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.”

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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.”

 

 

SPLC — 2019 Telemarketing Scam

March 15, 2019

The Southern Poverty Law Center released their tax return for FY 2018 last week, and to no one’s surprise, the cash is still pouring in.

While donations dropped by 8% without a Charlottesville to exploit, this merely means that the company only raked in $111 million, rather than 2017’s record-setting bloat of $132 million. Remember, the company’s pre-Trump take averaged around $50 million a year.

So, not only did the SPLC declare a “non-profit” of $47,004,865, its cash-on-hand Endowment Fund now stands at $471 million, 98% of which is designated as “unrestricted” in use.

The Southern Poverty Law Center now sits high atop assets of $518,251,510, as in more than half a BILLION tax-free dollars.

At least a small part of last year’s “non-profit” came in the form of first time donors responding to donation pitches from paid, third-party telemarketers. And, as we have been reporting for several years now, the telemarketers cost the SPLC significantly more to hire than they take in for the SPLC.

And as usual, the first time donors and thousands of long-time donors end up holding the bag for the losses.

2019 Telemarketer Scam

As Page 38 of the Form 990 indicates, four third-party telemarketers divvied up every last dime given by first-time donors over the phone, as well as another $603,913 from the existing donor pot.

Grassroots Campaigns was the big winner, yet again, and we’ll come back to them shortly, but first a review of the other players, in descending order of avarice:

Harris Marketing Group is the most generous of the telemarketers by far, as it only keeps 48% of the donations it takes in for the SPLC.

Telefund, which takes the silver medal, pockets 94% of the donations it raises.

SD&A is a new-comer to the event, taking in 112% of the money it raises to “fight hate.” Not bad work, if you can get it.

Which brings us back to Grassroots Campaigns. These guys are always the big winner because they charge a fixed fee up front, regardless of how much the raise in the SPLC’s name. The shortage is always in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Donations go directly to Grassroots, who then pass it along to the SPLC or their other non-profit clients.

The sheer genius of this strategy, as SFWeekly reported in 2011, is that Grassroots can then make the claim that “100% of your donation goes directly to the SPLC.” They merely forget to mention that they charge the SPLC three dollars for every dollar you send them.

As the graphic above indicates, 2018’s telemarketing shortage came to $603,913, meaning, once again, that EVERY DIME raised over the phone in the SPLC’s name went to pay off the telemarketers, with long-time donors picking up the tab for the $600k shortfall.

Every year, we ask the musical question, “How many loyal, long-time donors does it take to pay off the telemarketers?”

For 2018, at $100 a pop, it would take 6,039 suckers to fill the deficit. At a more reasonable $25 donation rate, only 24,157 well-meaning people, who genuinely thought with all their hearts that they were somehow “fighting hate.”

We like to use this annual scam update to remind our readers that, as far back as 1989, SPLC Founder Morris Dees promised donors that once his company socked away $100 million in the bank they could “cease the costly and often unreliable task of fundraising” once and for all.

Mr. Dees made that first hundred million by 2002, passed the $200 million mark in 2007, the $300 million mark in 2014, and crossed the $400 million line in 2017. At its current rate of $304,109 donor-dollars a day, the SPLC should break the $500 million dollar level by the first week of April, 2019.

All this begs the question as to why the Southern Poverty Law Center is still actively raising funds? When we crunched the SPLC’s financials from 2000 to 2017 last year, we found that the company spends, on average, 41% of its annual budget on fundraising and only around 4% on legal case costs, on average.

Think about how much good the SPLC could do with the $22 million they spent on fundraising last year, which doesn’t even include the $1,500,000 they paid to third-party telemarketers.

How much is enough?

SPLC — Hate Map 2019 — Prove It!

March 3, 2019

Well, Friends, it’s that magical time of year again when the Southern Poverty Law Center unveils its latest annual “Hate Map” fundraising tool. The map purports to identify “hate groups” in the US over the previous fiscal year. As always, the map is filled with half-truths, untruths and every ham-fisted propaganda technique known to man.

And as usual, the Media has been reprinting the SPLC’s spurious claims without   even the most rudimentary fact checks.

Not to fear. We at Watching the Watchdogs are only too happy to run a fact checker over the “Hate Map,” and, unlike the SPLC, we will show our work. There’s a lot to unpack here, so pull up your hip boots, slip on your rubber gloves and let’s wade in.

Hate Groups: There is NO legal definition for “hate group.” Period. This is why even the FBI does not, cannot, designate “hate groups,” but somehow a private fundraising company can and the Media has no problem with it.* Think about that.

[*There does exist a single FBI document online that lists a number of violent, criminal groups by name. This is an internal training document, written in 1995 and reprinted a couple of years ago, verbatim. The designation of these groups as “hate groups” is solely the opinion of the author, not a description used under federal law.]

The fact is that a “hate group” is whatever the SPLC says it is. The company is the sole arbiter and designator of that insanely profitable label. They receive no external review or oversight. They control the world’s supply of “hate group” designations, and, like any monopoly, they are prone to abuse their power.

Physical Locations: If you are going to designate “hate groups,” then you need to provide hard evidence that a journalist, researcher or even a donor can use to verify your claims. That’s not too much to ask. In fact, it’s pretty much Journalism 101. “Trust, but verify.”

The SPLC does include a number of brick-and-mortar organizations on its “Hate Map,” such as the Family Research Council and the Center for Immigration Studies, but these make up a fraction of the overall total. Otherwise, all we have is the company’s word for it that there is a chapter of the League of the South in Weogufka, Alabama, (Pop. 282), and that’s not good enough. It certainly isn’t professional journalism.

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.”

Even a cursory glance at the “Hate Map” shows numerous one-man websites. In 2015, Mark Pitcavage, Director of Investigative Research at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), stated publicly that 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.”

Pitcavage’s statement confirms what veteran fringe-group researcher Laird Wilcox has been saying for decades: “There was another phenomenon I noticed. Several racist groups published large numbers of local post office box listings, as in local chapters.”

“When I tried to check these [SPLC “hate group” claims] out I found that many of them were false—the box was closed after one rental or that the mail was forwarded elsewhere. I think a lot of these never existed or were just some guy renting different post office boxes.”

In 2009, the SPLC’s own Director of Intelligence, Mark Potok, confirmed the P.O. box scam to the San Luis Obispo Tribune: “Potok says inclusion on the [“Hate Map”] list might come from a minor presence, such as a post office box.” (March 25, 2009)

If you claim there’s a “hate group” chapter in Weogufka, or any other known city or town, just show your proof. Prove to us that an alleged group on the “Hate Map” is not a one-man website or long-abandoned P.O. box. If the SPLC has done all of the research it claims it has, how hard can that be?

“Statewide” Chapters: This is the ultimate smoking gun when it comes to exposing the spurious nature of the “Hate Map” fundraising tool.

Of the 1,020 “hate groups” designated by the SPLC for 2018, fully 322 of them are simply marked “statewide,” meaning the company provides no verifiable information, not even a known city or town, whatsoever. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

That’s one-in-four alleged groups right off the top and nobody in the Media seems to have a problem with it. “Nothing to see here, folks…” Literally. As the graph below indicates, the SPLC simply makes up “statewide” groups out of thin air.

For 2017, the SPLC claimed that the number of “hate groups” rose by 37 chapters to 954. The number of “statewide” phantoms grew by 107, from 193 to 300, over the same period. The company is losing “groups” faster than it can create them.

Statewide Numbers

Fear and Outrage: The purpose of the SPLC’s annual “Hate Map” is to generate fear and outrage, which the company then deftly spins into cash donations and political power. For 2016, the SPLC reported tax-free donations of $50 million. For 2017, the year of the Charlottesville riots and Trump the Baleful, donations exploded to $132 million and the company’s cash endowment ballooned to more than $433 million, 98% of which is designated as “unrestricted” in use.

Clearly, the SPLC has a strong financial interest in keeping the number of alleged “hate groups” as high as the donor market will bear.

When the “Hate Map” was simply a tool to separate gullible donors from their hard-earned money it was bad enough, but those victims were self-selected. They didn’t care if the SPLC’s “facts” were bogus or not because they wanted (and still do want) to believe them with all their heart and soul. As far as SPLC donors are concerned, they’re getting what they are paying for.

The truly terrifying thing about the SPLC’s “Hate Map” scam is that it is now finding its way into the private realm, with social media giants such as Apple, Google and Twitter using this disinformation to decide who gets to speak and who gets banished to the Cyber-Gulag.

