Posts Tagged ‘SPLC’

SPLC Attacks Joe Biden

February 24, 2021

Just two months after taking office, President Joe Biden finds himself the target of righteous anger from his voter base for his recent decision to reopen two detention centers built by the Obama administration to house unaccompanied immigrant children. Sensing an opportunity to peddle some fresh outrage to its donor base, the Southern Poverty Law Center issued a breathless press release on February 23 condemning both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris by name. The wording of the release is interesting, both for what it says and what it does not.

In a blaring, all-caps headline, the SPLC writes: “SPLC: REOPENING OF MIGRANT CHILD PRISONS MORALLY INDEFENSIBLE AND UNNECESSARY.” The opening line states that “The Biden-Harris administration is reportedly planning to reopen the Homestead detention center to detain unaccompanied migrant children.”

Note the curious use of the phrase “Biden-Harris administration,” something we’ve never seen before and a pairing the SPLC has never made with previous administrations. Since when do vice-presidents get their own “administrations”? The release repeats the phrase three times.

Also note the use of the terms “prisons” and “detention center” for a facility the Obama administration (or was it the Obama-Biden administration?) named the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children. The SPLC didn’t see fit to refer to it by any name when Obama was running it, and they seem to have avoided the “Kids in Cages” trope under Trump, though they have used the term “caged” on many occasions to describe the detention of adult illegal aliens.

The Biden administration claims that the shelters are indeed temporary, just as Obama and Trump did, but many Progressives aren’t buying it. They quite rightly see the hypocrisy inherent in the decision. Since Biden and the SPLC share many of the same donors the company has a built-in market for its outrage product.

The piece offers one other linguistic sidestep when it refers to “… the failed model of child detention of the pre-Trump era…” They cannot even bring themselves to give credit where due to the Obama administration for creating the shelter system in the first place.

As to the “unnecessary” aspect of the plan, blared out in the headline, the author of the press release, who we’ll address below, states: “There are community-based, humane alternatives to detention such as NGOs, nonprofits and community sponsors that are ready to safely care for migrant children from the safety of homes.These options are safer and less traumatizing and will end our reliance on profit-driven private detention corporations.”

The author seems to believe that scattering the children over hundreds of foster homes is preferable to keeping them in one or two locations, where their parents could theoretically locate them should they ever wish to reclaim them in the future.

It also implies that these organizations and individuals would willingly shoulder the cost of feeding, clothing and housing these hundreds of teenagers with no compensation from the government. It’s not an impossible dream, just highly unlikely, though there is one player that could easily take up the challenge and never feel the financial bite in the least.

According to its 2019 IRS Form 990 tax form (2020’s is due out any week now) the SPLC had more than half a billion dollars in cash on hand, 98% of which is designated as “unrestricted” in use. A mere one or two percent of that hoard would be ample for the needs of the undocumented children and would no doubt score major cool points with the donors, who would be thrilled to see their money actually was doing something more useful than hiding out in offshore bank accounts in the Cayman Islands. Win/Win/Win.

The author of the press release, Oliver Torres, is a new name to us, but considering the enormous hiring binge the SPLC has been on in recent years (from 296 paid employees and 22 volunteers in 2015 to 441 employees and 446 volunteers in 2019) it’s hardly surprising. What is surprising is Mr. Torres’ job title: “Senior Outreach Paralegal for the [SPLC’s] Immigrant Justice Project.”

Considering how important the SPLC claims their work for illegal aliens is, and also considering that half-billion dollars in the bank, the best the company can do is to assign a paralegal to the project? Really? Are there no actual lawyers left at the Law Center?

It would seem that once again the Southern Poverty Law Center is selling image rather than character. No doubt it is going to be “business as usual” with the accent on business as we enter the post-Morris Dees and post-Donald Trump era. As with any huge business organization there is a constant need to devise new products to keep the customers coming back year after year.

It will be worth watching how the “Biden-Harris administration fares with the blowback from this dose of cold political reality.

SPLC — Hate Map 2020 — Trump Crushes “Hate Groups”!!!

February 19, 2021

Recently the Southern Poverty Law Center released its annual “Hate Map” fundraising tool, which purports to identify “hate groups” in the US from the previous fiscal year. As usual, it’s full of unvetted claims and outright obfuscations, but like its thirty predecessors, going back to 1990, the “Hate Map” tool is guaranteed to bring in tens of millions of tax-free donor dollars.

The SPLC will be releasing its latest IRS Form 990 shortly, so we’ll get to see how much 2020’s haul from the donors was soon enough. If recent totals are any indication, it should be another hefty year for the company’s coffers:

2019: $117 million
2018: $122 million
2017: $133 million
2016: $53 million*

Before we get into the latest numbers we need to repeat some boilerplate information for our many new readers.

