Posts Tagged ‘Laird Wilcox’

Hate Crime Hoaxes

July 25, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SPLC 2014 — The “Hate Group” Bubble Pops!

March 9, 2014

It’s no secret that America has witnessed a decline in manufacturing over the decades. Apparently the Southern Poverty Law Center’s manufactured “hate groups” are no longer immune to market forces either. Their latest “Hate Map” fundraising tool, purporting to identify the SPLC’s list of “hate groups” for 2013 indicates a 6.6% decrease from the previous year.

While 6.6% may not seem like much in the real world, it is nearly unprecedented in the history of the SPLC. Considering the fact that there is no legal definition for “hate group,” the SPLC’s Public Relations Chief, Mark Potok, has simply manufactured as many as he needed each year to maintain the organization’s ongoing fear campaign. Last year he lowered his “hate group” count by half a percent voluntarily and now a second, much larger cut. What gives?

Since the “supply” of hate groups has never been a problem for Mr. Potok, we can only assume that the recent downward trend represents a collapse in “demand” for his dubious product.

[NOTE: In the spirit of full disclosure, last year we remarked that the 2012 decline in “hate groups” was the first in SPLC history, but as Mr. Potok’s own graph below indicates, there was a mysterious, and short-lived,  14% drop recorded in 1999. We stand corrected. WTW]

Click image to enlarge (Source: www.splcenter.org)

Click image to enlarge (Source: http://www.splcenter.org)

Mr. Potok acknowledges the drop in his annual “Year in Hate and Extremism” screed, but as we’ve pointed out on numerous occasions, his claims of “spectacular growth” since the election of President Obama have never held much water.

“After four years of spectacular growth driven by the 2008 election of President Obama and the nearly simultaneous collapse of the economy, the radical right in America saw its first significant decrease in 2013.”

2009: The first full year of the Obama Administration and the worst year of the Great Recession returned “spectacular growth” of .6%

2010: Mr. Potok adds 70 new “hate groups” to his map, but at the same time the number of “homeless hate groups,” those Mr. Potok cannot locate on any map, including his own, jumped by 99, for a net loss of 2.9%

2011: Mr. Potok adds 16 new “hate groups” to his Hate Map for a mighty increase of 1.6%. That same year Mr. Potok states: “But Potok said the [Ku Klux] Klan has disintegrated. “There is no Klan now,” he said, only a collection of squabbling organizations. (www.sanluisobispo.com, March 23, 2011)

Doesn’t it seem a little odd that Mr. Potok would proclaim the disintegration of the KKK at the height of his alleged “hate group” boom? Or maybe “bubble” is a more accurate term. After a “spectacular growth” of -.6% for the first Obama Administration, Mr. Potok’s “hate groups” went into the visible decline of the past two years. The market can only absorb so much.

“Ah, well,” will say the Faithful, “There are still 939 “hate groups” on the Hate Map, [940, by our count, there’s one skulking in Alaska– WTW], which obviously proves that Mr. Potok and the SPLC are on to something!” Well, not so much.

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If you paste Mr. Potok’s “hate group” data into a spreadsheet, which you can download here, you’ll find some glaring “irregularities.”

If you sort the spreadsheet by Location (Column C), you find that Mr. Potok has no idea where 220 of his 940 groups are hiding. We know they are really, really there because Mr. Potok says they are really there. That’s 23% right off the top. THIS is “hard data”?

Let’s take New England, for example, sorted by State (Column D):

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Mr. Potok designated 32 “hate groups” for New England but he has no idea where 20 of them are hiding. That’s 33% off the top for Massachusetts, 66% for Vermont and New Hampshire (IHM and the Immaculate Heart of Mary are located in the same building in flyspeck Richmond, population 1,100 and change), 80% for Connecticut, and an incredibly ridiculous 100% for Maine and Rhode Island.

Again, friends… THIS is hard data?

Observant readers will note that while Mr. Potok fastidiously assigned every New England state its own chapter of the Klan, he doesn’t seem to know where any of them are located.