As Orwellian as that situation is, unfiltered, unvetted SPLC “hate group” propaganda has been finding its way into government discourse at all levels, from local to federal, for years.

Certain law enforcement agencies and think tanks regurgitate SPLC claims, knowing full well the numbers are meaningless, because the fear generated by them guarantees continued funding for another year.

2018: The Hype: Time to have a closer look at the SPLC’s hyperbolic claims for the 2018 “Hate Map.” This year the company was kind enough to provide a handy link on its “Hate Map” that allows you to download the data into a spreadsheet. This makes spotting the inaccuracies so simple that even a professional journalist could do it.

The company also provides a handy graph showing the steady growth, more or less, of alleged “hate groups” since 1999. That chart doesn’t really present well on WordPress, so we’ve enlarged a segment to make things a little clearer.

“Hate groups have reached RECORD HIGHS!!!”

It’s true. According to the map, “hate groups” reached 1,020 in 2018, the highest number ever designated by the SPLC; i.e., a “record.” We’re doomed!

What was the previous record? The SPLC designated 1,018 “hate groups” in 2011 as proof of an “explosive growth” due to the 2010 election of Barack Obama. Despite controlling the supply of “hate group” labels, the SPLC could only show “explosive growth” of 1.6% for the first full year of the Obama Administration, which was soon followed by “record-breaking” decline (in fact, the only series of declines in SPLC history) of a whopping 23% over the course of the president’s second term in office.

And while the number of alleged groups grew by 16, from 1,002 to 1,018, the number of “statewide” phantoms “exploded” from 148 to 247 over the same period, as shown by the chart above.

2018 Hate Group Graph 1

2018 Hate Group Graph 2

“Hate groups have GROWN BY 30% over the past four years!!!”

Propagandists absolutely adore percent signs. When you’re selling fear and outrage nothing stirs up the customer base like an empty statistic. Most Media articles will mention a 7% increase in the number of alleged groups from 2017 to 2018, but none of them will mention that the number of “statewide” phantoms grew at an identical rate last year. So what was gained?

The SPLC had to go back to its self-imposed 2014 trough to come up with a far more impressive sounding 30% increase. What the company fails to mention, and what nobody in the Media will tell you, is that the number of “statewide” phantoms grew by 84% over the same span.

“White “hate groups” are SURGING!!!”

According to the SPLC’s own numbers… not so much. The chart below indicates that one full year into the Trump-o-Caust, fully nine out the company’s fifteen “hate group” categories have DECLINED since 2017, (shown in yellow), and two others, marked in blue, have remained static, although even “Hate Music” is down from 2016 levels.

In fact, Ku Klux Klan is at an all-time record low of 51, according to SPLC records, far surpassing its previous all-time low set during… wait for it… the Obama Administration. Apparently, they don’t make “surges” like they used to.

Comparisons-2018-2017

That leaves the four categories, marked in red, that reflect an alleged increase over 2017 levels, but, as with all things SPLC, a closer look reveals a very different story.

General Hate: When you’re in the fearmongering game it is often helpful to have a nice, generic, catch-all phrase that allows you to designate the “other” without having to go into a lot of detail. This is why the SPLC’s “General Hate” category has been so important to the company over the years.

These groups espouse a variety of rather unique hateful doctrines and beliefs that are not easily categorized. Many of the groups are vendors that sell a miscellany of hate materials from several different sectors of the white supremacist movement,” says the SPLC website.

“Many of the ‘groups’ are vendors,” meaning that if you are a one-man website selling neo-Nazi music or Confederate t-shirts, you are a bona fide “group.” No matter that people have to actively seek you out in order to purchase your 100% legal wares, you are a “threat” and must be demonized and shut down by the thought police.

This is especially ironic as long-time SPLC frontman Mark Potok was claiming as late as February, 2017. that: “We make a big effort to separate a man, his dog and a computer from a group with on-the-ground activity.”

(Sadly, the following month, Mr. Potok was unceremoniously kicked to the curb by his employer of 20-odd years without so much as a “thank you” for his decades of highly lucrative service. Potok created the “Hate Map” out of thin air and used it to bring  hundreds of millions of tax-free donor-dollars into the SPLC’s coffers. Some gratitude.)

So what drove the increase in “General Hate”? For the most part, it can be tracked to the SPLC’s “creative accounting” techniques. In 2017, the company trotted out a brand new “hate group” category: Neo-Völkisch. Sounds Teutonic, no? The Nazis were German and so these Neo-Völkisch haters must be evil too.

Neo-Völkisch adherents worship the Norse or Germanic gods, spirituality premised on the survival of white Europeans and the preservation of dead or dying cultures they presume to embody.”

Are they dangerous?

…violence rarely erupts from the neo-Völkisch movement.”

So why are they a “hate group” now?

Hyper-masculine imagery fetishized within neo-Völkisch spheres reinforces misogyny and traditional gender roles.

Yes, folks, “traditional gender roles.” Not to be confused with the Amish, Muslims, Orthodox Jewry and a large percentage of Latino immigrants. No doubt their slogan should read “Me Tarzan. You Jane.” And the Media never said a word.

The SPLC has apparently abolished the neo-Völkisch brand and folded all of those organizations into “General Hate,” making up more than half of that category’s recent increase. One group, the Asatru Folk Assembly, even expanded from 11 chapters (10 of which were “statewide”) to 17 chapters (15 “statewide”).

The “American Guard,” which was already in “General Hate” limbo, expanded from 10 chapters/10 “statewide” to 17 chapters/17 “statewide.” The “Proud Boys” also showed a healthy increase by burgeoning from 3 chapters/ 1 “statewide” to 44 chapters/16 “statewide” overnight.

If the SPLC has vetted addresses for 30-plus new chapters, now would be a really good time for them to produce them. How hard could it be?

White Nationalist: The core cause of the increase in this category lies mainly with the SPLC’s own peculiar form of inflation.

“The Right Stuff” is a new addition to the “Hate Map,” and appears to be a blog, which begs the question as to how exactly the SPLC can designate 34 chapters of it (14 of which are statewide)?

This isn’t the first time the SPLC has franchised websites (which they make a “big effort to separate” from actual “groups,” remember?). In 2015, the SPLC recognized exactly one chapter of Daily Stormer, a one-man website out of Ohio that Mark Potok described as “mostly Andrew Angelin, his dog, and a computer.”

By 2016, the SPLC was counting 31 Stormer websites (30 “statewide”) which has declined to 22 chapters for 2018, 21 of which are “statewide.” How does a one-man website end up with multiple chapters, and how are websites, real or imagined, “groups”?

What was it that SPLC Outreach Director Kate Chance said about “a web presence alone” not being sufficient for a “hate group” designation? What was it that SPLC Intelligence Director Potok said about the company “making a big effort” to exclude one-man, one-dog websites from the list?

“The Patriot Front” went from 4 chapters/1 “statewide” to 16 chapters/15 “statewide” last year. “Identity Evropa” was another big winner in 2018, more than doubling from 15 alleged chapters/11 “statewide,” to 38 chapters/19 “statewide.”

The vast majority of Evropa’s increase seems to come from reports of posters and stickers for the “group” being found on lamp posts and college campuses. The only recent sighting of actual men-on-the-ground came a few weeks ago when 11 men were spotted on a hill overlooking the University of Utah unfurling a banner marked “End Immigration!”

Identity Evropa makes its propaganda posters available online, where any individual can download them and distribute them under the cover of darkness. While emotions run high on both sides of the debate, “End Immigration” is as valid and as legal an opinion as anything any Open Borders supporters could post. Immigration is a legal matter. You can be for it, against it or neutral on the issue, as you deem fit.

Once again, the SPLC is using the actions of lone-wolf individuals, just as it does with anonymous P.O. boxes, to pad out its lucrative “group” counts. If the the company has the proof, let them show it.

Neo-Confederate: One of the smaller categories on the “Hate Map,” neo-Confederate groups allegedly made modest gains from 31 chapters/6 “statewide” in 2017 to 36 chapters/9 “statewide” in 2018.

Not only were most of the gains made by “statewide” phantoms, but a new inductee, “Wildman’s Civil War Surplus” store, in Kennesaw, GA. has been added to the list. The sole proprietor, and apparently the one and only member of this new “group,” appears to be octogenarian Dent “Wild Man” Myers.

