Posts Tagged ‘Heidi Beirich’

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.

 

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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 — Whither Mark Potok?

August 31, 2017

It is a dark day at Watching the Watchdogs. A short while ago we were reading an article about a black musician who was fighting racism by befriending white nationalists when we read the following words: “Mark Potok, an expert on extremism formerly with the Southern Poverty Law Center.”

FORMERLY with the SPLC? WHEN did that happen? HOW could that happen? And why wasn’t it a major news item? For millions of people, Mark Potok has been the public face and voice of the Southern Poverty Law Center and the brains behind the insanely lucrative annual “Hate Map” fundraising tool for nearly two decades.

It would nearly impossible to estimate how many millions of donor-dollars Mr. Potok has brought into SPLC coffers over the years.

And now he’s gone? Without so much as a “So long, Mark. Thanks for everything!” from Morris Dees or Richard Cohen?

We immediately turned to our favorite sleuthing tool, the Internet Archives’ cantankerous Wayback Machine to see if we could pinpoint Mr. Potok’s untimely departure.

As of February 20, 2017, Mr. Potok was still listed as a “Senior Fellow” on the SPLC website.

Mark Potok _ Senior-Fellow-Feb-20-17

As of now, Mr. Potok’s biography page, if you can find it, refers to him as “Former Employee.” No “Former Senior Fellow,” or “Senior Fellow Emeritus,” as SPLC co-founder Joe Levin and the late SPLC celebrity spokesman Julian Bond got upon their retirements.

Potok Former Employee

Potok was still listed on the “Leadership” circle page on the site in February.

Feb-22-2017-Leadership _ Southern Poverty Law Center

Today, his picture has been removed from the page with all of the subtlety of an old-time Pravda airbrushing.

8-31_14-Leadership _ Southern Poverty Law Center

In fact, Mr. Potok’s bylines on the hundreds of hit pieces he wrote for the company now refer to him as “Former Employee.”

Potok-byline

Potok’s Facebook page has one cryptic note from March: “Left Job at Southern Poverty Law Center.” No mention of “retiring” or “exploring new opportunities.” Not even a “wants to spend more time with his family.”

Potok Left SPLC

Twenty years of faithful, profitable service and the man is kicked out without so much as a thank you or a Fare-thee-well. What happened?

Apparently Mr. Potok has his own website now, where he is offering his “expertise” on the open market. “I’m an expert on the radical right who spent 20 years at the SPLC.”

Potok Keynote Speaker

While there is no denying that Mr. Potok was a master craftsman of fear-mongering and the smear while at the SPLC, it seems unlikely that he will find another gig that pays anything near the six-digit salary Dees and Cohen have paid him for years.

Potok990

Potok’s website includes several testimonials regarding his career, but the only one from the SPLC comes from retiree Joe Levin. There is no sign of Dees or Cohen to be found anywhere.

Potok Testamonials

What a sad end to a brilliant career. Here was a man who could find unfettered access to every form of media and every leading news outlet with the snap of his fingers. Cut down in his prime at the very dawn of the company’s Golden Era.

With Donald Trump in the White House and Nazi-wannabees holding torchlight processions in Charlottesville, Mr. Potok’s best material ever would have all but written itself. The money is pouring into the SPLC so fast these days that there will no doubt be fat raises for all of the white millionaire proprietors.

Just last week alone, Mo Dees found a way to cash in on the death of Charlottesville protester Heather Heyer. Every tragedy has a silver lining at the SPLC.

It only goes to show the extent of the SPLC’s transformation from “civil rights organization” to “advocacy group.” There are tens of millions of donor-dollars at stake and it’s quite possible that veteran Mark Potok is no longer the “face” of the company that will best appeal to fickle Millennial donors. Maybe he was back-stabbed by ambitious co-workers or somehow crossed his overlords.

For now, we’ll just have to wait until somebody spills the beans. If anyone knows the story, and that includes Mr. Potok himself, please let us know.

There is an old German term, Schadenfreude, which translates more-or-less to “joy or happiness felt at someone else’s misfortune.” Let the record show that we at Watching the Watchdogs take no pleasure at Mark Potok’s departure. While we have spent much of the past decade chronicling his various fear and fundraising campaigns, as a life-long student of communication, rhetoric, persuasion and propaganda, you just have to admire the man’s mastery of the arts.

Though we’ll never agree on much, unless Mr. Potok has a tell-all book up his sleeve, we sincerely tip our hat to a true legend of the art of persuasion.

The man deserved better.

Even if your former colleagues have abandoned you, Mark Potok, we offer you a heartfelt “Fare-thee-well” and we look forward to writing about your work in the future.

“I think a lot of people feel, ‘Oh, groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, they find, you know, the two hundred Nazis running around the country, they build them up into great big groups, they make a big deal about it and then ask for your money,’ right? In other words, it’s kind of a scam. You hype up this little tiny threat into something scary, uh, and then go and try to make money off of it.”

Mark Potok speaking to Bill Holiday in 2008, Track 2.

 

SPLC — Great “Wall of Tolerance” Scam

April 4, 2016

Last October, we first noted that one of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s most cynical fundraising gimmicks, its long-running “Stand Strong Against Hate” map was conspicuously absent from the company’s web site.

The gimmick was elegant in its simplicity. By simply clicking a link on the SPLC web site you could demonstrate your commitment to “stand strong against hate,” and to “stop the racist backlash from infecting your community.”

StandStrong

Click Image to Enlarge

In return for nothing more than your name, address and email address, you fought the good fight by becoming a digital pinhead on an interactive map. By moving the cursor over your pinhead your first name and last initial would pop up magically.

“Bob J., Chicago”

How exactly this “stood up to hate” was never explained. In the meantime, your personal contact information went into the SPLC’s massive database, where it would be added to the company’s mailing list and turned over to their growing team of professional fundraisers.

