Posts Tagged ‘Klan’

SPLC — Black “Hate Groups” Outnumber The Klan

April 10, 2015

With the recent release of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s latest “Hate Map” fundraising tool, we’ve had a chance to crunch the numbers once again, and , once again, we find them lacking.

We’ve been making this point for several years now and inevitably we run into the same cognitively dissonant crowd who swear that “The SPLC said it. I believe it. That settles it.”

Since you can’t really fight that mentality, the best option is to go with it and agree with them. The disbelievers own these numbers and so this simple factoid is (still) their own:

According to the SPLC’s own “hate group” numbers, the largest single category of “hate group” in these United States is Black and/or Muslim. See it for yourselves.

If you go to the SPLC’s “Hate Map” fundraising tool and click on any state (pick a larger one for this exercise) and then scroll down, you’ll find an itemized list of which alleged “groups” reside in any given town, or, as it turns out, reside in no known location whatsoever, as with this stupidity that we documented in a previous post:

Click Image to Enlarge

Click Image to Enlarge

Yeah. The SPLC claims 19 chapters of “The Aryan Strikeforce” but somehow cannot locate 18 of those chapters on any map, including their own.

Call us picky, but here at Watching the Watchdogs such wishful thinking simply isn’t good enough and so these homeless “hate groups” cannot be counted. 

It’s not like the SPLC provides any information about the alleged Strikeforce chapter in Somerville (although if you do click on the Somerville link the “Hate Map” will show you where in New Jersey Somerville is located. Big deal!), but if they cannot even be bothered to make up some backwoods hamlet to create a fig leaf of credibility, it’s not our fault.

And so, after adding up numbers for the four biggest categories of white “hate groups,” and stripping out the padding of the phantom groups, we come up with the following numbers:

Click Image to Enlarge

Click Image to Enlarge

And so we see, according to the SPLC’s own numbers, minus the homeless “hate groups,” Black Separatist groups, composed mostly of the Nation of Islam, the Black Panthers and the Israelite Church of God, far outnumber the Klan, Neo-Nazis, Skinheads and White Nationalist groups respectively.

[*The SPLC’s list of White Nationalists includes five chapters marked “Statewide” and five marked “Incomplete,” which are meaningless terms so we stripped them out. Even if you leave them in, though, there are still more Black hate groups, according to the SPLC.]

This is nothing new, folks. We first reported this ridiculous finding in 2011 and nothing has changed in the intervening years since.

So for all of you die-hard Southern Poverty Law Center loyalists who simply cannot conceive that your beloved Champions of Justice could either:

A.) Possibly make an error regarding “hate groups,”


B.) Simply make up fundraising crap as they go along,

then you own this “statistic.”

These are your numbers, not ours.

Book Review: “For the Kingdom and the Power”

January 3, 2015

We recently had the opportunity to read Dale Laackman’s debut book, For the Kingdom and the Power: The Big Money Swindle that Spread Hate Across America (June, 2014, S. Woodhouse Books), which deals with the phenomenal growth of the “new” Ku Klux Klan in America during the 1920s.

Two things drew our attention to this title. First was Mr. Laackman’s recent appearance on CSPAN’s “Book TV” and the second was a glowing endorsement by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s own PR Guru, Mark Potok, which appears on the link cited above.

Most of us have seen dated photos of thousands of Klansmen marching through Washington, DC, in  1925, and read about a Klan membership in the millions during that time, but Mr. Laackman goes beyond the simple knee-jerk visuals and gives a more in-depth review of the actual events on the ground.

Click Image to Enlarge

Click Image to Enlarge

The opening line of Laackman’s book reads: “This is not a book about the Klan,” and indeed, it is not. This is a book about a pair of shrewd Public Relations experts who saw an opportunity to glom onto a growing movement and make a ton of money, regardless of the racist messages and criminal activities committed by many of that group’s members.

The Modern Ku Klux Klan was founded in Georgia in 1915 by one William Joseph Simmons, who described his group as a modern day successor to the organization created by Nathan Beford Forrest immediately after the Civil War. Forrest’s Klan was designed to terrorize blacks and deny them their civil rights by any expedient means, including murder. Simmons’ Klan wrapped itself in a patina of honor, duty and patriotism, and sought to continue Forrest’s war on blacks, as well as Jews, Catholics and all other “aliens.”

Simmons created his organization completely from scratch, including the bylaws, rules and rituals for the governance of each Klan unit. What Simmons possessed in creativity, however, he completely lacked in business acumen. By 1920, Simmons was nearly broke and membership in his KKK was somewhere in the 3,000 range.