This cranky old hippie doesn’t seem to be much of a threat to the world at large (although he is reported to pack twin .45s). The important thing is that his appearance, attitudes and demeanor will outrage the SPLC’s donor base. Thanks to the fundraisers at the SPLC, Wild Man Myers has gotten more free publicity than he could ever have dreamed of. At least this “group” has a fixed physical address, which is more than can be said of most.

Wildman's Kennesaw

Wildman’s One-Man “Group”

Black Nationalist: According to the SPLC,” Black “hate groups” represent the largest single category of “hate group” on their “Hate Map” fundraising tool. If you strip out all of the “statewide” phantoms from the tool, Black “hate groups” are also the fastest growing category by far, according to the SPLC.

Black Hate Groups

In fact, at face value, 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!”

Naturally, these inconvenient facts wouldn’t sit well with the donor/customer base, so the SPLC has to make excuses: “The black nationalist movement is a reaction to centuries of institutionalized white supremacy in America.”

Insinuating that Blacks and other Persons of Color are somehow incapable of the very human traits of nationalism, tribalism, xenophobia and racism is the lowest form of soft racism. Thank goodness POC’s have the White Saviors at the SPLC to swoop in and protect them.

Still, there must be some reason for including them on the list: “Most forms of black nationalism are strongly anti-white and anti-Semitic.” Considering the lucrative rhetoric that pours forth from the SPLC, one can imagine that “anti-white” sentiments fall pretty low on the company’s list of offenses.

The most baffling charge leveled against Black “hate groups” is that “Some religious versions assert that black people are the biblical “chosen people” of God.”

Think about that. The SPLC is actually weighing in as to which religious sect has copyright on who are God’s “chosen people.” No pandering here. Move along.

It’s also worth noting that the 76 chapters of the Nation of Islam, plus a handful of overtly Black Muslim groups hidden under “General Hate, do not count as “Muslim hate groups,” even though their religion is their primary reason for being.

The SPLC pads out its 100 alleged Anti-Muslim “hate groups” with 47 individual chapters of “Act for America” and ten “statewide” chapters of the “Soldiers of Odin,” (out of eleven), so having nearly twice as many Muslim “hate groups” would confuse the customers.

Collateral damage: So what happens when the Southern Poverty Law Center sets its sights on your state, your town or even your own person? While the primary function of the “Hate Map” is to extract lucre from liberals, there are serious ramifications for real people on the ground.

At the state level, negative publicity generated by the SPLC’s spurious “hate group” numbers can dissuade individuals and corporations from moving to your part of the country. Who in their right minds would relocate the next Apple, Amazon or Facebook headquarters to a “hateful” state or city?

The quote from the Anti-Defamation League’s Mark Pitcavage, cited above, came in response to a headline in the South Jersey Times that claimed: “New Jersey has the fourth highest number of hate groups in country, says Southern Poverty Law Center.”

The SPLC had assigned 40 “hate groups” to New Jersey that year, including 14 chapters of the AC Skins (“AC” as in “Atlantic City”). As Pitcavage noted, the SPLC’s claims were “wildly inflated” with the company listing one or two individuals as “groups.”

By 2015, whether because of, or in spite of, Mark Pitcavage’s “outing,” New Jersey’s “hate group” count dropped from 40 to 21, largely by shedding 13 of the 14 alleged chapters of the AC Skins overnight.

Larger states, like New Jersey, California, Texas and Florida can absorb stupid “hate group” claims better than smaller ones, although the last thing New Jersey needs is another spurious groin kick to its reputation. This year’s “Hate Map” has introduced a new meaningless “statistic” that directly affects many states with smaller populations.

The 2018 “Hate Map” now identifies those states with the highest number of “hate groups per capita.” The company comes to this worthless designation by dividing the state’s population by 100,000 and then again by the number of alleged “hate groups.”

Predictably, those states with the smallest populations ranked highest on the list, with states like Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, New Hampshire and South Dakota making it into a “Top Ten States per Capita” Hall of Shame. What kind of numbers does it take to get into this elite club?

Alaska: 4 groups/3 “statewide”
Hawaii: 5 groups/3 “statewide”
Idaho: 10 groups/4 “statewide
New Hampshire: 10 groups*/6 “statewide
South Dakota: 7 groups/2 “statewide

(*Two of New Hampshire’s alleged “groups,” the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and its online publishing arm, IHM Media, are located in the same building in tiny Richmond, NH, population 1,155. The SPLC counts them twice to pad its numbers.)

The “per capita” designation is worthless and is designed only to spread fear and outrage among the donors. Under this warped measurement, these small population states have more McDonald’s, Burger Kings and Starbucks “per capita” than other states. So what? Do Whoppers and Big Macs cause “hate groups”? Is there a link between lattes and “extremism”?

(Don’t laugh. In 2012, the peer-reviewed academic journal, Social Science Quarterly, actually published a paper based on SPLC “data” claiming that Walmarts cause “hate groups.”)

For 2011, the SPLC assigned 20 chapters of the Georgia Militia to that state’s “hate map,” tucked under the “General Hate” catch-all. One chapter was pinpointed to somewhere in Camden County, another was at large in Blairsville (population 611) and locations for the remaining 18 chapters were simply left blank (in those days, the company didn’t bother with the “statewide” canard, it simply left locations for 25% of its locations blank. It’s not like anyone in the Media is going to say anything about it.)

Eighteen out of 20 locations left blank and yet the SPLC included every last one for the 2011 “hate group” count. By 2012 the count was one group in Camden County/13 blank, in 2013 they counted Camden County and 11 blanks, and by 2014 the “group” had vanished into thin air as quickly as it had appeared.

Georgia, like New Jersey, is already the butt of a lot of bad publicity. What happens when 27 out of the 63 “groups” the SPLC assigned to Georgia for 2011 are homeless phantoms? That’s 43% of the alleged total right off the bat. Remember, one-in-three Georgians are minorities. What does this needless, worthless negative publicity do for their economic opportunities? The only people profiting from the “Hate Map” are at the SPLC.

Let’s zoom in to the city/town level. Major cities can absorb “hate group” hits up to a point, but there’s a limit. Baltimore’s image is hardly burnished by the claim that it is home to 11 “hate groups,” seven of which are Black Nationalists, according to the SPLC. What does that even mean for the people on the ground there?

When the SPLC assigns “hate groups” to smaller municipalities the ramifications are even greater. Politico Magazine, hardly a right-wing rag, documented the plight of two small towns, villages actually, who were added to the SPLC’s “Hate Map” for 2017 on the flimsiest of evidence.

Tony Rehagen’s February 2018 article, “What happens when your town lands on the Hate Map?” ought to be required reading for every schoolchild, journalist and donor. As the article’s subtitle indicates: “You freak out. You try and clear your name. You get nowhere.”

Case in point, the village of Gurnee, Illinois, sits beside Lake Michigan and its economy relies heavily on lake-based sports tourism. With no warning whatsoever, the village found itself on the 2017 “Hate Map” with one chapter of the Ku Klos Knights of the KKK.

Horrified at the accusation, the mayor and police chief of Gurnee contacted the SPLC for more details about this group. According to Heidi Beirich, who replaced the cast-off Mark Potok as SPLC Director of Intelligence, someone at the company found a single post on a KKK website where an individual, claiming to be an “exalted cyclops” posted his name and the address “Gurnee, Il, 60031.”

As Rehagen notes in his article, that scrap of address isn’t even “enough information to get a letter properly delivered,” but it was more than enough to get Gurnee on the “Hate Map.” As further proof, Beirich claimed that she sent an email to the guy’s Gmail account and the fact that she allegedly received a reply from that anonymous account PROVED that there was a KKK group in Gurnee.

Think about that, SPLC donors. This is the kind of hard-hitting investigative research your dollars are funding.

When the Chief of Police informed Dr. Beirich that he had performed a thorough investigation and could find no evidence of anyone by that person’s name ever living in Gurnee, the Director of Intelligence told him the matter was out of her hands. Gurnee would remain on the “Hate Map” for all of 2017 until the new version was released in February 2018.

Think about that… Any 12-year-old can update a web page, but the SPLC’s online “Hate Map” is static and frozen in time forever. Really? We’ll explain the real reason for Beirich’s inaction directly, but first another tale from Rehagen’s article that is even more ludicrous than this one.

