Posts Tagged ‘Southern Poverty Law Center’

Mark Potok Returns!

August 29, 2020

It was three years ago this week when we at Watching the Watchdogs first noted the departure of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s longtime Intelligence Director, Mark Potok, from the company that had made him rich and famous (and vice versa) over his twenty year career there.

We noted with astonishment, in 2017, that no formal press release of Mr. Potok’s departure from the SPLC had been issued nor had such a momentous occasion even been mentioned on the company’s website, which we monitor regularly.

It was simply incomprehensible that the media personality who had been the face and voice of the “nation’s leading civil rights organization” could vanish from the world stage after two decades of faithful and enormously lucrative service without so much as a “Fare-thee-well, Mark, and thank you for all you’ve done for us!”

In fact, while Potok’s professional biography blurb and his photo were still on the company website in February, 2017, by March his bio had been taken down and his photo airbrushed from the “Leadership” page. After 20 years, however, the SPLC couldn’t simply delete the hundreds of articles, papers and “reports” created by their star front man, so instead they changed his byline to “Mark Potok — Former Employee,” which didn’t bode well for a possibly amicable parting of the ways.

Potok Former Employee

For his part, Mr. Potok’s Facebook page bore only one stark line: “Left Job at Southern Poverty Law Center.” No mention of “retiring” or “exploring new opportunities.” Not even a “wants to spend more time with the family” fig leaf. After a brief exile from the SPLC website, Mr. Potok’s legacy was rehabilitated to the point where his biography blurb was returned to the site and his nonentity status has been upgraded to “Former Senior Fellow.”

Considering how many tens of millions of dollars Mark Potok brought into the SPLC’s coffers during his years of media interviews, print articles and especially through his magnum opus, the company’s annual “Hate Map” fundraising tool, the original “golden goose,” it was the very least the SPLC could do.

At the time, we wrote with great sincerity that we would very much miss seeing Mr. Potok at the SPLC, and we still do. Despite disagreeing with his opinions and tactics during more than a decade of research on the Hate Industry in general, and the SPLC in particular, we recognized that Mr. Potok is a self-made man who rose up from humble beginnings to control one of the most efficient public relations and fundraising machines of our day.

Few public relations practitioners have enjoyed such widespread and unquestioning access to the world media. The power and sheer rush of the experience must have been incredible. And then it was gone. The power, the prestige and the six-digit salary all evaporated overnight. Those of us who are only a very few years junior to Mr. Potok in age must wonder how you rebuild a career from scratch past the age of fifty. We commend his efforts.

One of the reasons Mark Potok was so important to our work at Watching the Watchdogs was his off-script candor, such as in 2011 when he freely admitted to us, on camera, that his insanely profitable annual “Hate Map,” the very keystone of all SPLC fundraising, was not the infallible document so often cited by the media, but instead was merely “anecdotal,” “a rough estimate,” and “an imperfect process.”

“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)

“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 from a 2008 interview with some visiting high school teachers at SPLC headquarters, which now resides on the Internet Archive:

“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.” (Mark Potok Interview, Track 1)

And the delightfully candid:

“I think a lot of people feel, ‘Oh, groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, they find, you know, the two hundred Nazis running around the country, they build them up into great big groups, they make a big deal about it and then ask for your money,’ right? In other words, it’s kind of a scam. You hype up this little tiny threat into something scary, uh, and then go and try to make money off of it.” (Mark Potok Interview, Track 2)

When you study the Hate Industry for years and one of the captains of that industry steps up and admits that the vast majority of the claims made by his company are baseless, the feeling can only be described as exhilarating.

But Mark Potok did not go quietly into that good night. Just this week an opinion piece by Potok appeared on the Rantt Media website. In a fiery article about an otherwise obscure Alabama politician who even Potok describes as a “clueless” Republican, “…from the white-flight Montgomery suburb of Prattville,” as opposed to, you know, Mr. Potok’s inner city tenement flat, shown below.

Casa Potok

Casa Potok

All of the classic Potokian elements are there. The guilt-by-association associations, the anonymous source quotes, the non sequitur anecdotes. Like many of the obscure, one-man “hate groups” designated by Mr. Potok in earlier times, most people on the planet would never have heard about this hapless racist from Alabama if not for Mark Potok. It was a truly nostalgic moment.

According to the website, “Rantt Media launched in October 2016 with one goal in mind — to combat disinformation and to help create a more informed and politically active society.” Their plan for doing so is “to analyze the news, shed light on injustices, and tell the stories that matter to you.” Mr. Potok’s comments and articles about how “The DNC Gave America the Unifying Vision it’s Crying Out For,” and “The Forgotten Hillary Clinton Voter: A Profile of the Not-So-Silent Majority,” give a good idea of the content.

Apparently, Rantt Media, based in Washington, DC, wants to help create a more politically active society in the US, as long as that society supports the “correct” party.

Nowhere is this irony greater than in a recent article found on the website, “Media Literacy 101: How to Identify Fake News & Media Bias,” written by Christina Ballard.

This is a very well-written article that should be read by all. Ms. Ballard makes several extremely cogent points:

  • If you are not sure of a source’s credibility, think about why the information is there and when it was put there. Is the source trying to sell something, to persuade or just inform?
  • Think about if there is another way you can verify what you are seeing. Is this news also available on other sites? Is it written to a general audience or a more specific one?
  • Think about the language being used. Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion? Do you see a lot of “tagging” or “labeling?”[Such as “hate group,” “injustices,” “Radical Right,” perhaps? WtW]
  • Is the source using extremes when just the basics will do?
  • Media Bias happens when the media is reporting the news in a partial or prejudiced manner. This occurs when the media appears to be pushing a viewpoint rather than reporting the news objectively, or just the facts.

Merely brilliant, Ms. Ballard! Bravo!

Rantt Media relies on a $10-a-month subscription fee, and “partnered contributors,” which the site assures us that “Rantt Media may receive compensation from the partners we feature on our site. However, this in no way affects our news coverage, analysis, or political 101’s.Really? More on one of these major “partners” to follow below.

Rantt’s byline for Mr. Potok was obviously written by Mr. Potok and turns up in various venues around the internet:

“Mark Potok is an expert on the American radical right who was a senior official at the Southern Poverty Law Center civil rights organization for 20 years and is now a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right.”

Well, we know Mr. Potok is an “expert” because it says so on his website. As for calling the SPLC a “civil rights organization,” that’s how the company referred to itself for much of Mr. Potok’s tenure, until quietly morphing into “an advocacy group, focused on civil rights” sometime in 2014 (without mentioning the shift in focus to the donors). This brings us to the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR).

We had not heard of CARR before learning of Mr. Potok’s affiliation with the group. As the spelling of the name indicates, the “Centre” is a European organization which appears to be located in the UK, though we could not find any reference to an actual location on its website.

Rantt Media’s “About” page singles CARR out as an important sponsored partner, touting two dozen CARR articles published on the site.

The oldest blog posts on the CARR site go back to March, 2018, so it would seem to be a relatively young undertaking, and a review of its leadership bio pages show most of them to be fairly young academics, as opposed to the septuagenarian lawyers and public relations men who ran the SPLC.

The blurb on the website states that “The Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR) is the leading information aggregator and knowledge repository on the radical right, past and present,” which would, no doubt, rankle some of the older hands at the SPLC, who have claimed that title for the past 40 years.

The blurb continues with “Above all, CARR intends to lead discussion on the development of radical right extremism around the world,” which, if the organization’s name didn’t already spill the beans, indicates that CARR’s mission is anything but neutral on the subject. Like the SPLC, CARR seems to be another “advocacy group” whose purpose is to “advocate” for a “correct” view of the world.

