Posts Tagged ‘Mark Potok’

SPLC — “Violent Hate Crime up in 2018!”

November 15, 2019

Nobody should ever be the victim of a crime, especially a hate crime.

Earlier this week, the Southern Poverty Law Center issued a press release making the claim that “New FBI report shows increase in violent hate crime in 2018.” As usual, the claim was picked up and repeated by the Media, and, as usual, a simple review of the source data shows that the SPLC’s claim is, shall we say, less than accurate.

In ancient times, this simple review would be known as “journalism.”

The report, authored by out-going SPLC Intelligence Project Director Heidi Beirich (more on that later), opens with a very subtle rewording of the original headline, citing the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) report for 2018, “Although the FBI report released today shows a minuscule decline in all hate crimes in 2018, it shows a 12 percent rise in hate crimes involving violence [emphasis added].”

The rewording, from “violent hate crimes” to “hate crimes involving violence” is so subtle as to be elegant. Here is what the FBI UCR actually says:

2017 2018 FBI UCR Hate Crimes - Persons

As the highlighted cells show, there was a 12% increase in the number of “crimes against persons” reported in 2018, however, violent crimes, such as murder and rape were virtually unchanged and there were 30 more aggravated assaults reported over 2017, or an increase of 4%. The FBI defines aggravated assault as:

Aggravated Assault—An unlawful attack by one person upon another wherein the offender uses a weapon or displays it in a threatening manner, or the victim suffers obvious severe or aggravated bodily injury involving apparent broken bones, loss of teeth, possible internal injury, severe laceration, or loss of consciousness.

This also includes assault with disease (as in cases when the offender is aware that he/she is infected with a deadly disease and deliberately attempts to inflict the disease by biting, spitting, etc.)

Nobody should ever be the victim of a crime, especially a hate crime.

The UCR report does show an increase in simple assaults, defined as:

Simple Assault—An unlawful physical attack by one person upon another where neither the offender displays a weapon, nor the victim suffers obvious severe or aggravated bodily injury involving apparent broken bones, loss of teeth, possible internal injury, severe laceration, or loss of consciousness

No weapon. No obvious bodily injury. Any incident where one party lays hands on another, such as pushing or shoving, qualifies as a simple assault, though calling that a violent crime is quite a stretch, even for the SPLC.

A drunken fist fight outside a bar at midnight might meet Dr. Beirich’s claim of a crime with violence, but it hardly qualifies as a lynching. The UCR report does not break its simple assault incidents into hard categories. There is no way to sort out the truly violent incidents from the others.

The other category showing an increase of 232 incidents over 2017 is intimidation:

Intimidation—To unlawfully place another person in reasonable fear of bodily harm through the use of threatening words and/or other conduct, but without displaying a weapon or subjecting the victim to actual physical attack

By definition, there is no violence involved in intimidation. These incidents may qualify as “crimes against persons” (making up a full 45% of that category) but not as crimes with violence and definitely not as violent crimes. While nobody should ever be placed in fear of harm, intimidation is entirely subjective.

Another major factor to consider is that while the UCR reports alleged “incidents,” these incidents are not actual crimes, even hate crimes, until determined by a court of law. In many cases, charges are dropped or never filed at all. The UCR’s Methodology section highlights the inherent difficulties in proving deliberate bias in a crime:

Because motivation is subjective, it is sometimes difficult to know with certainty whether a crime resulted from the offender’s bias. Moreover, the presence of bias alone does not necessarily mean that a crime can be considered a hate crime. Only when a law enforcement investigation reveals sufficient evidence to lead a reasonable and prudent person to conclude that the offender’s actions were motivated, in whole or in part, by his or her bias, should an agency report an incident as a hate crime.

At the end of the day, the 2018 UCR shows only a minor uptick in alleged violent crimes with 30 more aggravated assault claims in 2018 over 2017. There were 232 more simple assault claims over the same period but there is no way to determine shoving matches from fist fights, and even then, any serious violence would have elevated the incident to an aggravated assault.

In short, there’s not a lot here to base any serious claims of increased violent hate crimes based on an increase of alleged hate “incidents.” Heidi Beirich knows this, but her customer base, the Media and SPLC donors, are shopping for fear and outrage and Dr. B. is only to happy to accommodate them.

Interestingly, Dr. Beirich notes that “About 27 percent of all hate crimes in 2018 – the largest share among all categories – were motivated by anti-black bias.” This would seem to indicate that three-quarters of all alleged incidents, (not necessarily actual crimes) were NOT directed at blacks, which would seem like a positive.

Ironically, the same FBI UCR report claims that at least 24% of the accused perpetrators were black. In fact, the SPLC claims that black “hate groups” make up 23% of the alleged total, and the “largest share among all categories,” nationwide. Apparently, those stats are not as important as Beirich’s “27 percent” claim. There’s no outrage to be gained.

While Dr. Beirich’s claim of a 12% increase in “crimes with violence” seems significant, she writes off the corresponding 15% drop in alleged hate crimes against property in 2018 as “minuscule.”

Speaking of crimes against property, it is worth noting that not all “hate incidents” in the UCR report are created equal.

2017 2018 FBI UCR Hate Crimes - Property

Crimes against property make up 37% of the 2018 incident total right off the top (all confirmable non-violent alleged incidents make up 65% of the total, which does not include non-violent simple assaults).

While we can see how one could make a case for bias-related arson, some robberies and targeted vandalism, we are admittedly at a loss as to how stealing one’s car or burglarizing one’s home are hate crimes. The same is true of Crimes against Society, which, according to the FBI, are “typically victimless crimes” that include gambling, prostitution and drug dealing.

