cases all, or nearly all, of the alleged “groups” turn out to be unverifiable, homeless ghosts.

So there you have it. Of the 35 alleged groups the SPLC assigned to the six New England states only a handful have verifiable, physical addresses, and nearly all of those are black “hate groups.” The rest seem to exist only in cyberspace, and more than half exist only in the imaginations and fundraising propaganda of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Considering the company took in over $111 million donor-dollars in2018 and $130 million more, based largely on these flimsy claims, some of you readers might consider reporting this to your state attorneys general as potential consumer fraud.

Watching the Watchdogs will be happy to provide any additional information upon request.

SPLC — Virginia’s “Hate Groups” 2018

August 16, 2019

Every so often, it is useful to take a closer look at the “hate group” claims made by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In the first of a series of such claims directed at various states, we have examined the “hate groups” the SPLC has assigned to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

First, a little background information:

  1. There is no legal definition for “hate group.” As abhorrent as most people would find the words and deeds of many of these groups, it is important to remember that it is entirely legal to belong to any of them. This is why the FBI and local law enforcement cannot act against them until they actually break the law, or appear to be on the verge of doing so.This observation is not to be interpreted as any kind of endorsement for any group, but a reminder that as soon as individuals decide that “it’s okay to punch a Nazi,” it is only a matter of time before it’s okay to punch someone who “looks like a Nazi,” or “sounds like a Nazi,” or drives a Volkswagen, etc.Sooner or later, someone will decide that YOU must be a Nazi.Until just recently, the SPLC’s “Hate Map” tool always included the boilerplate disclaimer that:

    Listing here does not imply a group advocates or engages in violence or other criminal activity.”

    That disclaimer went away a couple years ago, leaving the donors to come to their own conclusions. Another SPLC claim that was attached to every new “Hate Map” until recently read:

    Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing.”

    The very idea that an organization purporting to defend civil rights would deliberately conflate six of the most fundamental, constitutionally protected First Amendment rights with “criminal acts” and “hate group activities” is beyond comprehension.

  2. The SPLC’s definition of a “hate group” is intentionally broad, so that the company can apply it as widely as possible, as we will shortly see:“All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”“Attack or malign” is too imprecise to be useful, and, as we have pointed out repeatedly in the past, is all too often applied selectively by the SPLC, so as not to offend the almighty donors.Due to the lack of an official or universal definition for “hate group,” the media and donors rely on the SPLC’s claims, thereby making the company the sole arbiter of that extremely lucrative label ($111 million donor-dollars in 2018, $130 million in 2017, way up from a mere $50 million for 2016). 
  3. The SPLC’s definition of “group” is criminally broad to the point of outright fraud. The company has no benchmark for determining how many people actually constitute a “group,” and makes no verifiable estimates of how many members a “group” might actually have.Laird Wilcox, one of the most respected researchers on the Hate Industry, noted nearly 20 years ago:“What [the SPLC] apparently did was list any group they could find mention of, including groups only rumored to exist. These included the large number of “post office box chapters” maintained by Klan and skinhead organizations. Some Christian Identity “ministries” consist only one person and a mailing list and many “patriot groups” consist of but three or four friends.”More recently, in 2015, Mark Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League repeated Wilcox’s findings in the South Jersey Times:“According to Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) the SPLC has a habit of counting single individuals as groups or chapters, which can give a skewed impression of hate groups in any given state.”

    “The [SPLC’s] list is wildly inflated,” said Pitcavage. “They list skinhead groups in places where there are no organized groups, but instead it’s just a couple of individuals.”

     

  4. In addition to numerous PO box “groups,” the SPLC’s “Hate Map” is loaded with one-man websites, something the company has denied counting for years:”Websites appearing to be merely the work of a single individual, rather than the publication of a group, are not included in this list. “The 2017 “Hate Map” included this disclaimer, which was subsequently dropped for the most recent, 2018 map:“Entities that appear to exist only in cyberspace are not included because they are likely to be individual Web publishers who likely to falsely portray themselves as powerful, organized froups [sic].”Also in 2017, long-time SPLC frontman Mark Potok was claiming that: “We make a big effort to separate a man, his dog and a computer from a group with on-the-ground activity.”

    In February, 2019, the SPLC’s new outreach director, Kate Chance, told a gathering in Mankato, Minnesota: “An online presence isn’t enough to be added to the list; a group has to meet at least once a year at a physical location.”

    As we shall see in our examination of Virginia’s SPLC-designated “hate groups” below, these claims are patently and demonstrably false.

The Southern Poverty Law Center assigned 39 “hate groups” to Virginia for 2018. Using basic Internet search skills that any journalist or donor could easily duplicate, we searched for information on each group.

While thorough, we do not in any way claim that these searches are infallible or that other information may not be available elsewhere. If any readers have verifiable information on any of these groups, please contact us through the Comments section at the end of this post.

Better still, since the SPLC is known to monitor this blog, perhaps they would be willing to show their work and share their information with the world and their donors.

Big claims, after all, demand big proof, or any proof, for that matter.

To simplify our results, we broke our findings into three basic sections. The first consists of alleged “groups” where either a physical address could be identified, or those where no information could be found whatsoever.

The second section identifies “groups” that appear to exist only as websites. The last section contains alleged “groups” that the SPLC has designated only as “statewide,” a dubious device that we will explore further in detail.

VaGroups2018-3

Group One

As our Group One results indicate, we were only able to identify five alleged groups with verifiable physical addresses. Using Google Maps street view tool, we were able to identify brick-and-mortar locations with appropriate signage.

Using this tool, we were able to eliminate several other groups listing physical addresses on their websites when those addresses turned out to be private mail forwarding services, such as the UPS Store.

It’s worth noting that the advocacy group, ProEnglish, has been residing in Washington, DC, since at least 2017, according to the Internet Archive’s amazing Wayback Machine, and should not be on Virginia’s list to begin with.

In fact, whether or not you agree with ProEnglish’s stated mission to make English the official language of all federal and state governments, the argument is a legitimate political position, which in no way “attacks or maligns” anyone. Calling the organization a “hate group” because you disagree with the position is disingenuous at best, especially since the vast majority of the world’s nations have one or more official languages.

