Posts Tagged ‘Intelligence report’

SPLC Violates its Tax-Free Status… Again

February 23, 2016

On February 18, 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center released the Spring issue of its Intelligence Report, including this year’s “hate map” fundraising tool, which we will dissect shortly (Spoiler Alert: Nothing has changed.)

Featured prominently on the front page of the magazine is an image of Donald Trump next to the banner “The Year in Hate and Extremism.”

SPLC Trump

Trump is surrounded by images of last year’s murderous psychopaths and lunatics, as well as the Confederate flag. The ham-fisted imagery couldn’t be clearer.

Somewhere, Saul Alinsky is either having a good laugh or shaking his head in dismay.

The point here is, whether you support Donald Trump or despise him, he is still a registered candidate for public office. As such, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations, like the SPLC, are expressly prohibited from “from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office,” by the Internal Revenue Service.

The exact text reads as follows:

The Restriction of Political Campaign Intervention by Section 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Organizations

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity.  Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. 

Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances.  For example, certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner.

On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.

The SPLC, which gave up all pretenses of being a civil rights organization in 2014, didn’t pay a dime of taxes on the $54 million in donations it took in last year (or any year, since 1971), or on the $302 million tax-free dollars in the company’s bloated “Endowment Fund.”

The company now refers to itself as “an advocacy group” in its press releases and other fundraising materials. It’s time for the IRS to revoke the SPLC’s tax-exempt status, once and for all, for this and other flagrant violations of the 501(c)(3) guidelines.

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SPLC — Mark Potok Interview

July 14, 2014

Recently, we discovered an extensive interview on the Internet Archive with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s public relations chief, Mark Potok, in which he discusses the origins of the SPLC, its mission and its tactics. You can find the audio files to the interview here.

We’d like to highlight some of Mr. Potok’s more interesting comments, but, as always, we remind the reader to not  simply take our word for it. Any time you select excerpts from a larger work you run the risk of cherry-picking, or taking things out of context, and we’re certainly not professional transcriptionists here at Watching the Watchdogs. Listen to the interview and come to your own conclusions.

As to the origins of the interview, it was recorded and posted on the Internet Archive by Bill Holiday, a high school teacher from Vermont. A number of students, and at least one other teacher, are asking Mr. Potok questions about his work. The interview apparently takes place at the SPLC’s Montgomery headquarters, and several references in the conversation seem to date it to the first half of 2008.

In Track One, Mr. Potok explains the origins of the name of the organization:

“In the 70’s… “poverty law” was actually the phrase… it was a phrase used that just applied to… essentially… civil rights law… to kind of human rights legal actions.”

“I know a couple years ago there was a big discussion internally [at the SPLC], ‘Should we change our name to something else?’ People think, you know, that it’s all about, sort of, defending poor people, and that’s not really, exactly what our mission is. By that time, people knew the name so well that, you know, we made, I think, the obviously right decision not to change the name.”

“People think, you know, that it’s all about, sort of, defending poor people, and that’s not really, exactly what our mission is.” Interesting. One wonders how many donors are under the impression that a “poverty law center” might actually be in the business of defending poor people, no? Why change the name just because the mission changed? You don’t just toss out a multimillion dollar brand name for the sake of accuracy. More on this to follow.

Track Two includes an astonishingly candid assessment of how some critics view the SPLC:

“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 took the words right out of our mouth. Since 2009, Watching the Watchdogs has been documenting exactly this kind of behavior by the SPLC, and you have summed things up nicely. We have reported numerous times on the fact that there is no legal definition of “hate group,” and that you pretty much make them up as you go along.

Your “Hate Map” fundraising tool includes hundreds of alleged “hate groups,” (again, per your own definition), but you provide no information on these groups that researchers could use to verify their existence. In fact, you couldn’t even bother to make up locations for more than 200 of them. In 2012, you added 20 chapters of something called the “Georgia Militia” to that state’s “hate map,” but you couldn’t locate 18 of them!

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And the “Hate Map” is the keystone to all SPLC fundraising, Mr. Potok. You promote it widely in the Media as being factual and accurate, even after admitting directly to Watching the Watchdogs that your numbers are “anecdotal,” “a very rough measure” and the result of “an imperfect process.”

The donors believe your numbers, Mr. Potok, and that’s why they sent you nearly $37 million donor-dollars last year, and that figure does not include the nearly $36 million dollars in tax-free interest generated by the $281 MILLION in cash in the SPLC’s bloated “Morris Dees Legacy Fund.”

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And so, Mr. Potok, you really do hype up these minor threats, provide absolutely no documentation for your claims and then very successfully make a lot of money from it. I believe the term you used was “scam.” What would you call it?

In Track Five, Mark Potok relates the details of an event where a Klansman named Jeff Berry gives an interview to a news crew, then, thinking better of it, demands the tape of the interview from the crew at shotgun-point. Potok says the police did nothing in response to the reporter’s complaint and then makes an insensitive joke about gang rape.

“About a year later… well, we sued very quickly… well, it was shortly after that, and we easily won a judgment against Berry. You know, this was absolutely false imprisonment, right? I mean, it was a felony crime.”

A felony crime, Mr. Potok? Just for holding someone at shotgun-point? Oddly enough, On page 101 of his 1991 autobiography, A Season for Justice,  your boss, SPLC founder Morris Dees, writes with great relish about holding a man at shotgun-point. He even makes a little joke about it at the end.

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Was this not a felony crime too, Mr. Potok? Was this not also false imprisonment? Or are you willing to overlook the crime because the felonious perp signs your $3,000 dollar-a-week paychecks? Just a modicum of consistency would be SOOOO welcome here, Mr. Potok.

In Track Eight, Potok discusses what he labels “Nativist Extremist” groups and their failure to resort to traditional political means to achieve their objectives.

“These are groups that don’t merely say… that don’t target the policy… In other words, they don’t simply say ‘Immigration should be lower… because of whatever reason,’ right? ‘It’s bad for the economy or the environment or, you know, whatever… depresses wages in this country, therefore we’re going to write our congressmen or hold a rally or a parade or whatever.’ In other words, you know, engage in some kind of democratic action, right? Some kind of effort, you know, to have laws changed or whatever it is.”