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In all fairness to Mr. Potok, it should be noted that the Loyal White Knights are an entirely new Klan group and the problem of locating them goes far beyond the rocky shores and granite hills of New England. Of the 51 chapters of the Loyal White Knights Mr. Potok has assigned to the entire United States, he is not able to locate 36 of them, or 70%.

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No wonder they call themselves “The Invisible Empire.”

Granted, it’s not just new Klan groups that are hard to find. Mr. Potok has misplaced entire groups of Neo-Nazis:

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White Nationalists:

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And more Racist Skinheads than you can imagine:

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And even when Mr. Potok does assign a city or town to one of his designated “hate groups” it still gives us absolutely no evidence that most of these groups even exist.

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

Mr. Wilcox set the standard for identifying Conservative and right-wing groups through a series of guides he published through the 1990s:

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Mr. Wilcox engaged in actual research and fact-checking, something no one in the modern media will bother to do, to provide usable information that could be cross-checked, verified or debunked:

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Mr. Wilcox even did something unthinkable, by Mr. Potok’s standards: He documented Progressive and left-wing groups as well as the Radical Right:

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The Southern Poverty Law Center doesn’t really see much of a problem with the Radical Left. As Mr. Potok explained to Madeleine Morgenstern a couple years ago, “We’re not really set up to cover the extreme Left.”

And why would they be? There’s not nearly as much money in it.

Granted, many of the entries in Mr. Wilcox’ guides give little more than a P.O. box, but even that information is useful in helping the public and the Media judge the real potential threats of Mr. Potok’s alleged “hate groups.”

If Laird Wilcox could come up with this much information working on a shoe-string budget and using 1991 technology, why can’t Mark Potok do the same using the Internet and the SPLC’s hundreds of millions of cash on hand?

The simple fact is that he doesn’t have to. Visit your favorite online news aggregator and do a simple keyword search for “hate groups” and you’ll receive hundreds of recent hits, all referring to Mr. Potok’s Hate Map fundraising tool and very, very few contesting his spurious claims.

Last year, well-meaning donors believed Mr. Potok’s phony numbers and sent the SPLC $37,503,858 donor-dollars, or just over $103,000 every single day. This is why Mr. Potok, who is a public relations guy and not an attorney, received an annual compensation package in excess of $163,000 last year.

It makes no difference if Mr. Potok designates 800, 900 or 1,200 “hate groups” in a given year. His gullible donors will swallow any line he feeds them and Media will never say a word.

The SPLC and the “Protocols of Ritual Defamation”

January 22, 2013

Below is an instructive treatise on the ways in which special interest groups, such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and other so-called “civil rights” groups, control the conversation by denigrating and dehumanizing the “other.”

The SPLC uses terms like “radical Right,” “nativist,” “traditionalist,” the nonsensical “neo-Confederate” and its all-time money maker, “hate group,” (which got an innocent man shot in D.C. in 2012),  to fire up the donors without accusing the target groups of any actual wrongdoing.

Even the disclaimer on the legend on the SPLC’s “Hate Map” fundraising tool concedes the fact that: “Listing here does not imply a group advocates or engages in violence or other criminal activity.” What gets one on the “Hate Map” is not breaking laws, but rather, having wrong thoughts.

The SPLC certainly did not invent defamation and dehumanization. American military history is full of examples of the careful dehumanization of the enemy in order to make him easier to attack. “Towel-heads,” “Camel Jockeys,” “Gooks,” “Japs,” “Nips,” “Krauts,” and “Huns” have all entered the American lexicon over the past century. The SPLC has merely moved the technique from the battlefield to the “non-profit” bank vault.

The following brief essay, by Laird Wilcox, explains the propaganda techniques as neatly and succinctly as any we’ve seen and can be found online at http://www.overalltech.net/pub/Quotations-Propaganda.pdf   (See pages 118 – 121)

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The Protocols of Ritual Defamation: How values, opinions and beliefs are controlled in democratic societies.