Three of Virginia’s alleged Black Nationalist groups had verifiable addresses as well. The rhetoric of the Nation of Islam’s leadership clearly falls within most people’s definition of anti-Semitism.

Seventy-six of the 264 Black Nationalist groups the SPLC designated nationwide last year are Nation of Islam mosques, but surprisingly, the company does not consider them to be “Muslim hate groups,” as that would clash with their more lucrative “anti-Muslim hate group” category.

The largest single alleged anti-Muslim group on the map is ACT for America, at 47 iterations, but the national website no longer tracks local units and all new members must sign on as individual activists. If the SPLC can show proof of the locations of any of their ACT groups we’d be very interested in seeing it.

It’s also noteworthy that Virginia’s remaining Black Nationalist “groups” are Black Israelite churches, who are “hateful” because, as the SPLC notes, “Some religious versions assert that black people are the biblical “chosen people” of God.”

Think about that for a moment.

VaGroups2018-Full

Group Two

Group Two of our results are those for which nothing could be found beyond a website and Post Office or Private Mail Box (PMB). While people may gain access to these “groups” through their websites or snail mail, there was nothing on any of the sites to indicate any extensive jackboots-on-the-ground, with one glaring exception.

The Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation (FGF), whose mission since 2003 has been “…to promote and preserve the glorious traditions and culture of Western civilization and Christianity,” invited its members to join them this past February for a magnificent “Evening of Viennese Waltzing” in DC.

Waltzing

If Western Civilization and Christianity were not enough to trigger SPLC donors, a night of waltzing would be money in the bank.

The event previous to the Grand Ball was an 80th birthday tribute to publisher Jon Utley in 2014 and a PowerPoint presentation from 2011.

VDARE and American Renaissance are both online blogs. Washington Summit Publishers, IHS Press and even FGF are online booksellers. In the Spirit of Chartres Committee, “Dedicated to promoting and defending Pre-Vatican II Catholic social teachings…,” offers books like Ethics and the National Economy and Catholicism, Protestantism, and Capitalism, as well as DVDs of lectures recorded in the early 2000s.

The American Immigration Control Foundation is located in picturesque Monterey, Virginia (population 156), which is also home to one of the best maple syrup festivals this side of northern New England. There is more of hotcakes than “hotbeds” in that part of the world.

Red Ice, as its website explains, “delivers videos” and offers “an alternative to the mainstream, covering politics and social issues from a pro-European perspective.” Based in Sweden, they recently announced a presence in Harrisonburg, Va, but the address given is for a UPS Store in a strip mall, and their website ISP is registered in Montreal, Canada.

Harrisonburg is a college town and the local colleges and universities compete nationwide for the best students. Does the town really deserve to be tarnished with a “hate group” over a private mail box for a foreign website?

In all, 15 of Virginia’s alleged “hate groups” appear to exist only as online entities. We won’t pretend that some, perhaps many, will find their content to be offensive, but it is still protected speech and do one or two social Neanderthals running a website really constitute a “group”?

Is it really “attacking and maligning” when you have to physically search these “groups” out in order to be properly outraged?

Perhaps the biggest question would be how many people would ever have heard of these “groups” without the free worldwide publicity generated by the SPLC?

VaGroups2018-Statewide

Group Three

Our last section deals with those alleged “hate groups” the SPLC has merely designated as “statewide,” without even going through the motions of making up an alleged city or town.

As many Watching the Watchdogs readers are painfully aware, our primary focus is to get out the word that the SPLC’s “statewide” designation is worthless for verifying any claims about these groups. As the data provided above demonstrates, even the inclusion of a known location is no guarantee that a “group” actually exists there.

Imagine telling someone that your organization had identified hundreds of active UFO bases across this great land of ours.

“Great Scott!,” they might exclaim. “Where are they?”

“We found 17 in Georgia, 23 in Wisconsin, four more in Rhode Island…”

“This is incredible news! You have to take us there!”

“Um, well, we don’t actually know WHERE the sites are, but we sure as heck know that they are really out there. Trust us!”

People would throw rocks at you, and rightly so. Tell the same folks that you found hundreds of invisible “hate groups,” with no verifiable proof whatsoever, though, and they will throw millions of donor-dollars at you instead.

Incredible news, indeed. Literally.

Nationwide, fully 322 of the 1,020 “hate groups” designated by the SPLC for 2018 are “statewide” phantoms. That works out to one-in-three, just as it does with Virginia’s alleged count. In many states, 80-, 90- and even a full 100% of the groups designated are homeless “statewide” phantoms.

The SPLC padded its “Hate Map” with 107 brand new “statewide” phantoms in 2017 alone. And nobody in the Media said a word.

Just for fun, check out how some of Virginia’s invisible “groups” fare across the country:

VaGroups2018-Statewide-Nationwide

Nationwide “Statewide Groups”

In all, 153 of 194 alleged “groups” turn out to be “statewide” across the country, or, once again, roughly one-in-three. Do you see a pattern here?

We found this exercise to be illuminating and we hope you did as well. As mentioned, we plan on examining the “hate groups” designated to several other states, though we will skip the lengthy preamble next time and get right to the meat.

It is our intention to pass this information along to the Attorney General of Virginia’s consumer fraud division. Considering the hundreds of millions of dollars the Southern Poverty Law Center takes in from peddling these faulty figures, the matter deserves to be brought to the attention of the proper legal authorities.

Maybe that will induce the SPLC to show its work. If they have the proof in hand already, how hard can it be?

 

SPLC — The Real Threat from “Domestic Terrorists”

August 9, 2019

In the aftermath of the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, the Southern Poverty Law Center has been garnering a lot of media attention. While there is nothing unusual about an “advocacy group” with hundreds of millions of dollars of cash on hand and a huge publicity staff attracting attention, this time the stakes are higher.

In the old days, whenever a mentally disturbed individual shot up the place, the SPLC would do everything it its power to attempt to tie the perpetrator to a known “hate group,” with varying success. Failing that, the company’s Intelligence Director, Mark Potok, would eventually concede that the shooter was probably a lone-wolf lunatic.