Above all, CARR intends to lead discussion on the development of radical right extremism around the world.” What was it Christina Ballard said about Fake News?

Is the source trying to sell something, to persuade or just inform?

Is it written to a general audience or a more specific one?

Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion? Do you see a lot of “tagging” or “labeling?”

[Media Bias] occurs when the media appears to be pushing a viewpoint rather than reporting the news objectively, or just the facts.

Interestingly, the website also includes the boilerplate disclaimer that “Views expressed on this website are individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect that of the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR).” This is interesting because all of the views expressed on the site are handpicked by the group’s leadership prior to being published and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of space given over to alternative points of view.

We were also unable to determine CARR’s source of financing. Unlike the SPLC and many other multi-million dollar “non-profit” organizations in the US, CARR does not seem to rely on public donations to keep its digital doors open.

The site does list several “partners,” though, including Rantt Media and the very-deep-pocketed Southern Poverty Law Center (with more than half a billion dollars in unrestricted cash on hand) and a London-based organization calling itself “Moonshot CVE,” as in “Countering Violent Extremism.”

Moonshot’s byline on the CARR site states:

Moonshot CVE is a social enterprise working to disrupt and ultimately end violent extremism. From digital capacity building to counter-messaging campaigns, we use data-proven techniques to ensure our clients respond to violent extremism effectively all over the world.

As part of our global programming on the violent far right, we have deployed bots to counter hate on social media and identified and engaged one-on-one with white supremacists.

All of our work aims to reach people at risk of violent extremism and offer them an alternative path. Our work is rooted in evidence, ethics and the fundamental belief that people can change.

While all Wikipedia entries must be taken with a grain of salt, the entry for Moonshot claims that the group “receives funding from technology companies such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter,” and “engages in paid work on behalf of governments such as the UK, Canada and Japan.”

Wikipedia also claims that “Moonshot engages in campaigns to direct users attempting to access extremist material to alternative sources,” which is an admirable goal at face value, but begs the question as to who exactly determines what is “extremist material”? Google? Facebook? Twitter?

The CARR site also lists more than 90 Senior Fellows (including Mr. Potok), Doctoral Fellows and Policy and Practitioner Fellows, noting that “Our Senior Fellows are academics at universities holding a PhD and higher.”

According to Mr. Potok, he received a bachelor’s degree (A.B.) in Political Science in 1978 from the University of Chicago but has never pursued a master’s degree, much less a doctorate, and has never worked or taught at any institution of higher learning.

No doubt he should be listed among the Policy and Practitioner Fellows, who are “policy makers, practitioners, or researchers at think tanks or non-profits.”

So in the long run, while it is good to see Mark Potok back in the game again (he also turned up in an interview on “far-right extremism” as we were writing this post) his return also bolsters our claims that there is a definite “Hate Industry,” consisting of private companies such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League, that make hundreds of millions of dollars peddling fear, outrage and “hate” to Progressive donors, and other networked players, such as CARR, Rantt Media and Moonshot CVE, who also manipulate the “far-right” narrative for purposes other than financial gain.

There are no conspiracies here. This is simply the age-old quest for wealth and political power. Unlike the players listed above, we do not ask anyone to take our word for anything. Take five minutes and read Christina Ballard’s superb primer on fake news. You won’t be sorry.

 

SPLC — Business as Usual

August 13, 2020

On August 12, 2020, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s new president and CEO, Margaret Huang issued a press release commemorating the third anniversary of the death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Huang replaced long-time SPLC president Richard Cohen in April of this year after the latter abruptly quit the company in disgrace in 2019. It was Cohen who kept SPLC founder Morris Dees on the company payroll despite decades of allegations of sexual harassment by female employees and who perpetuated Dees’ 48-year policy of not hiring minorities to senior SPLC positions of authority. Dees was just too popular with the donors to let go, it seems.

Huang had solid civil rights bona fides, including serving as executive director of Amnesty International USA, and showed great promise for leading the SPLC back to its glory days of doing actual civil rights work, the “poverty law” work for which the company was founded in 1971. It really looked like the new president would bring a new day to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Sadly, it was not to be.

As yesterday’s press release shows, Ms. Huang has merely picked up the company’s perpetual fear and outrage campaign right where Mr. Cohen dropped it in the dirt as he bolted for the door.

Perhaps this comes as no surprise, as Huang was hired by the same SPLC Board of Directors who kept Messrs. Dees and Cohen gainfully employed all those years and who even saw fit to pay the gentlemen their full six-digit salaries despite their bringing ignominy and shame upon the institution’s reputation. Most of those Board members are still on the job today.

“Three years ago today in Charlottesville, Virginia, our nation was forced to recognize an uncomfortable truth: hate is alive and flourishing in the United States. Since that day, we have seen white supremacists become more emboldened and vocal about their intentions for the future of our nation,” wrote Huang yesterday. 

Ironically, her company’s own fundraising propaganda paints a very different story.

2019 Hate Groups

The table above lists the number of alleged “hate groups” in the US over the past three years, as claimed by the SPLC’s insanely lucrative annual “Hate Map” fundraising tool. There is no legal definition for “hate group” so the company relies on its own intentionally elastic definition that essentially boils down to  “All hate groups say mean things about other groups.”

The numbers in red indicate an alleged increase in groups by category from the previous year. Those highlighted in yellow show a decline and those marked in blue indicate no change from the previous year.

The “Statewide” heading indicates those alleged groups for which the SPLC provides no corroborating information whatsoever, not so much as a known city or town that a donor or journalist could use to verify the company’s claim. “Trust us!”

“Statewide” does not include the dozens of other groups which have been pinpointed to locations such as “Southern California,” “Eastern Pennsylvania” or “Chickasaw County,” though it does, by necessity, incorporate over 100 online-only and one-man websites that the SPLC claims it does not count, except it apparently does.

Note the abundance of yellow cells in the table, indicating a steady decline in “hate groups” over the past three years, which ironically (there’s that word again) coincides with the Trump Administration, according to the experts at the SPLC. Note the number of “statewide” phantoms for the traditional white supremacist groups Ms. Huang claims are “flourishing”: Ku Klux Klan, 31 out of 47, neo-Nazis, 46 out of 59, and an incredible (literally) 44 out of 48 alleged skinhead groups (92%!!!).

Even the alleged increases in Anti-LGBT and white nationalist groups turn out to be little more than “creative accounting” on the part of SPLC fundraisers, with the latter category seeing far more “statewide” phantoms added in 2019 over 2018 than actual jackboots on the ground.

[Never heard of “neo-Volkish” groups before? Neither have most people on the planet. According to the SPLC, these evil souls worship Norse and traditional Germanic gods, and “while outward-facing violence rarely erupts from the Folkish,” these threats to humanity embrace “traditional gender roles,” unlike, say, Orthodox Jewry, the Amish or many Muslim and Hispanic immigrant groups. Be afraid… be very afraid.]

The one category of SPLC-designated “hate groups” that does seem to be “flourishing,” and is curiously overlooked by Ms. Huang and other commentators, are Black nationalist groups, which are roughly equal to all alleged KKK, Nazi and skinhead groups COMBINED, at 255 to 261, respectively.

Strip out the “statewide” phantoms from each column, and even throw in the handful of neo-Confederates, and Black “hate groups” outnumber their combined white counterparts by two-to-one, according to Margaret Huang’s own company.

Who is it Ms. Huang says we’re supposed to be fearing this year?

The SPLC’s annual “hate group” counts are spurious fundraising ploys which are backed by little to no verifiable proof and are never vetted by the media. Ms Huang is fully aware of this and is, presumably, the one person who can put a stop to this charade once and for all. Will that happen any time soon? Don’t bet on it.