The irony here, as we’ve pointed out time after time, is that while Mr. Potok denigrates these groups for allegedly not engaging in “some kind of democratic action,” the legend on his “Hate Map” fundraising tool clearly states that:

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

 While we continue to be amazed that a so-called “civil rights group” would deliberately conflate six of the most fundamental democratic civil rights with “criminal acts” and “hate group activities,” here we find Mr. Potok damning people both for participating and allegedly not participating in these activities. No contradictions there, Mr. Potok.

Track Nine covers the SPLC’s criteria for designating its “hate group” brand name:

“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. So we look at a group and we say, ‘Does this group, in its platform statements, or the speeches of its leader or leaders… Does this group say that a whole group of people, by virtue of their group characteristics, is somehow less?'”

“It’s strictly ideological.” No crime, no violence, just “wrong thinking.” Even the most rudimentary reading of SPLC fundraising materials and press releases, (redundant, we know..), finds repeated examples of you lumping conservatives and Christians as part of a diabolical “radical right” and anyone who believes that this nation’s existing immigration laws should be enforced and respected is immediately smeared as a “nativist.”

Labeling and name-calling are one of the eight central pillars of the propagandists’ stock and trade, Mr. Potok, and you have mastered them all. 

And the suckers sent him over $100,000 dollars a day last year, every day. No wonder he doesn’t want to change the name of the company. “Civil rights” doesn’t get any better than this.

A slightly longer quote from Track Ten, but it really is telling:

“Let me just say one other thing while I’m thinking about things to say. A lot of our criticism… let me think about how to say this… If there were just… if these groups just operated on the margins of the margins of society and ran around saying, you know, ‘We should kill all the Jews, we should kill all the gay people,’ and that was sort of all there was to it, yes, they would be scary in the sense that, every so often one of them goes off and kills somebody, but, you know, but would it really be a huge or serious threat to the society? I think obviously not, right?

I mean, first of all, it’s not a message that flies very far…’Let’s kill all the Jews. Let’s, you know, build new gas chambers,’ or whatever. But the reality is, and especially since the immigration debate has become sort of the centerpiece of their world, is that their propaganda is getting out way beyond their little fringe world.”

“[W]ould it really be a huge or serious threat to the society? I think obviously not, right?” On this point, Mr. Potok, we can agree. We may find many of the messages produced by some of these groups to be patently offensive and despicable. The problem arises when self-appointed vigilantes like you and the SPLC come along and decide who gets to speak, based on your own extremely nebulous criteria.

Once you start abrogating the civil rights of one group simply because you don’t like what they have to say, it’s only a matter of time before all groups are threatened by this same lynch-mob mentality.

As for the nature of the threats these alleged groups pose, Mr. Potok, please remember that not very long after you gave this interview in your office you made the following statements:

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

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

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

And speaking of ideology, Mr. Potok, if your goal in life was simply to debate those people with whom you disagree, it would be one thing. But to rake in tens of millions of dollars a year in the process of stifling any discussion whatsoever is dubious, at best.

Potok continues:

“I think our more major concern has been, especially recently, is how this propaganda has been put into the mainstream and is now treated like fact.”

 

 And this, Mr. Potok, is precisely how your “Hate Map” and other fundraising propaganda work. You broadcast these spurious claims to the donors and the media, and everyone takes you at your word. Few, if any, will perform even the most rudimentary fact checks, not that you provide much for them to actually check.

Track Twelve deals with the origins of the SPLC and its mission; at least in the good old days:

“It started with two lawyers, Morris Dees and Joe Levin, and they came from here [Montgomery] and that’s why we’re here, and they are still… here. So, you know, it was a very, very small non-profit law firm and it did some of that… yes… defending people who were accused… black people who were accused of things they hadn’t done, and so on.

But, you know, the cases tended to be… I mean, they were classic civil rights cases. In one of our early cases, had as a tactic, we sued the Alabama Highway Patrol, right, the State Police here because it was a 100% lily-white police force. You can imagine what the thinking on that is, right, I mean it’s a bad thing in a society that is not all-white to have the people with guns be all white, right? I mean, I think it just makes it obvious to society who’s running the show and, you know, what’s behind it.”

“I mean it’s a bad thing in a society that is not all-white to have the people with guns be all white, right? I mean, I think it just makes it obvious to society who’s running the show and, you know, what’s behind it.”

And we agree with you wholeheartedly once again, Mr. Potok. It a bad thing when an organization that purports to serve a diverse population is run by all whites, especially in Montgomery, Alabama, the birthplace of the American Civil Rights Movement. It really does send a message.

That being said, this year, once again, Watching the Watchdogs pointed out that for the 43rd consecutive year, the top leadership of your organization is as “lily-white,” to use your phrase, as it was on the day that Dees and Levin opened for business in 1971.

“So, it was very important to the lawyers here to desegregate the Alabama Highway Patrol, and in fact they won, like, a very important judgment that… they’re… I don’t know if this is still true, but at least a couple of years ago they were the most integrated police force in America. Right here in Alabama… twenty-five percent… which is, you know, something.”

Wouldn’t it be “something” if the SPLC’s Executive Suite was integrated and twenty-five percent of its highly paid top executives were from diverse backgrounds? Mr. Potok, just how thinly do you think we can spread the term “ironic” before it rightly morphs into “hypocritical”?

“I don’t know if that answered your question. We did a lot of different kind of cases that were all over the, kind of, civil rights map. There was a lot of death penalty defense work done here in the early years. We don’t do that, really, any more, because, basically, a lot of other lawyers got good at it and now do that work.”

“We don’t do that, really, any more, because, basically, a lot of other lawyers got good at it and now do that work.” That’s a rather dubious explanation, Mr. Potok. If anything, genuine civil rights groups like the Innocence Project, which actually do work with the poor, and on a fraction of your bloated budget, have demonstrated that the need for this kind of legal work has never been greater.

If you are no longer in the poverty law business, you really need to change the name of your company and just be honest with your donors.

And finally, from Track 13, Mr. Potok cuts to the chase and lays out what his company’s agenda really is:

“We see this political struggle, right? And it’s very different from what Teaching Tolerance does, right? I mean, we’re not trying to change anybody’s mind. We’re trying to wreck the groups, and we are very clear in our head, this is… we are trying to destroy them. Not to send them to prison unfairly or not take their free speech rights away… but as a political matter, to destroy them. And the way we learned to do it, I think personally is cool, is we use facts, and when we use their own facts… So, often, the battle is to make it stick, right?”