  1. There is no legal definition for a “hate group,” which is why even the FBI does not, cannot designate “hate groups.” There isn’t even a universal definition for “hate,” so what exactly is the SPLC allegedly tracking?
  2. The SPLC’s own spurious definition, “All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics” essentially boils down to “All hate groups say mean things about other groups,” is so intentionally elastic that it can be applied to almost anyone.
  3. In 2019, Senior US District Court Judge Myron Thompson ruled that the SPLC’s “hate group” label is merely the company’s “opinion,” and therefore protected by the First Amendment.
  4. The Southern Poverty Law Center, Inc. is a private 501(c)3 tax-exempt corporation. It has no mandate, no authority, legal or moral, to designate anyone as anything. Again, such designations are merely the company’s “opinion.”

    The company receives no external review or oversight
    . In 1994, the SPLC’s hometown newspaper, the Montgomery Advertiser, ran a 10-day exposé of the company which revealed that its Board of Directors was packed with cronies and employees of SPLC founder, Morris Dees. Some of these rubber-stampers were still on the Board some twenty-five years later, at the time of Dees’ firing under allegations of long-term sexual harassment of female employees.
  5. Mark Potok, the SPLC’s Intelligence Director for twenty years and the creator of the “Hate Map” tool has stated repeatedly that:

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

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

    Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing.” (Seriously. The SPLC deliberately conflates six of the most fundamental civil rights protected by the First Amendment with “criminal acts” and “hate group activities.”)

    Websites appearing to be merely the work of a single individual, rather than the publication of a group, are not included in this list.” (SPLC Hate Map, 2015)

    “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.” (SPLC Outreach Director Kate Chance, Feb. 21, 2019)

    Let me first of all say, that we do the “hate group” map and the counts, and so on, as a very rough measure… It’s 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).

    “We see this political struggle, right? …I mean we’re not trying to change anybody’s mind. We’re trying to wreck the groups, and we are very clear in our head, this is… we are trying to destroy them. Not to send them to prison unfairly or not take their free speech rights away… but as a political matter, to destroy them.”  (Holiday, 2008, track 13, https://archive.org/details/MarkPotok).

    “I don’t think there’s any doubt that these are human beings and it’s a mistake to regard them as just a bunch of sociopaths… though most of them are. Let me say… our aim… sometimes the press will describe us as monitoring hate groups and so on. I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups. Completely destroy them!” (Sept. 2007,  https://youtu.be/fnTz2ylJo_8)

    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.”

And there you have it, right from the experts at the SPLC themselves. By the way, we know that the SPLC is staffed by “experts” because it clearly says so on the company’s website and fundraising literature. Let’s wade in and have a look at this latest “report.”

First off, 2020’s “hate group” count is down by 11% from 2019, from 940 to 838. Ups and downs like this are not unusual for the SPLC. As the sole arbiter of the insanely lucrative “hate group” label, the company can set the level anywhere it pleases and nobody in the Media will ask to see any proof whatsoever.

In 2011, the SPLC designated 1,018 alleged “hate groups,” an all-time record high which they naturally attributed to “A Black Man in the White House.” By 2014, halfway into President Obama’s second term, the number mysteriously plummeted to 784, a loss of 23%.

How can this be? It’s simple. The SPLC is keenly aware of “donor fatigue,” which is why they stopped taking Death Row appeal cases in the 1970s. The donors will gladly swallow claims of 1,018 “hate groups,” but it’s hard to keep the hysteria alive from year to year. Therefore, the SPLC will voluntarily cut back its “hate group” totals so that in a year or two it can sound the alarums about “explosive growth in hate” when they jack the numbers up again in some future campaign.

In 2018, “hate groups” allegedly set a new “all time record high” under President Trump. What the company neglected to mention was that, at 1,020, the new “record” was only two groups higher than President Obama’s numbers in 2011. The donors didn’t remember and the Media didn’t care. The excuse for 2020’s decline was exactly the same as for 2014, “hate groups are going online.”

The sheer beauty of the “online” canard is that there is no possible way to prove or disprove it. This is the same logic behind the SPLC’s oft-repeated claims that Donald Trump somehow “emboldened hate groups.” It’s a throwaway claim that perpetuates the company’s Fear and Outrage campaign with absolutely no risk that anyone in the Media is going to ask to see the evidence (not that anyone in the Media ever would).

Another HUGE fact to remember about the “Hate Map” is what the SPLC likes to designate as “Statewide” groups. “Statewide” simply refers to alleged groups for which the SPLC provides no corroborating information whatsoever. Not so much as a known city or town, or anything that a donor or journalist could use to verify the claim. Nothing.