SPLC profits

The numbers above were taken from the SPLC’s annual IRS Form 990 tax-exemption reports. They show a steady growth in revenues over the past decade, with record increases since 2017.

The SPLC’s staff has grown from 291 in 2016 to 441 in 2019, with a massive increase in “volunteers” from 16 to 440 over the same period, and yet the “law center” routinely spends eight to ten times more of its budget on fundraising over actual legal case work.

What business is the SPLC actually in?

Margaret Huang isn’t naive. She knows that selling fear and outrage brings in tens and even hundreds of millions of donor-dollars each year. Dees and Cohen have bailed out with their golden parachutes but the same cronies who kept them on the payroll are the same ones who hired Ms. Huang. Granted, the new figurehead isn’t a white male, but otherwise, its big business as usual at the SPLC.

The Mysterious Case of Althea Bernstein

August 1, 2020

Early on the morning of June 24, 2020, 18-year-old Althea Bernstein claims she was stopped at a red light in downtown Madison, Wisconsin, when she was allegedly approached by four white men, (described by Bernstein as “classic Wisconsin frat boys”), who “shouted the N-word” at her and sprayed her face and neck with lighter fluid and “allegedly tossed a flaming lighter at her,” igniting the fluid. Bernstein claims that she then “patted out the flames and eventually drove home,” where her mother “encouraged her to go the hospital.”

Such an unprovoked attack would be heinous enough to begin with, but because Althea Bernstein is bi-racial the case is being investigated as a possible hate crime. Add in the fact that Bernstein’s father is Jewish and you have a hate crime two-fer on your hands.

Bernsteins

Althea Bernstein and her father in 2017

While we at Watching the Watchdogs are willing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and take their allegations as true until proven otherwise, the Bernstein case has been exhibiting many signs of being a potential hate crime hoax from the beginning. Far from “blaming the victim,” a closer look at the claims and reporting of the incident are in order.

  1. The alleged attack took place at 1:00 a.m. in the morning during a violent BLM “protest” in downtown Madison.
  2. Bernstein says she was on her way to visit her brother in nearby Middleton at 1:00 a.m. on a Wednesday morning.
  3. Despite driving downtown in a large city in the middle of the night, during a riot, Bernstein reports that she had her driver side window down while stopped at the red light.
  4. When the “four white frat boys” approached the window of her car, one of them produced a “spray bottle” of lighter fluid and proceeded to spray Bernstein in the face, miraculously missing the young woman’s eyes.
  5. Bernstein says that one of the boys “threw a lit lighter” at her to ignite the fluid. Since disposable butane lighters go out when released, one must assume that this lighter must have been of an old-time Zippo-like design. The cheapest Zippo lighters on Amazon.com retail for $16.95 and tend to pick up the user’s fingerprints, making them both rather pricey and incriminating to be thrown away in an arson attack. No lighter was found in Bernstein’s vehicle.
  6. Bernstein says that despite being the victim of an alleged hate crime, she continued to her brother’s house and then went home, where her mother “encouraged her to go the hospital.” Bernstein finally called the police at 5:45 p.m., nearly 17 hours after the alleged attack, on the police department’s non-emergency phone line.You can listen to the full call here.
  7. Bernstein drove herself to the Emergency Room.
  8. After an initial spate of media reports, including an interview with Good Morning America, and a high-profile call of support and solidarity from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Bernstein and her family have been silent on the alleged attack ever since, on the advice of their family attorney.
  9. A GoFundMe site, approved by the Bernstein family, has raised nearly $10,000 for the victim, but the family has directed that the money be turned over to charity.
  10. Despite allegedly taking place within a block of the Wisconsin State Capitol building, during a “violent protest,” the four attackers, two dressed all in black and two in flowered shirts, have yet to appear on any security or surveillance camera footage, as of this writing.

Granted, all of the above is circumstantial evidence, neither proving nor disproving Ms. Bernstein’s claim, but there certainly is a significant amount of it.

Naturally, the Media, smelling a potential hate crime, jumped on the story with gusto, and, before the police investigation had even begun, had determined that every word of Bernstein’s allegations were true. Google “Althea Bernstein” and see how many times the word “alleged” appears in the hundreds of results. 

Interestingly, even Ms. Bernstein’s own mother seems to be in favor of exaggerating the story. While Bernstein’s appearance on Good Morning America clearly shows burn marks on the left side of her face, the side facing the driver’s window, a Facebook post by Rebecca Bernstein shows (identical) burns on both sides of Althea’s face!

 

althea-bernstein-gma2-1593448141

Bernstein on Good Morning America

 

Bernstein mother

Any 10-year old with a smart phone can reverse an image but you have to do it intentionally. Why would the mother of an alleged double hate crime attack deliberately alter photos of her daughter’s injuries?

In another interesting coincidence, also occurring at 1:00 a.m. in downtown Madison, a group of “peaceful protesters” were fire bombing the Madison City-County building just a few hundred yards from the intersection where Ms. Bernstein claimed she was burned by four racist frat boys.

Madison City-County building

Unlike Ms. Bernstein’s case, this arson attack was captured by surveillance cameras. Also captured sometime later was 26-year-old Marquon Clark, a “person of interest” in connection with the attack on the municipal building.

Madison Arson Suspect

REWARD: @ATFStPaul is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for info leading to the ID/arrest a man believed to be responsible for the fire-bombing at a downtown Madison government building early this morning. Call (608) 266-6014 @madisonpolice @MadisonWIFire @USAO_WDWI

[Update, 8/4/20. A June 24 tweet by the ATF included the closeup image of the “person of interest” spraying the Madison City-County building with what appears to be charcoal lighter fluid.]

Marquon Clark

Marquon Clark

Ironically, the Molotov cocktail lobbed into the building forced the evacuation of Madison’s 9-1-1 response center, so it’s probably a good thing Ms. Bernstein waited seventeen hours to report her attack on the non-emergency line and eventually drove herself to the hospital.

[During the “peaceful protests” that night, two statues were pulled down and a Wisconsin state senator, 60-year-old Democrat Tim Carpenter, was violently attacked by the mob.

Ironically, (there’s that word again…) one of the statues was a likeness of Col. Hans Christian Heg, a Norwegian immigrant and vocal abolitionist, who died leading his Union regiment into battle against evil Confederate troops in 1863.

The other statue, actually an allegory of Progress titled “Forward,” was of a woman, sculpted by a woman artist, Jean Pond Minor, and was paid for by local women’s groups.

Sen. Carpenter describes himself as a Gay Progressive. “Sad thing is I’m on their side for peaceful protests,” Carpenter later observed.

Apparently, they don’t make “social justice” like they used to anymore.

When Madison officials held a press conference on the afternoon of the 24th to decry the senseless violence and vandalism social media and the Blogosphere pounced, accusing them of caring more about statues than for Althea Bernstein. The press conference was held at 4:00 p.m. Ms. Bernstein didn’t get around to reporting her alleged attack until 5:45 p.m. (8/11/20)]

Again, this is more circumstantial evidence, and as we always remind our readers, correlation in no way implies causation. Just because youthful “protesters” were lobbing flaming liquids around in the vicinity does not necessarily mean that Ms. Bernstein got splashed there and made up the “frat boy” story to cover her actions, but it sure seems like we’ve heard this song before.

Of course, the Jussie Smollett case from 2019 comes to mind. The gay Black actor claimed that he was attacked at 2:30 a.m., on the coldest night of the year (in Chicago!), by two white men (pictured below), who beat him up, poured bleach on him and put a noose around his neck while shouting “This is MAGA country!” (in Chicago!). Smollett’s case is still pending as of this writing. Smollett was allegedly hoping to create some favorable, or at least sympathetic, publicity to bolster his acting career.