Dr. Beirich’s “report” closes with the obligatory anti-Trump allegation and her boilerplate claim that “250,000 people are victimized by hate crimes every year.” Since Heidi Beirich announced a few weeks ago that she is leaving the scandal-ridden company she has served for twenty years, we want to sincerely wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors.

For the past ten years, Dr. Beirich and her former boss, Mark Potok, have given us here at Watching the Watchdogs more information, more fodder, more smoking guns as to the inner workings of the Southern Poverty Law Center and lesser Hate Industry players. Due to Mr. Potok’s abrupt and mysterious departure from the company a few years ago, we were not able to wish him a proper fond farewell, but for Dr. Beirich we have this parting gift:

Let us assume that the good doctor’s estimate of 250,000 hate crime victims a year, which, as we have seen, includes people who were shoved, called bad names, had their car stolen, bought weed on the street and/or hired a hooker, is spot on, with no questions asked.

That statistic works out to .07%, or seven hundredths of one percent, of the current US population. Hate crimes really do happen. Your odds of being a victim of a hate crime are extremely small. Your odds of being a victim of a violent hate crime, even using Dr. Beirich’s “generous” statistics are infinitesimal.

Nobody should ever be the victim of a crime, especially a hate crime.

Bon voyage, Heidi. You will be missed.

SPLC — “White Nationalists on the Rise!”

September 1, 2019

Ever since the Southern Poverty Law Center released its “Hate Map” fundraising tool for 2018 this past February, the party line has been that “White Nationalist groups are on the rise!” The SPLC bolsters this claim by noting that it had assigned 100 White Nationalist “hate groups” to the US for 2017 and that number had exploded by 48% to 148 for 2018.

Scary news, no doubt, until you recall that the SPLC is the sole arbiter of the “hate group” label. It can claim as many alleged groups as it likes for a given year and nobody in the Media will bother to vet the company’s claims.

Fortunately, we at Watching the Watchdogs are more than happy to take a look. Using nothing more than a desktop computer and basic web searching techniques that any journalist, researcher or donor could easily replicate, we attempted to see how many of the SPLC alleged groups could be located online, if they had physical addresses that could be identified, or any other information that would make their existence seem likely.

We do not claim that these results are absolute by any means. If any of our readers can provide corroborating information we will update our results immediately.

Better still, since the SPLC is known to monitor this blog, perhaps they would be willing to share their information about these alleged groups with us and the donors.

Big claims demand big proof, or any proof, for that matter.

We have color coded our results to highlight important aspects of the claims. Those highlighted in red appear to be defunct, based on news reports or results from the Intern Archives amazing Wayback Machine that indicate a website has been offline for months or more.

Those groups highlighted in blue are new to the “Hate Map” tool, or were at least not present on the 2017 map.

Those highlighted in yellow are the SPLC’s infamous “statewide” phantoms for which the company provides absolutely no documentation whatsoever, not even an alleged city or town. As such, these claims are meaningless and discarded from the get-go.

The SPLC lists 322 of its 1,020 alleged groups as “statewide” for 2018. The company added 107 brand new “statewide” phantoms in 2017 alone, and nobody in the Media called them out on it.

Let’s begin with those alleged groups for which no information could be found. If anyone has information on the location of these alleged groups, please contact us directly, especially the claimants from the SPLC.

WN-No Location-2018

The Shieldwall Network is a new addition to the “Hate Map,” which the SPLC attributes to the known neo-Nazi Billy Roper. According to their own estimates, they are a pretty sad “group” and not much of a threat.

The SPLC actually had a pretty good fix on the one-man “group” known as New Albion last year. After his election to the office of Town Manager for Jackman, Maine, (Population 900), Tom Kawczynski, made no secret of his white nationalist beliefs and his plans to establish a “new Albion” populated by whites only.

As the Daily Kos reported in January, 2018, the people of Jackman pitched in $30,000 out of their own pockets to pay off the racist and send him on his way. Kawcynski told the Daily Kos that he was packing up his one-man website and leaving town.

Jackman’s other “hate group,” the New Right also vanished from the Internet when Kawcynski left town, though nothing definite was found tying the two together.

Identity Evropa was the big winner in this category. In 2017, the SPLC claimed 15 chapters of this group, with four assigned to particular states and the other 11 being “statewide” phantoms. By 2018, the SPLC claimed that the group had more than doubled to 38 alleged chapters, half of which were “statewide,” as we will see below.

From what we can find, Identity Evropa’s main claim to fame is putting stickers on traffic signs and leaving flyers proclaiming “It’s okay to be white!” on college campuses. Other than several “bannering” events where a handful of people have gathered to unfurl banners from overpasses, usually decrying illegal immigration, most of their activity seems to occur late at night as the acts of individuals.

Again, we only have the SPLC’s word for it that these chapters actually exist, as no information for them in these particular states could be found online. Single individuals, just like one-man websites, are not “groups” and the physical threat of Identity Evropa has yet to be proven, especially by the SPLC.

Speaking of one-man websites, we next explore those alleged White Nationalist groups for which nothing more than a website and post office box or private mail box (PMB) from, say, the UPS Store or other mailing services, could be found.

For years, the SPLC denied tracking one-man websites on its annual “Hate Map,” using the boilerplate disclaimer that: “Websites appearing to be merely the work of a single individual, rather than the publication of a group, are not included in this list. “

The 2017 “Hate Map” included this disclaimer, which was subsequently dropped for the most recent, 2018 map:“Entities that appear to exist only in cyberspace are not included because they are likely to be individual Web publishers who likely to falsely portray themselves as powerful, organized froups [sic].”

Also in 2017, long-time SPLC frontman Mark Potok was claiming that: “We make a big effort to separate a man, his dog and a computer from a group with on-the-ground activity.” (Ironically, that same year Mr. Potok, quoted in Esquire magazine, described the neo-Nazi website, The Daily Stormer, as “mostly Andrew Angelin, his dog, and a computer.”