The SPLC has been using “statewide” phantoms to pad out its numbers for decades. It’s a brilliant fundraising strategy. For example, the SPLC claims 42 alleged chapters of the Patriot Front for 2020, with one in Washington, DC, and the other 41 parceled out as “statewide” entities across various states. No evidence, no proof required. Thirty-five of the SPLC’s 36 Racist Skinhead groups are “statewide” phantoms! That’s 97% of the claim and nobody in the Media will challenge it.

Better still, when compared from year to year, the percentage of “statewide” phantoms in any one category continues to increase. As the chart below indicates (click to enlarge) in 2017 “only” 39% of alleged Ku Klux Klan chapters were “statewide” phantoms, but by 2020 they accounted for nearly half. In 2017, 35% of alleged White Nationalist “groups” were homeless. By 2020 the number had jumped to 61%. The company is losing its “hate groups” faster than it can designate them.

“Statewide” phantoms since 2017 – Click to Enlarge

While the SPLC would prefer that people (donors) forget about previous claims, we like to keep track of such things. You never know what the experts at the SPLC are going to tell you over time. For example, in the chart above, alleged group counts in red indicate an increase from the previous year. Those highlighted in yellow indicate a decline and those in blue indicate no change at all from the previous year. Since 2017 the decreases have outnumbered the increases significantly, and even the increases are fairly minor compared to the previous year, with one glaring exception.

For 2020, the SPLC stopped counting Black and Black Muslim “hate groups” as “Black hate groups.” While it’s perfectly acceptable, even righteous, to count White Nationalist “groups” because they believe that whites are superior to non-whites, and Christian Identity “groups” because they believe that Christians are superior to heathen non-believers, you can’t draw attention to your 70-odd Nation of Islam chapters as “hate groups,” even though their racial and religious identities form the entire bases of their association. It confuses the donors, which is bad for business.

You see, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Black people aren’t like other human beings and must be treated differently. Black “hate” isn’t really hate and the fact that Black “hate groups” are the largest single and fastest growing category on the map was proving to be problematic.

As with previous years, 2020’s 264 alleged Black “hate groups” outnumbered all 252 of the SPLC’s KKK, neo-Nazi, racist skinhead and white nationalist groups for that year COMBINED.

When you strip out the homeless “statewide” phantoms from both sides, that ratio jumps to 3.5-to-1, or 252 to 82. What were the donors to make of that?

The solution was simplicity itself. If “Black hate groups” are the problem, simply call them something else, otherwise you’d have to erase another 32% of your groups from the map.

So for 2020, the SPLC’s 264 alleged “Black hate groups” and 7 alleged Holocaust Denial “groups were shoved into the delightfully generic “General Hate” category. They are still the same groups, with a few extras thrown in, but they’re not Black anymore. Get it?

This creative accounting brings up another fascinating factoid: According to the SPLC’s own dire numbers, and despite five straight years of hysterical claims that “Donald Trump empowers hate groups!!!,” it turns out that nearly every single category of SPLC-designated “hate group” has DECLINED since 2017, i.e., during the Trump administration. Behold!

“Hate Group” declines under Trump – Click to Enlarge

Granted, claiming that all Black and Holocaust denial “groups” simply evaporated during Donald Trump’s watch is inherently disingenuous, but while the Holocausters remained steady at seven alleged chapters, Black “hate groups” actually increased by 4% in 2020 and when those numbers are returned to their traditional categories the bloated General Hate category actually decreased by 21% over the previous year.

Remember folks, these are the SPLC’s own impeccable numbers, not ours.

Speaking of numbers, how many hate-filled individuals does it actually take to compose a “group”? Obviously, the SPLC isn’t going to come right and say “X-number or more” because that would require, you know, proof. Let’s see what the experts have to say, starting off with Mark Potok again:

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

“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)

In 2015, Mark Potok assigned 40 “hate groups” to New Jersey, (a state that doesn’t get enough negative publicity as it is…), giving that state the fourth highest total in the land and causing Mark Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League to publicly denounce the SPLC’s bogus counts.

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

After being publicly outed by the ADL, the SPLC slashed New Jersey’s count from 40 to 21 on the next “Hate Map,” which was not issued until a full fundraising year later.

In 2017, Mr. Potok’s successor as Intelligence Director, Heidi Beirich, read a single online post on a Klan website by an individual who said he lived in the town of Gurnee, Illinois. That was all it took for Gurnee to earn its very own Scarlet H “hate group” designation.