Smollett Brothers

Smollett’s confessed “attackers”

Also in 2019, 12-year-old Amari Allen swore that three white boys held her down on the school playground and cut off her dreadlocks, calling them “nappy,” except it never happened.

In 2017, 21-year-old Dauntarius Williams, of Manhattan, Kansas, reported to police that his car had been vandalized with racist slurs. It had been… by Dauntarius Williams.

In 2016, 18-year-old Yasmin Seweid told police she had been attacked on a New York City subway platform by three white men who yelled “Donald Trump!” while attempting to pull off her hijab head scarf. Seweid later confessed to making the whole story up to cover her late night out drinking with her Christian boyfriend. While the court sentenced her to counseling, her father, who apparently didn’t want his underage daughter drinking alcohol or dating Christians, forced her to shave her head.

Seweid

Seweid and her father appear in court, 2016

Long-time Watching the Watchdogs readers may recall our post concerning 20-year-old Sharmeka Moffitt from 2012, who claimed that she was walking alone in Louisiana park one night when three white men in hoodies doused her with a flammable liquid and set her alight, causing third degree burns on her body. Her car was vandalized with “KKK” and the “N-word” written on it… in toothpaste.

Moffitt

Ms. Moffitt

Police responded to Ms. Moffitt’s 911 call in less than a minute and found no suspects matching her description. After completing their investigation, police report finding only Ms. Moffitt’s fingerprints on a cigarette lighter and lighter fluid container. The toothpaste was determined to contain evidence of female DNA only. A year later, Moffitt pleaded guilty to one count of terrorizing and one count of false swearing, receiving a ten-year suspended sentence. No reason for the hoax was given.

Also from 2012, we reported on one of the most heinous hate crimes of the century. Michigan State University student Zachary Tennen, 19, was at a college party one night, minding his own business, when two white males, with shaven heads, approached him and asked him if he was Jewish. When Tennen replied that he was, the two bald men informed him that they were with the local Ku Klux Klan, then “made Nazi gestures” and proceeded to beat poor Zachary senseless, breaking his jaw in the process and… stapling his mouth shut after the attack! And the crowd of party-goers stood by and did nothing.

Tennen

Zachary Tennen

Naturally, the Media was all over this story. It had absolutely everything a news editor could wish for. Nazis, Skinheads, the KKK and anti-Semitism galore. Plus they stapled the boy’s mouth shut!  Tennen’s father threatened to call in high-powered lawyers from the Anti-Defamation League to help him sue MSU if the evil Nazi-Klan-Skinheads were not brought to justice immediately.

And then the real story came out. Young Mr. Tennen admitted to being “drunk and high” at the party that night. Several female students attending the party reported that Mr. T. was being obnoxious, making unwanted advances and “getting grabby” (every woman reading this description knows exactly what was going on). One of the women complained to a male friend, who explained to Mr. Tennen that if he did not cut it out he was going to regret it.

Mr. Tennen did not heed the advice. He put his hands on another woman and the other male, who was not a Nazi, or a skinhead, or with the KKK, kept his word and with one single punch knocked Zachary out cold, fracturing his jaw in the process. The crowd failed to intervene in “the beating” not because they were inherently anti-Semitic, they did not intervene because the whole thing was over in the blink of an eye.

To date, no explanation has been given for the piece of wire found in Tennen’s mouth, but it was most likely part of a retainer or other dental device. Zachary Tennen’s mouth was never stapled shut.

Like many teenage hoaxers who panic and play the hate card, Tennen found himself in over his head with no way out.  In the photo above, Tennen is shown in the hospital with his jaws wired shut, literally lying through his teeth, recounting the fictitious “attack’ in a television interview. Tennen stuck with his story until it finally collapsed under its own incredulous weight.

When Zachary Tennen finally came clean about the events of that evening the silence was deafening. Because he was actually punched in the face at the party, the Lansing Police Department still considered it an assault, regardless if the hate crime details were fabricated, yet no charges were filed against the student who punched Tennen.

Michigan State University decided that since the assault occurred off-campus that it suddenly had no role to play in the proceedings and the Tennen family called off the ADL lawyers at the last minute, stating that “…justice will be best served by closing this investigation at this time.” The end. Nothing to see here. Move along.

The point here is that hate crime hoaxes happen, and when they do happen the usual suspects rush in to capitalize on the initial claims and then going silent on the matter, as with the Althea Bernstein case, or making up some lame justification (“Yeah, well, it could have happened. Racists!”).

The Media and the Hate Industry players could care less if a story is true or not. They’ll make their money peddling the initial fear and outrage and there is a LOT of money to be made from that golden goose. After that, they will lie low until the next hoax comes along. It’s just business, folks. Very, very profitable business.

One final note, even the millionaires at the Southern Poverty Law Center, who have never met a “hate” claim they could not monetize, are staying clear of the Bernstein case. To date, the company has not said a word about the matter.

In all fairness, though, even the NAACP and Al Sharpton, who rose to fame propagating the Tawana Brawley hate crime hoax in 1987, have made no comments on this story so far. Coincidence?

Stay tuned for updates on this mysterious case.

[Update — 9/22/20 — It has been 90 days since Ms. Bernstein claimed she was attacked by “four white frat boys” but Madison Police and the FBI have yet to turn up a single clue. No video. No witnesses. Nothing.

“As of Wednesday, [August 12, 2020], authorities confirmed that there is no new information to report concerning the alleged attack,” reported The Daily Wire website. “There is nothing new to release at this time,” [Madison Police spokesman Joel DeSpain] said, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Two weeks after those reports were published, Ms. Bernstein turned up at another Madison protest, doubling down on her attack claim and addressing the crowd. “Does my skin color offend you? Does my success scare you? Does the fact that I’m a Black woman make you worried that change in [sic] going to happen?”

That quote came from an unnamed Associated Press reporter who made the entirely unverified claim that “One of the demonstrators was Althea Bernstein, the 18-year-old Black woman who was lit on fire as she sat in her car at a Madison intersection…” The term “allegedly” never appears once in the report, and it was reprinted by US News and World Report, who really ought to know better. Such is the sorry state of “journalism” today.

One final note, the GoFundMe fundraiser we mentioned earlier was mysteriously closed on August 18, by its organizer, Linda Rogalski, having stalled at $9,818 dollars, meaning that no one had contributed since July.

The mysteries are several:

  1. Despite requiring ongoing medical attention for Althea’s burns, the Bernstein family, who approved the fundraiser, did not want to use the money to pay for medical costs. Instead, they wanted the money to go to charity.
  2. Ms. Rogalski writes that the money will actually be used to help Althea Bernstein purchase a “farmette” where she can rescue animals. The farm will be called “Timberdoodle Meadows.”

    And this applies to Ms. Bernstein’s alleged hate crime status how?
  3. The fundraiser fell short of its $10,000 goal, but only by a fraction. They raised 99.2% of the money, but strangely, Ms. Rogalski has included a link on the site where donors can ask for their money back, “Since it did not reach the goal amount for the campaign.”

    Really? “You only raised 99.2% of the money earmarked for a hate crime victim so I want a refund,” said nobody, ever.
  4. GoFundMe donations are available to the beneficiaries almost immediately, even during ongoing campaigns, and there is no deadline for closing a campaign, so why would you close it at all, especially when you are within spitting distance of the goal line?]

“Curiouser and curiouser.”