Potok claimed 32 chapters of The Daily Stormer website for 2017 (one in Ohio and 31 “statewide” phantoms) and 21 for 2018, all of which are “statewide.”

On February 21, 2019, SPLC “Outreach Manager” Kate Chance told a crowd of 300 in Mankato, MN, that: “An online presence isn’t enough to be added to the list; a group has to meet at least once a year at a physical location.”

WN-Website 1-2018

WN-Website 2-2018

We counted six alleged “groups” that had physical addresses that could be verified by Google Maps street view tool, but several turned out to be private residences or online vendors.

Patriotic Flags of Summerville, SC, an online vendor, has been on the “Hate Map” for ten years now. While they do offer Confederate battle flags, they also offer historic Confederate state flags, numerous iterations of the US flag with varying numbers of stars, flags of every nation on Earth, including all of Africa, Asia and Israel, “Peace” flags, as well as a number of LGBT “rainbow” flags. Not your typical “white nationalist” fare.

Radix Journal is the blog for the National Policy Institute website, but the SPLC counts them as two separate “groups.”

The H.L. Mencken Club is primarily a website, though they do offer annual conferences, with registration fees starting at $250.

The Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation is another website that offers the occasional get-together. In February, 2019, they invited members to join them for an evening of Viennese waltzing at the Organization of American States embassy in Washington, DC.

The FGF event previous to the Grand Ball was an 80th birthday tribute to publisher Jon Utley in 2014 and a PowerPoint presentation from 2011. This spotty social calendar would seem to fall short of Kate Chance’s claim that “groups” needed to meet at least once a year.

Red Ice Radio, as the name implies, is an online radio station based in Sweden. Its Internet ISP provider is listed as Magill University, in Montreal, Canada. The physical street address given is for a UPS Store in Harrisonburg, VA. Does it seem right that Harrisonburg should be tarred with a “hate group” for a private mail box to a Swedish website?

Website Right Stuff 1

The Right Stuff is the big winner of the website category, growing from 21 alleged chapters with ten “statewide” for 2017, to 34 alleged chapters with 14 “statewide” for 2018. Even the SPLC describes TRS as a blog, but that doesn’t stop them from counting it 34 times.

It’s worth noting that ten TRS chapters are making their “Hate Map” debut this year, with eight others that were listed in 2017 having vanished altogether.

This takes us through 91 of the SPLC’s 148 alleged White Nationalist “hate groups,” and we don’t have a lot to show for it. Let’s wind this up with a peek at the SPLC’s “statewide” phantoms for this category, for which they provide no proof whatsoever.

WN-Statewide-1-2018

As mentioned previously, many of Identity Evropa’s alleged chapters are “statewide,” including many that are making their debut. (Editor’s note: The Washington DC chapter should have been included in the previous IE graphic and not this one. Our apologies.)

WN-Statewide-Evropa-2018

Also mentioned were The Right Stuff’s phantoms, including many new chapters claimed by the SPLC.

WN-Statewide-Right Stuff-2018

The Patriot Front grew from four alleged chapters in 2017, with one assigned to Chicago and the other three “statewide” phantoms, to 15 alleged chapters for 2018, all 15 of which are “statewide.”

The SPLC appears to be losing its “hate groups” faster than it can create them.

WN-Statewide-Patriot-2018

And there we have it. Of the 148 White Nationalist groups claimed by the SPLC for 2018 a full 57 of the alleged groups, or 39% of the total, are “statewide” phantoms, up from 35% in 2017. Another 41% appear to be mainly websites, with little, if any, on-the-ground activity.

Using the same tools available to journalists and donors, we could not find any verifiable evidence for the remaining 20%.

Again, we don’t claim that because we could not find a group that it did not exist, but it is not up to us, to journalists or to donors to prove the SPLC’s claims. It falls squarely to the Southern Poverty Law Center to show their work, to document their claims where everyone can see their proof.

With the hundreds of millions of donor-dollars the SPLC took in over the past two years alone, based largely on their “hate group” claims, we do not feel that this is too much to ask.

Trust, but verify.

 

SPLC — Virginia’s “Hate Groups” 2018

August 16, 2019

Every so often, it is useful to take a closer look at the “hate group” claims made by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In the first of a series of such claims directed at various states, we have examined the “hate groups” the SPLC has assigned to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

First, a little background information:

  1. There is no legal definition for “hate group.” As abhorrent as most people would find the words and deeds of many of these groups, it is important to remember that it is entirely legal to belong to any of them. This is why the FBI and local law enforcement cannot act against them until they actually break the law, or appear to be on the verge of doing so.This observation is not to be interpreted as any kind of endorsement for any group, but a reminder that as soon as individuals decide that “it’s okay to punch a Nazi,” it is only a matter of time before it’s okay to punch someone who “looks like a Nazi,” or “sounds like a Nazi,” or drives a Volkswagen, etc.Sooner or later, someone will decide that YOU must be a Nazi.Until just recently, the SPLC’s “Hate Map” tool always included the boilerplate disclaimer that:

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

    That disclaimer went away a couple years ago, leaving the donors to come to their own conclusions. Another SPLC claim that was attached to every new “Hate Map” until recently read:

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

    The very idea that an organization purporting to defend civil rights would deliberately conflate six of the most fundamental, constitutionally protected First Amendment rights with “criminal acts” and “hate group activities” is beyond comprehension.

