At this festive season of the year, we are treated to a multitude of iterations of Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol: Being a Ghost Story of Christmas“. Everyone from Mr. Magoo to Michael Caine to Jim Carrey has a crack at showing us the error of our greedy ways and scaring us into doing the right thing.
The Internet Movie Database (IMDb), in its trivia section describing some of these presentations, reminds us of the origins of Mr. Scrooge’s most famous exclamation, “Humbug!”
“The word “humbug” describes deceitful efforts to fool people by pretending to a fake loftiness or false sincerity. So when Scrooge calls Christmas a humbug, he is claiming that people only pretend to charity and kindness in an scoundrel effort to delude him, each other, and themselves.”
Humbug, therefore, is a perfect description of the endless stream of fund-raising propaganda that issues forth from the Southern Poverty Law Center, like so much steaming stuffing from Bob Cratchit’s Christmas goose. Humbug being, as the French would say, le mot juste.
The SPLC’s loftiness, and sincerity, are manufactured, not in some polar workshop, but by the highly skilled, and highly paid, efforts of their resident Public Relations elf, Mark Potok. Mr. Potok, who is compensated with more than $143,000 dollars from the donation kettle each year, excels at maintaining the SPLC’s twenty-plus-year-old fear campaign, as well as promoting the SPLC brand.
Whenever you read or hear the statement that the SPLC is “a leading civil rights organization,” or that its founder, Morris Dees, is a “pioneering civil rights icon,” you are reading the words of Mr. Potok or one of his minions. Every press release issued by Mr. Potok, to be picked up and disseminated as “news” by the media, will include one of these phrases or the other.
As mentioned in an earlier post on this blog, any lie, if repeated often enough, becomes truth.
Mr. Potok is quite efficient in his work; last year he helped to bring in over $30 million donor dollars. Of that $30 million, the “leading civil rights organization” spent just over $1.36 million in “legal case expenses,” or over half a million less than the $1.88 million it spent on fund-raising postage alone.
Given that the SPLC is a law center, with top-notch attorneys, interns and paralegals already on the payroll, one has to wonder what these expenses were. Actual court costs, even in jurisdictions larger than Montgomery, generally run in the few hundreds to few thousands of dollars.
In fact, according to their own auditors, the SPLC spent more on office supplies, ($1.4 million), and nearly as much for printing and lettershop expenses, ($1.2 million on each), as they did on “legal case expenses”. Another $1.2 million donor dollars went just to compensate the top three lawyers, multimillionaires Dees, Cohen, Levin, and PR man Potok.
The SPLC spent more than $5 million donor dollars on “educational materials” and “other educational projects”, or nearly four times more than was spent on “legal case expenses”. It should be noted that “educational materials” can include fund-raising and lobbying materials, as well.
So much for loftiness and sincerity.
Much has already been posted on this blog concerning the SPLC’s other fund-raising techniques and scare tactics, (here, here and here, for example), to bore the reader with a tiresome repetition at this time.
Suffice it to say that any “civil rights law center” that spends more on fund-rasing postage than it does on actual “legal case expenses” is worthy of a heartfelt “Humbug!” indeed.