Posts Tagged ‘press release’

SPLC — Great “Wall of Tolerance” Scam

April 4, 2016

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

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

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

“Bob J., Chicago”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But we were wrong…

According to the SPLC website:

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

Wall of Tolerance

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

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

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

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

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

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

Certificate of Appreciation
presented to 
Joshua Allenberg

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

Thank you for taking a stand.

Morris Dees, Founder
Southern Poverty Law Center

Does anybody know where this came from? 

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

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

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

SOFII’s view

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

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

Merits

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What an exclusive honor.

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SPLC — Confederate Commodification

September 12, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned, y’all…

SPLC — Out of the “Civil Rights” Business?

June 30, 2015

With all of the attention the Southern Poverty Law Center has been getting in the press lately over the simple JONAH fraud suit in New Jersey, we couldn’t help but notice that the term “civil rights organization” had mysteriously dropped from the SPLC’s press releases.

After consulting with the Internet Archives’ marvelous Wayback Machine, we discovered that the SPLC has dropped the term “non-profit civil rights organization” from its Who We Are webpage, sometime around March of 2014.
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December 29, 2013, now you see it:

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March 11, 2014, now you don’t:

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Seems rather odd, one would think, but the SPLC actually got out of the civil rights business in 1981, when its founder, Morris Dees, discovered there was far more money to be made hawking “hate groups” than taking on Death Row cases.

All of this was presaged by the SPLC’s $155,000-donor-dollar-a-year PR guru, Mark Potok, who glibly explained to a group of visiting high school teachers and students in 2008:

“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.”

Why would they even consider changing their multimillion-dollar brand name? Because they had dumped the “civil rights law” aspect decades before.

And with more than $302 MILLION dollars in cash on hand, the term “non-profit” seems a little silly.

The SPLC may have stopped claiming it is a civil rights organization, but it has yet to correct anyone in the media who mistakenly identifies them as such.

Looks like it’s up to all of us.

SPLC — Anatomy of a Marketing Ploy

January 26, 2014

As mentioned in an previous post, the master fundraisers at the Southern Poverty Law Center have targeted the LGBT community in their latest marketing scheme. A little digging, very little digging, reveals just how flimsy this campaign really is from the get-go.

Visit the SPLC’s homepage and click on the “LGBT Rights” link on the left.

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The LGBT Rights page makes the following claim: “Our work on LGBT issues spans decades.” Really?

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If the SPLC has been fighting the good fight for the LGBT community “for decades,” why did they not even have an LGBT Rights page until 2011? Certainly there must be dozens of important LGBT cases to which the SPLC can point with pride.

Fortunately, the SPLC keeps a meticulous list of all of their court cases which one can access easily from their home page.

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They even provide a handy drop-down menu that sorts the cases by type.

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Sorting by LGBT Rights returns a total of 8 cases, which seems rather skimpy for a civil rights law firm that has been in business for nearly 43 years. Scrolling down to the oldest case, Hoffburg v. Alexander, we do indeed find that this case goes all the way back to 1980. Hoffburg, it turns out, wasn’t even the SPLC’s own case. It was an appeal filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

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Glancing up, however, we find that the next time the SPLC went to bat for the LGBT community was in 2011!

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Apparently, there were no cases of anti-LGBT civil rights violations worthy of the great institution’s note for 31 years!

In this case, the SPLC threatened to sue a high school if it didn’t allow two female students to march in a pep rally as the school’s Snow King and Queen. Fighting the good fight doesn’t come much harder than that.

Scrolling up the list, we find that it was only a few months after the pep rally case that the SPLC threatened to sue the same school district.

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The SPLC claims it was contesting a “gag policy” that prevented teachers from discussing LGBT issues in the classroom. The actual policy read that teachers could discuss LGBT issues at an age appropriate level, if the subject was germane to the class work and remained entirely neutral on the subject, neither endorsing or denigrating it.

Neutrality wasn’t good enough for the civil rights center, and so, having as much spare cash on hand as any other public school system facing a multimillion dollar law firm, Anoka-Hennepin simply gave in. Another hard fought legal battle that never went to court.