The village of Amana, Iowa, also known as home to the Amana Colonies, also found itself on the 2017 “Hate Map” as home to one of the “Daily Stormer” websites mentioned previously in this post. The problem was that the Amana Colonies were founded in the mid-nineteenth century by German Lutheran immigrants (who later founded the Amana Corporation of refrigerator, washing machine and Radarange fame) and is currently a historic landmark listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. It’s populated by costumed “interpreters” demonstrating 19th century farm life.

Amana Colonies

Amana, Iowa

Assigning a “hate group” to Amana is about as logical as assigning one to Virginia’s Colonial Williamsburg or Massachusetts’ “Plimoth Plantation.”

Never one to allow facts to get in the way of a juicy “hate group,” Heidi Beirich explained to Amana’s officials that she had solid evidence. As Tony Rehagen recounts:

“Someone at the SPLC spotted a chat thread on the Daily Stormer, in which someone with the screen name “Concerned Troll” had proposed a neo-Nazi “book club” meeting in an Amana café. No one in Amana was able to confirm to the SPLC whether or not the meeting actually took place, but that was enough to earn the corn-carpeted state its only swastika.”

That’s it, friends. The rock-solid evidence the SPLC uses to assign “hate groups” to known cities or towns. How many other localities have been tarred needlessly by such tissue-thin evidence? Why is Tony Rehagen one of the few professional journalists to actually question the SPLC’s claims?

Despite being in the same jam as Gurnee, Amana had a somewhat happier outcome. It seems that there is one editing loophole in the otherwise permanent “Hate Map” fundraising tool. Heidi Beirich was able to move Amana’s neo-Nazi “group” off the village and into the “statewide” category. Iowa still ended the year with four “hate groups,” because whatever number the SPLC cooks up each February goes on all of its press releases and other fundraising materials for the entire fiscal year. For that number to change would hint at fallibility.

Gurnee was not so lucky, though. Unfortunately, Heidi Beirich had already assigned a “statewide” chapter of the Ku Klos Knights to Illinois, and while it would not be unprecedented for the “Hate Map,” even the most ardent SPLC donors would have a hard time swallowing two “statewide” chapters in the same state. So Gurnee had no choice but to suck it up and wait a full year until the next “Hate Map” could be cobbled together to clear its name.

In 2008, the small town of Winchester, NH, (nextdoor neighbor to the aforementioned Richmond, NH), spent a year on the “Hate Map” because of an alleged KKK group, even though town selectmen and Police Chief Gary Phillips attested that there was no “group” in town. In the same article from the Keene Sentinel newspaper, Anthony D. Griggs, identified as an SPLC research analyst, described the difficulty in identifying “hate groups” and made an amazingly candid observation:

“In some instances, it could be just a guy and a couple of his buddies,” Griggs said.

The “hate group” smear attacks entire communities, as if they are somehow to blame for every nut who opens a P.O. box or posts some stupidity on a web site. Towns like Gurnee and Amana have very tourism-dependent economies. They did nothing wrong but were still held hostage to the whims of the SPLC’s fundraising machinery and, with very few exceptions, like Tony Rehagen, the media turn a blind eye to it because lurid tales of “hate groups” are solid gold click-bait.

And finally, what happens to individuals targeted as “extremists” by SPLC fundraisers?

When the SPLC created  “A Journalist’s Manual: Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists” in October, 2016, it included the names of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a woman born in Somalia who underwent forced female genital mutilation at the age of five, and Maajid Nawaz, a British-born Muslim of Pakistani descent. Both people are outspoken critics of Islamic extremism. Both have criticized violent Muslim fundamentalists and the doctrine that drives their actions.

Soon after being placed on the list, Nawaz explained the consequences to David A. Graham of The Atlantic magazine:

“They put a target on my head. The kind of work that I do, if you tell the wrong kind of Muslims that I’m an extremist, then that means I’m a target,” he said. “They don’t have to deal with any of this. I don’t have any protection. I don’t have any state protection. These people are putting me on what I believe is a hit list.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was already on a Muslim extremist hit list. As the SPLC piece explained. “While in the Netherlands, she wrote the script for a short and provocative film about women and Islam directed by the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who was murdered in the street by a jihadist a short time after its release. The murderer left a note threatening to also kill Hirsi Ali pinned to his victim’s body with a knife.”

The SPLC piece put Ali, who moved to the United States for her own safety, on the same hit list as Maajid Nawaz. Unlike Ali, and most people who find themselves on SPLC lists, Nawaz had the wherewithal to sue the company for defamation and in mid-2018, the SPLC conceded defeat and entered into a settlement with Nawaz for $3.4 million.

While Ayaan Hirsi Ali and the other “extremists” were not compensated, the SPLC ultimately took down its online “field guide” altogether. In fact, the link we provided for it had to be routed through the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. The same link on the SPLC website now redirects to an apology to Nawaz. The good news is that the SPLC’s $433 million cash reserves remained intact. The $3.4 million settlement was paid out by the company’s insurance carrier.

One final incident, which received a lot of publicity at the time but bears repeating here, in August 2012, LGBT activist Floyd Corkins walked into the Family Research Council’s (FRC) office in Washington, DC,  with a gun. Corkins later told investigators that his intent was to kill as many FRC personnel as possible because the SPLC listed the organization as anti-LGBT on its “Hate Map.”

Fortunately, the FRC’s security guard, Leo Johnson, who was unarmed, was able to subdue Corkins, in spite of being shot himself in the struggle. The SPLC, who are always quick to attribute the actions of every lone-wolf loon to the “far Right” or as being “emboldened by Trump,” were even quicker to deny that any Left-wing loons could possibly be influenced by its “Hate Map” propaganda.

It is our hope that the long-winded examples laid out above will give some people, especially professional journalists, pause when it comes to blindly accepting SPLC “Hate Map” propaganda as “fact.” To recap:

  • There is no legal definition for “hate group.” The SPLC is the self-appointed arbiter of that label and uses it to generate hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • If nothing else, the simple fact that the SPLC hides hundreds of its alleged “hate groups” under a meaningless “statewide” umbrella ought to cast doubt on the accuracy of its claims. If they have the proof, demand that they produce it.
  • The vast majority of the remaining “hate groups” are only identified by an alleged city or town. As the stories of Gurnee, Amana and Winchester show, those claims are often based on ridiculously flimsy evidence, such as an anonymous P.O. box or Tweet. Make the SPLC show its evidence.
  • Despite claims to the contrary, each year’s “Hate Map” includes dozens of one-man web sites and online vendors and booksellers. Make the SPLC explain how someone like Wild Man Myers constitutes a “group” and what real threat he poses to the community. “We don’t like it!” isn’t good enough.
  • Empty, meaningless “statistics” like the SPLC’s new “per capita” counts are worthless. They are intended solely for creating outrage and fear and pose real public relations problems for low-population states that can least afford it.
  • The SPLC’s spurious “hate group” and “extremist” claims create real economic and safety issues for communities and individuals. The whole purpose of the “hate group” label is to dehumanize people in order to agitate the SPLC’s donor base.

As of this writing, there are two civil law suits pending against the SPLC. The Center for Immigration Studies is pursuing a RICO-based racketeering suit against, the SPLC, Heidi Beirich and SPLC president, Richard Cohen, for repeating the claim that the Center is a “hate group.”

Maryland attorney Glen Allen is also pursuing a racketeering case against the SPLC, Beirich and Mark Potok. Allen contends that the SPLC purchased stolen documents which the company then used to get Allen fired from his post as an attorney for the City of Baltimore.

Both cases have merit, and both cases reference the SPLC’s “hate group” tactics, but neither actually address the demonstrable inaccuracies in the “Hate Map” tool that we have laid out above. It seems pretty apparent that the SPLC uses these claims, knowing full well that the information is bogus, in order to accrue hundreds of millions of dollars in tax-free donations.

If any journalist or attorney would be willing to pursue a fraud suit against the Southern Poverty Law Center in the future, we at Watching the Watchdogs will make all of our evidence available upon request.

As we have said many times, the SPLC’s “Hate Map” numbers are for fundraising, not for fact-finding. Make the company show its proof once and for all.

 

SPLC — Whither Lecia Brooks?

February 28, 2019

[Update: 6/01/19. The Return of Lecia Brooks! We have just discovered that Ms. Brooks is back to work at the SPLC in the role of “Chief Workplace Transformation Officer,” who “serves both the SPLC’s leadership and the staff to build a workplace culture of inclusiveness and ensure a sustainable infrastructure that supports the SPLC’s ongoing focus on diversity and equity.”