As mentioned, it was a simple but effective gag, and no doubt brought in a lot of new donors and donor dollars, but the company seems to have retired it in 2015.

Today we stumbled across a parallel SPLC fundraising ploy that is every bit as simplistic as the “Stand Strong Against Hate” ploy, but takes the game to a whole higher level.

In this morning’s RSS roundup of articles about the SPLC was a press release written by one of those “exclusive” public relations outfits that target individuals, usually professionals, offering to polish up and pad out their resumés, in exchange for an exclusive fee.

This particular gentleman is an attorney, practicing law somewhere Down South. We’re going to change his name here to protect his identity, but the final line of his press release reads:

“In 2005, Mr. Smith was awarded the Wall of Tolerance Certificate by the Southern Poverty Law Center.”

We are embarrassed to admit that, even after “tracking” and studying all things SPLC for the past seven years, we had never heard of the company’s “Wall of Tolerance” and had to learn more about it.

Our first thought, quite naturally, was that, like most nonprofit fundraising ventures, which might feature a “Golden Circle” or “Leadership Club” tier for their top donors, the SPLC was simply recognizing Mr. Smith for handing over the big bucks year after year.

But we were wrong…

According to the SPLC website:

“The Wall of Tolerance digitally displays the names of more than half a million people who have pledged to take a stand against hate and work for justice and tolerance in their daily lives.  Their names flow continuously down the 20-by-40 foot wall within the Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery, Alabama.”

Wall of Tolerance

In order to get your name on this auspicious digital billboard you must first swear a solemn oath:

By placing my name on the Wall of Tolerance, I pledge to take a stand against hate, injustice and intolerance. I will work in my daily life for justice, equality and human rights – the ideals for which the Civil Rights martyrs died.

Half a million people have taken this pledge to honor “the ideals for which the Civil Rights martyrs died,” or did they?

While searching for information about the Wall of Tolerance we came across this blog post on the Democratic Underground website in which Mr. Joshua Allenberg expressed surprise to have received the same certificate of appreciation and had his name added to the wall, even though he’d never heard of the award and wasn’t even sure when, or even if, he had made a contribution to the SPLC. If he had, it wasn’t much.

At any rate, he never took a pledge, solemn or otherwise. Maybe getting on the wall is easier than it seems.

I just got an envelope in the mail addressed from author Toni Morrison. Enclosed was a form letter, a solicitation for a donation, and a Certificate of Appreciation. Now I typically donate 20 bucks here and there from organizations who send me mail, and I kind of lose track. So, what I got is:

Certificate of Appreciation
presented to 
Joshua Allenberg

In recognition of an important contribution to the ongoing fight against hatred and intolerance in America. The name shown above will be added to the Wall of Tolerance in Montgomery, Alabama, to provide inspiration to all of those who choose to take a stand against hatred.

Thank you for taking a stand.

Morris Dees, Founder
Southern Poverty Law Center

Does anybody know where this came from? 

The answer was swift in coming when several other posters figured out that the SPLC got Mr. Allenberg’s name from a mailing list purchased from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Mr. Allenberg’s certificate was signed by SPLC founder Morris Dees and author Toni Morrison. Earlier iterations of the document were co-signed by Rosa Parks.

The certificates are accompanied by several sheets of return address stickers bearing the honoree’s name and address, one of the oldest fundraising gimmicks in the book, but still quite effective among that segment of the population that still sends a lot of snail mail, i.e., the elderly.

Directly below Mr. Allenberg’s web post was a piece by SOFII, the Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration, an organization that rates and reviews fundraising pitches. Here are a few of the more telling comments about the Wall of Tolerance campaign:

SOFII’s view

The Southern Poverty Law Center, who launched this campaign, is a hugely impressive organisation with a long and well-deserved reputation for effective donor development.

Though we don’t have the results, we think we can presume that this direct mail capital appeal must have worked really very well.

Merits

This is one of the most moving and long-lasting donor involvement campaigns in the USA and represents some of the best that the direct marketer’s art can produce.

“Some of the best that the direct marketer’s art can produce.” And why not, the man behind this PR campaign is none other than Morris Dees, who made millions in the direct mail-order business in the 1960s before opening the SPLC.

In 1998, Dees was inducted into the Direct Marketing Association’s “Hall of Fame,” not for his civil rights work, but rather for his prowess in direct mail fundraising. Mr. Dees is an undisputed master of the sales pitch.

We have to admit that it’s impressive to see and definitely as fine an example of a master-level fundraising tool as we’ve ever seen, as this short Youtube video demonstrates. You gotta admire the craftsmanship:

 

 

While the video notes how people can add their names directly to the wall from SPLC’s civil rights theme park, no mention is made of whether one’s contact information is a prerequisite for the honor, but if SPLC history is any guide, you can make book on it.

Another direct mail fundraising industry web site, DonorPowerBlog.com had this to say about the Wall of Tolerance “donor acquisition kit”:

“Can you overdo recognition of a donor? I don’t think so. There’s a donor acquisition kit out there that tries.”

One final example of just how cynical this marketing ploy is was demonstrated by one other web posting in our search results. Marcus Epstein posted on the VDARE website that he too had been honored by the SPLC for his “important contribution in the ongoing fight against hatred and intolerance in America”

Not only does the SPLC consider the VDARE website so heinous that it deserves its own page on the company’s website, but Mr. Epstein himself, that great benefactor and paragon in the “ongoing fight against hatred” was found worthy of an entire article by the SPLC’s own Heidi Beirich, for allegedly being an arch-racist, and yet he is eminently qualified to be enshrined for all time on the company’s Wall of Tolerance.

Apparently anyone with a postal address can receive a “Wall of Tolerance” certificate and get their name on the electronic billboard in the hope that they will make that crucial first donation.

So much for pledging to support the “ideals for which the Civil Rights martyrs died.”

What an exclusive honor.