“We see this as a political struggle, right?” If that’s the case, Mr. Potok, and the SPLC is little more than another PAC, then stop hiding behind the sham that your company is somehow a civil rights organization. It’s doubtful your donations will decline, and they may even increase.

“I mean, we’re not trying to change anybody’s mind. We’re trying to wreck the groups, and we are very clear in our head, this is… we are trying to destroy them.”

So, Mr. Potok, you’ve already stated that the SPLC isn’t interested in criminality or potential for violence, it is, as you say, “all about ideology,” and yet you have the gall to claim that you’re not trying to take their free speech rights away?

If it’s all about ideology, Mr. Potok, and these groups aren’t advocating crime or violence, then isn’t what they’re saying, regardless of how offensive many people may find it, protected free speech? And yet, you’re dying to “destroy” them?

These groups aren’t breaking any laws, but you want to silence them because you don’t like what they say. Isn’t that textbook vigilantism, Mr. Potok? Taking the law into your own hands because you don’t like the way the democratic system works?

You said the exact same thing in 2007 at a luncheon in Michigan, in this grainy video. The crowd laughed and cheered. They’re all psychopaths, you said, and you can’t wait to “destroy” them.

 

“And the way we learned to do it, I think personally is cool, is we use facts, and when we use their own facts… So, often, the battle is to make it stick, right?”

Well, Mr. Potok, we cannot agree more about the efficacy of that technique. Watching the Watchdogs will continue to “track” your company, making meticulous notes of your comments, press releases and financial statements and report them to the public at large.

Unlike your office, though, we will continue to cite all of our sources and we will not take a dime for our efforts… as opposed to the nearly $2,000,000 donor-dollars you’ve earned for your efforts since 2001.

And rather than lead our readers to preconceived conclusions, which is, after all, the textbook definition of propaganda and the basis of your position at the SPLC, Mr. Potok, we will continue to urge people to look at the documentation for themselves and come to their own conclusions.

We’ll keep putting the evidence out there in the hope that someday we can make it “stick.”

SPLC – The Gospel According to Mark (Potok)

May 14, 2013

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s public relations chief, Mark Potok, is a paid spokesman whose primary function is to perpetuate the SPLC’s decades-long fear campaign in the Media. The SPLC gave Mr. Potok a $10,000 dollar raise in 2012, bringing his compensation package to $162,000 a year because of his great skill at convincing their mostly elderly donor base that “hate groups” were everywhere.

Potok is the Media’s “go-to” guy on “hate,” despite the fact that he has no legal or law enforcement experience, and so Mr. Potok spends a lot of his time giving his repetitious “hate” spiel, but every so often the “Senior Fellow” forgets to follow the “hate groups are everywhere!” script and it’s always informative to hear what he really thinks.

Most recently, as of this writing, Mr. Potok made an astounding admission to CNN  that nearly mirrors what Watching the Watchdogs has been telling readers for years about the SPLC’s lucrative “hate group” marketing tool:

“Mark Potok,  a center spokesman, says there’s no shared definition of what constitutes hate speech.

“There is no legal meaning. It’s just a phrase,” Potok says. “Hate speech is in the ear of the beholder.”
(May 5, 2013, CNN.com, “When Christians become a ‘hated minority‘”)

Mr. Potok, there’s no shared definition of a “hate group” either. No legal meaning. It’s just a phrase. A “hate group” is entirely in the eye of the beholder (or marketer).

And because the SPLC is the sole arbiter of the “hate group” label, a “hate group” is whatever they say it is and they can designate as many as they want for fundraising purposes. The SPLC receives no external review or oversight and the Media makes no attempt whatsoever to vet Mr. Potok’s claims.

And what exactly are Mr. Potok’s exacting standards when it comes to applying the lucrative “hate group” stamp of disapproval? According to Mark Potok:

“…a “hate group” has nothing to do with criminality… [or] potential for violence…” Rather, as Potok put it, “It’s all about ideology.”

Futhermore:

“Listing here does not imply a group advocates or engages in violence or other criminal activity.” (SPLC “Hate Map” legend, http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/hate-map)

No crime, no violence, just “wrong thinking.”  Potok further claims that:

“All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.” (SPLC “Hate Map” legend, http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/hate-map)

Since Mr. Potok has already ruled out crime and violence, which would immediately be considered hate crimes and rightly turned over to the police, all of these malignant “attacks” must then be considered “hate speech,” which Mr. Potok so elegantly defined above.

Get the picture?

Potok also admits that even the FBI cannot monitor “hate group” based solely on their ideology (but somehow his private fundraising company can?):

“The FBI does not monitor groups just because they have “hateful” ideology. There must be some evidence of criminal wrongdoing. (www.usatoday.com, May 17, 2002)

Despite Potok’s feckless disclaimer that being listed on his “Hate Map” tool in no way implies violence or criminality, that is precisely what the map is intended to do . That’s why Mr. Potok created it in the first place. The “Hate Map” is a branding tool, in both the marketing and social senses of the term.

Much like Hawthorne’s scarlet A, Mr. Potok’s scarlet H is designed solely to demonize, dehumanize and stigmatize its targets, effectively stifling all discussion or debate. Who would want to talk to a hate group, after all?

So, if these people aren’t out there breaking laws left and right, what exactly are they doing to earn the “hate group” label?:

“Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing.” (SPLC “Hate Map” legend, http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/hate-map)

Aha! Now we’re getting somewhere! Marches, speeches, meetings, publishing… there are laws regarding such things!:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (First of ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, a.k.a. The Bill of Rights)

Is it really right for an alleged “civil rights group” to deliberately conflate six of the most fundamental, Constitutionally protected civil rights with “criminal acts” and “hate group activities”?

If these groups are exercising their legal rights to Free Speech, regardless of how distasteful some may find that speech, what would you call someone who arbitrarily interprets the Laws of the Land by his own subjective standards?