We wish Ms. Brooks well in this new position, with its title that only a Public Relations officer could love, though we have to worry about the sustainability of a job built around “transformation,” which by definition, ought to have a definite beginning and a quantifiable end point.

This is not an “ongoing focus.” Either the SPLC promotes minorities at the same rates and levels as its mostly white leadership or it does not.

On the other hand, such a temporary landing pad would serve nicely to segue Lecia Brooks into the role we first suggested back in 2018, as President of the Southern Poverty Law Center.  Time will tell.]

[Update: 3/23/19. Thanks to information provided by a reader, we now know that Lecia Brooks has relocated to the Equal Justice Initiative, (EJI.org), also of Montgomery, shortly before SPLC Founder Morris Dees was fired from the Southern Poverty Law Center. We wish her great success in her new endeavor.]

Has long-time Southern Poverty Law Center star Lecia Brooks left the auditorium? As we have noted on numerous occasions, Lecia Brooks was the only member of the company’s leadership staff to hold TWO concurrent directorships, one as Outreach Director and one as Director of the Civil Rights Memorial Center.

We have also noted that despite wearing two leadership hats, Ms. Brooks, who is Black and a lesbian, has NEVER been included among the company’s highest paid officers on annual IRS Form 990 tax reports.

A recent review of the SPLC’s “Leadership” page as of a week ago shows Ms. Brooks among the white millionaires who run the company:

Lecia1

February 20, 2019

And yet, one week later, Ms. Brooks is nowhere to be found, and her “About” page has been taken down as of this writing. Thanks to the magic that is the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine it is possible to find that page from a week ago, which notes that she had joined the company in 2004.

Lecia2

February 28, 2019

And a new face has appeared on the latest “Leadership” page, that of Tafeni English, who is now listed as the Director of the Civil Rights Memorial Center. No mention is made of a new Outreach Director as of this time, nor are there any press releases on the SPLC website or online media mentioning the retirement of Ms. Brooks, who was one of the SPLC’s premier ambassadors.

Tafeni1

[Update (3/15/19) In a surprising palace coup, SPLC Founder Morris Dees has been fired by company president Richard Cohen for “improper conduct.” Leaked internal emails hint that Dees may have engaged in sexual misconduct and racist hiring/promotion policies. A yet-unnamed Black female attorney left the company recently, citing similar complaints. At any rate, two weeks after Lecia Brooks was airbrushed from the “Leadership” page, the Old Man himself is now conspicuously absent from the Politburo portrait gallery and his “about” page has been closed. Stay tuned for more news.]

March-15-2019-Leadership _ SPLC

March 15, 2019

[Update: an article in the Mankato (MN) Free Press from February 21, 2019, identifies another new face, Kate Chance, as the SPLC’s “Outreach Manager.” Whether the “manager” reports to, or ultimately replaces, the “director” is unclear at this time.]

Kate Chance

Kate Chance, Outreach Manager

The last time we saw a Pravda-esque “unpersoning” of this magnitude was in mid-2017, when the SPLC’s long-time Director of Intelligence, Mark Potok, was unceremoniously dumped after 20 years of highly lucrative service to the company.

Because Mr. Potok had been the face and voice of the SPLC for so many years, and his name was on so many articles and press releases, the company could not easily air-brush him into the Memory Hole, so they simply replaced his “Director of Intelligence” title with “former employee” for many months. Considering how much money Mr. Potok had brought into the company’s coffers over 20 years, the SPLC didn’t seem especially appreciative.

And now Lecia Brooks seems to be gone, after nearly 15 years with the company with no mention of her departure whatsoever. We certainly hope that it wasn’t anything that we at Watching the Watchdogs might have said. Last November we posted an op-ed that suggested that maybe it was time for the SPLC’s senior (literally…) leadership to consider “passing the torch” to a new generation by retiring while at the top of their game.

Lecia Brooks, who most represents the people the SPLC purports to serve, seemed the perfect choice as new president of the company, at least to us.

Hopefully the geriatric white male millionaires who run the SPLC didn’t take out their displeasure at our suggestion on Ms. Brooks. Time will tell.

 

 

How Fake News is Made

January 15, 2019

First off, a statement of fact: Donald Trump is a lightning rod. People either really, really love him or really, really despise him. There just aren’t that many folks in the middle. Knowing this, companies, institutions and media organizations on BOTH sides of the political aisle exploit these passionate extremes to great profit.

Donald Trump says and does a lot of [insert adjective(s) here] things that get him a lot of attention, both positive and negative. He’s very good at this and really doesn’t need any help at it. This has not stopped the Hate Industry (or Trump supporters) from fabricating stories about the man so they could cash in on the outrage.

In early 2017, just weeks after his inauguration, a wave of bomb threats were made against Jewish community centers across the US. The Hate Industry and their media stooges swore that this was irrefutable evidence that white supremacists and anti-Semites “were emboldened” by Trump’s election, until it was discovered that the real culprits were a Black man attempting to frame his white ex-girlfriend and an Israeli teenage hacker. Whoosh! The Memory Hole opened and swallowed the story. Nothing to see here.

The Ku Klux Klan was “emboldened” to spray paint “Vote Trump” on the side of a Black church in Jackson, Mississippi, before burning it down, and neo-Nazi arsonists boldly painted “Heil Trump!” on the side of a church in Bloomington, Indiana, before setting it ablaze. Heinous hate crimes that could be traced irrefutably back to President Trump, except for the annoying facts that the first church fire was set by a Black parishioner and the second by its openly gay organist.

Do you recall the avalanche of corrections and retractions that filled the media in the following days? Us neither.

The excellent website, fakehatecrimes.org, has logged over a hundred hate crime hoaxes committed since Election Day, 2016, many of which were explicitly claimed to be Trump-related, until they weren’t.

And the beat goes on. Just last week many “legitimate” media sources breathlessly regurgitated a “report” by two University of Virginia academics who claimed that they had proof that teasing and bullying in middle schools across Virginia had “risen by 9%” in 2017, specifically in areas that had voted for Donald Trump. Did any of the media experts actually examine the report before reprinting the claims? Not so much.

And really, why would they? Even if the story turned out to be inaccurate it’s still solid gold click bait. And when these stories are disproved, they simply go away. No messy cleanup required.

Francis L. Huang and Dewey G. Cornell based their claims on a set of three surveys they have administered to roughly 155,000 seventh- and eighth-grade students across Virginia in 2013, 2015 and 2017, that asks the students their opinions about bullying and teasing in their schools. It’s a worthy effort and the data seems to be as good as any these kinds of instruments produce. It’s worth noting that the results are agnostic, with no sign whatsoever of the terms Obama, Trump, Republican or Democrat to be found.

The problem lies in the way in which Huang and Cornell interpreted the data in their subsequent 2018 report, “School Teasing and Bullying After the Presidential Election.” In that report, the pair claimed an increase in responses to the statement: “Students in this school are teased or put down because of their race or ethnicity” in the 2017 survey over the previous one. So far, so good.

The duo then take it one step farther by claiming that they have discovered a correlation between the increase in responses and those schools residing in Republican districts. Here is where things start to break down.

Survey results were broken down by eight separate regions across the Commonwealth and numbered 1 through 8. While the percentages of students who answered yes to the “teased because of their race or ethnicity” prompt did increase significantly, the data shows that this is a trend that began during the Obama Administration and shows sizable increases between 2013 and 2015. Where is that “report”?

According to Huang and Cornell’s own data, teasing in the Shenandoah Valley jumped by 63% in President Obama’s second term. Statewide, teasing increased by 35% under POTUS 44. Where’s the outrage over that?

percentages1

In other news, outright bullying, a separate measure from mere teasing, rocketed under President Obama and actually dropped under President Trump, according to Cornell and Huang.

percentages2

Affirmative responses to the prompts “I have been bullied,” “I have been cyber bullied,” and “I have bullied others,” exploded statewide between 2013 and 2015, by 150%, 167% and an unbelievable 220% respectively!

Obviously, it’s pretty easy to cherry-pick data points to put any kind of slant you want into your “report.” Remember the adage about “lies, damned lies, and statistics”? And as we have stated numerous times on this blog, ANY TIME you see a percent symbol in the media, run, do not walk, to see the source documents. And after you’ve done that, follow the money. Who is going to profit from unsubstantiated claims and what consequences do they face if proven wrong?