SPLC — $223 Per Minute, Every Minute

July 12, 2020

With the current turmoil in the U.S. these days, corporations, celebrities and average citizens are climbing over each other in a frenzied effort to signal their superior “anti-racist” virtue. One of the biggest benefactors of this largesse is, of course, the Southern Poverty Law Center. Granted, for the lazy virtue signaler, the SPLC represents an easy way to tell the world that you are somehow “fighting hate,” but how much of a difference does your donation actually make to the company itself?

According to the SPLC’s most recent IRS Form 990 tax return, the company claimed revenues for fiscal year 2019 in excess of $117 million dollars (down slightly from 2018’s $122 million and 2017’s record-breaking $133 million). It ended the year with net assets in excess of $543 million, or more than half a billion dollars, all of it tax-free.

What does $117 million of net income break down into?

$320,547 every day of the year, or,
$13,356 every hour of every day, or,
$222.60 every minute of every hour, or,
$3.70 every second.

Needless to say,  with that much cash flowing into the SPLC’s coffers, the average Joe doesn’t stand much of a chance of making a difference. For example,

A $25 donation equals what the SPLC takes in roughly every seven seconds.
A $100 donation equals 27 seconds of the SPLC’s income.
A $1,000 donation won’t buy five minutes of the SPLC’s income.

You’d be hard put to even physically make the donation in less than five minutes, especially if you are still writing paper checks and sending them by USPS snail mail, as many of the SPLC’s most loyal supporters do. By the time Grandma shuffles out to the mailbox, with a generous gift in hand, her donation has already been swamped by the competition.

Once you get into the million-donor-dollar range you can tell people that you kept the lights on at the SPLC for just over three whole days (hopefully not over a holiday weekend), but a million bucks doesn’t mean as much to the SPLC as it does to you or me.

For example, in March of 2019, SPLC President Richard Cohen had to actually fire company founder Morris Dees due to decades of accusations by female employees of sexual harassment by Dees.

A week later, under a cloud for knowingly keeping Mr. Dees on the payroll all those years and for perpetuating Dees’ 49-year policy of not hiring minorities to senior positions at the SPLC, both President Cohen and company Legal Director Rhonda Brownstein quit the organization ignominiously.

[Over one year later and most of the Board members who kept Cohen and Brownstein on the payroll for decades are still on the Board of Directors!]

Fortunately, the company’s IRS Form 990 shows that all three executives received their full salaries and benefits for the year, for a total of $1,109,049. Hopefully it wasn’t your million dollar donation that paid for the unmitigated failure of these three individuals.

You may wish to console yourself with the belief that your million went to the 7% of the SPLC budget allocated toward “case cost expenses,” as you are supporting a “law center” after all. It’s worth noting that 7% is a record high for the company, which has only spent more than 4% of its budget on legal cases four times since 2001, with several years barely breaking the 1% threshold.

If you weren’t one of the six lucky million-dollar donors to cover the company’s legal expenses in 2019 you can take solace in the knowledge that the SPLC spent more than $5 million dollars in postage last year, in an age of ubiquitous email.

Of course, you have a far better chance of getting into the $23 million-dollar pool for fundraising costs. According to the SPLC’s own auditor, the company paid over $11 million in overt fundraising fees and “…incurred joint costs of $11,241,553 for educational materials and activities as part of fund-raising appeals during the year ended October 31, 2019.”

One would think that with half a billion in cash assets on hand the SPLC could find something more useful on which to spend $23 million donor-dollars.

And what might that “something” be? According to several organizational websites, your local food bank can provide four nourishing meals for a dollar. That means your $25 dollar donation can feed a hungry family of four for nearly seven days, versus supporting the SPLC for nearly seven seconds.

That same $25 can provide a dozen needy people with insulin or other life-saving medicines for a month. Shelters for abused or battered women and children are always in desperate need of financial support.

Even your local SPCA can do far more with your gift than the six-digit-salary fundraisers and failed millionaire executives of the SPLC.

Give locally, where the needs are greater and where you can see the results of your gifts first hand. You’ll still get cool points for helping out, but this way you can actually do some good.

 

SPLC – “Anti-LGBT Groups SURGE!”

April 1, 2020

The Southern Poverty Law Center published its annual “Hate Map” fundraising tool in March. The map purports to identify “hate groups” designated by the SPLC (they being the sole arbiter of that incredibly lucrative label) across America in 2019.

How accurate is the “hate group” label? According to the SPLC, “a hate group is any group that says mean things about other groups.” According to Senior US District Court Judge Myron Thompson, the SPLC’s “hate group” label is merely the company’s “opinion” and is therefore protected by the First Amendment.

To recap: The “hate group” label is merely the SPLC’s “opinion.” Nothing more.

Every year seems to bring one or two “featured” groups that are “exploding,” “surging,”or otherwise “on the rise!” This year the company singled out its “Anti-LGBT” and “White Nationalist” brands for special coverage. We’ll address the White Nationalist scam in a future post.

The SPLC claimed that Anti-LGBT groups are surging because their count increased from 49 to 70 for 2019. To make the number seem even scarier to the Media and the almighty donors, the SPLC proclaimed that “Anti-LGBT groups increased by 43%!”

As longtime Watching the Watchdogs readers may recall, anytime the SPLC uses a percent sign you’ll find a dollar sign nearby. The point of the annual “Hate Map” is to generate fear and outrage among SPLC donors.

To come up 70 alleged Anti-LGBT “groups,” the SPLC dropped three names from 2018’s roster and added 24 new ones. As usual, a closer look reveals “creative accounting practices” and outright misinformation.

MassResistance is an online advocacy group. The SPLC has been counting the home office in Waltham, MA, and various subsidiary chapters for years. The subsidiary chapters tend to come and go with each year, but while counting four chapters of MassResistance for 2018, the SPLC decided it knew of 12 chapters for 2019. This came as news to group founder Brian Camenker, as reported by Tyler O’Neil.

“To be specific, we DO NOT have chapters in these places: Torrance, CA; Lexington Park, MD; Detroit, MI; Las Vegas, NV; Austin, TX; Dallas, TX; Fort Worth, TX; Seattle, WA,” he wrote. “We have done activism from time to time in most of those places (except Detroit and Seattle – where we did activism in nearby towns but not in those cities). But we do not have active chapters in any of them.” He also denied having a chapter in Denver, Colo., although MassResistance does have a Colorado chapter.

It seems odd that Camenker would lie about not having more chapters than he really does but as the Anti-Defamation League’s Director of Investigative Research, Mark Pitcavage, has noted in the past, “The Southern Poverty Law Center’s list is wildly inflated.”

Such is the case with the Pacific Justice Institute, another online advocacy group. Between 2013 and 2018, the SPLC was happy to count the website only once a year. For 2019, though, it decided that the PJI was actually five “groups.”

Ironically, the SPLC clearly states that it does not count websites in its “Hate Map” totals:

“Entities that appear to exist only in cyberspace are not included”

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.”

This seems odd when at least 30 of the company’s Anti-LGBT “groups” seem to only exist in cyberspace:

American Vision
Americans for Truth about Homosexuality
Concerned Christian Citizens
Faith2Action
Family Watch International
Generations
Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment (H.O.M.E.)
Illinois Family Institute
MassResistance (all 12 alleged chapters)
Mission: America
Pacific Justice Institute (all five alleged chapters)
Pass the Salt Ministries
Pilgrims Covenant Church
Pray in Jesus’ Name Project
Ruth Institute
Scott Lively Ministries
Save California
United Families International
Warriors for Christ
World Congress of Families

While there is no doubt that many of these “groups” hold definitely anti-gay views, if they only exist in cyberspace, should the SPLC count them when they specifically claim that they do not count websites?