Higher up the list, we find Hill v. Public Advocate, the simple copyright infringement case of a New Jersey gay couple whose engagement photo was used in a Colorado political flier without their permission, or that of their photographer, who holds the copyright. None of the plaintiffs are indigent, the case is being handled by one of the premier intellectual property law firms in the business and the term “civil rights” never appears once in the complaint.

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Soon after Hill, the SPLC jumped on another non-civil rights case, Ferguson v. JONAH. In this case, a group of gay Jewish men in New York City are suing an organization that promised to “cure” their homosexuality.

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This is a classic fraud suit, no different than thousands of similar suits filed every day, and the case is being brought forward by one of the best fraud law firms in NYC, none of the plaintiffs are poor and, once again, the term “civil rights” never appears once in the actual complaint.

If there are no civil rights issues in these otherwise cut-and-dried civil suits that are being handled by some of the best lawyers in the business, what exactly does the SPLC bring to the table?

In a word: Publicity.

In return for this free publicity, the SPLC’s master Public Relations Guru, Mark Potok, can claim that his outfit is out there fighting for gay rights.

The most recent case, as of this writing and described in a previous post, is a perfect example of Mr. Potok’s cynical marketing ploy.

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In this case, Mr. Potok and Co. are suing a poor, mostly Black junior high school where a 16-year old 8th grader named Destin Holmes claims she was verbally and mentally abused because she is a self-described lesbian.

Let’s be crystal clear here, nobody, in any of these cases, deserves to be subjected to any form of discrimination by anyone at any time or any place. Those of us who have been through junior high are still all too well aware of the juvenile stupidity that goes on in those institutions, by both the students and the staff, and that in no way explains or justifies it.

Obviously, this is a bad situation that demands immediate investigation, but is bringing a federal law suit against one of the poorest performing schools in one of the poorest performing states the best way to fix the system?

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Or is it little more than another classic Potok-ian publicity stunt?

Ironically, the complaint against Magnolia Junior High makes no mention of the fact that, while 78% of the student body is non-white, and both the principal and assistant principal, who have been named as defendants, are African American, Ms. Holmes is white.

Can anyone imagine the SPLC overlooking those facts if the races were reversed?

Again, no one should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation, but when you look the SPLC’s paltry LGBT cases, almost all of which only date back to 2011, how much bang are the donors getting for their donor bucks?

There was one major anti-gay organization that appeared to have flown below the SPLC’s radar for over a decade. In 2000, the Boy Scouts of America went to the U.S. Supreme court to protect their right to actively discriminate against gay Scouts and Scout Leaders (Boy Scouts of America et al. v. Dale), something it had done since its inception in 1910.

In 2002, the BSA issued a press release reaffirming its belief that “an avowed homosexual” lacked the “moral character” to be a Scout or Leader.

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The Southern Poverty Law center completely ignored this blatant anti-gay discrimination for over a decade. You will find no mention of the BSA’s discrimination on the SPLC’s web site until 2012, and, even then, that has to be possibly the most tepid response to a genuine “hate-group” in the SPLC’s entire history.

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SPLC co-founder Joe Levin was wheeled out of retirement to announce that “Twelve years ago, the Southern Poverty Law Center stopped participating in the Montgomery, Ala., United Way Campaign because the organization chose to fund the Boy Scouts of America.”

That was it? One of the “largest youth-serving organizations in America,” whose primary mission is to build the characters and mold the minds of millions of American boys, actively discriminates against gay men and boys for a century, and the best the SPLC, that bastion of LGBT rights, can come up with is to stop donating to the United Way and say absolutely nothing about it for twelve years??

But wait… it gets even better… Joe Levin continues:

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“DOESN’T INTEND TO ENCOURAGE BIGOTRY”??? Mr. Levin, the BSA took its case to the Supreme Court of the United States precisely to preserve its perceived right to discriminate. It doesn’t get any more intentional than the US Supreme Court!

Notice the softball language Mr. Levin uses when dancing around the hard facts: “Embraces anti-LGBT prejudice” and “Doesn’t intend to encourage bigotry.” Where is the SPLC’s patented “Hate Group” brand? The term never even appears in Mr. Levin’s pathetic apologia. Where was the SPLC’s multimillion dollar public relations machine for all those years? Can you imagine the pressure that could have been brought to bear against the BSA’s blatant discrimination?