“And I would say as a general matter, it is extremely unusual these days for an organization to plan and carry out a criminal act where mainly for the reason that they are so likely to get caught.

So what we really see out there in terms of violence from the radical right is by and large what we would call lone wolves, people operating on their own or with just one or two partners. As opposed to, you know, being some kind of organizational plan.” (www.npr.org, October 30, 2008) [Emphasis added]

And:

“Still, [Potok] said the public should remain vigilant about the activities of hate groups, even though individuals are responsible for the majority of hate crimes in America. (www.courier-journal.com, July 21, 2009) [Emphasis added]

The problem with the “lone wolf” scenario is that there really wasn’t any good way to make money from it. While the SPLC rakes in hundreds of millions of donor-dollars a year by selling dire warnings of hundreds of “hate groups” it is allegedly “tracking,” lone wolves don’t usually appear on the radar until after they have struck.

When Jared Loughner shot 20 people in Tuscon, Arizona, in 2011,  including US Representative Gabrielle Giffords, the SPLC’s Intelligence Director, Mark Potok, tried to tie Loughner to the militia movement by analyzing a list of his favorite books. Among the right-wing screeds listed were “Peter Pan,” “The Odyssey,” ‘Aesop’s Fables,” “The Phantom Tollbooth,” “The Communist Manifesto,” “Mein Kampf,” “Gulliver’s Travels” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Despite a valiant effort, once Loughner’s Uncle Fester-esque mug shot was published, even Mr. Potok had to write him off as a likely lunatic, acting alone.

Jared

Jared Loughner

That was then. Flash forward to 2019 and the “Lone Wolf” has suddenly morphed into the “Domestic Terrorist.” As we first warned in 2012, when the SPLC was first playing with the “Domestic Terrorist” tag, there are some very serious civil liberty issues that come into play now.

Whereas the FBI and local law enforcement can do little against so-called “hate groups” until they actually break a law or pose a reasonable threat to public safety (beyond “wrong thoughts”), alleged “terrorists” do not enjoy such Constitutional niceties. Law Enforcement agencies, from the DHS down to the local police, can detain alleged “terror” suspects with far less due process.

With a “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality prevailing, every law-abiding citizen would be under the threat of detention, or at the very least of harassment, from law enforcement officials who are obligated to investigate every charge of alleged terrorism.

This is no longer simply a matter of the Southern Poverty Law Center scaring blue-haired Progressives out of donor-dollars. Everyone’s civil rights are now under threat.

We saw the devastating loss of Constitutionally protected civil rights after Congress rammed through the USA PATRIOT ACT in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in 2001. The SPLC’s “Domestic Terrorist” slur threatens to be every bit as dangerous.

Hate Crime Hoaxes

July 25, 2019

On a recent Quillette podcast, Kentucky State University professor Wilfred Reilly discusses his latest book, Hate Crime Hoax: How the Left is Selling a Fake Race War.

Reilly is one of the few academics to take an in-depth look at hate crime hoaxes in recent years. His research extends from Laird Wilcox’s seminal 1989 work, Crying Wolf, right through the 2017 post-election hoax flap to the recent Jussie Smollett case.

Reilly credits the excellent Fake Hate Crimes website for much of the data on the past decade of hate crime hoaxes, which ultimately confirm what Wilcox was saying thirty years ago:

Whenever an abstract ideal acquires the moral urgency that racial equality or opposition to “bigotry” has today, it’s only a matter of time until we find individuals for whom the noble end justifies the questionable means.

The militant, moralizing fanatic — quick to compromise important principles in order to enjoy the flush of righteousness — is the stumbling block which any reasonable resolution of racial/ethnic problems must overcome.

What Wilcox could not predict in 1989, though, was the rise of social media and the very lucrative benefits accruing to hate crime hoaxers and the Hate Industry, even when the claims are later proven to be patently false.

Prof. Reilly has been interviewed numerous times since the release of Hate Crime Hoax, but the long-form Quillette interview allows more time to expand on his research and respond to a wide range of questions.

The resources listed above will prove quite useful to anyone with an interest in the hate crime hoax phenomenon.

SPLC — Putting the Hype in Hypocrisy

June 19, 2019

In recent days the Internet has been buzzing breathlessly with the news that rapper 21 Savage cut a check for $25,000 to the Southern Poverty Law Center in appreciation for its work to get him released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention in February.

The rapper, whose real name is She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was brought to the US legally in 2005 by his British parents, who, like millions of other illegal immigrants, simply overstayed their visas. Abraham-Joseph was picked up while driving in Atlanta on February 3.

The SPLC and several other organizations lost little time jumping on the bandwagon to free the famed rapper. Free publicity such as this is just too good to pass up. Apparently, their efforts paid off and 21 Savage was released from detention and, to show his gratitude, wrote a check for $25 grand to the SPLC and the hype machinery ground into full gear.

According to its most recent online tax forms, the SPLC took in $110 million dollars in 2018, on top of $130 million in 2017. The company’s assets now exceed half a billion dollars.

The SPLC takes in $301,000 in donations a day, or $25,000 every two hours, all day, every day of the year.

According to one source, 21 Savage is worth at least $8 million. His check for $25,000 represents .3% of his fortune and a micro-fraction of what he would have paid an immigration lawyer.

To put it into perspective, the US Median Household Income for 2018 was $61,372. Three-tenths of one percent of that figure comes to $184.11. Big deal.

The money means nothing to either party, but that didn’t stop the SPLC from making claims that the pittance will somehow “provide vital resources for detained immigrants.”

21 Savage

“Vital resources” for a company with $500 million in cash on hand.

Even more ironic, (a term that is synonymous with SPLC), is the fact that the Law Center recently cooked up a new category of “hate group” product with which to terrorize and outrage its Progressive donor base: Male Supremacy.

“Male supremacy is a hateful ideology advocating for the subjugation of women,” according to the SPLC.

“Male supremacy misrepresents all women as genetically inferior, manipulative and stupid and reduces them to their reproductive or sexual function — with sex being something that they owe men and that can or even should be coerced out of them. Driven by a biological analysis of women as fundamentally inferior to men, male supremacists malign women specifically for their gender.”

