Posts Tagged ‘SPLC’

The SPLC and the DACA Opportunity

November 12, 2017

For the past several months, the Southern Poverty Law Center has been issuing a steady stream of hand-wringing rhetoric over the uncertain fate of hundreds of thousands of migrants who were brought to the US illegally as children by their parents.

Under the Obama Administration, a program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) would allow the illegals to stay in the country and obtain temporary work permits. To date, there are about 800,000 migrants enrolled in the program, known collectively as “Dreamers,” in reference to the legislation that created the DACA program, the so-called “DREAM Act.”

The Trump Administration has repealed DACA and the enrollees are currently facing the possibility of deportation to their home countries. Naturally, the fundraisers at the SPLC recognize this situation as a prime money-making opportunity and they have been producing a steady stream of emotionally charged rhetoric aimed at their largely-Progressive donor base.

We believe that not only does this situation represent a huge opportunity FOR the the Dreamers and their families, but that the SPLC is uniquely situated to make the transition a success beyond comprehension… if it chose to help.

  1. The first and most important thing to remember is that there are very few actual children among the Dreamers. While brought to this country illegally as children, only 2.5% of the group are between the ages of 15 and 18. The vast majority of Dreamers are between the ages of 20 and 35. One cannot even apply for DACA deferment before the age of 15.

    Heart-rending SPLC fundraising rhetoric of infants being torn from their mother’s bosom are highly exaggerated for emotional impact. It would a simple enough remedy to extend deferment to the youngest cohort until the age of 18.

  2. Another of the requirements for DACA eligibility is an education. A high school diploma or GED is mandatory, and many of the Dreamers have college degrees.

    In fact, the SPLC and other illegal immigration advocates make great political hay by claiming that most of the biggest tech companies created in the 21st century were founded by immigrants. Not “illegal” immigrants, mind you, but pointing out that minor detail is “racist.”

  3. Nearly 80% of the Dreamers are Mexican citizens, some 632,000 in all. Just imagine the effect of returning more than half a million educated, entrepreneurial young adults to that country’s economy. The Mexican government has and has announced that it will welcome the Dreamers home “with open arms!

    According to the LA Times, Mexico’s foreign secretary, Luis Videgaray stated:

    “I don’t know of any country that is willing to ship doctors, accountants, lawyers to another country,” Mexico’s foreign secretary Luis Videgaray told The Times in an interview Tuesday. “That’s just a transfer of human capital. That would be a big win for Mexico to have these young kids that are law abiding, creative, full of energy and well trained. All of them have a high school diploma. And the majority of them are college educated. It would be a big loss to the U.S., to the U.S. economy in particular.”

    “It’s very appealing to have college educated, English-speaking people and many companies in Mexico are looking for that profile of people,” Videgaray said.”

  4. The SPLC and other illegal immigrant advocates are forever touting the need to “bring the illegals out of the shadows.” Mexican DACA enrollees are FULL CITIZENS OF MEXICO. You cannot get much further out of the shadows than that.

    Again, far from being a human tragedy, the DACA situation has all of the makings of a huge opportunity.

So what can the SPLC and other illegal immigration advocates do to help? They can do what they do best: Raise money.

The SPLC currently has $319 million in unrestricted cash-on-hand, and with all of the publicity and donations the company received in FY 2017 there is no telling how much their Endowment Fund will balloon to in February’s tax form releases. But for our purposes, let’s stick with the numbers we have.

  1. What if the SPLC were to donate one third of its bloated endowment fund to resettling the DACA Dreamers? A hundred million will go a lot further in sunny Mexico than it will in the US.Part of that money could go toward resettling the young folks in their old home towns. We know that most have family back in Mexico, because their parents have been sending billions of dollars back home for decades. That’s pretty much the whole point of illegal immigration in the first place.
  2. If the Dreamers are anywhere near as entrepreneurial as the SPLC and other advocates claim, they will be setting up new businesses in thousands of towns and cities across Mexico in no time. In fact, with a US education and an acquired American consumer lifestyle, these people will be creating a huge demand for goods and services in their own home towns.