[Update: On May 15, 2014, Joe Levin explained to MSNBC why the SPLC still doesn’t designate the Boy Scouts as a “hate group”:

“We don’t list the Boy Scouts (as a hate group,)” said Levin. “We only do that if we have a group that’s propagating known falsehoods associated with a particular person or group – in this case, the LGBT community. The Boy Scouts haven’t really done that.”

Of course not, Joe. Apparently, the BSA simply smeared all gays as immoral by accident.]

As it turns out, the BSA did reverse itself on its gay Scout policy effective Jan. 1, 2014. That decision was made based entirely on the protracted negative publicity campaign carried on by dozens of real LGBT support groups and major media outlets. The BSA’s Supreme Court decision still stands, but they finally gave in when public opinion turned on them and said that enough was enough. It was a movement in which the Southern Poverty Law Center’s role was precisely and exactly nothing.

And yet the SPLC has been fighting for LGBT rights “for decades,” right?

Well, not so much. Thanks to the magic of the Internet Archive’s “Wayback Machine,” anyone can wander back in time to view millions of websites as they appeared in the past, going back to the year 2000. It can be slow, and sometimes cantankerous, but it’s always free and a little patience can pay off big dividends.

In 2009, the SPLC issued a downloadable version of its latest “Hate Map” fundraising tool (Note: the “Hate Map” always reflects the previous calendar year):

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A closer look at the icon key reveals an astonishing fact. There were no anti-LGBT “hate groups” as late as 2009. Not one.

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In fact, the first anti-LGBT “hate groups” do not appear on Mr. Potok’s all-encompassing “Hate Map” until 2011, forty years after the SPLC opened for business.

Furthermore, while the Hoffburg case appears chronologically on the latest version of the SPLC’s case docket list, right between Brown and Wilkins

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Thanks to the Wayback Machine, we find Ms. Hoffburg’s case, the case that allows the SPLC to crow that its “work on LGBT issues spans decades” is conspicuously absent from the 2010 case docket!

2010 Case Docket

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Hoffburg never made the case docket list in more than 40 years because the SPLC didn’t even consider it worthwhile.

Once the white millionaires who run the SPLC decided to target the LGBT community though, Mr. Potok had to come up with something to show that they had not totally ignored the issue since opening shop in 1971. Hoffburg wasn’t much, but no one in the media will follow the simple steps outlined in this post, so no one would ever know the difference.

Well-meaning donors sent Mr. Potok more than $40 million donor dollars in 2012 because they believe him when he cries “hate group” and they believe him when he says how dedicated the SPLC has been to fighting anti-LGBT discrimination “for decades.” As usual, some simple, primary fact-checking of the SPLC’s own documents proves, once again, that Mr. Potok’s claims are meaningless.

Yet again, nobody should suffer discrimination due to their orientation, and any effort is better than none, but suing poor public school districts over pep rallies and yearbook pictures is pretty low-hanging fruit for an alleged “civil rights” law firm with nearly a quarter-billion dollars in cash on hand.

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If you want to contribute to a non-profit that has truly been in the fight against LGBT discrimination you need only do a little homework and ignore Mark Potok’s latest fundraising ploy.

SPLC Media Guides

September 9, 2012

Longtime readers of Watching the Watchdogs, if their comments are accurate, have an appreciation of the information and analysis of Southern Poverty Law Center fundraising propaganda we provide here.

Oftentimes there is a lot of data to digest, at least in a written form, but as we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words. To that end, we have endeavored to create a series of short (to accommodate the attention-span-challenged) video clips to show just how really simple it is to find the SPLC’s raw data, almost all of it found on the SPLC’s own web site, so that the viewer can evaluate it for themselves.

We ask no one to take our word for it, but we do ask the viewer to go directly to the source, as we have, see the data for themselves and come to their own conclusions. If you think we’re way off base then please tell us so. All intelligent comments and criticisms are welcome.

These are nothing more than the simple fact checks any real journalist should make before blindly quoting Mark Potok’s press releases. This isn’t “hate,” this isn’t “domestic terrorism,” it’s Journalism 101. These are the basic fact checks the Media should make, but won’t. Check back for additional installments.