By Laird Wilcox, 2002

“The critical element in political maneuver for advantage is the creation of meaning: the construction of  beliefs about the significance of events, of problems, of crisis, of policy changes, and of leaders. The strategic need is to immobilize opposition and mobilize support. While coercion and intimidation help to check resistance in all political systems, the key tactic must always be the evocation of meanings that legitimize favored courses of action…” MURRAY EDELMAN, “Political Language and Political Reality,” PS, Winter 1985.

“At the extreme, the process of stereotyping eventuates in dehumanization: the enemy is judged to be so inhumanly evil or contemptible that anything may be done to “it” without subjectively compromising one’s own humanity and sense of loyalty.” AUSTIN TURK, Political Criminality, 1982.

“Freedom of the mind requires not only, or not even especially, the absence of legal constraints but the presence of alternative thoughts. The most successful tyranny is not the one that uses force to assure uniformity but the one that removes the awareness of other possibilities.” ALAN BLOOM, The Closing of the American Mind, 1987.

Definitions: The term “protocol” refers to a set of rules or established method. The term “ritual” refers to a predictable, stereotyped pattern that embraces number of elements, as in a ritual.

The term “defamation” refers to the destruction or attempted destruction of the reputation, status, or standing in the community of a person or group of like-minded persons by deliberately unfair, false, misleading or hateful communication.

Defamation might be confused with mere criticism, opposition or expression of opinion, which is necessary for a free society. The essence of a democratic system depends on a large degree of freedom of expression and of give and take in the marketplace of ideas. It is only through the vigorous exploration of alternative explanations and sorting of conflicting facts and competing ideas that wise and reasonably just decisions can take place.

Hypersensitive individuals or groups often claim to have been unfairly defamed when they have merely been criticized or challenged with results unsatisfactory to themselves.

It is important to differentiate between deliberate ritual defamation on the one hand, and mere criticism and disagreement on the other.

For the purposes of this brief essay, the central element is defamation and the necessarily accompanying stigmatization in retaliation for the real or imagined attitudes, opinions or beliefs of the subject, with the intention of silencing or neutralizing his or her influence, and/or making an example of them so as to discourage similar independence and “insensitivity” or non-observance of taboos on the part of others.

Ritual defamation differs in nature and degree from simple criticism or disagreement in that it is aggressive, organized, premeditated and skillfully applied with the idea of neutralizing or eliminating an opponent rather than simply refuting or proving him incorrect. Ritual defamation is often performed by an organization or representative of a special interest group.

The elements of a Ritual Defamation are these:

1. In a ritual defamation the subject (hereinafter referred to as the “offender”) must have violated a particular taboo in some way, usually by expressing or identifying with a forbidden attitude, opinion or belief. It is not necessary that he “do” anything about it or undertake any particular course of action, only that they engage in some form of communication or expression. In some cases even that is not necessary, only that they are associated with or “linked” to a taboo idea or behavior in some way. It is largely directed against presumed attitudes, opinions or beliefs.

2. The primary method of attack in a ritual defamation is to assail the character of the offender, and never to offer more than a perfunctory challenge to the particular attitudes, opinions or beliefs expressed or implied. Any kind of debate with the offender is absolutely forbidden. The primary tool of ritual defamation is stigmatization through character assassination.

3. An important rule in ritual defamation is to avoid engaging in any kind of debate over the truthfulness or reasonableness of what has been expressed, only to condemn it. To debate the issue opens the issue up for examination and discussion of its merits and to consider the evidence or arguments that may support the forbidden views, which is just what the ritual defamer is trying to avoid. The primary goal of a ritual defamation is censorship and repression and marginalization of the offender.

4. The offender is often somebody in the public eye – someone who is vulnerable to public opinion – although perhaps in a very modest way. It could be a businessman, schoolteacher, public official, newspaper writer, scholar, or merely an outspoken citizen. Visibility enhances vulnerability to ritual defamation.

5. An attempt, often successful, is made to involve others in the ritual defamation. In the case of a public official, other public officials will be urged to denounce the offender. In the case of a student, other students will be called upon to reject and ostracize them, in the case of a teacher, other teachers will be recruited, and so on.