    Business is liable to be so good that the kids can send for their folks in the US, bringing them “out of the shadows” once and for all.

  3. Since many of the Dreamers are college educated, the SPLC could go one step beyond by endowing the creation of Dreamer business parks, where the bright minds can work together, as on a college campus, or at many high-tech firms in Silicon Valley.

    While the SPLC’s $100 million donation would be great seed money, the company could easily create crowdfunding sites, such as with GoFundMe, where well-meaning Progressives could donate money to the cause, thereby actually DOING something to help the Dreamers besides raging at Donald Trump.

    If there is anything the SPLC knows how to do, it’s raising cash. It only took the company five years to raise that last $100 million. With the huge publicity wave it is riding this year, the next hundred million should accrue in a fraction of that time.

    The SPLC’s public relations machinery is second to none in the non-profit industry. The company has been hiring PR types and fundraisers for over a decade. Headcount at the company has grown from 206 in 2009 to 291 in 2016, and since there hasn’t been a corresponding 41% jump in the number of court cases, these new faces most likely aren’t all lawyers.

    The company will be safe enough with a $200 million cushion in the meantime, and the Dreamers will have the opportunity to completely transform the Mexican economy.

  4. Many of the Dreamers’ parents came to this country poor, illiterate and knowing very little English. While it is possible that some of the Dreamers grew up in an immigrant environment without picking up a single word of their mother tongue, the odds are that these legal immigrants will have a much easier time of adjusting to repatriation.

    The SPLC loves to lament that “Many Dreamers don’t even know their home countries any more.” Well, their parents made the trip to a foreign culture in an unknown land with far fewer advantages and they managed to survive.

    Imagine how much easier the SPLC and the donors could make the transition back home!

So there it is, in a nutshell. Granted, it’s a back-of-the-envelope proposition at the moment, but it undoubtedly has the potential to turn an unhappy situation into a win-win opportunity for all involved.

What do you say, SPLC? Will you embrace this opportunity to make a real difference in thousands, and ultimately millions, of lives? Donating a third of your unprecedented endowment fund will in no way jeopardize the solvency of your company, and you’ll make it all back, and more, within a few short years.

It would sure silence a lot of your critics…

Will you turn your giant fundraising machinery toward a project that will change so many lives, one that will undercut so many of the foundations propping up illegal immigration in the first place? Will you take the lead in giving donors the opportunity to do some real good with their money, rather than paying the six-digit salaries of your all-white Executive Suite and your third-party telemarketers?

Think of the legacy it would create for SPLC Founder Morris Dees. Unlike his past achievements, this one would be beyond criticism. It’s pure Teflon.

Or, will you continue to beat the drums against Trump, that lowest of low-hanging fundraising fruit, because it is guaranteed to rile your Progressive donor base? Will you continue the relentless “hate group” fearmongering campaigns because they reliably bring in the dough?

This is an unprecedented opportunity for the Dreamers, for Mexico and for millions of illegal aliens “hiding in the shadows” in the USA. Your leadership, your largess, would be a game-changer. You could take the lead and make a real difference in the world.

And if nothing else, can you think of a better way to embarrass Donald Trump? Your donors will love it.

 

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SPLC Cashes in on Las Vegas Massacre

October 4, 2017

As of this writing, it has been three days since the shooting in Las Vegas that left 59 dead and over 500 wounded and what does the “nation’s leading civil rights organization” have to say about the tragedy?

Nothing.

There’s not a single word on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website about the massacre. The only reference to “Paddock” on the site is from 2014 and refers to the traditional animal enclosure used by ranchers and farmers and not the alleged Vegas gunman.

Compare that with at least 52 references to Charlottesville since August 12, including the crass announcement that the company was cashing in on the death of Heather Heyer, as Watching the Watchdogs noted.

Why the silence on the greatest mass murder of Americans in the 21st century? Because the victims were mostly white and were attending a Country music concert. Suffice it to say that there were probably few SPLC donors in the crowd.