First off, Media Guide #1 is a brief examination of the fallacy of the “hate group” label, the bedrock foundation of all SPLC fundraising propaganda. There’s no legal definition for the term, so just what exactly is this “law center” tracking?

Media Guide #2 examines the bogus bookkeeping behind SPLC’s public relations chief Mark Potok’s “hate incident’ log.  Most of these “incidents” are so tenuous, from teenagers carving swastikas into park benches to 8-year-olds threatening the President. More than a third of them are nothing more than updates on earlier events. How thug vandals pleading “not guilty” in criminal court is a “hate incident” is beyond us, but the Media and the all-important donors swallow it hook, line and sinker.

Media Guide #3 examines the preposterous proposition that NOT ONE of the top executives at the “nation’s leading civil rights organization” is a minority, and that this has been the case since Morris Dees opened the doors to the SPLC in 1971. The Executive Suite at the SPLC, which overlooks Martin Luther King’s home church in Montgomery, the birthplace of the American Civil Rights Movement, has been home to “whites only” for more than 40 years. Think about that…


Media Guide #4 explores the “ironic” fact that once one strips out all of the “homeless hate groups” discussed in the first video guide, it turns out that the largest single category of “hate group” in America is Black, according to Mark Potok’s bogus figures. The video also includes an excellent example of the Liberal Media’s inability to comprehend that the SPLC’s fundraising numbers are not based in reality.

SPLC — Black “Hate Groups” Lead the Pack?

March 8, 2011

A recent posting on http://www.mediaite.com brought some interesting “hate group” statistics to light that the Southern Poverty Law Center will probably opt to ignore in their future fund-raising propaganda.

The article, by Frances Martel, comments on MSNBC host Cenk Uygur’s difficulties in believing that “Black Separatists” were the third largest category on the SPLC’s spurious “Hate Map.” Uygur happily rattles off the list of usual suspects until he gets to the third entry:

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As Ms. Martel points out, Uyur couldn’t even get the words out:

“Topping the list,” he began, “[are] the Ku Klux Klan with 221 groups. They are followed with Neo-Nazi groups with 170 groups, and”– at this point Uygur stops for a beat, before ending the list with “that doesn’t make any sense.”

(Click the link at the beginning of this post to find the video. Uygur’s moment of shock comes at 1:30)

Apparently, it makes perfect sense to the SPLC’s public relations guru Mark Potok, who is compensated with more than $147,000 donor-dollars a year to cook up the SPLC’s “Hate Map.”

As Watching the Watchdogs pointed out on February 27, 2011, Potok’s “Hate Map” is the SPLC’s most potent fund-raising tool. Even though there is no legal definition for “hate group,” this in no way hinders Mr. Potok from pulling numbers out of the air, which the mainstream media will regurgitate verbatim as “fact” without ever investigating a single claim.

Fortunately, Watching the Watchdogs is happy to look at Mr. Potok’s claims, and as usual, we find them wanting.

Last month, Potok released his “Hate Map” for 2010, claiming there were now 1,002 “hate groups” in America. A closer look, however, revealed that, foremost among many shortcomings, Mr. Potok neglected to connect 262 of the alleged groups with any known communities. We know they are there because Mr. Potok tells us they are there. Right?

Ironically, these phantom groups are instrumental in understanding Mr. Potok’s incredible claim that “Black Separatists” are not only the third largest group on his “Hate Map,” they actually lead the pack!

The SPLC has been hoisting the white sheets of the Ku Klux Klan for decades as proof that “hate groups” are everywhere. Shockingly, Mr. Potok all but invalidated the SPLC’s prize “hate group” cash cow last fall when he stated:

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

“The Klan is a sorry shadow of its former self. It’s common for the KKK to brag about big numbers, but usually they are largely outnumbered by the counter-protestors, Potok said.

Even on the white supremacist scene, the Klan is seen as less important today, he said.” (www.chronicle.augusta.com, October 21, 2010)

As if to underscore this shocking admission, a closer look at Potok’s Klan numbers show that 109 out of the 227 alleged Klan groups are homeless. That’s 49% of the Klan’s total and 41% of the national phantom total overall!

In NINETEEN STATES every single alleged Klan group listed is homeless. In 12 other states, Mr. Potok could only be bothered to make up one or two locations while the rest of the alleged Klan groups float in limbo.