Vigilante: noun : a member of a volunteer committee organized to suppress and punish crime summarily (as when the processes of law are viewed as inadequate); broadly : a self-appointed doer of justice. (www.merriam-webster.com)

That pretty much sums up the SPLC’s M.O. in a nutshell. Too bad the IRS didn’t take a hint from the Feds…

Maybe Senior Fellow Potok knows things the rest of us do not? After all, the SPLC has paid the man more than $2,000,000 dollars since 2000 for his expertise, right?:

“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)

Well, okay, Mr. Potok’s Intelligence Report is based on second- and third-hand information, informants and hearsay, but at least he must have a solid handle on how many people are involved in these nefarious “hate groups,” no?:

“The Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., estimates more than 100,000 followers among the various hate groups, though a spokesman [Mark Potok] concedes that the tally – from periodicals, news reports and police – is approximate. (Arlene Levinson, “Hate Groups, Crimes Said Rare in US,” Associated Press, July 8, 1999)

“Approximate,” eh? Hmmm. Mr. Potok claims there were 602 “hate groups” in the US in 2000, so that averages out to about 166 haters per group. That sounds a bit high to us. Would you care to qualify your estimate, Mr. P.?:

[Update, June 19, 2013: An article published in the Charleston (WV) Gazette dated March 5, 2013, quotes Mr. Potok claiming that “There could be 200,000 to 300,000 people involved in hate groups today.” Given that Mr. Potok has designated just over 1,000 “hate groups” for 2012, that works out to 200 to 300 “haters” per group. Really…]

“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)

“Infinitesimal”?? How much is that in more monosyllabic terms?:

in·fin·i·tes·i·mal

adjective

1.indefinitely or exceedingly small; minute: 
2.immeasurably small; less than an assignable quantity: to an infinitesimal degree.
(www.dictionary.com)

Well, in all fairness, Mr. Potok made his “infinitesimal” estimate back in 1999 when he was still new on the job. Surely his powers of prognostication have improved with time:

“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)

The groups may be small? With over a hundred members each? How many members comprise a group, Mr. Potok? Especially a “hate group”?:

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

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 Senior Fellow was amazingly candid in admitting that his figures were “anecdotal,” “an imperfect process” and “a very rough estimate.”

Too bad the tens of thousands of suckers who sent the SPLC $40 million donor-dollars last year, based on Potok’s “hate group” numbers, didn’t realize the fellow was merely guessing. Well, no harm done, we suppose.

The important thing to remember is that even though Mr. Potok assigned his “hate group” label to people who were breaking no laws, and, even though he’s not especially concerned over just exactly how many people (or P.O. boxes) make up a “group,” we can all rest assured that “hate groups” are the biggest threat to domestic tranquility today:

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

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

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

Well Mr. Potok, if “lone wolves” and individuals are the ones committing all these alleged hate crimes and acts of domestic terrorism, why do you focus solely on law abiding “hate groups”?? Why not just publish the names and addresses of these “lone wolves” in your next Intelligence Report and be done with it? It’s not like you don’t have enough third-hand gossip and self-appointed vigilante informants on the ground to get the information, right?

At the end of the day, Mr. Potok and his SPLC have no more power to identify the next mentally ill individuals to go on a murder spree than you do. That’s not the point of the exercise, however. Mr. Potok’s job is to perpetuate his endless fear campaign and convince his mostly-elderly, mostly-Progressive donor base to send him more money. They sent him more than $4,500 dollars every single hour last year and it did nothing to prevent Sandy Hook or Aurora, but it did contribute directly to a crazed “lone wolf” who used Mr. Potok’s “Hate Map” fundraising tool to select the target for his botched shooting spree at the Family Research Council.

These facts, these numbers, Mr. Potok’s own public contradictions will do little to dissuade the SPLC’s donors, because the Master Public Relations man knows how to play the con to the hilt. In a 2007 speech to an “anti-hate” group in Michigan, Mark Potok laid out his personal thoughts on these “wrong thinkers” and his views on their fundamental humanity and civil rights:

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

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

The only thing more chilling than the sneering way in which Mark Potok deliberately dehumanizes people who are exercizing their Constitutional rights is the roar of laughter and thunderous applause it drew from the tolerant, inclusive and progressive “anti-haters.”

All facts to the contrary be damned, they came to hear what they wanted to hear… the Gospel according to Mark.

SPLC data proves that Wal-Mart causes “hate groups”?

April 14, 2012

Well, friends, if you thought the title of this post was loopy… “you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!”

The April 2012 issue of the Social Science Quarterly, hardly a supermarket tabloid, sets out to prove conclusively that the presence of a Wal-Mart in a county provides a direct correlation to the presence of “hate groups” in that county, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s scrupulously researched data.

This study, “Social Capital, Religion, Wal-Mart, and Hate Groups in America,” written by Stephan J. Goetz, Anil Rupasingha and Scott Loveridge, bases its premise on numbers taken from the SPLC’s 2007 “Hate Map” fundraising tool.

Longtime readers of Watching the Watchdogs will instantly recognize that this “data” is inherently flawed from the get-go. Newer readers can discover why the SPLC numbers are garbage here and can watch the SPLC’s public relations guru, Mark Potok, admitting on camera that his numbers are “anecdotal,” “a very rough estimate” and “an imperfect process” in this exclusive WTW Youtube clip.

As if this wasn’t a show-stopper from the very beginning, these three geniuses compare the SPLC’s 2007 “hate group” numbers with the number of Wal-Mart stores in the US in 1998!! Really? We don’t claim to be academics here at WTW, but wouldn’t such a comparison be just a little more valid if they compared the SPLC’s spurious 2007 numbers with the number of Wal-Mart stores around in 2007?

According to Wal-Mart annual reports, there were 2,805 stores combined in the US in 1998, by 2007, this number had jumped to 3,910. THIS 40% gain doesn’t skew your calculations does it boys?

The number of “hate groups” designated by the SPLC grew by 351 between 1998 and 2007, but the number of Wal-Mart stores grew by more than 1,000 over the same span of time. Why are Goetz and Company comparing two decidedly different data sets?

Why not simply compare the 2007 “hate group” numbers with a map from 1907 so you can correlate the ratio of “hate groups” to livery stables and blacksmith shops?

Obviously, horses cause “hate groups.”