Sounds nasty, no? As it turns out, even a casual review of 21 Savage’s rap lyrics reveals dozens of “songs” that denigrate women as “bitches” and “hoes,” describe the joys of feeding said bitches date rape drugs and giving them the slapping around they richly deserve. (We soon lost count of the number of references to “n*gg*s, drugs and murder lacing the artist’s creations.)

No male supremacy there. The SPLC scooped up the misogynist’s check and even posed for propaganda photos with it. No hypocrisy there.

But then again, this is the same “civil rights advocacy” company that makes money on the sale of every copy of the “I am So Sick of White Guys” coloring book. It says so right on the front cover.

Sick-of-White-Guys-book

“10% of all sales will be donated to the SPLC”

No hypocrisy there either.

 

SPLC — Another “Honorary” President?

June 6, 2019

In the aftermath of the recent scandals that rocked the Southern Poverty Law Center this past March, in which SPLC founder Morris Dees was fired after decades of alleged sexual misconduct and long-time president Richard Cohen quit (or jumped ship) after taking full responsibility for ignoring Dees’ alleged conduct for all those years and also for perpetuating a corporate culture in which minorities were never promoted to senior positions, it became clear that some serious public relations work was required before the donors started asking questions and expressing doubts.

Enter SPLC “Interim President” Karen Baynes-Dunning.

Baynes-Dunning

Karen Baynes-Dunning

For the PR-savvy fundraisers at the SPLC, Ms. Baynes-Dunning represents the perfect stopgap measure. According to her company bio, Ms. Baynes-Dunning is a lawyer, a former juvenile court judge, and has 25 year’s worth of high-level experience in the non-profit sector.

Most importantly, Ms. Baynes-Dunning is not an old white male. She serves, from a public relations standpoint, as the ultimate “Anti-Dees.” She combines the best qualifications of her two predecessors without the negatives: Richard Cohen, who is a lawyer, but white, and genuine Civil Rights icon, the late Julian Bond, who was black, but not a lawyer.

While Julian Bond was a figurehead president, as we shall explore shortly, President Cohen was the real brains behind the SPLC for years and genuinely does bear full responsibility for the company’s policies. After Morris Dees was unceremoniously ejected from the company he created, several current and former staffers publicly stated that Dees’ alleged inappropriate behavior was a well-known in-house secret, including a March 21, 2019 article in the New Yorker by staff writer Bob Moser.

Richard Cohen and the SPLC Board of Directors had to be aware of these claims, but did nothing for decades.

In 1979, Dees’ second wife, Maureene Buck Dees, who was seeking a divorce from Dees, filed court papers that accused him of various sexual infidelities and what many would consider “peculiarities” unfit for publication here. Maureene Dees also accused Morris of slipping into her 13-year-old daughter’s bedroom one night to present the girl with a vibrator.

(A somewhat choppy mechanical transcript of the document can be found on the Internet Archive site here, though several more legible iterations can be found online at websites of varying credibility. The content of the texts are identical)

Again, Cohen and the Board had to be aware of these allegations, but did nothing. The fact that Mr. Dees recently divorced his fifth wife might have suggested that the man has “issues” when dealing with women.

Cohen and the Board turned a blind eye because Dees, who told the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper that he hadn’t tried a case in over a decade and had not participated in the day-to-day running of the SPLC for years, was a fundraising superstar.

Richard Cohen kept Dees on the payroll at his full $350,000 salary for years for doing little more than making the occasional phone call to big donors. The Board of Directors approved. And the whole time, the SPLC, with hundreds of millions of donor-dollars in the bank, continued to send out dire fundraising letters like clockwork.

It seems far more likely that Karen Baynes-Dunning  who had only been serving on the company’s Board of Directors for about a year before being promoted to “interim president,” is destined to  serve as a mere token, in the mold of the SPLC’s first president, Julian Bond.

After opening the SPLC in 1971, millionaire mail-order magnate Morris Dees realized that raising money for the company was his first priority. Dees wrote in his 1991 autobiography:

“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.

When I told [Bond] about our hopes and plans, he agreed to serve as president of the Law Center, a largely honorary position” (Dees, A Season for Justice, p. 132).

“Honorary” President Bond spent his entire administration in his hometown of Atlanta, a good three-hour drive from SPLC headquarters in Montgomery. Internal documents held in the Julian Bond Papers archive at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, show that Bond’s primary presidential function was to sign fundraising letters crafted by Dees in Bond’s name.

IMG_0643

“And two letters, drafted in your name…”

In return, the “president” of the company received a monthly “fee” of $1,000, as opposed to an actual salary. President Bond had no more to do with the running of the SPLC than Michael Jordan had with the running of Haynes. They were both simply spokesmodels for the brands.

Bond Fee

“Your fee for September, 1971 is enclosed.”

Karen Baynes-Dunning serves much the same function. As a black woman, she can act to deflect some of the heat of the recent scandals while giving lie to the serious charges that the revered civil rights institution doesn’t promote people of color.

We at Watching the Watchdogs have reported on this most incongruous charge and have posted photo galleries of the SPLC’s all-white Executive Suite every year for nearly a decade, which include transcripts of the 1994 week-long exposé of Dees and the SPLC in the Montgomery Advertiser that originally broke the news of “No blacks in Center’s leadership.”

Ironically, or perhaps “strategically” is a better term, Interim President Baynes-Dunning’s first official article for the SPLC deals with some of the same damning charges currently leveled at the company, racism and misogyny. In this instance, though, Baynes-Dunning turned her righteous anger toward the US Treasury Department’s recent decision to to delay the release of a new $20 bill featuring an image of famed abolitionist, Harriet Tubman.

The choice of topics could not have been safer and its (unverifiable) claim that the decision by the Trump Administration “clearly seems to be undergirded by racism and misogyny” is guaranteed to agitate the almighty donor base.

Any comment including the Bogie-Man-in-Chief, even blatant speculation, is guaranteed to bring in the donor-dollars, and that is the primary function of all SPLC presidents, “honorary” and otherwise.

These policies are the result of the bigotry and hate toward women and people of color that has seeped into mainstream thinking and policy development.”

Well, if anyone should know about policies that result in bigotry toward women and people of color, it would have to be the SPLC. They have an unbroken track record of 47 years behind them of doing just that.