Before you reach for your wallet to step into the SPLC’s fundraising breach, note that media sources are reporting that MGM Resorts, the mega-corporation that owns the Mandalay Bay hotel from where the alleged gunman opened fire has stated that:

“The company, [MGM Resorts CEO, Jim Murren] vowed, would match employee donations to: the Southern Poverty Law Center, NAACP, Anti-defamation League, Human Rights Campaign, Council on American Islamic Relations, Asian Pacific American Advocates and the League of United Latin American Citizens.”

Talk about “virtue signaling.” “We couldn’t do anything to prevent a deranged lone-wolf from murdering people, so we’re going to send money to “advocacy groups” that also couldn’t do anything to prevent a deranged lone-wolf from murdering people.”

And so, another multi-million dollar mega-corporation that couldn’t even acknowledge the deaths and woundings of hundreds of white Americans will receive even more millions for its lack of action.

The SPLC’s Morris Dees must be rubbing his hands in glee.

SPLC — White “Hate Groups” Declining

September 26, 2017

Did some number crunching today, using the impeccably accurate data produced by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

According to the “experts,” white “hate groups” have declined an average of 44% since 2011.

Black and Black Muslim “hate groups,” on the other hand, have increased by 44% since 2011.

SPLC Hate Groups 2011-2016

As we noted a few months ago, Black and Black Muslim groups are the largest single category on the SPLC’s lucrative “Hate Map” fundraising tool.

Odd that you don’t read more about that statistic in the media, no?

When you subtract the 191 “Statewide” phantom groups the SPLC added to this year’s map, those “groups” that the company cannot provide a known city or town location for (they’re out there, friends. The SPLC says so), the numbers become even more ludicrous:

Christian Identity — 1 phantom = 20
KKK – 30 phantoms = 100
Neo-Confederates — 7 phantoms = 36
Neo-Nazis — 45 phantoms = 44
Racisct Skinheads — 61 phantoms = 17 (Seriously?)
White Nationalists — 30 phantoms = 70

Black and Black Muslims — 5 phantoms = 196

These are the SPLC’s numbers, folks. They come right from the SPLC’s own website. That they are utter garbage, do not blame us.

Mr. Trump, Tear down those Fascist Statues!

September 24, 2017

We at Watching the Watchdogs do our best to follow developing trends in American culture, and in light of recent events surrounding the removal of Confederate statues and other symbols around the country, we believe that half-measures are not enough. The time is ripe for pulling down hate-filled iconography wherever it rears its ugly head.

Thanks to an informative Wikipedia entry, our eyes have been opened to a haunting menace that, when examined closely, explains so much of the strife that is tearing our great nation apart. The root of the problem is the fascis.

Merriam-Webster defines the fascis as “a bundle of rods and among them an ax with projecting blade borne before ancient Roman magistrates as a badge of authority.” One need look no further than the Roman Empire to trace back to the origins of many of the evils that plague the world to this day and fasces were the symbol of that power.

Americans of a certain age will remember that the fascis was the symbol of Benito Mussolini’s thuggish dictatorship and is the root of the very word fascism itself!

Here we see the arch-fiend himself, while Mrs. Mussolini schleps his personal fascis like some pitiful propagandistic caddie. She assumes her rightful place, three paces behind her husband, while fanning the Duce with a palm frond. Love. Honor. Obey.

Mussolini poster

Below are the Mussolini’s personal flag, on the left and the flag of his Blackshirt goons on the right.

Mussolini came to power in Italy in 1922 and was Hitler’s idol and mentor. When Hitler became the German Chancellor a decade later it wasn’t long before the Italian fascis and the Nazi swastika were paraded through the streets, side-by-side. Fascism and Nazism have been linked in infamy ever since.

With the exception of a relatively tiny group of cognitive troglodytes, there are few thinking people who would walk about sporting a swastika today, and certainly no government organizations would openly align themselves with Hitler’s evil hakenkreuz.

And yet, unbelievably, Mussolini’s icon of hate sneeringly flaunts its presence from within the most sacred cathedrals of American freedom.