SPLC — Hate Map 2016 — Incredible… Literally

March 16, 2016

It’s March again, meaning that the Southern Poverty Law Center has released its latest “Hate Map” fundraising tool, and as always, Watching the Watchdogs is ready to have a look at the numbers, something nobody in the Media or government seems to want to do.

First, the usual warnings, definitions, provisos, etc.

  1. When the SPLC releases its Hate Map fundraising tool it refers to the alleged count for the previous year. In short, the 2016 Hate Map reflects the totals claimed for 2015.
  2. There is no legal definition for “hate group,” meaning that even the FBI does not, cannot designate “hate groups,” but somehow a private “advocacy group” can, and does, at will.
  3. Even the SPLC doesn’t have an actual definition for “hate group,” beyond the claim that “All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”In other words, “Hate groups say mean things about other groups.”

     

  4. The SPLC makes no linkage between “hate groups” and hate crime. Mark Potok, the company’s Public Relations guru has gone on the record repeatedly to say that “Our criteria for a “hate group,” first of all, have nothing to do with criminality, or violence, or any kind of guess we’re making about ‘this group could be dangerous.’ It’s strictly ideological.

That being said, let’s dig into the 2016 Hate Map. Fresh tripe, anyone?

All good things must come to an end and it is true of the Hate Map’s recent downward trend. Over the past few years the “hate group” count has been on a steep and steady decline, despite Mr. Potok’s dire predictions of “explosive growth” in the number of “hate groups” due to the election of President Obama and the tanking economy.

Hate Groups 2015

Source: SPLC

Initially, we attributed the drop to Mr. Potok’s successor at the helm of the Hate Map, Dr. Heidi Beirich, who is no doubt wise enough to realize that Potok’s ludicrous claims of ever-increasing “hate groups” were due to collapse under their own ridiculous weight. The recent rise, however, may point to other causes.

Endowment 2015

According to the SPLC’s most recent IRS Form 990, the company’s cash-on-hand Endowment Fund, which enjoyed an increase of 94% since the election of President Obama and despite the tanking economy, went flat last year, showing the first loss since Bernie Madoff moved into public housing.

It seems that the $8 million-dollar “non-profit” the company enjoyed last year, over and above operating costs, was nearly entirely consumed by an $8 million-dollar investment loss on the Endowment Fund, which actually contracted by a few thousand dollars.

What to do when profits are down? Goose the Golden “hate group” Goose, maybe? It has always brought home the bacon in the past, as the graph indicates.

We’ll speculate more on the Endowment Fund in an upcoming post. Let’s get back to the Hate Map.

Of the 892 “hate groups” the SPLC is claiming for last year, it provides exactly no information a journalist or researcher could use to verify the data. We know these groups are really, really out there because Mr. Potok tells us they are out there. Honest.

In fact, Potok and Beirich haven’t even bothered to come up with a location for 175 of the alleged groups, or 20% of the total. This embarrassing gap of “hate groups” unaffiliated with any known city or town is merely the latest in a very long history.

In 2011, 247 of Potok’s 1017 alleged groups were not affiliated with any known city or town, or 22% of the total. In 2012 it was 195 out of 1007, (19%), and 137 out of 784 groups in 2013, (17%). In 2014, 194 of the 734 alleged groups could not be located on any map, (26%). 

And yet, friends, the Media and the government swallow these “hard facts” as fast as Mr. Potok can whip them up.

And Mr. Potok doesn’t deny it. He doesn’t have to. When Watching the Watchdogs had the opportunity in 2011 to ask Mr. Potok directly about the accuracy of his “hate group” numbers, on camera, the he was amazingly candid in admitting that his figures were “anecdotal,” “an imperfect process” and “a very rough estimate.”

Speaking of rough estimates, last year Potok attributed 40 “hate groups” to New Jersey, giving it the fourth highest total in the country and leading Mark Pitcavage, Mr. Potok’s opposite number at the Anti-Defamation League, to tell the newspapers that “The SPLC’s counts are wildly inflated. They claim groups where there are none, or just one or two individuals.”

It’s pretty sad when you own brother-in-arms calls you a liar, Mr. Potok.

But numbers don’t lie. Or do they? After being publicly outed by the ADL, Mr. Potok magically reduced New Jersey’s “hate group” total from 40 to 21 overnight, mostly by simply erasing 14 out of 15 chapters of the “AC Skins” off the chart with his shirtsleeve.

AC Skins

Not to worry. Mr. Potok loses “groups” all the time. In 2015, his Hate Map warned us that 8 chapters each of the Free America Rally and the White Boy Society were out to get us, not that he could identify a single city or town where these threats to society were lurking. By 2016, not so much.

Free America

Sixteen desperate “hate groups” magically disappeared overnight.

The Council of Conservative Citizens had a rough year, losing more than half of its chapters with the click of a mouse. Fortunately, St. Louis is still conservative enough to keep two distinct chapters up and running.

CCC

And while the number of known chapters of the Aryan Strikeforce “exploded” by a phenomenal 100% last year (from 1 to 2!!), the number of unaffiliated chapters dropped by 39%, from 18 to 11.

2016 Strikeforce

A similar tale for the Aryan Terror Brigade. “Explosive growth” of 100% in known locations (from 0 to 1), but “terror”-izing shrinkage in the number of unaffiliated groups from 16 to 2. A drop of 88%!!

2016 Terror

Things are a little better for the National Socialist Movement (though we still can’t get this one all in a single image). While the number of known chapters has dropped by three, the number of unaffiliated chapters is holding rock steady at 29.

NSM1

NSM2

Seriously, folks. Mr. Potok cannot locate 29 out of 46 alleged chapters of the NSM, that’s nearly TWO OUT OF THREE, friends, and yet Potok still counts ’em and the Media, and more importantly, the donors, still believe it.

In the same online interview in which Mr. Potok talks about ideology (linked above), he makes this comment:

“I think a lot of people feel, ‘Oh, groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, they find, you know, the two hundred Nazis running around the country, they build them up into great big groups, they make a big deal about it and then ask for your money,’ right? In other words, it’s kind of a scam. You hype up this little tiny threat into something scary, uh, and then go and try to make money off of it.”