The odds are very strong that this press release was written by a company PR hack under Baynes-Dunning’s name. It includes several safe, boilerplate fundraising tropes, such as “For nearly 50 years, the SPLC has been working tirelessly to develop “underground railroads” for children, youth, families, and communities…

The original release of the article also included a saccharine “reach for the stars” quote at the end, allegedly attributed to Harriet Tubman, which was obviously anachronistic to anyone speaking from the 19th century. Tubman biographer, Dr. Kate Clifford Larson, has traced the origins of the smarmy quote back to 2007, nearly a century after Tubman’s death.

The bogus quote has since been trimmed from the article currently residing on the SPLC website.

Baynes-Dunning’s company bio also indicates that she is the president of Baynes-Dunning Consulting, LLC, of Greenville, SC, and, in the age of instant Internet communication, has even less need to set foot in Alabama than Julian Bond did.

Additionally, the Montgomery Advertiser articles (linked above) exposed the SPLC’s Board of Directors, on which Baynes-Dunning had served only for a year, following the death of board member emeritus, Julian Bond,  as a rubber-stamp, populated with Morris Dees’ cronies. One of them, Dees’ divorce lawyer, Howard Mandell, who was mentioned in the 1994 exposé, is still on the board today.

In February, 1972, Julian Bond admitted in a letter to North Carolina politician Martha Clampitt McKay that It’s no consolation, I’m sure, but it’s not a real Board, in that it has no decision making ability, and is purely advisory.

IMG_0653

“…it’s not a real Board…”

The Montgomery Advertiser exposé came to the same conclusion 22 years later.

Considering the Board turned a blind eye to Dees’ alleged sexual harassment activities for decades, it’s unlikely that an “interim president” plucked from their ranks will become a permanent fixture around company headquarters.

If so, if the most junior member of the Board possesses all of the attributes needed to run a half-billion-dollar corporation, in the manner of a Richard Cohen, why bother with the “interim” status? Why not appoint Karen Baynes-Dunning to the presidency of the SPLC and be done with it?

More likely, Ms. Baynes-Dunning’s temporary status is more of a sign of a second “honorary” president, to keep the seat filled until the heat blows over and a new, more experienced president can be selected.

Last November, we put forth a proposition that Messrs. Dees and Cohen had accomplished their missions and should step down “at the top of their game” and pass the torch to a new generation, one that more resembled the people the SPLC purports to help. We suggested the new president of the SPLC should be long-time company director, Lecia Brooks.

Lecia Brooks, who is black and a lesbian, had been with the company for 15 years and was the only SPLC staffer to hold TWO concurrent directorships, for more than a decade, though she had NEVER been listed among the company’s highest paid executives.

Since the SPLC presidency is more about fundraising than law, (the lack of a JD was no impediment to the Bond Administration), Brooks, who had been SPLC Outreach Director for a decade was a perfect choice. She was certainly well known to the Almighty Donors.

About a week before the defenestration of Morris Dees in March, Lecia Brooks disappeared from the SPLC website and was all but airbrushed from the archives. She later turned up at the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), also of Montgomery. No explanation of her departure was given, and no word of thanks for her years of service.

Last week we noticed that our Ms. Brooks had quietly returned to the SPLC, probably in April, in the new role of “Chief Workplace Transformation Officer,” which was no doubt created in response to the Dees/Cohen debacle.

At that time, we surmised that the role of a “transformation officer” certainly implies a sense of a definite transformational beginning and ending. Either the SPLC reforms its discriminatory and predatory practices or it does not. It sure sounds “interim” to us. Surely someone of Ms. Brooks’ experience would not give up a new job at the EJI to return to the fold for a temporary gig.

On June 4, 2019, (yesterday, as of this writing), Lecia Brooks gave testimony before the US House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, which seems a bit odd for a “Workplace Transformation Officer” but exactly mirrors the kind of spurious “testimony’ President Richard Cohen has been giving Congress for years.

The “testimony” includes all of the standard SPLC propaganda claims about “hate groups” and “Alt-Right extremists,” and could have been written for Cohen months ago and simply updated for Brooks. We have been debunking those claims for nearly a decade now, and we once again warn of the dangers of this kind of unvetted fundraising propaganda entering the Congressional Record as “fact.” The claims do not hold up to even the most rudimentary examination.

While we are not in the prediction business, it sure looks like Lecia Brooks is being groomed for the post of president of the Southern Poverty Law Center. She checks off a lot of boxes, public relations-wise, is a “name” familiar to the donors, in the mold of Julian Bond, and most importantly, she can be relied upon to do what is asked of her.

You heard it here first, folks.

 

 

Why Won’t the SPLC Commission “Scientific” Surveys?

May 19, 2019

In the wake of the recent scandals rocking the top management of the Southern Poverty Law Center, it is quite reasonable for the rank-and-file staffers to want to put the past behind them and get back to business as usual. It was therefore no surprise to find a newly-minted SPLC “survey” making the Media rounds in the last week or two.

That “survey,” Hate at School, shares a number of characteristics with previous SPLC “surveys,” especially those conducted by the company’s Teaching Tolerance division, which purports to promote diversity in the K-12 classroom.

Hate at School joins the ranks of The Trump Effect (Spring, 2016) and its updated sequel, After Election Day: The Trump Effect, (Fall, 2016). All three “reports” share the following characteristics:

  1. All of the “surveys” were broadcast online indiscriminately, with no way of verifying the identities of the respondents. Anyone could respond without proving that they were actual educators.
  2. All of the responses cited in all three reports were made by the anonymous likes of “A middle school teacher in Indiana,” “High school teacher, Tennessee,” and “In Arizona, a PreK-8 teacher.”

    Despite nearly 15,000 alleged responses across all three “surveys” combined, not one single “educator” is identified by name. Not one.

  3. Nobody outside of the SPLC has ever seen the alleged responses.
  4. All three “surveys” include disclaimers regarding the methodology used:

    Trump Effect I “Our survey of approximately 2,000 K-12 teachers was not scientific. Our email subscribers and those who visit our website are not a random sample of teachers nationally, and those who chose to respond to our survey are likely to be those who are most concerned about the impact of the presidential campaign on their students and schools,” (p. 4).