That same year, Ms. Beirich read another anonymous blog post by an individual who opined that Amana, Iowa would be a great place to hold a neo-Nazi meeting and… wait for it… Amana had a “hate group.” That’s all it took. In fact, no meeting of neo-Nazis ever took place in 2017 or since.

What makes the Amana case even more ludicrous is that the village was founded by German Pietist immigrants in the 1840s, who later formed the Amana appliance corporation in the 1930s. The Amana Colonies exist today as a popular tourist destination listed on the US National Register of Historic Places. Amana is populated by costumed interpreters who demonstrate 19th century farm life.

Both Amana and Gurnee are heavily dependent on tourism, with the latter employing some 3,000 people at its Six Flags location. Who would take their family to a town with an “SPLC-certified hate group”? According to Politico, when the mayors of both villages complained to the SPLC they were met with indifferent shrugs and informed that the company’s “hate group” numbers are fixed and cannot be changed until the new map comes out the following year.

Amana did receive a reprieve of sorts, when Ms. Beirich reluctantly agreed to move the fictitious neo-Nazi group-of-one from Amana to “Statewide,” but Iowa maintained all four of its alleged “hate groups” for the entire year.

Not only is the “Hate Map” populated by numerous one-man “groups,” the list is also rife with one-man websites, something the company categorically states that it does not count. Remember their claim, “Websites appearing to be merely the work of a single individual, rather than the publication of a group, are not included in this list“? Some past and current examples:

Rense Radio Network (Since 2015)
carolynyeager,net (Since 2013)
Casa D’Ice Signs (2010-2015)
Free Edgar Steele (2010-2015)
Christ or Chaos (Since 2011)
Bob’s Underground Graduate Seminar/BUGS (2013-2017)
Sultan Knish a blog by Daniel Greenfield (2011-2016)
White Rabbit Radio (Since 2013)
Bomb Islam (Since 2016)
Wildman’s Civil War Surplus and Herb Shop (2018)

While these are only a few of the many one-man web groups the SPLC has claimed over the years, the top prize has to go to The Daily Stormer, which, to be absolutely clear, was a bona fide neo-Nazi blog, make no mistake about it. The sheer marketing genius of this claim deserves a closer look.

In 2015, Mark Potok told the OC Register “We make a big effort to separate a man, his dog and a computer from a group with on-the-ground activity.”

Also in 2015, Mr. Potok described The Daily Stormer to Esquire magazine as “mostly Andrew Angelin, his dog, and a computer,” with one single, one-man “group” based in Ohio.

In 2016, Potok counted 32 iterations of The Daily Stormer one-man website, including the ridiculous “hate group” Heidi Beirich assigned to Amana, Iowa, and one “statewide” phantom in New York State.

By 2017, there were still 32 alleged Stormer “groups,” only now all but the Ohio home base were “statewide” phantoms.

2018 saw the list shrink to 22 iterations, with all but the Ohio “group” listed as “statewide,” and by 2019, the lucrative franchise (at least for the SPLC) collapsed to a mere ten chapters, and even the Ohio iteration had gone AWOL.

As of 2020, The Daily Stormer has morphed back into the one-man blog it has always been and is counted among Ohio’s 21 alleged “groups,” even though Mr. Angelin fled the country to parts unknown in 2016 and the website now sports a .su domain name, which would seemingly put it somewhere in the Soviet Union.

You really have to tip your hat to such marketing ingenuity. Since 2015, the SPLC has counted a single one-man blog, something Mark Potok swore that the company does not count, 98 times and the Media never once questioned it.

And so, there we have it. Another year and another SPLC “Hate Map” fundraising tool. In the aftermath of the near collapse of the company in 2019, with the scandalous firing of its founder, Morris Dees, and the suspiciously hasty resignations of SPLC President Richard Cohen and Legal Director Rhonda Brownstein just one week later, we briefly toyed with the idea that the company might have turned a corner and was heading back to its civil rights roots. It had, after all, finally diversified its Executive Suite after a 49-year “whites only” policy set in place by Dees and rigorously enforced by Cohen and the company’s Board of Directors.

Sadly, it was not to be. While the same Board that had kept Dees and Cohen in power for decades quickly named one of its own, Karen Baynes-Dunning as interim president until it could hire the equally diverse Margaret Huang, the company still saw fit to reward Dees, Cohen and Brownstein with more than a million donor-dollars in severance pay in 2019, despite the shame and ignominy they brought to the brand name.

The simple fact is that the annual “Hate Map” fundraising tool brings in too much money to walk away from, even though the SPLC has more than half a billion dollars in cash reserves. It’s no conspiracy. Like everything else about the Southern Poverty Law Center, the spurious “hate group” designations are simply part of the business of selling fear.


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.

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.


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