Enter Edward Young Clarke and Elizabeth “Bessie” Tyler, two natural-born promoters who had recently joined forces to create their own, rather successful Southern Publicity Association in Atlanta. Tyler’s son-in-law had joined the Klan and had mentioned Simmon’s business difficulties to Clarke and Tyler, who immediately saw an opportunity to apply modern public relations techniques and skim off a large slice of the profits for themselves. They met with Simmons and struck a deal whereby the Southern Publicity Association would undertake the promotion of the KKK in exchange for 80% of all new member fees. To Simmons, who was on the verge of losing everything for which he had worked, even a paltry $2 dollars a head for new members sounded like the deal of a lifetime.

To make a long story short, the PR partners produced amazing results almost immediately. Within a year, Klan membership had swelled to over a million and would peak at nearly 5 million three years later. The movement had spread far beyond the South into all corners of the country and boasted important members from local police and government officials to governors, congressmen and senators. Clarke and Tyler became fabulously wealthy overnight, not only from membership fees but from a monopoly on the production of Klan regalia and supplies.

Laackman provides key insights into the popularity of the Klan, especially in the early 1920s, when membership in all kinds of fraternal organizations was at an all time high. It is important to remember that these groups, including the Elks, Freemasons, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Eagles, Moose, Ruritans, Grange, etc., served as important networks in the days long before Linkdin and Facebook. These groups provided a venue for men to meet and interact in ways that they rarely would in the course of their day-to-day careers and lives. They all promoted patriotism and religious values, as well as the advantages of the Capitalist way of life.

Most of the members of the new Klan held membership in more than one fraternal organization, and most were unaware of the violence underlying this latest group. To most, the Ku Klux Klan was just another organization, as shown by the equally rapid decline in membership after a series of highly publicized newspapers stories broke on the criminal and financial workings of the Klan, especially the roles played by Clarke and Tyler. Laackman gives membership numbers of 3,000 in 1920, 5,000,000 by 1925, back down to 5,000 by 1930.

While some, like the SPLC’s Potok, point in their fundraising propaganda to the Klan’s peak membership in 1925 as proof positive of the natural racism inherent in all white Protestant men, the numbers show that most of the membership did not agree with the Klan’s violent tendencies and abandoned the group as quickly as they had joined.

We won’t give away the fascinating details of this rapid rise and fall, or the many intrigues surrounding the key players. Laackman’s book does a very good job describing the events and is worth the read. We recommend it.

The one complaint we do have with For the Kingdom and the Power is a tendency to be unnecessarily verbose in sections, which often have only tangential connections to the main story.

For example, no recounting of the modern KKK would be complete without mentioning the famous/infamous 1915 film, Birth of a Nation, which painted the original Klan in an extremely favorable light. Laackman gives a good accounting of the film, including its use of many groundbreaking cinematic techniques, but not before giving us two paragraphs on Thomas Edison’s invention of the film camera and projector, followed by two pages on the early life of director D.W. Griffith.

A discussion of anti-Catholicism in 20th century America is preceded by a chapter on Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn  and the Reformation.

In recounting the life of Bessie Tyler, Laackman gives us the address of the home where she was born, as cited by the US Census Bureau (“Militia District 469, Cooks (east part), Fulton, Georgia, enumeration district 0028, household ID-114”). Even in historical non-fiction there is such a thing as too much information.

In these cases, we suspect the padding has less to do with any pedantic inclinations on the part of the author and more to do with a minimum page or word count requirement set by the publisher. It is a minor irritant in the course of the book as a whole.

Another fascinating aspect of the book is how easily one could take Laackman’s recounting of the PR techniques practiced by the Southern Publicity Association in promoting the savagely racist KKK and compare them to those used by alleged anti-racist organizations today.

It’s little wonder that the SPLC’s Mark Potok calls For the Kingdom and the Power “a splendid book,” noting that “Dale Laackman shows how the group’s exponential growth was driven almost entirely by an unlikely pair of public relations experts who turned out to be consummate swindlers.” Mr. Potok, no doubt, recognizes many of his organization’s own PR ploys in the course of the text.

If Mr. Laackman is looking for material for his next splendid tome, we can provide him with a trove of data on how groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism routinely exploit the fears of good people to further their own aims.

Given that Mr. Laackman has received an endorsement from Mr. Potok, and has cited the SPLC’s dubious numbers in his first book, the odds of such a follow-up tale are remote at best.

If you change your mind, Mr. Laackman, you know how to reach us!

SPLC — Send Millionaire Mo money for his birthday

December 16, 2009

December 16 is the birthday of Klan lawyer and Southern Poverty Law Center founder, millionaire Morris Dees.