Well, Mr. Potok? YOU’RE the guy who put a chapter of the NSM in nearly every state but cannot locate two-thirds of them on your own map. What are rational people supposed to think?

This is the same interview where Mr. Potok makes this telling statement:

“People think, you know, that it’s all about, sort of, defending poor people, and that’s not really, exactly what our mission is.”

Well, gee, Mr. Potok. Where in the world would people get that idea? It definitely didn’t come from us.

 Obviously, you can’t rack up loss after loss and still claim “a 14% increase” for this year, so let’s see where some of this growth occurred.

While Mr. Potok mislaid six of the Original Knight Riders chapters he had located previously, he made up for it by adding twice as many empty slots to the count.

Original

Thirty-one chapters of the United White Knights made their debut this year.

United

And the Texas Knights picked up 21 new chapters.

Texas

Interestingly, 13 communities picked up one of each. Maybe the Klan is getting into franchising. You open a McDonald’s on one street corner and before you know it, someone is building a Burger King across the street.

Both

Speaking of franchises, while the Blood and Honour skinhead organization took an 80% hit last year…

BloodAndHonour

…Thirteen chapters of the Blood and Honour Social Club popped up out of nowhere. Actually, it looks like 12 of those new chapters are still nowhere. Still, a “social club” has a real franchise chain ring to it, like an Applebee’s or a Hooters.

BandHSocial

The list goes on and on and these incredible gaps and gaffes are right out in the open where anyone with an interest can find them. All we did was copy the data from the Hate Map webpage and dump it into a spreadsheet. Rocket science this is not.

We’ll leave you with one last factoid that gets dutifully buried in every new iteration of the Hate Map fundraising tool, the breakdown of the threats to the nation by category:

BlackSeparatist

As we have noted here over the past few years, when you break the largest groupings down by category and strip out the unaffiliated phantoms, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the biggest category of “hate group” in the nation is once again Black.

How many donors realize that when they send in their money?

Not only do Black “hate groups” significantly out number every other category, respectively, according to Mr. Potok’s numbers, but 80 of those chapters are from the Nation of Islam, a decidedly Muslim organization, meaning that Muslim “hate groups” outnumber Anti-Muslim groups by more than two to one.

And if you look at Mr. Potok’s rag-tag bunch of Anti-Muslim groups they are almost entirely one-man websites, something the SPLC claims it doesn’t count. The one notable exception, and our personal favorite, is Casa D’Ice… which is actually an Italian restaurant on the outskirts of Pittsburgh. “Oh, the humanity!”

SPLC 2016 – Celebrating 45 Years of “Whites Only” at the Top!

March 4, 2016

Spring is in the air, which means it’s time to have a look at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s latest financial reports.

While there have been some significant events surrounding the company’s bloated Endowment Fund, (to be examined in a future post), and the usual deck chair shuffling on the “Hate Map” fundraising tool, (also to be explored shortly), Watching the Watchdogs has determined that, once again, the Senior Executive Staff of the SPLC is all white, just as it has been every single year since the company opened for business in 1971.

Not a lot of other multi-million dollar companies can claim an unbroken 45-year streak of whites at the heights. Even the NBA and NFL had to give in eventually.

So, according to the SPLC’s tax return for the fiscal year ending October 31, 2015, its IRS Form 990, posted on the company’s website, here are the senior execs for the year:

2015 Execs

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If they look vaguely familiar, it’s because these are the same people from the previous fiscal year. The only thing that has changed are their salaries:

2016 Salaries

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Looks like a little something extra for everybody, except poor David Utter, for some reason.

A couple of minor notes are in order. Wendy Via is enjoying her fourth consecutive raise in the $19,000 to $20,000 range. It seems that Development (read: Fundraising) is as good as ever.

Jerri Katzerman and Lisa Sahulka are newcomers to the company, as we mentioned last year, and so they are being eased into their actual salaries gradually.

Ms. Sahulka in particular only pulled down $53,000 in her first year as Chief Operating Officer, a fraction of her predecessor’s pay. Michael Toohey earned $148,000 that year as COO, and $234,000 the year before that. Not bad for a guy who quit the company the year before! Expect Ms. Sahulka to get another generous pay bump this year.

Last year marked the debut of Heidi Beirich into the ranks of the company’s highest paid officers, though she has been with the company as long as Public Relations Guru Mark Potok, doing pretty much the same job. Wonder why his raise was $5,000 more than hers?

And we’ve included Maureen Costello for the second year, even though her salary is unknown and she is not listed on the Form 990 as one of the highest paid execs. Ms. Costello heads up the SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance department, which purports to promote diversity in the K-12 classroom.

In 1994, two reporters from the Montgomery Advertiser, the SPLC’s hometown newspaper, noted that not only were there no minority executives at the Center, but that Teaching Tolerance was staffed entirely by whites at that time. You can read the full text here.

Equal treatment

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Though the staffing at Teaching Tolerance has hopefully diversified over the decades, the leadership has remained completely white, except when Lecia Brooks was allowed to sit in temporarily as a caretaker until Ms. Costello could be hired, a position not even mentioned on Ms. Brooks’ company bio page.

With nearly 300 employees, more than $54,000,000 in revenues for each of the past two years, and more than $302,000,000 in cash-on-hand, what possible excuse can Messers Dees, Levin and Cohen make for keeping minorities out of the company’s Executive Suite for FORTY-FIVE consecutive years running?

We can only think of one reason, and it stinks…

Employees

 

SPLC — 2015 “Hate Map” — Nothing Adds Up… As Usual

November 20, 2015

 

“Better late than never,” we always say. While the folks at the Southern Poverty Law Center released their annual “Hate Map” fundraising tool right on schedule last March, we at Watching the Watchdogs are just now getting around to having a peek under the hood. As usual, nothing adds up.