6. In order for a ritual defamation to be effective, the offender must be dehumanized to the extent that he becomes thoroughly identified with the offending attitude, opinion or belief, and in a manner which distorts it to the point where it appears at its most extreme. For example, a victim who is defamed as a “subversive” will be identified with the worst images of subversion, such as espionage, terrorism and treason. An offender defamed as a “pervert” will be identified with the worst images of perversion, including child molestation and rape. An offender defamed as a “racist” or “anti-Semite” will be identified with the worst images of racism or hatred of Jews, such as lynchings or gas chambers.

7. To be maximally successful, a ritual defamation must bring pressure and humiliation on the offender from every quarter, including family and friends. If the offender has schoolchildren, they may be taunted and ridiculed as a consequence of adverse publicity. If the offender is employed they may be ostracized or fired from their job. If the offender belongs to clubs or associations, other members maybe urged to expel them.

8. Ritual defamation is highly symbolic and emotional and is designed to largely bypass rational cognitive processes. In its modern form it is a relatively sophisticated method of focusing hatred through skillful (albeit unprincipled) manipulation of symbols, prejudices and ideas.

9. Any explanation the offender may offer, including the claim of being wronged or misunderstood, is considered irrelevant.
To claim truth as a defense for a politically incorrect value, opinion or belief is interpreted as defiance and only compounds the problem.

Ritual defamation, it must be emphasized, is not necessarily an issue of being wrong or incorrect about a matter, but rather of “insensitivity” and failing to observe social taboos.

An interesting aspect of ritual defamation as a practice is its universality. It is not specific to any value, opinion or belief or to any group or subculture. It may be used against any political, ethnic, national or religious group. It may, for example, be used by anti-Semites against Jews, or by Jews against anti-Semites; by right-wingers against left-wingers, or vice-versa, and so on.

The power of ritual defamation lies entirely in its capacity to intimidate and terrorize through the use of stigmatization.  It embraces some elements of primitive superstitious behavior, as in placing a “curse” or “hex” upon selected victims. It results in the tainting, labeling or marking of a person as “impure,” somehow less than human and as an outcast. It is a tool often used against rebels and dissenters. In totalitarian societies it is a primary means of control.

A literary example of ritual defamation is Nathaniel Hawthorn’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, where a young woman was forced to wear a large “A” on her clothing to indicate that she had committed adultery. A historical example might be the witch hunts that occurred in colonial America. A more modern example might be the McCarthy period of the 1950’s, where both Communist and non-Communist leftists were charged with disloyalty and subversion, and recent crusades for “political correctness” in American society have produced a large number of victims unfairly linked to ideas or beliefs they do not hold.

Ritual defamation plays into the subconscious fear most people have of being shunned, abandoned or rejected by the tribe or community and its accompanying psychological support systems. For some victims the experience can be terrifying. Only the strongest psyches can survive it undamaged. The weakness of ritual defamation lies in its tendency toward overkill and in its obvious maliciousness.

More analytical or reflective citizens might perceive it as bullying, harassment or mere cruelty. Occasionally a ritual defamation will fail because of poor planning and failure to correctly judge the vulnerability of the offender, or because its unprincipled viciousness generates sympathy for them.

It is important to recognize and identify the patterns of a ritual defamation. Like virtually all propaganda and disinformation campaigns it is accomplished primarily through the manipulation of meaning and the use of words and symbols that characterize, identify and stigmatize. It is not used to persuade an opponent or to promote an opposing viewpoint but to inflict public punishment and humiliation.

Dr. Edward Manner, professor of philosophy at Notre Dame University, observes that “stigmatization is one of the most oppressive, inhumane forms of punishment any group of human beings can inflict on one of its members.” He notes that it is “a form of social control a civilized society will use rarely, and only with the greatest of care.”

Permission to reprint What is Political Extremism? and/or The Protocols of Ritual Defamation in full is granted providing no changes are made.

Laird Wilcox
Email: lwilcox3@aol.com


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