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Fifty-eight Neo-Nazi and 19 white nationalist groups are also non-existent, and yet, only FIVE of Mr. Potok’s Black Separatist groups are unaffiliated. Adjusting the numbers for these non-existent “groups” produces an entirely new list of standings:

Ku Klux Klan       221 – 109 = 112
Neo-Nazis            170 – 58 = 112
White Nat’lists     136 – 19 =  117

Black Separatists 149 – 5 = 144

Well, Mr. Potok, now what do you have to say about your “Hate Map”? Granted, Potok only grudgingly includes Black racists on his list, and only then by blaming them on whites:

Although the Southern Poverty Law Center recognizes that much black racism in America is, at least in part, a response to centuries of white racism…

Potok concludes by reluctantly admitting one of the major pitfalls of making hundreds of millions of tax-free donor-dollars by finding “hate” everywhere:

“Although the racism of a group like the Nation [of Islam] may be relatively easy to understand, if we seek to expose white hate groups, we cannot be in the business of explaining away the black ones.”

Good for you, Mr. Potok! At this rate, you’ll be admitting that hate and racism are universally human failings and not endemic white ones.

In the final analysis, however, Mr. Potok’s numbers on Black “hate groups” are equally as meaningless as those on white groups. The SPLC is the sole arbiter of the “hate group” label, and nobody in the mainstream media can be bothered to even look at Mr. Potok’s underlying figures, as Mr. Uygur’s visceral reaction so perfectly demonstrates.

Mr. Uygur’s reaction is typical of many in the mainstream media. Not only are these people unwilling to do their jobs by investigating Potok’s claims, many of them are physically and mentally unable to do so.

What we are left with, though, is a perfect example of how numbers can be manipulated to produce any result desired, which has helped to earn the Southern Poverty Law Center more than a third of a billion tax-free dollars since 2003 alone.

SPLC — The Biggest Lie Keeps Getting Bigger

February 27, 2011

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) recently released the 2010 edition of their famous “Hate Map.” As expected, the number of “hate groups” went up… again.

Since these “Hate Maps” generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the SPLC, it only seems right to take a closer look at what the numbers actually mean, (something the mainstream media steadfastly refuse to do.)

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Before we begin, let’s get our terminology straight, so we know what we’re talking about. Since the “Hate Map” purports to identify “hate groups,” it is important to understand exactly what is being discussed here.

First of all, there is NO legal definition for “hate group,” which is why even the FBI does not, can not, “track hate groups.” Even the SPLC’s $147,000 donor-dollar-a-year public relations guru Mark Potok has admitted this simple fact.

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

Basically, a “hate group” is pretty much anything Mark Potok says it is. In the past, Potok has said on several occasions that: …a “hate group” has nothing to do with criminality… [or] potential for violence…” Rather, as Potok put it, It’s all about ideology.”

Nothing to do with criminality or violence, just “wrong thinking.” That has to streamline the “hate group” designation process.

Let’s look at the legend Mr. Potok included with the latest “Hate Map” for more information.

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“The [SPLC] counted 1,002 active hate groups in the United States in 2010” based on its own vague and highly subjective criteria. “Only organizations […] known to be active in 2010 are included.” Really? Let’s take a closer look.

Of the 1,002 alleged “hate groups” listed, 262 of them, (26%) were not associated with any known location. Mr. Potok can’t tell us where the “group” is, but he can tell us they were active. Trust him.

In some states, the percentage of ghost “groups” runs as high as 80-100%

Let’s look at a couple of examples of Mr. Potok’s hard-hitting investigative reportage:

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Two of New Hampshire’s alleged “groups” are homeless, (40%), and the two listed in tiny Richmond, NH, (2009 population, 1,167), are one and the same Catholic monastery, (Yes, Virginia, traditional Catholics are a “hate group” too.) Nothing like a little double-dipping to pad out the numbers, Mr. Potok. Check out West Virginia:

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Six out of thirteen of WV’s alleged “hate groups” are phantoms (46%). The largely defunct National Alliance in flyspeck Hillsoboro, (2008 population, 223!!), gets counted three times. Potok even admits that the NA is non-entity, but that doesn’t keep them off the map. Remember, the numbers never go down.