2015-Hate Map _ Southern Poverty Law Center

Longtime Watching the Watchdogs readers may want to scroll down to the numbers section of this post, but at this juncture, a recap for the benefit of new readers is in order:

There is no standard or “official” definition for “hate group.” There is no legal definition, which is why the FBI doesn’t designate “hate groups.” Even the SPLC doesn’t have a firm definition for the term, and what boilerplate language they do attach is contradictory and/or flat out false, and this, friends, is entirely intentional. Here’s what the company has to say on the subject:

“The Southern Poverty Law Center counted 784 active hate groups in the United States in 2014. Only organizations and their chapters known to be active during 2014 are included.

All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.

This list was compiled using hate group publications and websites, citizen and law enforcement reports, field sources and news reports.

Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing. Websites appearing to be merely the work of a single individual, rather than the publication of a group, are not included in this list. Listing here does not imply a group advocates or engages in violence or other criminal activity.”

Let’s take a moment to unpack this content systematically.

“The Southern Poverty Law Center counted 784 active hate groups in the United States in 2014. Only organizations and their chapters known to be active during 2014 are included.”

It should be noted that when the SPLC releases its annual “Hate Map,” usually in the month of March, it refers to the count for the previous fiscal year (with the accent on fiscal). For the past decade, the “Hate Map” tool was the work of the SPLC’s Public Relations Guru, Mark Potok, but in recent years the map has alluded to another hand at the wheel, Mr. Potok’s successor, Dr. Heidi Beirich.

Why the map should be static in the Age of the Internet has always been a mystery. For example, if a hundred new “hate groups” should spring up like mushrooms on April 1, the donors and the world at large would not know of the dire threat for an entire year.

There is no good reason why an online map cannot be dynamic, showing up-to-the-minute information every time you visit the website, other than the fact that the entire purpose of the “Hate Map” is not to inform, but rather, to persuade.

As for “only organizations and chapters known to be active,” we’ll have a look at that claim shortly.

“All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”

This statement is as close as the SPLC comes to an actual definition for their lucrative “hate group” brand, as it is also as far as the company is willing to stick out its neck. The term “attack or malign” is deliberately vague and subjective, and pretty much what you’d expect coming from a company run by lawyers. The phrase is deliberately subjective, meaning whatever the SPLC intends it to mean, depending on the audience at hand.

And when you come right down to it, the SPLC’s entire “hate group” definition boils down to little more than “People who say mean things about other people.” It seems like a pretty slender thread upon which to hang a multi-million dollar operation, but the numbers don’t lie.

It’s worth noting that when the SPLC refers to entire classes of people as “right-wing,” “radical” or “extremist,” they are not attacking or maligning, merely informing.

“This list was compiled using hate group publications and websites, citizen and law enforcement reports, field sources and news reports.”

Mr. Potok’s “hate maps” have never been what one could call “academically rigorous.” For the most part they seem to be the work of interns and paid newspaper clipping services, which is not nearly as problematic as one might imagine, as nobody in the Media has an interest in performing even the most rudimentary fact checks on Mr. Potok’s claims, even when he comes right out and undermines the maps’ credibility himself:

“Mark Potok, who has directed the SPLC’s Intelligence Project for 12 years, said the report relies on media, citizen and law enforcement reports, and does not include original reporting by SPLC staff.” (www.postcrescent.com, July 6, 2009)

“Potok acknowledged that some of the groups may be small and said it is impossible for outsiders to gauge the membership of most of the groups.” (David Crary, Associated Press Online, March 10, 2008)

“Potok says inclusion on the list might come from a minor presence, such as a post office box.” (www.sanluisobispo.com, March 25, 2009)

“The numbers are absolutely soft,” said Mark Potok, a Southern Poverty Law Center spokesman. “We are talking about a tiny number of Americans who are members of hate groups – I mean, infinitesimal.” (Arlene Levinson, “Hate Groups, Crimes Said Rare in US,” Associated Press, July 8, 1999)

Easily the most disturbing claim Mr. Potok has made over the years is:

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

Back in the days when the SPLC was promoting itself as a “non-profit civil rights organization” it was incomprehensible how anyone could conflate six of the most fundamental, First Amendment civil rights with “criminal acts” and “hate group activities.”

Now that the company has dropped all pretenses of being a civil rights organization, the ploy makes perfect sense.

“Websites appearing to be merely the work of a single individual, rather than the publication of a group, are not included in this list.”

Even the most casual glance at the “Hate Map” shows how patently false this claim is:

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Above is just a partial list of one-man/woman websites, t-shirt and flag vendors and other “groups.” Daniel Greenfield has a field day on his one-man blog explaining “How I Became a Hate Group,” noting that, in all fairness, he often writes with the assistance of his cat, who admits to “hating” mice, birds, and the like.

Our personal favorite “group” is Casa D’Ice, an Italian restaurant and bar near Pittsburgh, famous for its marquee signs.

Casa D'Ice

Obviously, friends, the threat to the Republic has never been greater. Donate to the SPLC, early and often.

The final blurb on the “Hate Map” legend speaks for itself:

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

In fact, the whole point of the entire “Hate Map” marketing tool is precisely to imply that the people in the “hate groups” are doing something illegal. Otherwise, what interest would a “law center” possibly have in groups of people engaging in protected, though admittedly often offensive, free speech?

As Mark Potok has said on many occasions, and is quoted here from a 2008 interview available on the Internet Archive:

“Our criteria for a “hate group,” first of all, have nothing to do with criminality, or violence, or any kind of guess we’re making about ‘this group could be dangerous.’ It’s strictly ideological.

You’re not going to raise tens of millions of dollars a year defending the civil rights of the unpopular, but if you can turn it into a war of ideologies the donors will beat a path to your door.

Now that we’ve reviewed the “facts,” let’s have a look at the figures.