Furthermore, do one-man websites count as “groups” and do paid employees of registered advocacy groups (the SPLC itself is an “advocacy group”) going to work meet Kate Chance’s “meeting” criterion? You be the judge.

Not surprisingly, many of the other “groups” on the SPLC’s list include churches. Nearly all of these churches are tiny store-front affairs located in strip malls or other low-rent venues. Most have only a few dozen congregants, at most.

We did a little Googling and here are some photos of these dangerous “hate groups.”

All Scripture - Knoxville

All Scripture Baptist Church – Knoxville, ,TN

Faith Baptist Church - Violet - LA

Faith Baptist Church – Violet, LA

Faithful Word - Tucson

Faithful Word Baptist Church – Tucson, AZ

First Works Baptist Church - El Monte

First Works Baptist Church – El Monte, CA

First Works Baptist Church - El Monte-2

First Works, El Monte – Interior

Revival Baptist-Clermont, Florida

Revival Baptist Church – Clermont, FL

Stedfast Baptist Church - Fort Worth

Stedfast Baptist Church – Fort Worth, TX

Stedfast Baptist Church - Jacksonville

Stedfast Baptist Church – Jacksonville, FL

Stedfast Baptist Church - OKC

Stedfast Baptist Church – Oklahoma City, OK

Strong Hold Baptist - Norcross GA-1

Strong Hold Baptist Church – Norcross, GA

Strong Hold Baptist - Norcross GA-2

Strong Hold, Norcross, GA – Interior

Sure Foundation Baptist Church - Spokane - 1

Sure Foundation Baptist Church – Spokane, WA

Sure Foundation Baptist Church - Spokane - 2

Sure Foundation, Spokane, WA – Interior

Sure Foundation Baptist Church - Vancouver WA

Sure Foundation Baptist Church – Vancouver, WA

Verity Baptist Church - Sacramento

Verity Baptist Church – Sacramento, CA

While we do not agree with or condone anti-gay rhetoric in any form we also do not agree with Hate Industry players like the Southern Poverty Law Center grossly exaggerating any alleged threat by these “groups.” Clearly, the company’s intention, as it has always been, is to generate fear and outrage among its progressive donor base in order to reap windfall donations. The SPLC took in $117 million donor-dollars in 2019, based largely on its spurious “Hate Map” claims.

We invested about two hours of our time tracking down these “groups,” a job that rightly should be done by professional journalists before regurgitating SPLC fundraising propaganda as fact. But then, the Media has been making money off lurid SPLC “hate group” click-bait for over a decade. They have no financial incentive to print the truth.

 

SPLC — The Cost of Failure

February 27, 2020

The Southern Poverty Law Center released its IRS Form 990 tax return for 2019 earlier this week. Not surprising, the company reported nine-digit revenues for the third year in a row, 83% of which came from direct donations.

Last year brought in $117 million, which is down from 2018’s $122 million and 2017’s record-breaking $133 million take, but is still twice 2016’s paltry $58 million. The advent of Donald Trump’s election and the 2017’s Charlottesville riots created a corporate virtue signalling campaign of unprecedented scale, which will likely rebound slightly for the 2020 election cycle.

Last year also brought the entirely-unforeseen but much-needed shakeup of the SPLC’s Executive Suite, starting with the ouster of company founder Morris Dees under allegations of long-time sexual harassment of female employees. Former SPLC staffer Bob Moser documented this open secret in a March 21, 2019 New Yorker article, The Reckoning of Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

According to Moser, “Incoming female staffers were additionally warned by their new colleagues about Dees’s reputation for hitting on young women.” The SPLC’s top leadership had been receiving complaints of this nature routinely, but chose to keep Dees on the payroll because the donors loved him.

Dees, for his part, refuted this claim with the kind of logic that only a lawyer could love: Dees claimed that he couldn’t have been hitting on women at the office because he was hardly ever in the building any more.

On March 14, 2019, the SPLC’s hometown newspaper, the Montgomery Advertiser, reported “[Dees] said he hadn’t tried a case in at least a decade and hadn’t recently been involved in the day-to-day operations of the SPLC. ” PJ Media‘s Tyler O’Neil repeated this claim in his 2020 book, Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center, where he quotes Dees as saying that he had very rarely gone to the office for the past ten years.

All this begs the question as to why Morris Dees was kept on the company payroll all those years, at a salary exceeding $400,000 annually? This is especially troubling considering the millions of fundraising appeals the SPLC sent out to gullible donors over those years, implying that the company was in dire need of cash.

Long-time SPLC president Richard Cohen, who also pulled down $400,000 a year, is chiefly to blame, which partially explains why Cohen quit the SPLC a week after firing Dees, as did SPLC Legal Director Rhonda Brownstein.

Cohen should have fired Dees after the first sexual misconduct charges were made, but instead he kept Dees on at full pay so that the latter could make the occasional fundraising call to the company’s richest donors.

Cohen also jumped ship under the cloud that, under his leadership, the SPLC had a decades-old record of not promoting minorities to senior positions, a claim documented by Montgomery Advertiser reporters Dan Morse and Greg Jaffe as early as 1994.

So Morris Dees was fired in disgrace from the very company he created and Cohen and Brownstein beat feet to get as far from the sinking ship as quickly as possible. All’s well that ends well, right? Not so much for the donors. The recent IRS Form 990 shows that despite being fired, Morris Dees collected his full salary for the year, as did Cohen and Brownstein, despite having ignominiously quit their jobs.

The three great humanitarians, who were shown the door roughly one-third of the way into the fiscal year, were paid a total of $1,109,049 donor-dollars in all, with nearly $732,000 of that coming after they no longer worked for the company.

That bill was picked up by the donors. At $100 a pop, some 7,300 donors, who believed with all their hearts that their money was somehow “fighting hate,” instead paid for the severance packages of three people whose moral failures nearly destroyed the SPLC.

At a more likely $25 donation level, that number jumps to 183,000 well-meaning suckers.

2019 Dees Cohen pay 1

2019 Brownstein pay 1

SPLC Severance - IRS Form 990 -Page 51

Cohen and Brownstein severance payments

Richard Cohen cannot hog all of the credit for keeping Morris Dees around for all those years, though. An equal share, perhaps even a greater share, goes to the SPLC’s Board of Directors, whose sworn duty was to respond to serious allegations against company executives and who ultimately have hire/fire powers.

Amazingly, nine of the 14 Board members who did absolutely nothing about Dees’ and Cohen’s disreputable behavior for years (ten, if interim SPLC president Karen Baynes-Dunning returns to the Board) are STILL on the Board in 2020!

2019 Board of Directors

2019 SPLC Board of Directors

2020 Board of Directors

2020 SPLC Board of Directors

Many of the Board members have been in place for years, including Morris Dees’ divorce lawyer, Howard Mandell, who was on the Board back when Morse and Jaffe were writing their week-long exposé of the SPLC in 1994.

One 2019 Board alumna who bailed out in the wake of the Dees/Cohen debacle was Jocelyn Benson, who was named as Michigan Secretary of State in 2018.  On March 26, 2019,  PJ Media noted Benson’s sudden disappearance from the SPLC website.

Benson’s office claimed that “Upon taking office as Michigan Secretary of State, Secretary Benson informed SPLC leadership that she would be stepping down from the board,” but the SPLC website’s bio page for Benson describes her as Secretary of State for nearly six months before her sudden removal from the page.

Even if the removal of Benson from the Board webpage after her election was an oversight by the SPLC, she still served on the Board since at least 2015 and worked for the SPLC in the early 2000s. The odds of Ms. Benson not “getting the word” about Mr. Dees alleged improprieties in all that time, especially as a young intern, are pretty slim.