While the 2007 SPLC numbers are worthless, they claimed they had designated 888 “hate groups” that year, by their own subjective definition. Although Watching the Watchdogs has not yet analyzed those numbers, a look at the 2008 numbers is instructive. Of the 926 groups designated by Mark Potok that year, he wasn’t able to locate 127 of them on his own “Hate Map” fundraising tool.

Again, while we don’t have the individual data for 2007, these 127 homeless “hate groups” from the following year represent a discrepancy of more than 13%. By 2010, Mr. Potok had lost 26% of his “hate groups.” Is 13% statistically insignificant?

How exactly do these rocket scientists correlate decade-old Wal-Mart data with “hate groups” that aren’t even there?

Ordinarily, those who claim Mr. Potok’s ridiculous fundraising propaganda is factual are a relatively harmless lot. The SPLC does it because it scares tens of millions of dollars out of their mostly elderly, self-described “Progressive” donors and last year Richard Florida crunched Potok’s numbers into a map in The Atlantic that claimed that “hate groups” form chiefly in Republican areas, but these hucksters are preaching to the choir. People swallow this tripe as gospel, regardless of the fact that the underlying numbers are entirely fabricated, because they want to believe it.

The problem with this kind of garbage moving into academic circles is that it creates a patina of legitimacy. In fact, the Department of Home land Security has already picked up and regurgitated Mr. Goetz & Co.’s harebrained palaver as “fact” and this ought to scare the bejebus out of everyone.

The real villain here is the Social Science Quarterly, who, just like the national media, accept the SPLC’s spurious data because they want to believe it. If no one expects major news outlets to perform even the most rudimentary fact checks, (a process formally known as “journalism“), why should the editors of an academic journal resort to the scientific method of questioning and evaluating test data?

Watching the Watchdogs has already sent the SSQ its evidence that the Goetz, et al, paper is worthless because its underlying data is worthless, but don’t expect to see our claims published in the July issue, or any similar refutations from accredited scientists. It’s not what the audience wants to hear. What was the final conclusion of this impeccably researched document?

“However, our discovery of an association between Wal-Mart locations and hate groups could lead the corporation’s foundation to play a larger role in supporting the types of local groups that enhance the social capital index used in our analysis.”

There it is in a nutshell, friends… the “show-me-the-money” give-away.

Mark Potok — The SPLC’s ‘Hate Map’ is an “Imperfect Process”

October 5, 2011

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s $147,000-a-year public relations guru, Mark Potok,  recently appeared at a local Virginia university to talk about, what else, “The State of Hate in America: The Radical Right Since 9/11”

Billed as a “Visiting Scholar, Mr. Potok delivered a rather predictable, hour-long diatribe on the evilness of evil white/conservative/Christian men in America, all leading to and from the Oklahoma City bombing.

A long-time Watching the Watchdogs reader actually captured most of Potok’s sales pitch on video and, better still, Mr. Potok was finally asked the very question we’ve been asking for years: Where are the missing “hate groups”?

Up to that point, Mr. Potok had been preaching to the choir. The professor who introduced the Maestro gushingly referred to him as her “personal hero,” and the crowd of wide-eyed twenty-somethings had been nodding and “Amen”-ing their way throughout the lecture.

By questioning Potok’s numbers in his own element, our correspondent was literally bearding the lyin’,” so to speak.

Below is a transcript of the exchange, and a video clip of the the three-minute exchange can be found here.

The question seemed to throw Mr. Potok off his game, as nobody, certainly nobody in the media, academia or the DHS had ever challenged his numbers before. He seems to hem and haw and grasp for words. At one point, Mr. Potok seemed to have a flash of sudden inspiration, the missing “hate groups,” said he, “are state chapters!”

If you listen closely, you can almost hear Jon Lovitz exclaiming from the bleachers, “Yeah! That’s the ticket!!”

To his credit, Mr. Potok acknowledged that the question was an honest one: “I understand the criticism and it’s not an illegitimate criticism,” he said.

More amazing still, Mark Potok admitted that his “Hate Map,” the Crown Jewel of all SPLC fund-raising fear campaigns is “a very rough measure” and the result of “an imperfect process.”

Potok further concedes that his information is “anecdotal” and that up to 20% of his groups can’t be found. The actual number is 26%, assuming all of the other “groups” actually exist. In fact, last year Mr. Potok bumped the number of alleged “hate groups” up by 70 and yet the number of homeless “hate groups” jumped by 99 for the same time period!

In other words, Mr. Potok’s numbers are meaningless. Who knew?

Let’s allow the Director of Intelligence to speak for himself:

Q: Mr. Potok, every year your organization produces a “Hate Map” that purports to identify the number of “hate groups” in individual states across the country. This past spring, according to your accounting, the number was up to 1,002, but if you actually go in… if you Google the map and look at it…, 262 of those groups aren’t affiliated with any town or city or anything. They’re just kind of floating out there in limbo.

MP: Sure. Well, these aren’t.. I mean, look, let me tell you a little bit about how we do the “hate group” map. I understand the criticism and it’s not an illegitimate criticism.

Let me first of all say, that we do the “hate group” map and the counts, and so on, as a very rough measure… I’m not talking about the individual towns and such… as an attempt to get a feel for what the Radical Right looks like. Is it growing? Is it shrinking? And so on.

And, you know, I will admit right up front, I mean, is… are two groups with two people in them worse than one group with four people in them? Well, maybe not… it’s the same thing. But, what we’ve seen historically is that counts do seem to… very clearly… go up and down… we now see it going up again and we can see it reflected anecdotally.

What you are asking about, and it’s true, we have a lot of groups that we can’t identify in a town, and you know, I’ll say we can’t always… it’s an imperfect process… because we’re forced to… many times we know quite a lot about a group. Other times we don’t know much more, uh, other than a particular Klan group… What those basically are, those are state-wide units… that’s what those groups are… So, the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan might have a chapter in Harrison, Arkansas, they may have a chapter in another town, and so they might also have an Arkansas chapter, and in those cases, we don’t know where the chapter is.

Q: But the media doesn’t see it that way. They quote you verbatim, saying that there are 1,002 groups out there.

MP: Well, that’s, that’s what there are out there…

Q: But you can’t locate them. You claim there are 221 Klan groups in the U.S., but you can’t locate 109 of them.