For as long as we’ve been reviewing Mr. Potok’s annual “Hate Map,” it has consisted of a pretty straight-forward map with numbers purporting to identify the number of “hate groups” in any particular state.

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It was a fairly clean design that was easy to read and just as easy to analyze. Sometime over the summer of 2015 the company came out with a new-and-improved website that deliberately obfuscates Mr. Potok’s numbers so that the readers and donors won’t ask a lot of questions. Behold the improved “Hate Map”:

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Much better, no? Fortunately, while the map itself is now completely incomprehensible, the company still provides a “list of active hate groups” that can be dumped into a spreadsheet and sorted, so that the donors can see first hand the number of “hate groups” in their home states.

If you are of a mind to create such a spreadsheet, the first thing you notice is that the latest “Hate Map” only contains 735 alleged “groups,” as opposed to the 784 advertised. A little “bait and switch” tactic, perhaps? Or, more likely, more blundering from the SPLC’s inept webmaster.

Even if we use the higher figure, it is worth noting that the totals haven’t been this low since 2004, dropping 27% in just the past three years. Since the SPLC is the sole arbiter of the lucrative “hate group” label, and since no one in the Media will ever vet their claims, why wouldn’t the numbers, and there for the perceived threat, continue to increase year after year?

The most logical answer is that it was becoming harder and harder to keep up the ruse in the Age of the Internet. The spurious “Hate Map” is simply collapsing under its own bloated weight. Now that Dr. Beirich is taking over as “Intelligence Director” she may have elected to do a little much-needed housekeeping.

Still, as with every “Hate Map” in the past dozen years, the spreadsheet reveals an embarrassing phenomenon with one simple fact that ought to tip off any thinking person. Of the 784, (or 735), alleged groups on his map, Mr. Potok cannot locate 195 of them in any known city or town. That’s 25% of the total right off the top.

Mr. Potok claims he knows of 22 chapters of the Loyal White Knights of the KKK, but can’t locate 18 of them, or 82% of the total.

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Of the 49 chapters of the National Socialist Movement Mr. Potok warns of, 29 are floating about in limbo, or 59%.

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The National Socialist Freedom Movement: 11 out of 12 are homeless, or 92% of the claim.

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Aryan Nations Ohio, 80% phantoms.

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Creativity Alliance: 14 out of 15.

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Every single chapter of both Free America Rally and the White Boy Society, or 100% of the total.

Really… 100%.

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White Boy

And the insanity goes on and on, for a grand total of 195 homeless “hate groups.” And yet the Media and the donors gobble it all down as “fact.”

As for the other groups, Potok provides nothing that researchers could use to verify his claims. In 1998, respected investigative journalist Laird Wilcox, who describes himself as a Liberal, pointed out this lack of verifiable evidence in his seminal work, The Watchdogs.

When the SPLC releases their list, either in print or on the Internet, it fails to contain actual addresses that might be checked by journalists or researchers. Several listings refer to “unknown group” and the name of a city or town.” — The Watchdogs, p. 79

 

Again, such incongruities would normally present obvious credibility issues for any other group making these claims, but Mr. Potok and the SPLC get a free ride from the Media and researchers year after year.

Except from us.

Sorry for the delay. We promise to be more on top of things when the next installment of the insanely lucrative “hate map” comes out next March.

SPLC — Confederate Commodification

September 12, 2015

The recent controversy surrounding the Confederate flag merely adds more evidence to the theory that the Southern Poverty Law Center has yet to meet a tragedy it could not somehow spin into gold. While the company is sticking to its tried-and-true methods of appealing to its largely progressive donor base’s sympathies, this most recent marketing campaign is part of a bigger shake-up that has been in the works for the past few years.

In the aftermath of the mindless murders of nine people in Charleston in June, a media frenzy ensued demanding the removal of the Confederate flag from all public property across the country.

Naturally, the professional fundraisers at the SPLC saw an opportunity to appeal to their largely progressive donor base by hopping on the media bandwagon.

One of the savvier moves was to set up an online “Erasing Hate” hot-line where people can report sightings of the flag, schools and streets named after Confederates, etc., so that, in the words of SPLC founder Morris Dees, the company could “put pressure on” local governments.

It comes as little surprise, though, that there is no option to report the offending sites anonymously. Just as with the company’s cynical “Stand Strong Against Hate” map, the ultimate goal is to add the names and addresses of potential donors into its enormous fundraising database.

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Otherwise, you could have all kinds of anonymous practical jokers submitting the names of locations that couldn’t possibly be verified, except, maybe, by Google…

The SPLC doesn’t need “tipsters” to compile a comprehensive list of Confederate-themed locations any more than they would for a list of Winn-Dixie grocery stores or MoonPie distributors, but the list isn’t the point of the exercise.

While this kind of marketing ploy is pretty standard by SPLC standards, the company appears to be undergoing a major re-branding in the hopes of mining new sources of revenue.

Watching the Watchdogs has previously documented the collapse of the bloated Hate Map “hate group” count, which simply could no longer stand up to close inspection in the Age of the Internet. Someone in the Head Office, (we surmise it was Heidi Beirich), began an ambitious campaign to thin out some of the more obvious “hate group” padding, reducing the spurious count by 27% over the past few years.

The company has even redesigned the layout of their lucrative Hate Map to further obfuscate their spurious numbers, but they still have a lot of fat left to trim. For example, of the 22 alleged chapters of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan listed, only four are affiliated with a known city or town. The rest merely float about in limbo, padding the count.

Perhaps the most astounding move occurred early in 2014, when the SPLC actually dropped the descriptor “non-profit civil rights organization” from its website and fundraising materials. It now refers to itself as “an advocacy group.”

This is a huge sea change for the company, which would no doubt alienate it from many of its traditional, blue-haired donors, (which is possibly why the SPLC has neglected to publicly announce the change), but the benefits going forward are manifold.