  2. The SPLC’s definition of a “hate group” is intentionally broad, so that the company can apply it as widely as possible, as we will shortly see:“All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”“Attack or malign” is too imprecise to be useful, and, as we have pointed out repeatedly in the past, is all too often applied selectively by the SPLC, so as not to offend the almighty donors.Due to the lack of an official or universal definition for “hate group,” the media and donors rely on the SPLC’s claims, thereby making the company the sole arbiter of that extremely lucrative label ($111 million donor-dollars in 2018, $130 million in 2017, way up from a mere $50 million for 2016). 
  3. The SPLC’s definition of “group” is criminally broad to the point of outright fraud. The company has no benchmark for determining how many people actually constitute a “group,” and makes no verifiable estimates of how many members a “group” might actually have.Laird Wilcox, one of the most respected researchers on the Hate Industry, noted nearly 20 years ago:“What [the SPLC] apparently did was list any group they could find mention of, including groups only rumored to exist. These included the large number of “post office box chapters” maintained by Klan and skinhead organizations. Some Christian Identity “ministries” consist only one person and a mailing list and many “patriot groups” consist of but three or four friends.”More recently, in 2015, Mark Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League repeated Wilcox’s findings in the South Jersey Times:“According to Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) the SPLC has a habit of counting single individuals as groups or chapters, which can give a skewed impression of hate groups in any given state.”

    “The [SPLC’s] list is wildly inflated,” said Pitcavage. “They list skinhead groups in places where there are no organized groups, but instead it’s just a couple of individuals.”

     

  4. In addition to numerous PO box “groups,” the SPLC’s “Hate Map” is loaded with one-man websites, something the company has denied counting for years:”Websites appearing to be merely the work of a single individual, rather than the publication of a group, are not included in this list. “The 2017 “Hate Map” included this disclaimer, which was subsequently dropped for the most recent, 2018 map:“Entities that appear to exist only in cyberspace are not included because they are likely to be individual Web publishers who likely to falsely portray themselves as powerful, organized froups [sic].”Also in 2017, long-time SPLC frontman Mark Potok was claiming that: “We make a big effort to separate a man, his dog and a computer from a group with on-the-ground activity.”

    In February, 2019, the SPLC’s new outreach director, Kate Chance, told a gathering in Mankato, Minnesota: “An online presence isn’t enough to be added to the list; a group has to meet at least once a year at a physical location.”

    As we shall see in our examination of Virginia’s SPLC-designated “hate groups” below, these claims are patently and demonstrably false.

The Southern Poverty Law Center assigned 39 “hate groups” to Virginia for 2018. Using basic Internet search skills that any journalist or donor could easily duplicate, we searched for information on each group.

While thorough, we do not in any way claim that these searches are infallible or that other information may not be available elsewhere. If any readers have verifiable information on any of these groups, please contact us through the Comments section at the end of this post.

Better still, since the SPLC is known to monitor this blog, perhaps they would be willing to show their work and share their information with the world and their donors.

Big claims, after all, demand big proof, or any proof, for that matter.

To simplify our results, we broke our findings into three basic sections. The first consists of alleged “groups” where either a physical address could be identified, or those where no information could be found whatsoever.

The second section identifies “groups” that appear to exist only as websites. The last section contains alleged “groups” that the SPLC has designated only as “statewide,” a dubious device that we will explore further in detail.

VaGroups2018-3

Group One

As our Group One results indicate, we were only able to identify five alleged groups with verifiable physical addresses. Using Google Maps street view tool, we were able to identify brick-and-mortar locations with appropriate signage.

Using this tool, we were able to eliminate several other groups listing physical addresses on their websites when those addresses turned out to be private mail forwarding services, such as the UPS Store.

It’s worth noting that the advocacy group, ProEnglish, has been residing in Washington, DC, since at least 2017, according to the Internet Archive’s amazing Wayback Machine, and should not be on Virginia’s list to begin with.

In fact, whether or not you agree with ProEnglish’s stated mission to make English the official language of all federal and state governments, the argument is a legitimate political position, which in no way “attacks or maligns” anyone. Calling the organization a “hate group” because you disagree with the position is disingenuous at best, especially since the vast majority of the world’s nations have one or more official languages.

Three of Virginia’s alleged Black Nationalist groups had verifiable addresses as well. The rhetoric of the Nation of Islam’s leadership clearly falls within most people’s definition of anti-Semitism.

Seventy-six of the 264 Black Nationalist groups the SPLC designated nationwide last year are Nation of Islam mosques, but surprisingly, the company does not consider them to be “Muslim hate groups,” as that would clash with their more lucrative “anti-Muslim hate group” category.

The largest single alleged anti-Muslim group on the map is ACT for America, at 47 iterations, but the national website no longer tracks local units and all new members must sign on as individual activists. If the SPLC can show proof of the locations of any of their ACT groups we’d be very interested in seeing it.

It’s also noteworthy that Virginia’s remaining Black Nationalist “groups” are Black Israelite churches, who are “hateful” because, as the SPLC notes, “Some religious versions assert that black people are the biblical “chosen people” of God.”

Think about that for a moment.

VaGroups2018-Full

Group Two

Group Two of our results are those for which nothing could be found beyond a website and Post Office or Private Mail Box (PMB). While people may gain access to these “groups” through their websites or snail mail, there was nothing on any of the sites to indicate any extensive jackboots-on-the-ground, with one glaring exception.

The Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation (FGF), whose mission since 2003 has been “…to promote and preserve the glorious traditions and culture of Western civilization and Christianity,” invited its members to join them this past February for a magnificent “Evening of Viennese Waltzing” in DC.

Waltzing

If Western Civilization and Christianity were not enough to trigger SPLC donors, a night of waltzing would be money in the bank.

The event previous to the Grand Ball was an 80th birthday tribute to publisher Jon Utley in 2014 and a PowerPoint presentation from 2011.