“But the Alliance has shriveled to a nearly dead group, and Resistance has been losing money for years. Big threat there, Mr. Potok.

Also notice that two of the alleged “groups” produce “racist music,” a category which does not include racist, misogynist, cop-killer Gangsta rap or Mexican “narcocorrido” ballads that extol the virtues killing gringos and selling drugs to their children. No hate there, Mr. Potok.

Even more instructive is the inclusion of five Ku Klux Klan groups. According to interviews given by Mark Potok in the Fall of 2010:

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

“The Klan is a sorry shadow of its former self. It’s common for the KKK to brag about big numbers, but usually they are largely outnumbered by the counter-protestors, Potok said.

Even on the white supremacist scene, the Klan is seen as less important today, he said.” (www.chronicle.augusta.com, October 21, 2010)

WTW UPDATE:But Potok said the Klan has disintegrated. “There is no Klan now,” he said, only a collection of squabbling organizations. (www.sanluisobispo.com, March 23, 2011)

Fractured, impotent, irrelevant and a shadow of its former self, yet even after Mr. Potok declares that “There is no Klan now,” he still felt compelled to include the Klan on his “Hate Map” 221 times, (22% of the total), and 109 of these “groups,” (49%) are HOMELESS. Are you seeing a pattern here yet?

“All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics,” says Mr. Potok, and yet, the Boy Scouts of America have said publicly for decades that gay men lack the “moral values” required to be Scout Leaders. That sounds like a malignant attack on an entire class of people, and yet you won’t find a word about the BSA on the SPLC’s web site, and they’re certainly not on the “Hate Map.

The BSA receives millions of dollars in public funding each year, and their core business, their entire raison d’être, is to mold the minds and shape the characters of millions of American boys, but somehow this doesn’t cross the SPLC’s scrupulous “hate group” threshold. Why not, Mr. Potok?

Mr. Potok accuses the 17 anti-gay “hate groups” on his map of “describing LGBT people as “perverts” with “filthy habits” who seek to snatch the children of straight parents and “convert” them to gay sex,” but this is somehow different than saying that gay Scout Leaders are inherently immoral? How so?

Mr. Potok explains that “Opposition to equal rights for gays and lesbians has been a central theme of Christian Right organizing and fundraising…” which explains that anti-gay “hate groups” are exclusively Christian, yet the BSA says the “…the board also agreed that duty to God is not a mere ideal for those choosing to associate with the Boy Scouts of America; it is an obligation.”

So, when is a conservative Christian “hate group” NOT a conservative Christian “hate group”?

The answer is simple. Many of the SPLC’s mostly elderly donors were Scouts, or the proud parents/grandparents of Scouts, and linking the almighty donors to a “hate group” is bad for business. Fighting “hate” is all well and good until it cuts into the bottom line.

At least we know that the entire resources of the vaunted Southern Poverty Law Center went into creating this extensive document, right? After all, the SPLC has generated more than a third of a BILLION tax-free dollars since 2003, and that ain’t chump change. The donors and the IRS can rest assured that all that money is going toward “fighting hate.”

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

Interestingly, despite having more than $350 MILLION tax-free dollars at his disposal, “Mark Potok, who has directed the SLPC’s Intelligence Project for 12 years, said the report relies on media, citizen and law enforcement reports, and does not include original reporting by SPLC staff.” (www.postcrescent.com, July 6, 2009)

Hmmm, no original reporting, more of a “news clipping service” kind of thing. Well, no matter, as we’ve seen, at least the data is carefully vetted.

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

Hard to gauge, got it. But at least we’re talking about real groups of people here, right?

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

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

Hmm, okay, so a group doesn’t have to be an actual group to get a star on the Walk of Shame, and it’s important to draw a distinction between individual-owned web sites, which can reach millions of people with one click of the mouse, versus individual-owned P.O. boxes in booming metropolises like Yadkinville, NC, and Splendora, TX. You gotta have standards, after all.

At least we know that only violent, criminal “groups” are listed on the Map, though.

“Listing here does not imply a group advocates or engages in violence or other criminal activity.” No, of course not, just because your church or business appears on the world famous “Hate Map,” who in their right mind would imply that you were doing anything wrong?