By re-branding as an advocacy group, the SPLC no longer has to tie any of its actions to actual civil rights. Now they can freely pursue such cut-and-dried civil suits as the copyright infringement case involving a gay couple’s engagement photo. No civil rights were violated, or even mentioned in the complaint, but the SPLC was able to lend publicity to the case as part of its ham-fisted marketing campaign aimed at the LGBT market.

The recent Confederate flag flap apparently got someone in the SPLC’s Advancement Office (read: Fundraising) to think more proactively. “Instead of passively waiting for the donor-dollars to roll in, what can we actually sell people?”

The answer was brilliant. On September 10, 2015, the SPLC issued a press release stating:

“Singer-songwriter Steve Earle has partnered with the Southern Poverty Law Center to take a stand against the Confederate battle flag and is urging Mississippi to remove the emblem from its state flag with the release of his new song, “Mississippi It’s Time.”

No doubt the term “has partnered with” actually means “was commissioned by,” which accounts for the next line in the release, which is obviously the most telling:

“The song is available for streaming here and for download on iTunes beginning Friday, September 11. All proceeds will go to the SPLC.”

And there you have it. The SPLC has found the perfect way to commodify, that is, to turn a buck from, the Confederate flag controversy.

If this scheme pans out, you can expect more commissioned songs, to be followed by t-shirts, books, smartphone apps and video games. “All profits will go to the SPLC.”

As we pointed out a week ago, the SPLC posted a $12 million dollar “non-profit” last year, over and above the $22 million in tax-free interest generated by its $302 million dollar cash endowment fund.

The SPLC needs more funding like a Mississippi catfish needs ugly lessons.

It’s probably no coincidence that the company chose to release its product on September 11, as they seldom miss an opportunity to cash in on symbolism.

Speaking of symbolism, however, nowhere in the actual text of the press release, (though there is a photo of the album cover), does the SPLC mention the name of Mr. Earle’s band… the Dukes.

No doubt the fundraisers wanted to avoid any potential association with former KKK leader David Duke, or more likely, those other, hate-filled, Icons of Evil…

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Whatever the reason, we’re obviously witnessing a major change in the way in which the Southern Poverty Law Center makes money. This bears watching and we at Watching the Watchdogs are more than happy to do so.

Stay tuned, y’all…

SPLC — “Hate Groups Are Very Hard To Track”

April 28, 2015

In a recent news report, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s latest “Director of the Intelligence Project,” Dr. Heidi Beirich, admitted that her company screwed up in reporting an alleged “hate group” in Little Falls, New York.

On April 23, 2015, staff reporter Stephanie Sorrell-White of the Times of Herkimer, NY,  tossed Dr. Beirich a fig leaf with a headline of a “Computer glitch to blame for hate group misinformation,” but the fact is that the SPLC’s “Hate Map” is nothing more than a blatant fundraising tool.

Dr. Beirich, a long-time SPLC alumna, has only recently taken over the dubious position of “Director” from her predecessor, the arch-PR guru, Mark Potok.

Mark Potok -- Intelligence Director --  Click image to enlarge.

Mark Potok — Intelligence Director — Click image to enlarge.

Mr. Potok, who has ridden his “Hate Map” to a fortune well in excess of a million dollars, was pretty sloppy when it came to applying his patented “hate group” label. To wit, in 2012, Mr. Potok designated some 20 chapters of something he called “the Georgia Militia” on that state’s “hate map.” The only problem was that Mr. Potok couldn’t seem to locate any of those chapters on any map, including his own.

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Instead, Mr. Potok merely added 18 empty slots marked “Georgia Militia” to his “Hate Map” and assigned one chapter to somewhere in Camden County and another as “Statewide.” This, friends, is “hard evidence”?

In 2013, Mr. Potok reduced the number of homeless Georgia Militia chapters to 12, again, with 10 empty slots.

In 2014, after the accession of Dr. Beirich to the dubious throne, the first thing she did was to toss out the Georgia Militia malarkey out of hand. You will not find a single incidence of it on the current Georgia “hate map.” The position is simply untenable. Bravo, Dr. B. for your courage to clean house, at least partially.

Despite Ms. Sorrell-White’s regurgitation of Dr. Beirich’s spurious claim that a non-existent “hate group” was lurking in Little Falls, the truth is that the SPLC’s “Hate Map” is anything but accurate.

In 2011, Mark Potok admitted to this reporter, on camera, that his “hate group” numbers were “anecdotal,” “a rough estimate,” and “an imperfect process,” and last month, no less of an authority than Mark Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League stated publicly that Mr. Potok’s claims were “wildly inflated.”

Yet the Media lapdogs continue to lap up these steaming bowls of fundraising tripe without performing even the most rudimentary fact checks.

The SPLC makes big claims and yet nobody in the Media is willing to vet them whatsoever.

Sadly, in an effort to perpetuate the highly lucrative “Hate Map” theme, Dr. Beirich offered the following lame excuses to Ms. Sorrell-White, who naturally gobbled them down without question:

“Hate groups are very hard to track,” she [Beirich] said, noting some groups were listed on the website by county or region.”

“In the case of those hate groups, where there was no city specified, our new system automatically populated the city field,” she [Beirich] said.”

Dr. Beirich, if you don’t have any information on the location of an alleged “hate group,” why in the world are you claiming its existence? The obvious answer is to pad your enormously lucrative “Hate Map,” but you seemed to be cut of a higher quality cloth than your “Vaya con Dinero” predecessor, Mr. Potok.

“We’re angry and embarrassed,” said Beirich, about the error.”

And well you should be, Dr. Beirich. The SPLC is paying you in excess of $150,000 donor-dollars a year to catch these gaffes before they become public. You really dropped the ball on this one.

Dr. Beirich, unlike Mark Potok, you are highly educated, with two Masters degrees and a PhD, in comparison to his BS in Political Science. Naturally, we expect more from you, which is why we applaud your determination to cut some of the fat from Potok’s laughable “hate map” by some 17 percent this year. Obviously, you cannot cut out all of the garbage in a single year or the entire scheme collapses, we “get it,” but you really need to distance yourself from Mr. Potok’s legacy.