VDARE and American Renaissance are both online blogs. Washington Summit Publishers, IHS Press and even FGF are online booksellers. In the Spirit of Chartres Committee, “Dedicated to promoting and defending Pre-Vatican II Catholic social teachings…,” offers books like Ethics and the National Economy and Catholicism, Protestantism, and Capitalism, as well as DVDs of lectures recorded in the early 2000s.

The American Immigration Control Foundation is located in picturesque Monterey, Virginia (population 156), which is also home to one of the best maple syrup festivals this side of northern New England. There is more of hotcakes than “hotbeds” in that part of the world.

Red Ice, as its website explains, “delivers videos” and offers “an alternative to the mainstream, covering politics and social issues from a pro-European perspective.” Based in Sweden, they recently announced a presence in Harrisonburg, Va, but the address given is for a UPS Store in a strip mall, and their website ISP is registered in Montreal, Canada.

Harrisonburg is a college town and the local colleges and universities compete nationwide for the best students. Does the town really deserve to be tarnished with a “hate group” over a private mail box for a foreign website?

In all, 15 of Virginia’s alleged “hate groups” appear to exist only as online entities. We won’t pretend that some, perhaps many, will find their content to be offensive, but it is still protected speech and do one or two social Neanderthals running a website really constitute a “group”?

Is it really “attacking and maligning” when you have to physically search these “groups” out in order to be properly outraged?

Perhaps the biggest question would be how many people would ever have heard of these “groups” without the free worldwide publicity generated by the SPLC?

VaGroups2018-Statewide

Group Three

Our last section deals with those alleged “hate groups” the SPLC has merely designated as “statewide,” without even going through the motions of making up an alleged city or town.

As many Watching the Watchdogs readers are painfully aware, our primary focus is to get out the word that the SPLC’s “statewide” designation is worthless for verifying any claims about these groups. As the data provided above demonstrates, even the inclusion of a known location is no guarantee that a “group” actually exists there.

Imagine telling someone that your organization had identified hundreds of active UFO bases across this great land of ours.

“Great Scott!,” they might exclaim. “Where are they?”

“We found 17 in Georgia, 23 in Wisconsin, four more in Rhode Island…”

“This is incredible news! You have to take us there!”

“Um, well, we don’t actually know WHERE the sites are, but we sure as heck know that they are really out there. Trust us!”

People would throw rocks at you, and rightly so. Tell the same folks that you found hundreds of invisible “hate groups,” with no verifiable proof whatsoever, though, and they will throw millions of donor-dollars at you instead.

Incredible news, indeed. Literally.

Nationwide, fully 322 of the 1,020 “hate groups” designated by the SPLC for 2018 are “statewide” phantoms. That works out to one-in-three, just as it does with Virginia’s alleged count. In many states, 80-, 90- and even a full 100% of the groups designated are homeless “statewide” phantoms.

The SPLC padded its “Hate Map” with 107 brand new “statewide” phantoms in 2017 alone. And nobody in the Media said a word.

Just for fun, check out how some of Virginia’s invisible “groups” fare across the country:

VaGroups2018-Statewide-Nationwide

Nationwide “Statewide Groups”

In all, 153 of 194 alleged “groups” turn out to be “statewide” across the country, or, once again, roughly one-in-three. Do you see a pattern here?

We found this exercise to be illuminating and we hope you did as well. As mentioned, we plan on examining the “hate groups” designated to several other states, though we will skip the lengthy preamble next time and get right to the meat.

It is our intention to pass this information along to the Attorney General of Virginia’s consumer fraud division. Considering the hundreds of millions of dollars the Southern Poverty Law Center takes in from peddling these faulty figures, the matter deserves to be brought to the attention of the proper legal authorities.

Maybe that will induce the SPLC to show its work. If they have the proof in hand already, how hard can it be?

 

SPLC — The Real Threat from “Domestic Terrorists”

August 9, 2019

In the aftermath of the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, the Southern Poverty Law Center has been garnering a lot of media attention. While there is nothing unusual about an “advocacy group” with hundreds of millions of dollars of cash on hand and a huge publicity staff attracting attention, this time the stakes are higher.

In the old days, whenever a mentally disturbed individual shot up the place, the SPLC would do everything it its power to attempt to tie the perpetrator to a known “hate group,” with varying success. Failing that, the company’s Intelligence Director, Mark Potok, would eventually concede that the shooter was probably a lone-wolf lunatic.

“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) [Emphasis added]

And:

“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) [Emphasis added]

The problem with the “lone wolf” scenario is that there really wasn’t any good way to make money from it. While the SPLC rakes in hundreds of millions of donor-dollars a year by selling dire warnings of hundreds of “hate groups” it is allegedly “tracking,” lone wolves don’t usually appear on the radar until after they have struck.

When Jared Loughner shot 20 people in Tuscon, Arizona, in 2011,  including US Representative Gabrielle Giffords, the SPLC’s Intelligence Director, Mark Potok, tried to tie Loughner to the militia movement by analyzing a list of his favorite books. Among the right-wing screeds listed were “Peter Pan,” “The Odyssey,” ‘Aesop’s Fables,” “The Phantom Tollbooth,” “The Communist Manifesto,” “Mein Kampf,” “Gulliver’s Travels” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Despite a valiant effort, once Loughner’s Uncle Fester-esque mug shot was published, even Mr. Potok had to write him off as a likely lunatic, acting alone.

Jared

Jared Loughner

That was then. Flash forward to 2019 and the “Lone Wolf” has suddenly morphed into the “Domestic Terrorist.” As we first warned in 2012, when the SPLC was first playing with the “Domestic Terrorist” tag, there are some very serious civil liberty issues that come into play now.