Jocelyn Benson is as guilty of keeping Morris Dees and Richard Cohen on the SPLC payroll as is Howard Mandell and the rest of the Board of Directors, and yet not one of them have ever been taken to task for their failure.

Instead, the buck was passed to the almighty donors.

HRC — “Anti-Trans Violence Epidemic!”

November 25, 2019

This week a new report came across our desk, “A National Epidemic: Fatal Anti-Transgender Violence in the United States in 2019,” produced by Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a large LGBTQ advocacy group headquartered in Washington, DC.

The HRC calls the document “…a distressing report honoring the at least 22 transgender people and gender non-conforming people killed in 2019 and detailing the contributing factors that lead to this tragic violence.” The implication is that these tragic deaths were all somehow hate-related, and definitely anti-Trans related, and some indeed were. Predictably, the Media picked up on the story and reprinted it faithfully, without vetting the claims.

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

A closer look at the report shows that while it does indeed honor 22 people who died, it does little to “detail the contributing factors,” and even indulges in a little old fashioned fudging to inflate the numbers.

To be fair, the HRC is registered as a 501(c)(4) Social Welfare Organization with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), as opposed to a 501(c)(3) “action organization,” like the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and many other Hate Industry players. The only restrictions on 501(c)(4) organizations is that they “…must not be organized for profit and must be operated exclusively to promote social welfare.” As such, they are allowed to lobby lawmakers openly, whereas groups like the SPLC have to resort to more covert measures to protect their all-important tax-exempt status. More on the HRC to follow.

The report puts great emphasis on the facts that most of the people honored were Black trans women, under the age of 30 and living predominantly in the South. While these claims hold true for the people in the report, they are largely irrelevant compared to other factors.

Stats

The repeated emphasis on race alone implies that racism was a leading factor in the deaths, but a simple Google search of the deceased and those arrested in connection with their deaths proves this claim to be patently unfounded.

Nothing sells as surely as claims of racism these days, though, and so the HRC and the Media are happy to imply.

Homicides1

Homicides2

Homicides3
Homicides4
homicides5-e1574693712812.jpg
Homicides6Again, nobody should ever be a victim of crime, especially a hate crime or murder.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black homicide victims significantly outnumber all other groups, for a variety of reasons, regardless of gender identity. The vast majority of those charged in Black homicides tend to be Black as well.HomicideRatesUS

The HRC makes the case that age is a mitigating factor:

Age1

A review of homicide statistics from 2018 shows that people under the age of 35 make up the largest share of ALL victims in the US.

Age2

The HRC report makes the case that geography may be a contributing factor, and here they may have a point, but not necessarily the one they are claiming.

Location

Location2

As the first pie chart indicates, the 2019 HRC report includes statistics going back to 2013, claiming more than 150 trans deaths over six years, or roughly 25 deaths per year.

The second pie chart indicates the population distribution for the US in 2018 and the third the LGBTQ distribution for the same year. The two charts are nearly identical, statistically, indicating a fairly uniform distribution of LGBTQ persons across all geographic locations.

A more telling graphic, and the 2019 report overall, indicates that many of the victims lived in large cities.

Location3

Again, the HRC had to reach back six years to cobble together a statistic, but the mini-biographies of the 2019 victims show that many died in the cities listed above, as well as Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Montgomery, Memphis and Prince George’s County, Md. All of these locations have large Black populations and high annual homicide rates.

When your demographic group has far higher than average homicide rates and you choose to live in areas with far higher than average homicide rates, your odds of becoming a homicide victim become statistically higher.

Again, nobody should ever be a victim of crime, especially a hate crime or murder. We’re not “blaming the victims” here, We’re merely stating the obvious facts.

The HRC report implies that the 2019 victims died because of their transgender lifestyles, but a review of the cases indicates that, for the most part, their gender identity was not usually the motivating factor.

One exception to that rule is the fact that many transgender people, for a variety of socioeconomic reasons, are forced into the worlds of sex work and drug trafficking. The HRC report estimates that 13% to 36% of the victims may have engaged in sex work, though this figure may be conservative. The fact remains that street sex and drug dealing are highly dangerous activities.

Several of the victims were found shot to death in cars or isolated locations, late at night. While sex work is dangerous enough, transgender sex workers also run the risk of violence from johns who do not realize from the outset that the victim is transgender.

As we noted with the victims’ photos above, there is nothing to confirm that most of them died specifically for being transgender. One victim was killed while standing with a crowd of other people. Police say the shooter fired into the crowd from half a block away without targeting anyone specifically.

In a similar incident, Jordan Cofer, the only white and only transgender male listed in the report, was killed when his brother, Connor Betts, went on a shooting spree in Dayton in August, 2019, killing nine and wounding 27 more. Evidence showed that Betts had no political or racial motives for the attack. He was just a sick man who wanted to commit a mass shooting.

Another victim, described in the report as being homeless, was found in the charred remains of burned out abandoned house. Another was shot in a domestic dispute where her mother accused a man of stealing her tax refund check. John Booth, 61, allegedly pulled out a handgun and shot the victim, who was trying to defend her mother.

Jazzaline Ware, as even the HRC report mentions, died of natural causes and the report also notes that Jamagio Berryman did not identify as transgender, used he/him pronouns, and yet they too were added to the list to pad out the numbers.

So, if race and gender identity are not necessarily mitigating factors in the death of these transgender people, what is behind the Human Rights Campaign annual claim of an “epidemic” of transgender violent deaths?

As with the Southern Poverty Law Center and all Hate Industry “advocacy groups” the main purpose appears to be fundraising. There are tens of millions of donor-dollars to be gleaned by selling fear and outrage to well-meaning Progressives.

HRC online 2018 tax returns show that the organization started 2019 with 289 employees. Its president, Chad Griffin was paid $502,000 that year. Vice President Joni Madison was paid almost $302,000 and, oddly enough, Assistant Vice President Cathy Nelson pulled down $340,000. Thirteen other staffers, from lawyers to PR people to secretaries, are listed, all with six-digit salaries ranging from $262,000 to a paltry $190,000.

That’s a lot of overhead to cover, even before you pay the other 270 employees. That money has to come from somewhere.

Like the SPLC and other Hate Industry players, the Human Rights Campaign partakes in the popular “joint costs” canard, in which over $9 million dollars in fundraising costs were attributed to other departments. Some third-party fundraisers hired by the HRC took up to 84% of donations for themselves while several others charged way more than they took in, essentially keeping every dime they raised in the name of the HRC without the donors ever realizing it, a long-held SPLC practice.

Most of the HRC’s annual expenses go to lobbying lawmakers for pro-LGBT causes, which we do not have a problem with, per se. What concerns us is that, just like the SPLC’s exploitation of genuine hate crime victims, Heather Heyer of the Charlottesville riots, and “the Civil Rights Martyrs,” the Human Rights Campaign seems to have no qualms whatsoever in invoking the names of dead transgender victims and others in crass fundraising campaigns.

While nobody should ever be the victim of a crime, especially a hate crime or murder, an average of 25 victims a year, among a demographic of a million and a half estimated members does not an “epidemic” make. Among the 14,500 confirmed homicides in 2018, these unfortunates make up less than two-tenths of one percent.

The FBI gives the average US homicide rate at 5.1 victims per 100,000 citizens per year. Under that estimate, the Trans population of 1.5 million should see 77 homicides a year, as opposed to an average of 25, just for being American citizens.

The FBI gives the Black homicide rate at 20.4 victims per 100,000 per year. Under that estimate, the Black Trans population should see 308 homicides per year on average, just by virtue of being Black and young.