Potok knew that nobody in the media would question his fundraising propaganda, but sadly, Dr. B., you do not have that luxury. The Internet will spell the demise of Potok’s pitiful “hate map,” as this example proves, and it will do so on your watch.

While you commended the people of Little Falls for calling you out on this blatant fabrication, inside you must be seething. Mr. Potok, it seems, has sold you a lemon. You’ve been promoted to Captain of the Titanic.

Worse yet, a real journalist might catch on to the SPLC’s “Hate Map” scam. Heaven knows that Watching the Watchdogs has been sharing its information with every news outlet it can reach in just such a hope.

Sooner or later, somebody is going to smell a Pulitzer.

SPLC Executive Suite 2015 — As White As Ever!

March 1, 2015

The mercurial month of March is often unpredictable weather-wise, but to those of you who take solace in certainty, we offer these unalterable truths: Spring is coming (Really!), the Southern Poverty Law Center will release its IRS Form 990 tax report and the Executive Suite of the “nation’s leading civil rights organization” will be as white as that hip-deep snow drift in your front yard.

Just as when Morris Dees opened the company for business in 1971, the team of the SPLC’s highest paid officers is all white for the 44th year in a row! Here then are your Doyens of Diversity, the Caucasian College of Multicultural Knowledge, those Titans of Tolerance… the 2015 SPLC All-Stars!

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You’ll recognize many veterans from previous rosters (here, here and here) but there are also several eager rookies in the lineup:

Richard Cohen — President/CEO — $359,300
Morris Dees — Founder and Chief Trial Counsel — $364,789
Joseph Levin — Director and General Counsel — $196,446

Wendy Via — Development Director — $202,426 — (+$19,308)*

Teenie Hutchison — Secretary — $169,547
Mark Potok — Senior Fellow — $162,755
David Utter — Juvenile Justice Strategist–  $161,379

And the newcomers:

Jerri Katzerman — Deputy Legal Director — $162,549
Lisa Sahulka — Chief Operating Officer
— $53,469**
Heidi Beirich — Director, Intelligence Project — $154,146***

Maureen Costello — Director, Teaching Tolerance — Salary unknown†

We should take a moment to clarify the numbers:

In past years, we have noted any significant increases in compensation, and, while the top three white guys on the team, Cohen, Dees and Levin did pick up minor raises in the $6,000 to $9,000 range (just as you probably did too), and Messrs Potok and Utter actually lost a few hundred dollars each, these changes represent insignificant fractions of their base compensation packages overall.

Wendy Via has good reason to smile on her trading card. This year’s $19,000 bump is her third 5-digit raise in a row! And why not? The SPLC’s Development Department (pronounced: “Fundraising”) has been setting records every year, despite the worst recession since the Roosevelt Administration, and team owner Dees knows how to reward his golden geese. More on those donor-dollars and cents in our next post.

Newcomer Lisa Sahulka’s paltry salary as Chief Operating Officer is not a misprint. These are the numbers reported on the IRS Form 990 but they obviously do not reflect the whole story.

Ms. Sahulka’s predecessor, Michael Toohey, was pulling down $230,000 in 2012, $234,000 in 2013… a year after he’d quit the team, and $148,000 in 2014… two years after he became a free agent!

SPLC COOs eat gooood and we have no doubt that next year’s Form 990 will reflect a significant increase in her salary, whether Ms. Sahulka still plays for the team or not.

While Heidi Beirich is hardly a rookie, having joined the SPLC in 1999, this year marks her debut on the monochromatic Highest Paid Officer list, something we have been actively arguing in favor of for years.

Dr. Beirich steps into Mark Potok’s large shoes (hip waders, actually) as Director of the extremely lucrative Intelligence Report fundraising rag.

Although we don’t think much of Mr. Potok’s propaganda sheet, you cannot deny that the Intelligence Report brings in tons of donor-dollars every year. It’s a necessary vice, just like the beer concession at your local ball park.

We are staunch believers in equal pay for equal work, though, no matter how dubious the output.

Congratulations, Dr. Beirich! You’re very welcome!

This year we have included Teaching Tolerance director Maureen Costello in the leadership lineup. While Teaching Tolerance, which purports to promote diversity in the K-12 classroom, doesn’t agitate the donors in to frenzied fits of giving, the way the Intelligence Report does, it is somewhat influential in the public schools.

While Ms. Costello’s salary doesn’t make the top officer list on the SPLC’s Form 990, she is a prominent member of the SPLC’s Senior Program Team, which we noted recently was only 95% white overall.

In 1994, long before Ms. Costello’s reign, the Montgomery Advertiser ran a story noting that not only was the SPLC’s Senior Executive Staff entirely white, (“Equal treatment? No blacks in center’s leadership“), it also reported:

“The Law Center’s ambitious new project, Teaching Tolerance, which is designed to promote racial and cultural justice throughout America’s schools, is produced by an eight-member all-white staff according to the Law Center.”

Teaching Tolerance does not identify its current staff other than its director, so there is no way of telling if anything has changed since 1994. Obviously nothing has changed in the SPLC’s Executive Suite and so it’s always amusing to read the many press releases Ms. Costello issues each year promoting “Mix It Up Day” in the grade schools, where kids are encouraged to sit with people different from themselves in the cafeteria one day a year.

One wonders what “Mix It Up Day” looks like in the SPLC’s cafeteria? Maybe they swap out the white rice for mashed potatoes or grits?

And that’s the roundup for this year’s SPLC Senior Executive Staff All-Star Team. As usual, it’s an all-white roster, but some “civil rights” outfits are superstitious, just like ball players who always wear the same socks or have a “lucky” bat.

The Caucasian Country Club has been bringing in millions of dollars a year for decades so why change things now? It’s not like anyone in the Media is going to notice.


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