Of course, if you really were committing hate-filled acts, what kinds of laws would you be breaking?

“Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing.” You know, a lot of misinformed people actually believe that marches, rallies, speeches, meetings and publishing are protected RIGHTS under the United States Constitution. Who knew they were lumped in with criminal acts and other “hate group” activities? Mr. Potok knew.

Didn’t Martin Luther King give some speeches and lead some marches? I know I saw Barack Obama at a rally at least once or twice. Who could have guessed that the millions of Egyptians who gathered and met in Tahrir Square last week were part of the greatest “hate group” meeting ever? Mr. Potok knew.

Fortunately, all is not lost. The “Hate Map” legend also offers clean, decent people a chance to hit back, and hit back hard. As a more positive counterpoint to the somewhat grim “Hate Map,” Mark Potok dreamed up a brilliant device he calls the “Stand Strong Against Hate” map.

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In exchange for nothing more than your full name, postal and e-mail addresses, you too can “stand strong” and become a digital pinhead on an interactive national map. Your first name and last initial will be duly recorded, like an AA meeting.

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

Interestingly, Mr. Potok makes no mention of exactly how becoming a pinhead will stop the backlash, (“Heckfire, Billy-Bob, the cross burnin’ is off fer tonight. Sez on this here SPLC map that Rosemary Q. has taken a strong stand agin us. Shoot!“), or what becomes of your personal information? It’s not like there’s any kind of market for that sort of information. Trust him.

So who is to blame for the blatant lies of the SPLC’s infamous “Hate Map”? You can’t blame Mark Potok for this. Before coming to the SPLC, Mr. Potok was a part-time stringer for that bastion of hard-hitting journalism, USA Today. There’s no way he was pulling down six figures in that job, and let’s face it, the odds of him finding a better paying gig are slim to none. Mark Potok has a huge financial stake in the “Hate Map.”

You can’t blame Morris Dees, the founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center either. Potok’s “Hate Map” has been the SPLC’s prime fund-raising tool, bringing in nearly $236 MILLION tax-free donor-dollars since 2003 alone. This is probably why Dees gave Potok a $7,300 donor-dollar raise last year. Mo Dees and the SPLC have a huge financial stake in the “Hate Map” as well.

And if you were the sole arbiter of the incredibly lucrative “hate group” label, basing it on nothing more than your own personal opinion, wouldn’t you keep cranking up the numbers every year? Wouldn’t you find “hate groups” behind every rock and tree too? After all, it’s not like anyone is going to look at your data, right?

And that, dear friends, is where the ultimate blame belongs. Google the term “Hate Map” and see how many so-called news organizations simply regurgitated the SPLC’s slick press release without bothering to vet a single fact. These are the real criminals, the people we trust to be our so-called “public watchdogs,” the people we trust to do their jobs as professional journalists and reporters to investigate a story before reprinting it as fact.

Even so, blaming the alleged media isn’t entirely accurate either. With 24-hour news cycles and miles of blank newsprint and web pages to fill every single day, you can’t really even blame them for taking short cuts. So when a slickly written, pre-formatted press release pops up in the e-mail, for free, no less, why would you spend good money on a reporter to type up the same amount of “news”? The media have a financial stake in the “Hate Map” too.

Ultimately, the fault lies within ourselves, for being too lazy to do our own fact-checking, especially if the SPLC is saying something that millions of decent people want to hear.

I’m not a journalist or a reporter, yet I was able to find all of the information above using my own home PC. The year is 2011, not 1911, and people are no longer beholden to whatever crumbs of information the Media Elite deign to throw their way. Almost all of this information comes directly from SPLC sources, as is the case throughout the entire Watching the Watchdogs blog. I go to great lengths to cite these sources so that others can find the same information and read it for themselves.

The so-called “mainstream media” has no interest, financially or morally, to uncover this information for us. Fortunately, we live in an age of wonders where average people can find the truth for themselves. Those who won’t make the effort have no one but themselves to blame.

In the few hours it took me to crank out this rant on a Sunday morning, Mo Dees earned $120 donor-dollars and Mark Potok racked up just over $48 donor-dollars while sitting at home, eating breakfast.