MP: Sorry?

Q: You claim there are 221 Klan groups in the U.S., but you can’t locate 109 of them. That’s fifty percent. That’s quite a discrepancy.

MP: You said it yourself, it’s more like 20% of the overall numbers [unintelligible]. And I’m telling you… the reasons I’m not telling you it’s not possible that some claims of some statewide group that doesn’t exist.

We’re often looking at these groups… I mean, one of the criteria we use when looking at these groups… we’re trying to separate out the real groups that really do things from one man and a computer [unintelligible]… In other words, separating out the real interest blogs… or, you know, a site on the Internet, from groups that actually do something. So one of the things we try to establish [unintelligible]… is that group active? Has it had a rally? Is it publishing? Propaganda of one kind or another? Can you join that group? Those kinds of things.

And there it is, from Director of Intelligence himself. The ludicrous nature of the final paragraph is worthy of its own blog entry, so replete is it with half-truths and outright contradictions. Stay tuned.

SPLC — The Quotable Mr. Potok

October 13, 2010

The Southern Poverty Law Center now has nearly $190 MILLION tax-free donor-dollars available in its bloated Endowment Fund, and received just over $31 MILLION donor-dollars from its mostly elderly donor base last year.

Much of the financial success of this most profitable of non-profits must be attributed to the SPLC’s $143,000 donor-dollar-a-year Public Relations Guru, Mark Potok.

Mr. Potok, who has no legal or law enforcement background, earns his six-digit salary by maintaining an ongoing fear campaign that plays fast and loose with the facts, or in cases such as the SPLC’s infamous Hate Map, simply manufactures “facts” out of thin air.

Prior to coming to the highly lucrative Hate Industry, Mr. Potok was a part-time stringer for USA Today in the 1990s, a position that no doubt qualifies him as an eminent scholar on “hate groups.”

It might be informative to reflect on some of Mr. Potok’s more interesting comments to the media over the years, which speak volumes as to the beliefs of his employers at the SPLC:

On the SPLC’s own definition of “hate group.” (Since there is no legal definition, Mr. P just made one up.)

“…a “hate group” has nothing to do with criminality… [or] potential for violence…” Rather, as Potok put it, “It’s all about ideology.”

No crime, no violence, just “wrong thinking”

“The FBI does not monitor groups just because they have “hateful” ideology. There must be some evidence of criminal wrongdoing. (www.usatoday.com, May 17, 2002)

Fortunately, the “law center” has never been deterred by the petty legalities and Constitutional blather that hamper actual law enforcement agencies.

On the SPLC’s scrupulously high standards for consigning a “group” to its Hate Map:

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

Well, you can’t ask for much more “evidence of criminal wrongdoing” than that. Marches, speeches, publishing, no wonder the FBI was all over Martin Luther King. The guy was forever leading marches, giving speeches, handing out literature and all kinds of other tell-tale signs of “hate group” activity.

“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)

On the impeccably high level of research that goes into each and every “report” churned out by Mr. Potok’s public relations minions:

“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)

You say “po-tay-toh” and I say “glorified news clipping service”…

“The Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., estimates more than 100,000 followers among the various hate groups, though a spokesman [Mark Potok] concedes that the tally – from periodicals, news reports and police – is approximate. (Arlene Levinson, “Hate Groups, Crimes Said Rare in US,” Associated Press, July 8, 1999)

“Approximate” indeed. In the Fall of 2011 we at Watching the Watchdogs actually got to ask Mr. Potok to his face about the wild discrepancies in his “hate group” figures and we got the entire exchange on video.

After graciously conceding that our query was “not an illegitimate question” and much hemming and hawing, Mr. Potok finally admitted that his “hate group” numbers were “anecdotal,” “an imperfect process” and “a very rough estimate.”

 

 

On the imminent threat of ever-growing numbers of “hate groups” (after all, the Hate Map doesn’t lie, right?):

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

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

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

And as early as 1999, Mr. Potok conceded:

“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)

Potok’s expert advice to police on how to identify domestic terrorists:

“One of the warnings is strange license plates on vehicles,” Potok said, “something like ‘The Republic of Texas.” (www.katv.com, September 22, 2010)

Remember, it was the “experts” at the SPLC who warned the Missouri State Police to be on the look out for “dangerous” people with Ron Paul and Bob Barr bumper stickers on their cars.

Regarding the potentially violent, racist criminals who make up the “resurgent militia movement” reported in the SPLC’s Spring 2010 “Intelligence Report,” of which Mr. Potok is the chief investigator:

“Listing here does not imply that the groups themselves advocate or engage in violence or other criminal activities, or are racist.”

So, these people are not violent, criminal racists then? They’re law abiding citizens exercising their constitutionally protected civil rights, as disagreeable as some my find their beliefs?

In September of 2007, Mr. Potok conceded on video that these people were not monsters and that he respected their rights to their own opinions.

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

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

This paragon of civil rights makes these two telling comments within the first two minutes of the video below. Those with stronger constitutions should watch the entire ten minute clip to see just how the Maestro operates.

 

 

Of the ongoing threat posed by that perennial staple of all SPLC fear campaigns, the KKK:

“The Klan of today is small, fractured, impotent and irrelevant,” Potok said. (www.timesfreepress.com, September 12, 2010)

“The Klan is a sorry shadow of its former self. It’s common for the KKK to brag about big numbers, but usually they are largely outnumbered by the counter-protestors, Potok said. Even on the white supremacist scene, the Klan is seen as less important today, he said.

“They just don’t have the people to put on the street, no matter what they boast about,” Potok said. (www.chronicle.augusta.com, October 21, 2010)

A recent and extremely rare public retraction published by the SPLC for wrongly denigrating a scholar for his views on the Armenian genocide of World War I, though not directly attributed to Mr. Potok, must certainly have garnered the PR guru’s imprimatur, alludes to the SPLC’s trademark guilt-by-association tactics that have proven so effective in stifling open debate on any number of topics:

“Unfounded charges of this kind, we acknowledge, create a climate of intimidation and limit responsible inquiry in genuine historical controversies such as about what really happened in 1915.”

Unfounded charges never stopped them before. This time someone called them out on it.