This isn’t rocket science, folks. Anyone with an Internet connection can do it, providing they want to get at the truth.

Other inconsistencies not addressed in the Huang and Cornell piece include the facts that the three surveys are not identical (some questions are universal to all three, but not all), the 2017 survey includes sixth-graders for the first time, and that the 2017 survey was administered between February and April, when Donald Trump had been in office for less than 100 days, versus Barack Obama’s eight year administration.

If you’re going to blame Trump for teasing then you’re going to have to blame Obama as well.

Lastly, what conclusions did Huang and Cornell actually reach in their study? Despite the hundreds of headlines proclaiming “Trump Causes Teasing!,” the authors themselves concede:

“These findings are correlational and cannot establish a causal relationship but invite the need for further study.”

“The phrase “teasing and bullying” is used broadly in recognition that there are various forms of peer aggression and that student reports do not necessarily conform to an academic definition of bullying.”

“We did not have measures of the quality and intensity of peer aggression or its impact on victims.”

“It is obviously difficult to demonstrate a causal link between statements by a public figure and schoolyard bullying.”

Nobody, friend or foe, can deny that President Donald Trump says a lot of stupid, irrational and sometimes irresponsible things. There is more than enough controversy to go around without cooking up fake news like this malarkey.

Trust, but verify. It’s what used to be known as “journalism” in the old days.

Lecia Brooks for President!

November 29, 2018

In his inaugural address in 1961, President John F. Kennedy spoke of a metaphorical torch being passed to a new generation and the benefits that such an infusion of new ideas and life experience would bring to the country. Sadly, JFK’s untimely murder in Dallas in 1963 cut short the promise, but not the premise, of such a bold proposal.

As the Southern Poverty Law Center draws ever closer to its fiftieth anniversary in 2021, and basks in the glory of its most profitable year to date (2017), we believe it is time for the company’s Old Guard to consider stepping aside to make room for its own “new generation.” To “go out at the top” of their game, as it were.

A recent article written in the Washington Post Magazine, by David Montgomery, noted that SPLC founder, Morris Dees, who is now 81 years old, “doesn’t come into the office regularly anymore…” Dees, who first became a millionaire in 1964 and lives in a 20-room mansion on a 300-acre compound with his fifth wife, still pays himself $358,000 donor-dollars a year.

It’s not as though a much-deserved retirement would leave Mr. Dees destitute. As his publicity agency notes, the “Legendary Civil Rights Activist” maintains a lucrative public speaking side-gig, charging between $10,000 and $20,000 a pop.

Dees Fees

One low-end speaking engagement a month, or even a high-end gig every other month, would certainly keep the wolves away from the doors of Casa Dees.

SPLC President, Richard Cohen, who presumably keeps the store open in the absence of Mr. Dees, turns 78 in a couple of months, has also had a very good run and is equally deserving of well-earned rest. Mr. Cohen has been making public speaking appearances more frequently in the past few years, and could certainly fall back on that in the unlikely event he has been frittering away his $350,000 donor-dollar annual paychecks.

The third, and by far the youngest member of the triumvirate of “old white guys” who have been running the SPLC for the past few decades, has already left the stage. Mark Potok, whose titles at the company have included Director of Intelligence and Senior Fellow, was the public face and voice of the Southern Poverty Law Center for twenty years, until he was quietly and unceremoniously pushed out in early 2017.

Mr. Potok has since embarked on his own public speaking and consulting career, though it’s doubtful his fees are making up for the $150,000-a-year he was making at the SPLC.

Potok was replaced as Director of Intelligence by Heidi Beirich, who also has a long career at the SPLC. Although Ms. Beirich holds a PhD and two Masters degrees, she doesn’t have the public presence of the Old Boys. Dr. Beirich’s voice doesn’t resonate indignation as well as her predecessor and she has been known to go off-script in public interviews. That being said, she excels at behind-the-scenes research and would continue to make money for the company in that regard.

This brings us to the most logical choice for a new president for the SPLC: Lecia Brooks.

lecia_brooks

Lecia Brooks

Lecia Brooks has been with the company since 2004 and has held two concurrent directorships at the SPLC for over a decade, a feat none of her colleagues can claim. Ms. Brooks is articulate, highly intelligent, and more importantly, Black, female and gay. She would bring a diverse world view and lived experience to the position far beyond anything Messrs. Dees and Cohen could conceive of.

In addition to her posts as Outreach Director and director of the SPLC’s Civil Rights Memorial Center, Ms. Brooks was once allowed to helm the company’s “Teaching Tolerance” unit, which purports to promote diversity in the K-12 classroom. After several months, Ms. Brooks was asked to yield the post to the highly-diverse, Maureen Costello.

Costello

Maureen Costello

Lecia Brooks’ lack of a law degree in no way diminishes her candidacy for SPLC president. As Morris Dees wrote in his 1991 autobiography, his choice of Civil Rights icon Julian Bond to be the company’s first president, had more to do with fundraising than hate-fighting.

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

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

Not only did Bond lack a law degree, in 1971 he had only recently returned to college in Atlanta to resume his pursuit of a Bachelor’s degree in English, which had been long-delayed by his civil rights work during the 1960s.

In fact, Bond continued to live in Atlanta, some 200 miles from SPLC headquarters in Montgomery, throughout his “honorary” presidency. As the Julian Bond Papers collection at the University of Virginia indicate, all Bond had to do was sign the fundraising letters written in his name by Morris Dees. Documents in that collection refer to Mr. Bond’s monthly “fee,” rather than his “salary.”

Fast-forward 47 years and the SPLC finds itself in a very different financial situation. Not only was 2017 the company’s most profitable year to date, with receipts exceeding $136 million (compared to a meager $50 million for 2016), the SPLC’s cash-on-hand “Morris Dees Legacy Fund,” 98% of which is designated as “unrestricted” in use, bulged to more than $433 million.

As journalist Ken Silverstein noted in his November 2000 article for Harper’s magazine, The Church of Morris Dees, :

Back in 1978, when the Center had less than $10 million, Dees promised that his organization would quit fund-raising and live off interest as soon as its endowment hit $55 million. But as it approached that figure, the SPLC upped the bar to $100 million, a sum that, one 1989 newsletter promised, would allow the Center “to cease the costly and often unreliable task of fund raising. ”

The SPLC hit the $100 million mark in 2002, the $200 million mark in 2007 and the $300 million mark in 2010. Surely, with $433 million in cash in the bank, fundraising is the last thing President Brooks would need to worry about.

As we recently noted, the SPLC only spends an average of 4% of its annual budget on “legal case costs,” while spending up to 41% a year on fundraising. If you strip that 41% burden (as well as the very expensive supporting infrastructure) out of the annual operating budget, the SPLC could keep its doors  wide open for the next 17 years without asking for another dime.

Naturally, Progressives would continue to donate to the company, if for nothing more than the bumper stickers, coffee mugs and tote-bags that would allow them to signal their superior virtue, but President Brooks could focus her attention on the civil rights law, the “poverty law,” for which the SPLC was founded in the first place.

How about it, Mr. Dees? Mr. Cohen? Will you pass the torch to a new generation? To an eminently qualified candidate who not only shares your values and goals, but who also represents the very people you claim to serve?

You’ve done what you set out to do, gentlemen. Go out at the top.

SPLC — Crunching the Numbers — 2018

August 29, 2018

Have you received a donation request from the Southern Poverty Law Center recently? Do you ever wonder how your donations are spent? Thanks to ProPublica, you can review the SPLC’s IRS Form 990 tax returns all the way back to 2001.

With the exception of 2009 and 2012, the company has always taken in significantly more money than was needed to keep the doors open. Some may recall that 2009 was the year after Bernie Madoff’s investment scam was exposed, costing investors and many nonprofit organizations billions of dollars in losses.

To date, there is no evidence that the SPLC was involved with Madoff. It seems that 2009 was simply a bad year all around.

Legal Case Costs 2000-2017

While the SPLC claims that “During the last fiscal year, approximately 68% of our total expenses were spent on program services,” a closer look at the numbers raises some questions to the accuracy of that statement.

One of the biggest red flags is the annual fundraising costs. Each year the SPLC declares a sum directly spent on fundraising outright for the year, $12,626,830 for 2017, as well as a sum spent on “joint costs.” These came to $12,147,345 last year.