Nice work if you can get it, no doubt, and more than this blog will ever generate. But then again, unlike the SPLC and the other titans of the Hate Industry, Watching the Watchdogs is a genuinely non-profit organization. We don’t make a dime from our efforts, and we never will.

SPLC — The Quotable Mr. Potok

October 13, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No crime, no violence, just “wrong thinking”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

And as early as 1999, Mr. Potok conceded:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe they ought to give him a raise.

SPLC — The Bloated “Endowment Fund”

August 19, 2010

Southern Poverty Law Center founder Morris Dees became a millionaire in 1964, according to his law and business partner at the time, Millard Fuller. Dees’ fortune did not come from practicing law, however, but rather from a hugely successful direct mail order business created by Dees and Fuller.

The two had met in law school a few years earlier, where they devised an ingenious business plan to deliver birthday cakes to their homesick classmates who could not be with their families during the school year. The partners invested their profits in local real estate, eventually splitting $70,000 in assets between them at graduation in 1960 (roughly half a million in today’s dollars). But the real bonanza was the education I got in direct mail,” Dees wrote, “I learned to write sales copy, to design an offer, and to mail at the most opportune time.”

Dees had mastered the art of the direct mail appeal, and more importantly, perfect timing. Forty years later, when Dees was inducted into the Direct Marketing Association’s Hall of Fame, it would be for his fund-raising prowess rather than his business acumen.

Nowhere is the evidence of that acumen more apparent than with the SPLC’s incredibly bloated “Endowment Fund.” The purpose of the fund, according to SPLC annual reports is to  “…build for the future by setting aside a certain amount of its income for an endowment, a practice begun in 1974 to plan for the day when nonprofits like the SPLC can no longer afford to solicit support through the mail because of rising postage and printing costs.”

In his November 2000, article for Harper’s magazine, The Church of Morris Dees, journalist Ken Silverstein documents Dees’ ever-growing desire to fatten this grotesque cash cow.

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. ” Today, the SPLC’s treasury bulges with $120 million, and it spends twice as much on fund-raising-$5.76 million last year-as it does on legal services for victims of civil rights abuses.

As the chart below illustrates, Mr. Dees has yet to settle upon the magical figure that will free him from his odious fund-raising duties. In 2007, the Endowment Fund actually broke the $200 million dollar mark, and still the fund-raising requests went out like clockwork, backed up by SPLC public relations guru Mark Potok’s spurious and unlikely “reports” and breathless alarums.

Even an old pro like Morris Dees has his setbacks, such as the $50 million dollar whack the fund took in 2008. But as Patrick Cleburne points out in his recent analysis of SPLC fund-raising tactics, this was merely a bump in the road. By 2009 the SPLC had recouped nearly $40 million of its losses, and did so during one of the worst years of the current recession. As Ken Silverstein observed in a 2007 piece for Harper’s, the SPLC was once again “richer than Tonga” and several other nation states. Not bad for a “non-profit.”

When will the Endowment Fund ever generate enough in interest to finally achieve Mr. Dees’ long awaited dream of financial independence? The truth is that it has been doing so for years.

According to the SPLC’s 2009 Financial Statement, the Center took in just over $31 million dollars that year, almost all of it from private donors. Total operating expenses for the year came to $29.6 million, leaving the non-profit with a profit of $1.4 million in leftovers.

The Endowment Fund generated just under $29.5 million in interest, which nearly meets the $29.6 million in expenses, however, if you deduct PR guru Potok’s $146,000 dollar compensation, (after all, his whole purpose in the organization is to scare the mostly elderly donors out of their donor-dollars), you more than break even.

Deduct the $5.3 million the SPLC spent on fund-raising printing and postage costs, (compared with the $1.1 million they spent on “legal case costs”),  and the Endowment Fund could continue to grow at an obscene rate, all without ever requesting another single tax-free donor-dollar.

Those figures do not even take into consideration any additional savings that would be realized by eliminating the salaries paid to Potok’s minions or other costs of the SPLC’s fund-raising machinery.

As with everything else spewed forth by the Southern Poverty Law Center, once you actually look at the numbers you come away with a very different picture than that painted by Minister for Propaganda and National Enlightenment Potok.

In the final analysis, the Endowment Fund IS the main business of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

SPLC — More Damned Lies and Statistics

August 4, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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