So there you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. With such candor and refreshing honesty, it’s little wonder why a “law center” like the SPLC would feel a part-time newspaper reporter like Mr. Potok is worth $143 grand a year.

Maybe they ought to give him a raise.

A Tale of Two Spin Doctors

August 8, 2010

Anyone who has studied the science of persuasion will immediately recognize the similarities between one of history’s most infamous propagandists, Minister of Propaganda and National Enlightenment Paul Joseph Goebbels, and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Director of Intelligence,” Mark Potok.

Both men came from humble backgrounds. Goebbels, a failed novelist and playwright with a PhD in romantic drama; Potok, a freelance stringer for such hard-hitting newspapers as USA Today. Both men went to work for charismatic ideologues, becoming inordinately wealthy in the process.

Think about it. Mr. Potok has no legal or law enforcement experience, (“I’m not a lawyer, but I sure spend a lot of time around them!” Potok quips during his most recent scripted, pre-recorded “live call-in” webcast), and yet his “expertise” has earned him more than a million dollars from a law center. What services could Mr. Potok possibly offer the SPLC that are worth that kind of money?

Although more than half a century separates the careers of the two men, Doktor Goebbels would readily recognize Mr. Potok’s use of all the classic propaganda techniques, as laid down by their mutual mentor, “The Father of Spin,” Edward Bernays. Both men made millions practicing the black arts of Public Relations. As a popular television series might portray them, both are “Mad Men” of the first degree.

The key to any successful propaganda campaign, as either spin doctor could tell you, is domination of the media. Control the means of communication and you control the message. While Dr. Goebbels had to rely on compulsory enforcement, (listening to foreign radio broadcasts, from the BBC, etc., was a capital offense, at Dr. G’s insistence), Mr. Potok enjoys almost universal media access in the US and worldwide that is entirely voluntary.

The lack of any editorial oversight by major news organizations of Mr. Potok’s dubious observations is so delusional as to be collusive. What wouldn’t Dr. Goebbels give for such extensive media control? What wouldn’t Mr. Potok give for just one of Goebbels’ SS goon squads to silence the “wrong thinkers”?

While Dr. Goebbels would routinely label anyone who disagreed with his boss’ worldview as a “traitor,” “defeatist,” or “Bolshevik,” Mr. Potok’s smears of choice are “hater,” “extremist,” and the sure-fire, granddaddy smear of all time, “racist.” Same old techniques, just different labels.

Here lie the two greatest ironies: Goebbels was a hardcore Nazi who smeared his perceived enemies as “Bolsheviks,” and Potok is a life-long Leftist who smears his perceived enemies as “Nazis.” Goebbels’ duty was to convince the German people that everything was wonderful, (“Bombers? What Allied bombers? That was thunder you heard last night.”), while Potok earns his six-digit salary by maintaining the SPLC’s 40-year fear campaign, (“Hate groups are everywhere!! Send us more money, now!”)

And send more money they do. Last year the SPLC took in over $31 million donor-dollars thanks the ministrations of Mr. Potok, (of which only $1.1 million, or 3.7 cents on the dollar, were spent on “legal case costs”)

With a return on investment like that, one has to wonder if the three white millionaires who run the SPLC are actually paying their Spin Doktor enough?

“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over” — Reich Minister for Propaganda and National Enlightenment, Joseph Goebbels.

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.” Public Relations pioneer, Edward Bernays, in his groundbreaking book, “Propaganda” (1928)

SPLC — More Damned Lies and Statistics

August 4, 2010

One of the SPLC’s most effective fund-raising tools is what I like to call “the empty statistic.” By this I mean a statistic that sounds quite impressive initially, because you do not know the actual numbers involved.

A case in point, a recent article in About.com’s “Race Relations” section raised the question: “Why Are Hate Crimes Against Latinos Rising?” The author of the piece, Nadra Kareem, quotes some pretty scary statistics from the SPLC’s $146,000 donor-dollar public relations guru, Mark Potok:

“FBI statistics indicate that anti-Latino crimes in America increased by nearly 40 percent from 2003 to 2007. That’s extremely alarming considering that the Latino population in the United States rose by just 14 percent during the same timeframe.”

“Wow!” The casual reader is likely to think, “Anti-Latino hate crimes are increasing at nearly three times the pace of immigration! I’d better get a check out to the SPLC right away!”

Of course, once you do a minimal amount of digging to discover the actual numbers involved, you come up with a very different picture.

According to Table 7 (page 16) of the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting for 2003, there were 595 anti-Hispanic hate crimes reported in 2003. http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/03hc.pdf By 2007, that “40% jump” brings the number to 830. http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2007/table_07.htm

According to the US Census Bureau, there were 39 million Hispanics in the US in 2003. Factor in the increase of “only 14%,” or “only” 5.4 million new Hispanic immigrants and by 2007 the new total comes to 44.6 million.

Now let’s be perfectly clear here. NOBODY should have to be the victim of a crime, especially a hate crime, but an increase of 235 anti-Latino hate crimes against an increase of 5.4 MILLION Latino immigrants is statistically insignificant… when you plug in the actual numbers!

The 830 anti-Latino hate crimes against the overall 2007 population of 44.6 million represent even less of a crime wave.

Mark Potok knows this, but the vast majority of people who read the empty statistics he tucks into his fund-raising propaganda won’t. Even so-called professional media, such as National Public Radio allow Potok to propagate his fear campaign without asking for a single digit worth of proof.

Considering that the SPLC and NPR are in direct competition for the Left-wing donor dollar, you’d think it would be in NPR’s self-interest to out Mr. Potok at every opportunity.

What’s really amazing is the fact that during the same 2003 to 2007 time span, hate crimes against Blacks rose from 3,150 to 3,434. Not only were there four times as many hate crimes against Blacks as against Hispanics, but the Black population is smaller to begin with!!

Where is Mr. Potok’s outrage over THOSE numbers?

The simple truth is that Progressives are experiencing “donor fatigue” when it comes to poor Blacks. The SPLC has gone to that well too many times in the past. Hispanics are the new minority goldmine in 2010, and the SPLC intends to gather up every last nugget.

Vaya con dinero!! (Go with the money!!)