The SPLC’s auditor describes “joint costs” as “Activities and the production of materials which combine development, education, and management functions are allocated to the program and supporting services on the basis of the content of the material, the reason for its distribution, and the audience to whom it is delivered.”

In short, “joint costs” are fundraising costs (“development”) attributed to other departments. As the auditor notes: “The Center incurred joint costs of $12,147,345 for educational materials and activities as part of fund-raising appeals during the year ended October 31, 2017.”

For example, SPLC “Management” spent $1,022,000 on postage last year. Since the business of management is arguably to “manage” the company’s 302 employees, that works out nine pieces of first class mail to every employee every single day of FY 2017.

As the graphic above indicates, the SPLC spent 41% of its budget on outright fundraising and “joint costs” last year.

While joint costs accounting is not illegal, and is practiced by many of the largest nonprofits and charities in the country, it is ethically ambiguous, according to Charity Navigator, one of the leading industry watchdogs:

“Although the use of this accounting “trick” is often perfectly in line with the accounting rules for the reporting of joint solicitation costs (AICPA SOP 98-2) these rules allow for many interpretations and judgments that can produce questionable results.”

The graphic also indicates that the Southern Poverty Law Center has never spent more than 6% of its budget on legal case costs this century (and only in one single year, at that), something that the average donor might find surprising, and possibly quite alarming.

After all, shouldn’t the main business of a law center be the practice of actual poverty law?

Mark Potok, the SPLC’s Intelligence Director for 20 years, explained this confusing situation several years ago:

In the 70’s … “poverty law” was actually the phrase … it was a phrase used that just applied to … essentially … civil rights law … to kind of human rights legal actions. I know a couple years ago there was a big discussion internally [at the SPLC], ‘Should we change our name to something else?’

People think, you know, that it’s all about, sort of, defending poor people, and that’s not really, exactly what our mission is. By that time, people knew the name so well that, you know, we made, I think, the obviously right decision not to change the name (Holiday, Track 1).

While the SPLC never did change its name, it did change its mission. In 2014, the company quietly removed the “non-profit civil rights organization” descriptor from its website, press releases and other fundraising materials,  replacing it with “civil rights advocacy group.”

While the two phrases sound similar, they are in no way the same thing. The National Rifle Association is an “advocacy group” for the gun lobby and few, if any, SPLC donors would ever accuse the NRA of being a “civil rights organization.”

It may be simple coincidence, but according to the graphic above, the SPLC has enjoyed some of its most profitable years since making the switch.

You can lead a horse to water, as they say, but putting the SPLC’s financial information in an easy-to-read graphic will probably do very little to dissuade the company’s millions of loyal donors, who believe they are getting great value for their money.

To them, getting the SPLC bumper sticker or lapel pin, or whatever thank you tchotchkies the company sends the faithful is what it’s all about.

Virtue signaling is far more important than doing actual work for civil rights.

Heather Heyer: Manufacturing a Martyr

August 10, 2018

As we approach the one year anniversary of the Unite the Right riots in Charlottesville, it is worth taking a moment to reflect on the actions of the Hate Industry as it spun the tragic and needless death of Heather Heyer into media propaganda, or worse yet, into crass fundraising propaganda.

Obviously, any criticism of the canonization of Saint Heather is going to draw cries of “Blasphemy!” from the adherents of the new Social Justice Warrior religion, but our intention here is in no way to criticize, diminish or demean Heather Heyer in any way. Quite the opposite, our intent here is to restore some dignity to the very human Heather Heyer, who was no more prepared for martyrdom that day than anyone else might be.

In December, 2017, James Fields, Jr., the 20-year-old neo-Nazi accused of causing the car crash on Water Street, where Ms. Heyer died, appeared in Charlottesville district court, which did little to answer several basic questions and much to raise other questions still.

Our intent here is in no way to defend Mr. Fields, his philosophy, or that of his ideological companions. Our goal here is to examine the events surrounding the crash in a less hysterical manner than it has been to date. In the process, we have to re-humanize the caricature of Fields and examine the fascist thuggery on both sides of the story, and yes, there is plenty to go around.

First off, this is NOT Heather Heyer. At least it wasn’t on August 12, 2017, the day she died.

Liberty Leading the People

Liberty Leading the People, Eugène Delacroix, 1830

While many media accounts of Heyer’s actions that day would have one believe that she was literally scaling the barricades to strike down the fascist enemies with her bare hands in righteous wrath, the truth is not only very different, but it also paints a far more nuanced portrait of the actual woman. The real Heather Heyer is far more interesting, and far more honorable than the profiteers would have us believe.

In many ways, this oft-used photo isn’t really Heather Heyer either.

Heyer

Obviously, millions will recognize this photo of Heyer, which we believe was originally posted on her Facebook account. The photo is practically ubiquitous across the media and progressive websites. Naturally, the nation’s huge Hate Industry found a way to use the iconic image to cash in on Heyer’s death, as we reported on the Southern Poverty Law Center actions, just two weeks after the Charlottesville riots.

The image is always tightly cropped, with some sites opting to to crop off Ms. Heyer’s Christian cross necklace. Wise men will hesitate to guess a lady’s age, but it is quite possible that this image was taken a few years ago. We base that speculation on a remarkable cell phone video taken by Heather Heyer’s friend and co-worker, Courtney Commander.

That video, linked below, is a record of Heyer taken in the last hours, possibly the last minutes, before her death at the corner of 4th and Water Streets.

We should warn viewers that Ms. Commander laces her speech with expletives, and even refers to a group of Blacks as “them n*gg*rs” at the 5:55 mark. As a Black woman herself, Ms. Commander gets a free pass for using “their word” but it is instructive to note that Ms. Heyer did not surround herself with saints prior to her curbside canonization.

(In another video made the previous evening and embedded at the end of this post, Ms. Commander taunts racist participants in the now-infamous torchlight parade across the University of Virginia campus “Your daughters are home f*ck*ng n*gg*rs right now!”)

In Commander’s video we are presented with images of Heather Heyer the human being.

Commander Cody - Charlottesville VA - Part 4 - YouTube

 

Heyer4
The video shows Heyer as she really was that day, not simply as the glamorized, sanitized icon created by those who would exploit her death. Heyer, like tens of millions of Americans, including this author and many readers, was clearly overweight, and apparently indulged in at least one human vice, smoking.

“So what?,” will say many. “What difference does any of that make?” It is very true that a number of web trolls did seize upon Heyer’s weight in crude attempts to dehumanize and “fat shame” her in the days following her death. Sadly, that kind of stupidity is to be expected from that crowd, as ignorant people have a tendency to say ignorant things.

The greater issue, we believe, is that if these images show Heather Heyer as she really was in her everyday life, and if this is the real-life, flesh-and-blood human being that was Heather Heyer, why did the Left and the Hate Industry crop her down to a single glamour headshot?

Far from “fat shaming” Heather Heyer, the Left is clearly “fat ashamed” of their martyr, whose body morphology differed significantly from most of her Progressive co-counter-protesters.

CounterP

Which is worse? Is there any real difference at all? Has the Left dehumanized Heather Heyer any less than the Alt Right? Both sides have used Heyer’s death for their own purposes.

If you watch the Commander video above, you will see what really set Ms. Heyer apart from most other “counter-protesters” that day. Far from running from barricade to barricade, seeking to smash the hate-filled fascists at every turn, Heather Heyer does something that few on either side seem to be capable of. At about the 4:00 minute mark, Heyer approaches a handful of Alt-Right stragglers and speaks to a woman among them.

Courtney Commander, in a December 18 article in the Daily Beast, says that Heyer asked the woman why she wanted to participate in the Unite the Right rally. There is no screaming, no name-calling, no flinging of feces or urine. Nobody even gets smashed on the head with a bike lock. It is a quiet conversation between two women. Between two human beings. Heyer seems to want to understand where the other woman is coming from. It’s doubtful that the two will ever agree on much, but at least it is an attempt to understand.

That sixty second encounter, which ends with the Alt-Right woman’s “no comment” claim when she sees Commander approaching with her phone camera, is what Heather Heyer should truly be remembered for. And it should be the real-life Heather Heyer who should be remembered and not a sanitized image created without any input from the woman herself.

Heather Heyer died instantly at the scene of the 4th Street car crash, not long after that interaction was filmed. Her cause of death, blunt force trauma to the chest, was released by Charlottesville officials back in October, but her actual manner of death has yet to be released, as of this writing. This fact is crucial to the case against James Fields, as it will determine the actual charges brought against him.