Whereas the FBI and local law enforcement can do little against so-called “hate groups” until they actually break a law or pose a reasonable threat to public safety (beyond “wrong thoughts”), alleged “terrorists” do not enjoy such Constitutional niceties. Law Enforcement agencies, from the DHS down to the local police, can detain alleged “terror” suspects with far less due process.

With a “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality prevailing, every law-abiding citizen would be under the threat of detention, or at the very least of harassment, from law enforcement officials who are obligated to investigate every charge of alleged terrorism.

This is no longer simply a matter of the Southern Poverty Law Center scaring blue-haired Progressives out of donor-dollars. Everyone’s civil rights are now under threat.

We saw the devastating loss of Constitutionally protected civil rights after Congress rammed through the USA PATRIOT ACT in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in 2001. The SPLC’s “Domestic Terrorist” slur threatens to be every bit as dangerous.

SPLC — Hate Map 2019 — Prove It!

March 3, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On February 21, 2019, SPLC “Outreach Manager” Kate Chance told a crowd of 300 in Mankato, MN, that: “An online presence isn’t enough to be added to the list; a group has to meet at least once a year at a physical location.”

Even a cursory glance at the “Hate Map” shows numerous one-man websites. In 2015, Mark Pitcavage, Director of Investigative Research at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), stated publicly that the SPLC has a habit of counting single individuals as groups or chapters, which can give a skewed impression of hate groups in any given state.

“The [SPLC’s] list is wildly inflated,” said Pitcavage. “They list skinhead groups in places where there are no organized groups, but instead it’s just a couple of individuals.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Statewide Numbers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hate groups have reached RECORD HIGHS!!!”

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

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

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

2018 Hate Group Graph 1

2018 Hate Group Graph 2

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

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

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

“White “hate groups” are SURGING!!!”

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

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

Comparisons-2018-2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are they dangerous?

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

So why are they a “hate group” now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wildman's Kennesaw

Wildman’s One-Man “Group”

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

Black Hate Groups

In fact, at face value, Black “hate groups” outnumber ALL of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Confederate, neo-Nazi and Racist Skinhead “groups” on the “Hate Map” COMBINED, at 264 versus 262. Strip out the “statewide” phantoms and Black “hate groups” outnumber the other four categories combined BY THREE-TO-ONE, at 252 versus 82.

Remember the narrative, folks: “White hate groups are on the rise!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amana Colonies

Amana, Iowa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

SPLC — Whither Lecia Brooks?

February 28, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lecia1

February 20, 2019

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

Lecia2

February 28, 2019

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

Tafeni1

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

March-15-2019-Leadership _ SPLC

March 15, 2019

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

Kate Chance

Kate Chance, Outreach Manager

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Lecia Brooks for President!

November 29, 2018

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

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

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

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

Dees Fees

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

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

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

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

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

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

lecia_brooks

Lecia Brooks

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

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

Costello

Maureen Costello

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SPLC — Crunching the Numbers — 2018

August 29, 2018

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

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

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

Legal Case Costs 2000-2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SPLC — Cashing in on MS-13

May 28, 2018

When you have “tracked” the Southern Poverty Law Center for as long as we have, you take it for granted that the company will find a way to make money off the latest tragedy or controversy du jour. The SPLC now has more than 300 full-time employees, many of them involved in marketing, public relations and fundraising and they are not about to let an opportunity to cash in pass them by.

Just over a week ago, President Donald Trump ruffled feathers by referring to members of the violent and deadly Salvadoran gang MS-13, which has infiltrated many American cities and even smaller towns, as “animals.”

Considering the gang’s lengthy record of brutal murders, decapitation, torture and rape, “animals” is one of the kinder terms that could be used to describe them.

Naturally, Mr. Trump’s comments were clumsy and poorly articulated, as usual. Naturally, the SPLC and other Hate Industry players jumped on a chance to claim that the president was referring to all immigrants as “animals.”

Virtue signalers across the country couldn’t get their wallets out fast enough. Despite all the “outrage” and toga rending, Donald Trump has been a gold mine for these “advocacy groups.” The very mention of his name is guaranteed to agitate the donors and the money will soon follow.

According to its online tax records, the SPLC took in over $132 million in donations in 2017, up from $50 million in 2016. Its cash-on-hand endowment fund grew from $319 million to $432 million over the same period. Fully 98% of the endowment fund is designated as “unrestricted” in use.

Ironically (a term one uses so often when describing the company), the SPLC issued several statements declaring that: “Dehumanizing rhetoric — unacceptable from anyone — is especially dangerous when it comes from the mouth of the president.”

Considering the hundreds of millions of tax-free donor-dollars the SPLC has generated over the past decades specifically through the use of “dehumanizing rhetoric,” such as the ever-profitable “hate group” label, “domestic extremists” and “radical traditionalists” one has to wonder how the company avoids choking on its own hypocrisy.

“Unacceptable from anyone…”

Some readers may remember the SPLC’s longtime spokesman, Mark Potok, who was unceremoniously fired from the company in March, 2017, after 20 years of highly lucrative service, most of which was built squarely upon the use of “dehumanizing rhetoric.” Apparently, this usage was quite acceptable when Mr. Potok was channeling millions of donor-dollars into the company’s coffers.

One prime example can be found in a 2007 speech Mr. Potok gave before a hate crime conference in Michigan:

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

That zinger drew a laugh from the assembled anti-haters, oddly enough. Potok continued with the statement:

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

Feel the love. Donate early and often.

This brings us to the SPLC’s latest fundraising scheme. Just as the company found ways to cash in on the Confederate flag controversy in 2015 and the tragic death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville in 2017, the SPLC’s growing team of PR professionals have come up with another classic fundraising scam:

“TELL PRESIDENT TRUMP TO STOP USING RACIST AND DEHUMANIZING RHETORIC,” proclaims the page on the SPLC website. “This kind of rhetoric is unacceptable from anyone,” they remind us, in a brief statement that completely omits any reference to MS-13 whatsoever.