    Trump Effect II “The results of this survey are not scientific. The respondents were not selected in a manner to ensure a representative sample; those who responded may have been more likely to perceive problems than those who did not,” (p. 14).

    Hate at School “Respondents were not randomly selected, so we don’t claim they are a representative sample of the national teaching force,” (p. 21).

  5. Despite admitting that the “surveys” were not scientific, Maureen Costello, the head of Teaching Tolerance and the person responsible for the methodology employed, attempts to claim that her tainted data are somehow relevant:

    Trump Effect I
    – “But the data we collected is the richest source of information that we know of about the effect of the presidential campaign on education in our country. And there is nothing counterintuitive about the results,” (Ibid.).

    Well of course there is nothing counterintuitive about the results when you stack the deck from the get-go. You got exactly the alleged responses you were looking for and nobody in the Media will ever ask to see the proof.

    Trump Effect II
    “But it is the largest collection of educator responses that has been collected; the tremendous number of responses as well as the overwhelming confirmation of what has been anecdotally reported in the media cannot be ignored or dismissed,” (Ibid.).

    Actually, if your data are tainted from the outset, they absolutely can and should be ignored and dismissed, whether you are claiming ten unverified responses or a thousand. Unverifiable anecdotal reports, whatever the source, are just that — anecdotes.

    an·ec·do·tal – adjective: anecdotal

    1.  (of an account) not necessarily true or reliable, because based on personal accounts rather than facts or research.

    Hate at School
    “Our data, though based on an unscientific survey, raises important questions,” (p. 6).

Finally, Ms. Costello, a statement we can all agree on! With more than half a billion dollars in assets on hand, including $110 million donor-dollars in the last fiscal year alone, the most important question is WHY does the Southern Poverty Law Center and its Teaching Tolerance wing have to rely on unscientific surveys?

Why not hire a legitimate polling firm to create and conduct your surveys, such as Gallup, Harris or Pew, so that you do not have to include embarrassing disclaimers and factitious justifications? You have more than enough money and if things are truly as dire as you claim it should be ridiculously easy to verify them in the field.

Why not remove every last shed of doubt from the accuracy of your claims? If, as your “surveys” state, Teaching Tolerance reaches over 400,000 US teachers a month, why do you report so few “survey” responses? Why can’t anyone outside of the company see the results for themselves?

Well, we all know the reasons why. The whole purpose of all three “surveys” is to sell fear and outrage to the SPLC’s often wealthy, often Progressive donor base. Tying all of the anonymous anecdotes to the Bogie-Man-in-Chief, Donald Trump, is money in the bank.

As mentioned, the SPLC took in $110 million tax-free donor-dollars in 2018 and $130 million more in 2017, based largely on spurious “reports” such as these, and the company’s thoroughly disreputable annual “Hate Map” fundraising tool.

Lurid tales of terrified elementary school lesbians, tearful black kids asking if they are going to be “sent back to Africa?” and terrorized Latinx kids peering out school windows in search of Donald Trump driving up in an ICE van are precisely the product most SPLC donors are looking to buy.

It doesn’t matter that the SPLC itself admits that its anonymous findings are bogus as long as the donors can signal their superior virtue by cutting a check to the company and claim that they are somehow “fighting hate.”

SPLC — Morris Dees and the Klan

April 2, 2019

The recent sexual harassment and racial discrimination scandals rocking the Southern Poverty Law Center have brought an oft-told legend about SPLC founder Morris Dees back into the spotlight, but there is more to the tale than the carefully polished version put forth by the Center’s public relations office.

That legend recounts how Morris Dees won a $7 million judgment against the United Klans of America in 1987, for the brutal murder of a young Black man, 19-year-old Michael Donald, bankrupting the UKA and essentially “bringing the Klan to its knees.” The money from that settlement allowed Michael’s mother, Beulah Mae Donald, to move out of public housing and buy her own home.

These facts are all accurate, but they gloss over a much larger story of greed, revenge and exploitation that requires a little background history to fully understand. Ironically, the best source for that history comes from none other than that “Modern Day Atticus Finch,” Morris Dees, himself.

In 1961, Morris Dees was a fledgling lawyer, struggling to establish a law practice in his hometown of Montgomery, AL. Dees’ law and business partner at the time was his fellow law school chum Millard Fuller. Dees writes in his 1991 autobiography, A Season for Justice, that it was tough for two novice lawyers to compete with older, more established law firms in the city, as might be expected.

On May 20, 1961, a Greyhound bus carrying Black and White Freedom Riders was attacked at the Montgomery bus depot by what Time magazine described as “An idiot, club-swinging mob of about 100…” One of the idiots leading the mob was one Claude Henley, a local used car salesman and known Klansman.

Thanks to photos appearing in Life magazine (see pages 22-25 here ), Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s Department of Justice was able to identify Henley and brought federal civil rights violation charges against him.

Henley

Claude Henley kicking a news reporter on May 20, 1961

With an arraignment in federal court hanging over his head, Henley went to visit his old friend Morris Dees at his law office. Dees says that he was on the verge of agreeing to represent the Klan thug for $500 dollars until Henley mentioned that another lawyer had wanted $15,000 to take the case. Dees seized the moment and said he would do the job for “only” $5,000.

(It should be mentioned that in 1961, $5,000 dollars was the median income for a family of four. To put it in perspective, that sum would be worth over $42,000 in 2019 dollars.)

Dees wrote in his autobiography, “Later, when Claude Henley asked me to defend him, I didn’t think twice,” (Season, p. 84). In fact, Dees believed the violent photos of Henley in Life magazine would work in his favor as it would establish that his old friend was outside the bus station attacking reporters and not Freedom Riders.

Long story short, Dees went to bat for Henley and in 1962 the Klan thug walked out of RFK’s federal courthouse scot-free. Henley’s victims got nothing, least of all justice, but Morris Dees collected his $5,000 fee all the same.