SPLC and “Gunderson’s Guillotines”

March 29, 2010

As part of its ongoing crusade to Keep America Safe From Conservatives, the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center has been making the media rounds lately, flooding the ether with baseless claims of “militia” conspiracies and “patriot” plots. As usual, there are a lot of unsubstantiated allegations and vague “guilt-by-association” associations. One such spurious “report” has been circulating since August of 2009, including a news article posted as recently March 29, 2010, by the Ashland Daily Tidings, of Mobile, Alabama.

The story, “Shrinking View of Government“, by Chris Honoré, repeats a line from the SPLC’s Public Relations department that reads: “At a meeting in Pensacola, Fla., a retired FBI agent, Ted Gunderson, tells a gathering of anti-government ‘Patriots’ that the federal government has set up 1,000 internment camps across the country and is storing 30,000 guillotines and a half-million caskets in Atlanta”.

Thirty thousand guillotines? Sacre bleu!! No wonder the SPLC is so upset. The line is lifted verbatim from a fear-mongering fund raising “report” put out by Larry Keller: The Second Wave: Growing Evidence of Far-Right Militia Resurgence. If you Google the terms “Gunderson” and “Guillotines” together, you’ll find dozens of identical quotes, word for word, in the Blogosphere. This is how SPLC “facts” become factual.

What The Second Wave fails to mention, however, is when and where the alleged meeting took place, and how many evil “Patriots” comprise a “gathering”.

A search of the LexisNexis news archives brings up no reports of any “patriot gatherings” in Pensacola in the past two years. If anyone knows when and where it happened, please let us know.

LexisNexis only returned one hit of a legitimate news organization reporting on the guillotines. Steven Thomma of the McClatchy news service lifted the SPLC line, word for word, in his article, “Secret Camps and Guillotines“, published on August 28, 2009. Mr. Thomma goes one better by adding:

“Why guillotines? “Because,” he wrote in a report obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, “beheading is the most efficient means of harvesting body parts.”

Oddly enough, there is absolutely no mention of the organ harvesting report on the SPLC’s website, or anywhere else online. One would think that if they had a damning document like that in hand that they would make it available for all to see.

Or, maybe they just invented the story. It’s not like anyone, (besides us…), is ever going to ask to actually SEE the evidence. An e-mail to Mr. Thomma asking if he had seen the document, or had any particulars on the “gathering” has gone unanswered as of this writing.

Since the second-hand parties were not forthcoming with any documentation, we decided to go right to the source. Ted Gunderson, who is now in his 80s, has his own website: (NOTE: Mr. Gunderson’s original website was taken down shortly after his death in 2011. Here is an archived link to the site courtesy of the Internet Archive. It may take a few seconds to load. [WTW Jan. 22, 2013])

Oddly enough, despite dire warnings about the Illuminati, the assassination of Sonny Bono and the D.C. prostitutes who know the real story behind the 9/11 attacks, not one word about guillotines or organ harvesting was found on the website.To be fair, not every link was checked, so if anyone out there can provide the link, Watching the Watchdogs will recant immediately.

So, what do we have at the end of the day? A claim made by the SPLC about “guillotines” that was slickly polished and packaged and sent into the world by their PR guru, Mark Potok’s highly efficient press release service.

The “report” is picked up by the Blogosphere and the mainstream media, none of which performed even the most rudimentary fact checks, and is dutifully regurgitated and repeated until it “becomes truth”.

Even the octogenarian ex-FBI agent, who apparently has never met a conspiracy theory he didn’t like, makes no mention of the guillotines, the organ harvests or the “patriot gathering” on his own website. LexisNexis has no  record of the events and nothing turned up on YouTube or Google Video.

Once again, the SPLC cooks up a steaming plate of fund-raising tripe, and once again, the Media and other left-wing “advocates” lap it up without bothering to ask what’s in it.

Although the SPLC’s “report” is entirely undocumented, as usual, you can find a link to their donation center at the bottom of the web page, as usual.

SPLC: “Potok’s Pinheads”

November 15, 2009

As its increasingly elderly donor base shuffles invariably toward that actuarial inevitability that awaits us all, the Southern Poverty Law Center is always on the lookout for innovative ways to attract new blood.

As a more positive counterpoint to his somewhat grim “Hate Map,” SPLC public relations guru, Mark Potok dreamed up a brilliant device he calls the “Stand Strong Against Hate” map.

In exchange for nothing more than your full name, postal and e-mail addresses, you too can “stand strong” and become a digital pinhead on an interactive national map.

By adding their personal information to the SPLC’s massive mailing list, pinheads are assured that they are doing their part in “stopping the racist backlash from infecting your community.”

Interestingly, the site makes no mention of exactly how being a pinhead will stop the backlash, or what becomes of your personal information?

It goes without saying that you will soon begin to receive donation requests within weeks of taking a stand.  A skeptic, however, realizing that SPLC founder Morris Dees was inducted into the Direct Marketing Association’s Hall of Fame in 1998 for his fund raising prowess, and who has been known to buy and barter a few mailing lists in his day, might wonder if the esteemed “civil rights icon” might not be tempted to sell or rent your info to the highest bidder.

No guarantees of privacy are given or implied.

The text accompanying the map repeats Potok’s spurious statistics about alleged “hate groups” and even offers visitors the opportunity to report their own “hate incidents,” after signing up for the pinhead program, of course.

Potok and his minions will follow up on the reports, as long as no actual investigation or documentation is required. As Potok told the Postcrescent.com on July 6, 2009, his all-important “Intelligence Report,” the keystone of all SPLC fund-raising propaganda and source of data for the Hate Map, “…relies on media, citizen and law enforcement reports, and does not include original reporting by SPLC staff.”

Simply brilliant. Is it any wonder that PR man Potok is compensated with more than $143,000 donor dollars a year? It hardly seems like enough when you consider the tens of millions of donor dollars Mr. Potok’s whimsical creations bring into the Center’s coffers each year.

Who can estimate how many of the $156 million donor dollars residing in the SPLC’s “Endowment Fund” are the direct result of Mr. Potok’s efforts? Potok really deserves a bigger cut of the donor pie.

There’s plenty of cash to go around, kids, and no doubt Potok’s Pinheads will be called upon to add their mite to the all important donor pot, too.

Hate doesn’t stand a chance against the power of pinheads.


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