How best to do this? A link to the White House website? No. Mr. Trump’s personal Twitter handle? Nope. Maybe a useful email link to your senators or members of Congress? Not seeing any.

Instead, the SPLC has conveniently provided a short online form where you can enter your name, location and email address. That’s all you have to do.

Tell Trump

What happens to your personal information when you hit the blue button? The site doesn’t say. Maybe your name goes on a petition, though wouldn’t you’d think they’d mention that?

No. Just as with the SPLC’s brilliant, though now-retired, “Stand Strong Against Hate” map and its lucrative offspring, the “Wall of Tolerance,” your contact information will go directly to the company’s massive, in-house fundraising machine, and you put it there yourself, of your own free will.

Just as tens of thousands of SPLC donors, new and old, believe that they are “fighting hate” with their annual donations when their money actually goes to third party telemarketers, you haven’t “taken a stand against hate” any more than you have taken a solemn oath to “work for justice, equality and human rights.”

All you’ve done is given the Southern Poverty Law Center’s fundraisers your personal contact information.

Operators are standing by.

SPLC — 2018 Hate Map: Fake News Galore

February 25, 2018

The Southern Poverty Law Center recently released its 2018 “Hate Map” fundraising tool, and as usual, the Media is regurgitating the company’s claims without performing even the most rudimentary fact-checks.

Fortunately, that’s what we here at Watching the Watchdogs do best.

First, a little housekeeping:

  1. The 2018 “Hate Map,” as with all of its predecessors, refers to the number of alleged “hate groups” the SPLC designated for the previous fiscal year. The 2018 map refers to alleged groups from FY 2017.
  2. There is no legal or even universal definition for the term “hate group,” which is why even the FBI cannot, does not, designate “hate groups,” but somehow a private “advocacy group” can do so, early and often.
  3. Even the SPLC, which is the sole arbiter of the lucrative “hate group” label, does not have a firm definition for “hate group” beyond the nebulous and elastic claim that “All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”That “definition” is suitably vague enough to be applied to nearly anything. As we will soon see, a “group” need not even be an actual boots-on-the-ground “group” to be included on the list. The “Hate Map” is rife with one-man websites, online vendors and nearly 300 “Statewide” phantoms.
  4. As Mark Potok, the SPLC’s former longtime Intelligence Director, stated publicly on numerous occasions: “…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.”

    According to the SPLC, “Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing.” That any advocacy group could deliberately conflate six of the most fundamental First Amendment civil rights with “criminal acts” and “hate group activities” is beyond belief.

    Under this “definition,” Dr. King, the Freedom Riders and anyone even remotely associated with the Civil Rights Movement would be guilty of “hate group activities.”

With this background information in mind, let’s have a look at the 2018 “Hate Map.”

The latest “hate group” count is up from 917 to 954, which, in the wake of the very real racial tensions of 2017, including the Charlottesville riots, is a surprisingly low increase of only 4%

Keep in mind, when you are the sole arbiter of the “hate group” label, you can make up as many as you want. The Media, and more importantly, the almighty donors, would have swallowed nearly any number the company saw fit to claim.

As mentioned above, the SPLC cannot actually locate 297 of these groups on any map, including their own. This number includes 291 “Statewide” chapters, for which no information other than an alleged home state is provided, as well as two groups skulking in “Incomplete,” one each in “Eastern” and “Central” Pennsylvania and one each in “North” and “South” California.

Hard data doesn’t get any harder than this, folks. Fortunately, the Media and the donors aren’t all that big into facts.

It’s also worth mentioning that there were “only” 191 “Statewide” phantoms on last year’s map, for a surge of 51%, meaning the company is losing “groups” faster than it can designate them. That 4% increase must have come from somewhere.

The SPLC provides no information on these alleged groups whatsoever. It cannot provide a known location or any kind of headcount for the membership. We get to take the company’s word for it that these “groups” really, really exist.

That’s not good enough and it certainly isn’t good journalism. Big claims demand big proof, or any proof, for that matter.

This year, Watching the Watchdogs is launching the hashtag #ProveItOrRemoveIt to encourage the SPLC into showing its proof that any of its 954 alleged groups actually exist.

Well, surprisingly, despite coming off the most racist year in decades, the increase didn’t come from the reliable Ku Klux Klan bogeyman. According to the fearmongers at the SPLC, Klan groups actually decreased by 45% in 2017, from 130 to 72, tying the record low set during the Obama Administration.

The SPLC attributes the precipitous drop to the fact that today’s white supremacists are put off by the old fashioned image of the Invisible Empire. Today’s racists pine for a “hipper” image, they posit.

2018 Ku Klux Klan _ Southern Poverty Law Center

While homeless “Statewide” phantoms made up 23% of of the Klan groups on the 2017 map, that number has increased to 39% of the much smaller count for 2018.

Neo-Nazis seemed to be all the rage in 2017 and the “Hate Map” backs that up by claiming a 21% increase in Hitler wannabees from 99 alleged groups to 120 last year.

What the report doesn’t mention directly (you have to look for it, as we do) is that the number of “Statewide” Neo-Nazi phantoms “exploded” by 100%, from 45 to 91.

White Nationalists remained stagnant at 100 alleged groups last year, surprisingly. The number of WN “Statewide” phantoms barely inched up at all, from 30 to 35. Given the lurid media coverage of Charlottesville and other atrocities, one could be excused for predicting unprecedented growth in 2017.

Even the Racist Skinheads took a hit last year, down from 79 to 71 alleged groups, though the number of “Statewide,” “Central” and “Eastern” generalities grew from 60 to 63.