Dees’ law partner, Millard Fuller, who later went on to found Habitat for Humanity, wrote in his autobiography that the Dees’ fee was paid by the Klan. Arguably, the Klan money was possibly the largest legal fee Morris Dees ever collected, as by 1962 he and Fuller had pretty much shuttered the law office to concentrate on their thriving mail order business. Fuller wrote that by 1964 their company bookkeeper informed the partners that they were worth a million dollars each.

Fast forward a few years, Dees and Fuller had parted ways by 1966 and Dees had sold the mail order business in 1969 for $6 million, (over $41 million in 2019 dollars), and by 1971 had founded the Southern Poverty Law Center with a 28-year-old lawyer named Joe Levin.

The SPLC spent the first decade of its existence taking on real civil rights cases and defending death row inmates, the exact kind of thankless, low-profile “poverty law” work for which the organization was founded, and which, to a lesser extent, it still practices today. Early in the 1980s, however, Morris Dees discovered that there was a lot of money to be made by taking on the Ku Klux Klan.

“The money poured in,” according to Randall Williams, a journalist hired by Dees in 1981 to form Klanwatch, a unit of the SPLC specifically designed to promote the SPLC’s work against the Klan. In a 1988 cover story in The Progressive magazine, Williams recounted,

“Everybody, it seems, was against the Klan. We developed a whole new donor base anchored by wealthy Jewish contributors on the East and West Coasts, and they gave big bucks.” In particular, Williams noted, “Our budget shot up tremendously—and still, we were sometimes able to raise as much as $3 million a year more than we could spend.”

Dees’ success against the Klan came largely from filing civil suits against local chapters, whereby the defendants had to provide for their own legal defense. Being rural and poor, most could not afford counsel and attempted to defend themselves in court. Being largely uneducated and semi-literate, most failed in the attempt.

These successes drew the ire of the Klan, and in the summer of 1983 there was an arson attack on SPLC headquarters. Dees wrote in his autobiography that he was, quite naturally, furious, and called his old friend Claude Henley into his office for a chat. When Henley arrived, Dees dialed up United Klans of America Imperial Wizard Bobby Shelton, on the speakerphone.

Below is Dees’ account of what happened next. CAUTION: Mr. Dees has a fondness for expletives:

shotgun

Granted, as the sole survivor of the alleged conversation, we only have Morris Dees’ word for it, but the exchange does raise some important questions. Why would Dees have the phone number of an Imperial Wizard on file? Why was he on a first name basis with Shelton? Why did Dees choose Henley to act as interlocutor?

Dees mentioned that Bobby Shelton was also named in the Freedom Rider suit. Millard Fuller said the $5,000 fee was paid by the Klan. Does it stand to reason that Bobby Shelton issued the payment to Morris Dees in 1962?

[It is interesting to note that, even in Alabama, pointing a loaded shotgun at someone, even a Klan thug, is a felony. Under Alabama state law, (Statute: AL § 15-3-1 et seq, to be precise), while most felonies have a mere 3-year statute of limitations, “Any felony involving the use, attempted use, or threat of, violence to a person” has NO such limitation. In essence, Morris Dees’ self-serving braggadocio is a published confession to a felony crime, and so Mr. Dees is still liable to arrest and prosecution.]

All this brings us to 1987 and the Michal Donald murder case. Late on the evening of March 21, 1981, 19-year- old Michael Donald was walking home alone in Mobile, AL, when he was approached by two men in a car, Henry Hays, 26, and James “Tiger” Knowles, 17.

Hays and Knowles, both members of the local United Klans of America chapter, had learned earlier that night that the trial of a black defendant, Josephus Anderson, charged with killing a white policeman, had ended in a mistrial when the jury, composed of eleven blacks and one white, could not reach a unanimous verdict. Incensed, the two men went into Mobile in search of a black person to murder in revenge for the perceived failure of the court system. Michael Donald was simply a convenient victim.

Sighting Donald, who was out buying cigarettes for his sister, the men pulled up to the sidewalk on the pretense of asking directions to a local club. When Donald approached the car, he was forced into the back seat at gunpoint and driven to an isolated location. After a struggle, with Donald literally fighting for his life, the two managed to knock the young man unconscious and cut his throat with a razor knife.

Hays and Knowles then put Donald’s lifeless body in the trunk of the car and drove back to Mobile, where they tied the corpse to a small tree across the street from the home of Bennie Hays, Henry Hays’ father. The elder Hays was the leader of the local Klan unit, UKA 900, and his son was eager to show off his handiwork. Had a larger tree been available across the street, Hays would have hung Donald’s corpse from a branch.

After considerable foot-dragging by the Mobile police department, including a false lead that some have called a deliberate red herring, Knowles and Hays were arrested, but it was only the persistence of Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Figures and extensive investigation by the FBI on civil rights violations grounds that brought Hays and Knowles to trial in 1984, two-and-a-half years after the murder.

“Tiger” Knowles was persuaded to testify against his friend Henry Hays in return for leniency, and in short order, both men were convicted of the murder of Michael Donald by an all-white jury. Henry Hays received the death penalty and Knowles was sentenced to life in prison. Hays was only the second white man to be executed for the murder of a Black man in Alabama history. Even in the heart of Alabama, the slow wheels of justice had finally turned.

Morris Dees wrote in his autobiography that he attended the Hays trial as a spectator, in 1984, and returned to Montgomery determined to bring a civil suit against the United Klans, Bennie Hays and his old nemesis, UKA founder and Imperial Wizard, Robert “Bobby” Shelton.

“I didn’t know whom we would sue or exactly what our theory would be, but that really didn’t matter. This was the most gruesome racially motivated murder in almost twenty years. We’d find something.”

Dees added one more, rather telling comment that never makes it into the “bringing the Klan to its knees” legend reprinted in the media:

“One more factor motivated me: The torching of the Center had made my battle against the Ku Klux Klan personal as well as philosophical,” (p. 214).

This stunning confession that Morris Dees was essentially going on a fishing expedition to exact revenge against Bobby Shelton is worth considering and alters Dees’ “white crusader” image entirely.