It is especially important to determine the manner of Heyer’s death because of the way it has been portrayed in Social Media, and, more troubling, by the Mainstream Media. There are very real civil rights and due process issues in this case that have been completely ignored, mostly by the Left, in pursuit of political and even financial gain.

What we know for sure is that James Fields participated in the Alt-Right rally on the morning of August 12, 2017. Images of him in a crowd of neo-Nazis, holding a borrowed shield bearing the group’s insignia are easily found online. Fields even turns up in documentary footage shot by National Geographic.

Livestream video shot by amateur journalist Ford Fischer shows Fields’ tinted-out Dodge Challenger rolling slowly down East Water Street less than ten minutes before the fatal crash (at about 00:45 in Fischer’s video.)

At roughly 02:40 in the video, Fischer passes the intersection of 4th and Water Streets, about five minutes before the crash. There are a few people on the street, but nowhere near the crowds shown in later crash videos.

Conspicuously, there is a maroon passenger van shown on 4th Street, as if waiting to make a turn onto Water. That van will be in the same position five minutes later. Police drone video will show the driver of the van standing in front of it at the moment of impact, nearly getting run over by her own vehicle.

So far, the media has yet to identify the driver or her passengers. This is relevant as the drone footage shows numerous people being knocked to the ground by the van after Fields allegedly rammed his car into a Toyota Camry waiting behind the maroon van.

News reports say that upwards of 35 people were injured in the crash, but Fields is being charged with one count of first-degree murder and eight counts of malicious wounding.

Under Virginia law (and no doubt many or all other states), in a multi-vehicle accident, all of the drivers are liable for any injuries they cause with their vehicle, whether they were at fault or not. The driver of the maroon van may technically be responsible for the majority of the non-fatal injuries.

Why was she parked there? It couldn’t be to prevent cars from turning onto 4th Street as 4th is a one-way street.

Another alleged player in the events leading up to the crash is University of North Carolina professor Dwayne Dixon, who has released video claiming it was he who turned Fields off Market Street (VA 250) onto 4th Street at rifle point.

Will Prof. Dixon, who heads a self-described Liberal armed militia calling itself “Redneck Revolt,” (“redneck” being the last socially acceptable racial slur, at least by the Left) be called to testify at Field’s trial this coming November? Will he be charged as an accessory?

As the map below shows, Fields turned off Market Street onto 4th Street near the Market Street Market (whether at Dixon’s threat or of his own volition), just two blocks from the crash scene at the intersection of Water Street (directly next to the improbably named Race Jewelers store).

It should be noted that this section of 4th Street is a one-way box canyon with no other outlet than Water Street. Halfway in between is Charlottesville’s trendy Main Street, a brick-lined pedestrian mall lined with restaurants, stores and theaters.

Crash scene video indicates that the crowd of counter-protesters had not progressed very far up the length of 4th Street at the time of the crash. Recall Ford Fischer’s video showing the intersection practically empty, except for the maroon van only minutes earlier.

The same footage shows paramedics performing CPR on Heather Heyer, only a few feet from the corner of Water Street. In short, Heyer had probably turned north onto 4th Street a few seconds before Fields turned south onto it, two blocks away.

Despite the Left-wing claims that Fields deliberately targeted Saint Heather, who was supposedly climbing the barricades to get at the “haters,” there’s little evidence that either of them had any idea the other existed.

4th Street Map

Another point for the jury to consider is that if Fields’ intent was to deliberately mow down people, why didn’t he just turn onto the pedestrian mall and have at it?

At Fields’ preliminary hearing in December, 2017, the prosecution produced security camera footage of his Challenger backing up 4th Street before surging ahead into the Camry at the intersection. The claim was made that this proves that Fields was backing up to gain more space in which to accelerate, but crash video clearly shows Fields swerving around pedestrians, including those stepping into the street to swing clubs at his car, and tapping his brakes.

We won’t know until November, but it is entirely possible that Fields was looking for another exit from 4th Street.

What is undeniable is that it was Fields’ car that slammed into the Camry, tossing numerous people into the air. Crash video shows several people climbing onto the back of Fields’ car to smash out his rear window with bats and clubs within five seconds of the impact.

Fields’ car shifts into reverse, throwing the people on the trunk aside, and backs all the way back to Market Street at a high rate of speed. Moments later, Fields surrenders to police less than a mile from the crash scene.

If James Fields set out to intentionally run down protesters he didn’t do a very good job of it. And if it was intentional, what did he have to lose by making a run for it rather than surrendering to the first police officers he spotted?

It is entirely possible that it was his plan to hit people with his car all along, and it is also entirely possible that he was a 20 year-old driver who panicked. That won’t absolve him from criminal prosecution, nor should it.

What it should do is to change the Left/Media narrative of Fields as an arch-super-racist to something a lot more mundane. They made him a poster boy for Evil for political and fundraising purposes (yeah… same thing… we know…) but his upcoming trial may simply show him to be a spokesmodel for Stupid.

The biggest question, of course, is whether they can make a first-degree murder charge stick. On October 17, 2017, the Medical Examiner’s office in Richmond determined that Heather Heyer’s cause of death was blunt force trauma to the chest.

What has yet to be determined, or publicly released, is Heyer’s manner of death, which will determine the prosecution’s case against Fields. If Fields’ car caused the blunt force trauma directly, then it should be an open-and-shut case.

If something else caused the trauma, such as one of the other vehicles, or, as shown in Ryan Kelly’s Pulitzer Prize photo, below, the flying body of another victim, the verdict may change.

(Some sources claim that Heather Heyer’s face can be seen in the photo, just below the left knee of the airborne man with the tattooed back. We have no way to confirm or deny at this time.)

Cville Pulitzer

At this point, some people may ask “What difference does it make?” The car that caused the carnage is definitely James Fields’. You can clearly see his license plate in the photo. And the man who got out of that car two minutes later to surrender was definitely James Fields.

The difference is the narrative and it is an important difference. By spinning the tragedy as a deliberate kamikaze-style attack by crazed neo-Nazi, the Media and the Hate Industry have denied any possibility of any other explanation, though they may have gotten the story absolutely right on the first try.

If, on the other hand, Fields turns out to be little more than a stupid 20 year-old (albeit a well-documented neo-Nazi idiot) with a long history of violent behavior problems, then why not simply tell the real story?

The Media has made a lot of money from lurid reports about the Charlottesville riots. You can’t ask for better click bait than a violent story with clear-cut bad guys, including the arch-villain Donald Trump, especially in the dog days of August. “If it bleeds, it leads!”

Hate Industry groups, such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, saw unimaginable windfall “non-profits” from the tragedy. The SPLC reported contributions of $132,044,179 for 2017, nearly three times the $50 million it took in for 2016. With Charlottesville riding on the heels of the election of the very unpopular Donald Trump (among the Left, at any rate), the SPLC’s Progressive donor base couldn’t shell out the virtue signalling donor-dollars fast enough.

One has to ask, is this what Heather Heyer died for? Let the woman rest in peace. She didn’t set out to be a martyr that day any more than anyone else did. She was literally in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Stop exploiting her death for profit. Give Heather Heyer back her dignity and her humanity and honor what she REALLY stood for.

One final note, in an already long-winded post, late in the afternoon of August 12, several hours after Heyer’s death, a Virginia State Police helicopter that had been surveilling the crowds in Charlottesville, crashed in a nearby field, killing pilot Lt. H. Jay Cullen and trooper-pilot Berke M.M. Bates. Many in the Media and the Hate Industry have deliberately conflated the deaths of the two troopers with Unite the Right riots. This is wrong for several reasons:

At the time of the helicopter crash, the troopers were en route to cover the motorcade of Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. Nobody in their right minds would blame McAuliffe for “causing” the crash.

The helicopter was built in 2000 and had a history of engine problems, including one hard, unpowered landing in 2010. It wasn’t shot down by neo-Nazis and had every bit as much chance of experiencing the engine failure if it were monitoring rush hour traffic or searching for a lost child.

Responsible sources should not attempt to pad the riot death toll for political/fundraising purposes. It cheapens the memories of these brave officers and those of all the others who die in the line of duty.

Below is the video Courtney Commander shot at the torchlight rally on August 11. Be warned that it contains a continuous stream of expletives and many, many racial slurs. Not Safe for Work.

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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