The National Weather Service estimates that 49 Americans are killed by lightning strikes each year across all demographics, meaning that the average transgender person is twice as likely to be struck by lightning than to be murdered for their gender identity.

As “epidemics” go, the HRC’s claims are pretty thin.

Watching the Watchdogs has added HRC to our watch list. Stay tuned.

 

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 — More Fundraising Shenanigans

October 10, 2019

Skimming through the news feeds and found several articles touting the fact that the Southern Poverty Law Center says it has registered over 1,300 new voters in Mississippi. Any effort to increase voter participation is to be commended.

At least one Mississippi news outlet made the dubious claim that:

“The Southern Poverty Law Center doesn’t support any candidate. They are a non-partisan organization. Their message is to educate people about the process.”

“Non-partisan”? Really? Considering the company’s huge donor list was built upon those of the McGovern, Carter, Ted Kennedy and Hart presidential campaigns, it seems likely that they are extremely partial to those of the political persuasion that gave them $122 million donor-dollars in 2018, and another $133 million the year before.

As far as not supporting any candidate, maybe not, but they most definitely denigrate the current occupant of the White House and his party. One need only Google the terms “SPLC” and “Trump” to find several years’ worth of vitriolic rhetoric.

We tried it ourselves and the first hit we got was this impartial plea.

Tell President Trump to Take Responsibility-Header

The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine first noted this web page on August 19, 2017, just a week after the Charlottesville riots, but it was likely posted a few days earlier.

The page makes the damning claim that “President Trump’s campaign and presidency have energized the white supremacist movement in unprecedented ways,” but provides no proof to back up the claim. If the SPLC has a “smoking gun” that Trump has “energized” white supremacists, they need only produce it.

Three years later and we’re still waiting…

The text continues: “At this point, it’s not enough for Trump simply to condemn bigotry. He must take responsibility for the surge in white supremacy and hate that he has unleashed.

The events in Charlottesville demand nothing less.

And what can decent, caring people do to help? Simply fill in a form!

Tell President Trump to Take Responsibility-Submit

And what happens when the Righteous push the big blue “Submit” button? Apparently, nothing that the president will ever see. Not only is there no text box with which to “tell the president” anything, an examination of the underlying source code shows no links to the White House email address or even Mr. Trump’s twitter account. It does show more than two dozen links to “splcenter.org,” however.

Once again, the SPLC has set up a dummy form calling people to some kind of virtuous action only to deliver their personal contact information to their own huge, in-house fundraising machine.

Once again, the company stooped to invoking Charlottesville to whip up fear and outrage to turn a buck. How cynical is that?

Vaya con Dinero, SPLC.

SPLC — More Hate Map-Inspired Violence?

September 8, 2019

Most readers are familiar with the 2012 attempted mass shooting in Washington, DC, where 28-year-old Floyd Corkins walked into the lobby of the Family Research Council (FRC) with the intent of murdering as many staffers as he could. Fortunately, the FRC office manager, Leonardo Johnson, was able to subdue Corkins until police arrived, despite having been shot by Corkins during the struggle.

Corkins, a Gay rights activist, told FBI investigators, in no uncertain terms, that he had identified the FRC as an anti-LGBT “hate group” based on that designation on a Southern Poverty Law Center “Hate Map.”

The SPLC, which goes to great lengths to try to tie lone-wolf shooters to any right-wing ideology they can find, immediately dismissed claims that their “Hate Map” fundraising tool had inspired Corkins in any way.

If it hadn’t been for the “Hate Map,” it’s unlikely that Corkins would ever have heard of the FRC. Instead, Corkins pled guilty to three felony charges, including of committing an act of terrorism while armed, receiving a 25-year sentence for his crimes.

Yesterday we learned that a self-identified Antifa member, Alexander Dial, 37, had been charged with “…one count of felony riotone count of second-degree assaultone count of second-degree unlawful use of an electrical stun gun, tear gas or mace, and one count of fourth-degree assault,” during the so-called “End Domestic Terrorism” rally in Portland, OR, on August 17.

Dial Antifa2

Alexander Dial, 2019

The article, posted on the BizPac Review website, includes a number of video links posted by journalist and Antifa documentarian Andy Ngo, which show numerous instances of Antifa thugs attacking Alt-Right thugs with hammers, clubs and chemical sprays. Alexander Dial, who goes by the Twitter handle “betacuck4lyfe” appears in several of the segments.

As a result of Dial’s arrest, a GoFundMe site was created to help raise money for his legal costs.

The blurb on the site makes no attempt to deny Dial’s participation in the violence, even posting a photo of Mr. Dial in action, (note the same “Beta Cuck” t-shirt as shown above).

Dial Antifa

“As many of you are aware, the man you see in the right side of the photograph in the red helmet  is Alexander Dial (trending on Twitter as #betacuck4lyfe), a protestor who was defending Portland, Oregon along with a large group of local citizens against SPLC-designated hate groups who had invaded the downtown area without permits in order to spread their rhetoric of intolerance. “

“Unfortunately, the Portland Police arrested Alexander during this demonstration and have chosen to criminally prosecute him. These are serious charges and he needs your help now!”

Inevitably, despite this kind of irrefutable documentation, the SPLC and the Media routinely refer to Antifa as peaceful “counter-protestors” even when they are clearly as violent, or even more-so, than the alt-Right thugs they claim to be protesting.

Even Antifa admits to and glorifies the violence in Portland. They posted the photo of Dial allegedly attacking the alt-Right members on their own GoFundMe site intentionally, to raise as much money from sympathetic donors as possible.

The site also implies that Dial and the other Antifa members selected their targets based on “SPLC-designated hate groups” and that their motivation for the attacks was to stop the spread of “their rhetoric of intolerance.” In short, to censor their ideological opponents by any means necessary, including criminal violence.

There are several ironies here that are too good to ignore, not least of which is the fact that it was real Fascist Brownshirt goons who would use “any means necessary” to break up Communist Party meetings in Germany, nearly a century ago. Antifa, who claim to be champions of “tolerance” and admirers of Soviet Communism, are engaging in the very Fascist acts they claim to abhor.

The reference to “invad[ing] the downtown area without permits” is also laughable, considering Antifa claims to be an anarchist organization, but suddenly they are worried about permits when it suits their cause? In fact, the alt-Right thugs who marched in 2017’s “Unite the Right” riots in Charlottesville had permits, which didn’t stop the Left-wing thugs from showing up to battle them.

Perhaps the sweetest irony of all comes near the end of the GoFundMe blurb:

“Transparency is very important to [Dial]. Any extra money donated that is not spent as described above will be donated to the ACLU without exception.”

Is it possible that Antifa adherents have no knowledge of the ACLU’s history of defending the free speech rights of the very people they are attacking, including fighting for the right of neo-Nazis to march in heavily-Jewish Skokie, Illinois, in the 1970s?

In fact, the ONLY reason Jason Kessler obtained a permit for his “Unite the Right” rally in 2017 was BECAUSE the ACLU went to bat for him in court, AGAINST the City of Charlottesville!

“Ironic” is the only term when a self-described “tolerant” group bent on censorship gives money to one of the biggest advocates of free speech in the country, no matter how abhorrent many may find that speech.

At the end of the day, it is the six-digit-salary execs at the SPLC and other Hate Industry organizations who are the big winners every time thug meets thug. SPLC donations nearly tripled between 2016 to 2017, from $50 million to $132 million, based largely on the Charlottesville riots and the annual “Hate Map” fundraising tool.

It is in the SPLC’s financial interest to agitate their Progressive donor base and Antifa leftist thugs whenever possible. Real peace would cut into profits.

 


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