To his credit, Morris Dees was among the first to use common tort laws in local courts, which was rather innovative at the time. As mentioned, in a civil suit the defendants are entitled to the best legal representation they can personally afford, or go without. Unlike a criminal case, where plaintiffs must prove their case “beyond a shadow of a doubt,” in a civil suit one need only provide a “preponderance of evidence,” which is a much lower bar to surmount. Additionally, in a civil suit there are no double-jeopardy limitations, so if your first suit doesn’t succeed, you may simply try, try again.

Dees was faced with a couple of hurdles in crafting his suit. First off, the actual murderers, Hays and Knowles were locked away forever, rendering them “judgement proof.” This led Dees to widen the pool of defendants in an innovative attempt to prove “vicarious guilt,” in which the people named in the suit had never been criminally charged with any connection to the actual murder.

The crucial piece of the puzzle was finding a plaintiff who had the legal standing to sue the United Klans. That meant Michael Donald’s 66-year-old mother, Beulah Mae Donald, who had already endured the ordeal of the criminal case against Hays and Knowles a few years earlier.

Some media accounts claim that Mrs. Donald sought out Morris Dees’ help, but Dees confirms that it was he who sought out Mrs. Donald through her family attorney, Michael Figures, the brother of the assistant U.S. attorney, who had reopened the murder case in 1984 (p. 223).

Dees wrote that he warned Mrs. Donald that there was very little chance of receiving much in monetary damages, noting that “Winning money for Mrs. Donald was not my principle aim” (Ibid).

If winning money for the victim’s mother was not Dees’ principle aim for suing the UKA, what was? Justice had ultimately been served with the conviction of the murderers. Mrs. Donald was not actively seeking damages from Hays or Knowles (her final words to them at the end of the trial were of forgiveness), it was Morris Dees who had actively sought her out. Mrs. Donald’s heath had suffered from the criminal trial and the local Klan thugs seemed content to simply distance themselves from the convicted murderers. Why stir up trouble?

In short, the most likely motive behind Morris Dees’ civil suit against the UKA was the personal revenge he wrote of in his autobiography, not to mention the righteous sensation it would cause among the SPLC’s donor base, even if he lost. As Dees was going to try the case himself and any additional legal costs would be borne by the Center, his financial investment in the suit was less than minimal. Morris Dees had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

And so it went. Morris Dees got his civil suit against the UKA. Of the multiple defendants cited, only Imperial Wizard Bobby Shelton had the wherewithal to afford an attorney. Dees won a $7 million judgment against the UKA, which had to surrender its only tangible asset, its “national headquarters.” The rest is history, except few in the media seem interested in following that history. Here is a thumbnail version:

  • Sale of the UKA’s building brought in only $52,000, or less than one percent of the $7 million judgment.
  • Ken Silverstein noted in Harper’s magazine in 2000 that while Mrs. Donald only received $52,000 from the loss of her son, the SPLC garnered over $9 million dollars from direct mail fundraising appeals that included a photo of Michael Donald’s bloated corpse. Mrs. Donald never saw a dime of that money.
  • Morris Dees authorized the SPLC to advance Mrs. Donald the $52,000, interest free, until the sale of the building could be finalized. Dees contended that the building was worth far more but that the price had been suppressed by the notoriety of the civil suit. If this were the case, why didn’t Mr. Dees offer to buy the building at a fair price and simply hold onto it until it could be sold at a fair market value? He was, after all, a multimillionaire. Why wouldn’t he want Mrs. Donald to receive the full price?
  • The money Mrs. Donald received in the judgment rendered her ineligible to remain in the public housing unit where she had spent much of her adult life. At 66, she had to buy her first home on her own.
  • Morris Dees made sure to be back in Mobile for a photo-op of him handing Mrs. Donald the keys to her new home personally, as a Great White Savior.
  • After the civil suit, Morris Dees returned to Montgomery, leaving Mrs. Donald on her own in Mobile, to live among her angry Klan neighbors.
  • Beulah Mae Donald died less than a year after moving into her new home. Dees wrote, “The pain of losing her Donald was too much for her heart to bear.” (p. 332) Arguably, since she had lost “her Donald” more than six years prior, the strain of a second courtroom drama, confronting the Klansmen who murdered her son on a daily basis, probably had more to do with Mrs. Donald’s heart condition. Recall, it was Morris Dees who persuaded her to bring the suit.

Perhaps the most damning evidence that Morris Dees simply exploited the murder of Michael Donald and then used his mother, Beulah Mae Donald, in a crass fundraising scheme, came a few years later.

A 1991 article in People magazine featured an interview with “Bubba” Dees, the “wily Alabamian” who “uses the courts to wipe out hate groups.” During the interview, Dees revealed that he had recently been in contact with Tiger Knowles, one of Michael Donald’s confessed murderers:

“A few weeks ago, Dees accepted a collect call to his office from James “Tiger” Knowles, one of the men doing time for the Mobile lynching.

‘What you doin’ callin’ me collect, boy,’ Dees laughed. ‘You done escaped or something?’

Tiger was calling to get Dees’s [sic] advice on a book he’s writing. ‘You get a contract, I’ll look at it for you, Tiger.

Did I treat you right in my book?’ Dees asked.”

Considering Dees referred to the Donald murder in his autobiography as “the most gruesome racially motivated murder in almost twenty years,” Mr. Dees appeared to be on very congenial terms with the surviving murderer. Why would he even accept a call from Tiger Knowles and why would he laughingly offer to help him? Was this the “season for justice” Dees spoke of in the title of his book?

Morris Dees got his revenge on Bobby Shelton. His company made millions of dollars in donations at the time and the legend of “bringing the Klan to its knees” was born, which has no doubt brought in additional millions.

Dees ultimately staged several other show trials, based on the success of the Donald case. The plot seldom varied. Dees would file a vicarious liability civil suit against a “hate group,” a sympathetic jury would find against the often unrepresented defendants, huge judgments were decreed with the plaintiffs lucky to receive pennies on the dollar. Morris Dees, master direct mail salesman, would exploit the fundraising potential of each case to raise millions for the SPLC, of which the victims received nothing. Each time, Dees’ legend grew just a little larger.

Now that the media has finally been forced to look more closely into the claims of racism and sexual misconduct against Morris Dees, maybe it’s time to flip a few flat rocks and examine the personal conduct and fundraising methods of this “Great White Savior.”

 

 


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