For those who may have forgotten the big day, the SPLC has sent out a special reminder that also doubles as a fund-raising tool.

For a cash donation, you can send Mr. Dees a personalized birthday greeting.  “We’ll make sure he receives your message” promises the pitch. You have no way of verifying this claim, but hey, has the SPLC ever lied to you before?

For as little as ten dollars, you too can “honor” Mr. Dees’ “tireless crusade for justice and tolerance.” A bargain at twice the price.

But wait! There’s more! If you commit to a monthly donation payment plan, you can “join a special group called Friends of the Center.” What better way to honor the lawyer who has gotten more Klansmen OUT of prison than he’s ever sent there?

“Special Friends” get their names projected on the Wall of Tolerance at SPLC headquarters, an honor exceeding even that of joining Potok’s Pinheads on the Stand Strong Against Hate map.

As Mr. Dees points out in his autobiography, A Season for Justice, this ol’ Alabama farm boy made his first fortune while still in law school. After graduation, Mr. Dees created one of the most successful mail-order companies of the 1960s. So successful, in fact, that soon after getting Montgomery Klansman Claude Henley off scot-free from federal charges of attacking a busload of Freedom Riders, Dees closed his law office in order to concentrate on the world of direct mail full-time.

As the decade of the 60s wound down to a close, Dees sold the business for six million dollars. Mr. Dees has been a millionaire for the nearly forty years since.

The SPLC has enjoyed support in the range of $26 million to $30 million donor dollars for each of the past five years, in addition to nearly matching amounts from the interest on their $156 MILLION donor dollar Endowment Fund, (although the fund did take a nearly $50 million dollar hit last year, dropping it from a record $201 million).

As reported here just recently, of the $30 million donor dollars the SPLC took in last year, only $1.36 million, or 4.5%, went to actual “legal case costs”. Meanwhile, the SPLC spent $1.88 million donor dollars on fund-raising postage.

So dig deep, friends. Fund-raising postage costs are bound to go up again next year. Millionaire Morris Dees scrapes by on a paltry compensation of $350,000 a year, (including the $20,000 donor dollar raise he gave himself in 2008), and $10,000 a pop for his frequent speaking engagements.

Honor Millionaire Mo for his achievements, like the Direct Marketing Association did when they named him to their fund-raising Hall of Fame. It’s only money.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Dees!

Morris Dees — SPLC Founder and Klan Lawyer

September 18, 2009

On pages 84-85 of his 1991 autobiography, A Season for Justice*, SPLC founder Morris Dees brags about accepting $5,000 dollars from the Montgomery chapter of the Ku Klux Klan to represent one of their members in federal court.

On May 20, 1961, when a busload of black and white Freedom Riders arrived in Montgomery, Alabama, they were met with what Time magazine described as “An idiot, club-swinging mob of about 100…” The idiot leading the mob was one Claude Henley.

Klansman Claude Henley at “work”

More photos of Henley’s handiwork from LIFE magazine here (pages 22-25)

In 1962, with an arraignment in federal court hanging over his head, Henley went to visit Morris Dees at his law office. Dees says that he was on the verge of agreeing  to represent the Klan thug for $500 dollars until Henley mentioned that another lawyer had wanted $15,000 to take the case. Dees seized the moment and said he would do the job for “only” $5,000.

(It should be mentioned that in 1962, $5,000 dollars was the median income for a family of four. To put it in perspective, that sum would be worth roughly $42,000 in 2018 dollars.)

Dees took the case, and despite the appearance in Life magazine of a photograph of Henley attacking a photographer during the riot, Dees had no trouble getting Henley off scott-free.

Dees wrote that after the Henley case he had an epiphany and had arrived at a “turning point.” Apparently, not to the point of turning the money over to the victims or to charity, however. Dees cashed the Klan’s check and kept the money.

Perhaps even more damning is that within pages of describing his work for Claude Henley, Dees writes that he and his partner closed their law office soon after in order to devote their full attention to their hugely successful mail order business.

Dees, who made his first million while still in law school, didn’t need the Klan’s money.

And with that kind of money behind him, Henley was far from indigent. Also, given the substantial sum involved, one has to wonder if the Montgomery Klan simply picked Dees out of the phone book at random, or if they had prior dealings with him in the past?

Anyone who has read much SPLC propaganda knows that one of their favorite spin techniques is to smear individuals based on the most tenuous of past associations. By all SPLC definitions, Morris S. Dees is a Klan lawyer.


*A Season for Justice: The life and times of civil rights lawyer Morris Dees,” (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.)

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