Say that last part out loud: The Southern Poverty Law Center cannot account for EIGHTY-NINE PERCENT of its alleged Racist Skinhead groups and yet the Media considers the numbers to be utterly reliable. Wow.

Considering that it was the removal of Confederate war statues that sparked the Charlottesville riots and at least a few other confrontations last year, readers may be surprised to learn that the number of “Neo-Confederate” groups designated by the SPLC last year dropped by an incredible 29%, from 43 to 31 alleged groups.

“Statewide” chapters celebrating the “Lost Cause” dipped slightly from seven to six, but on the plus side, Weogufka, Alabama, (Population: 282) joined Wetumpka, AL, and Waxahachie, Texas, on the list. (This really isn’t statistically relevant, but it is fun to say out loud.)

Anti-Immigrant, Anti-LGBT, Anti-Muslim and Christian Identity groups all remained largely unchanged for the year, so where exactly do we find any actual increases?

This year marks the debut of an entirely new “hate group” category, the Neo-Volkisch, which the SPLC describes thus:

“Neo-Völkisch adherents worship the Norse or Germanic gods, spirituality premised on the survival of white Europeans and the preservation of dead or dying cultures they presume to embody. Such individuals and groups use a variety of terms to describe their spirituality such as Odinism or Wotanism, Odalism, heathenism, Ásatrú or even paganism. Qualifiers like “Germanic” or “proto-Germanic” are sometimes attached to those terms. Other qualifiers like “Norse tradition” might also be used.”

Are they dangerous?

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

So why are they a “hate group” now?

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

Dear Freya! Not “traditional gender roles”! Oh, the humanity! What does that say about the Amish, Muslims, Orthodox Jewry and a large percentage of Latino immigrants? Will those hyper-masculine men make next year’s “Hate Map”?

So where are the 28 Neo-Volkisch groups located? Just where you’d expect to find Norsemen: Grand Rapids, Michigan, Brownsville and Grass Valley, California, Knoxville, Tennessee, Lynchburg, Virginia, and that perennial hotbed of hyper-masculine, horn-helmed hatred, Apache Junction, Arizona.

The other 22 alleged chapters? “Statewide.” Yes, friends, the SPLC has uncovered 28 chapters of a new species of “hate,” but they cannot tell you where 79% of them are actually located.

“That makes perfect sense to us!” quoth the Media. “Nothing to see here…”

In keeping with the man-bashing, the SPLC added a second new category last year, Male Supremacy. Calling it “the gateway drug to the Alt-Right,” (yes, someone was actually paid cash money to write that…), the two new “Male Supremacist” groups seem to be websites, rather than boots-on-the-ground groups that actually do things. The SPLC cites several blogs to prove their existence.

And, wait for it… 100% of these wimmin-hater “groups” are “Statewide.”

Last year, the SPLC counted 201 Black and Black Muslim groups in the land, the largest category by far.

(Even though this number included 68 chapters of the Nation of Islam and eight other Black Muslim groups tucked under the catch-all heading of “General Hate,” subsection, “Other,” none of these Islam-based groups have been deemed to be actual “Muslim hate groups” because the SPLC doesn’t track such things. Irks the donors, dontcha know, and that can run into money.)

This year the number of Black and Black Muslim “hate groups” has increased to 241, including the eight aforementioned “Other” groups, for an increase of 20%. The number of self-described Muslim groups rose from 68 to 94.

As the SPLC’s own chart indicates, these alleged Black “hate groups” have increased by more than 400% since the start of the century.

2018-Black Nationalist _ Southern Poverty Law Center

“Not to worry,” You may say. “The odds are that 8 out of 10 of these alleged “groups” are homeless “Statewide” phantoms.” Actually, only eight out of 241 are “Statewide,” up by a few pegs from last year.

Among the crimes attributed to these “Black Nationalist” groups are “forms of black nationalism [that] are strongly anti-white and anti-Semitic, and a number of religious versions assert that blacks — not Jews — are the Biblical “chosen people” of God.”

Yes, that is correct. The Southern Poverty Law Center has determined who the REAL “chosen people” of God are. Any other group claiming the mantle for themselves is practicing “hate.” Seriously.

Ah, but it plays well with many of the donors of the Fundamentalist Christian and Jewish persuasions.

And that, friends, is the whole purpose of the fantastically lucrative “Hate Map.” As shown, the numbers are not based in any kind of reality, the SPLC cannot identify how many people are actually in these alleged groups and makes no claim that the alleged groups are potentially violent or criminal.

“It’s strictly ideological,” said Mark Potok, and those ideologies, held by a pathetically minute portion of the US population today, are what agitate the donors and power the SPLC’s enormous money machine. Here are a few other things Mr. Potok has had to say about “hate groups” and the SPLC’s methodology:

“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).

“We see this political struggle, 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.”  (Holiday, 2008, track 13, https://archive.org/details/MarkPotok).

“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!” (Sept. 2007,  https://youtu.be/fnTz2ylJo_8)

Clearly, neither Mr. Potok, before he got the boot from the company about a year ago, nor any of the six-digit-salaried white millionaires who run the company, or any of the other 295 company employees have any desire or any intention of “destroying” any “hate groups” anytime soon. You don’t kill the Golden Goose.

The SPLC is a multimillion-dollar “advocacy group.” It’s product is “hate group” fearmongering and its loyal customers are the almighty donors, nearly all of whom self-identify as “Progressive.” The company sells the customers what they want and the customers cannot get enough of the product. It’s a business, folks, not a mission.

Charity Navigator says they could be looking at a cool Billion-with-a-B donor-dollars for Fiscal 2017. Those numbers are due out soon and we look forward to breaking them down thereafter.


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