Ensconced within the phallocentric obelisk in the District of Columbia that is the Washington Monument, we find the former slave owner himself, leaning on a fascis for support, as the symbol of his alleged moral superiority and privilege.

An identical effigy stands in the Virginia Capitol in Richmond, the very capital of the hated Confederacy to which the arch-criminal-traitors Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson pledged their undying allegiance! Coincidence??

Washington Monument statue

Perched high atop the dome of the United States Capitol building is a cynically named statue of Freedom, literally surrounded by Fascist iconography. Somewhere in darkest depths of Hell, Il Duce is having hearty laugh.

Freedom

And gazing gleefully down the National Mall at this mockery of all we hold dear, is the Stalin-esque statue of Abraham Lincoln, resting each hand on a fascis, skulking within the confines of the memorial that bears his name.

Think people! This Fascist imagery is on our very money! IT MUST GO…

Think of the children.

1024px-Lincoln_Memorial_(Lincoln_contrasty)

Behold! The seals of the United States Tax Court AND the National Guard Bureau! Fascism’s dark shadow has even polluted our much-beloved tax system and tainted the honor of our modern-day Minutepersons.

Was the suffering and sacrifice at Lexington and Concord all for this?

And while the Mile-High potheads of Colorado pretend to a progressiveness they obviously clandestinely despise,  they show their true nature at the highest levels.

Don’t even get us started on the satanic All-Seeing-Eye. Where Fascists roam with impunity, can Shriners lurk far behind, with their smirking little cars, their RED fezzes and Illuminati-funded children’s hospitals?

Even the great Borough of Brooklyn, in which one-in-four citizens are Jewish, lies under the yoke of Mussolini’s malignant tumor.

Seal_of_Brooklyn_NY

Perhaps most shocking of all, the lintel above the door to the Oval Office is besmirched by Fascism’s blood-stained bludgeon. Is nothing sacred?

(Cast not the first stone… your candidates passed through this unholy portal every day of their administrations too.)

Oval Office

Naturally, there will be hate-filled trolls who will leap to the defense of the fasces. “Culture, not calumny!” is their rallying cry, and some will be duped by their litanies of revisionist histories and junk science. “Even the Boy Scouts of America once embraced the swastika, and they’re not Nazis.”

BSA Swastika

And the even more laughable, “You cannot judge historical beliefs by today’s standards!”

The hell you can’t. A hate sign sign is a hate sign is a hate sign. They knew what they meant.

Besides, this is the same BSA that openly declared that “all avowed homosexuals” lacked the morals to be Scouts or Scout Leaders and actively banned them from the paramilitary organization for a decade-and-a-half.

The Boy Scouts looked toward the swastika and the swastika looked toward the fascis.

Boy scout poster

“Seig Heil, Kamerad!”

And so, we at Watching the Watchdogs have determined that the blight of Fascism must be blotted from America’s public spaces and institutions once and for all. Let the haters remove their hate-filled iconography to some hateful Museum of Hate, if they must, but removed they shall be!

We will be creating an online petition at Change.org and other important vectors of social change forthwith, as well as a GoFundMe site to allow for the transportation of Antifascist warriors to-and-from critical rallies and protests.

Other funds will be set aside as prizes for a “Best Chant” and “Pithiest Placard Platitude” contest. Details to follow.

We also firmly believe that the National Agents of Truth at the Southern Poverty Law Center will soon turn their litigious wrath and enormous cash reserves toward the eradication of this unspeakable horror, just as they have with their lucrative anti-Confederate campaign.

President Trump, some claim that you must be a faithful Watching the Watchdogs reader. We beseech you to dip deeply into your pool of righteous rightness and lead the charge to cleanse our nation of the hateful images that have brought so much suffering to so many for so long.

Mr. Trump, tear down these hate-filled statues!

Challenge Your Area’s SPLC “Hate Group” Designation

September 11, 2017

Two recent news events have brilliantly demonstrated just how unreliable and deceptive the Southern Poverty Law Center’s lucrative “Hate Map” really is. The SPLC releases this annual fundraising tool every February or March, to enormous media fanfare and the donor-dollars flow faster than the company can spend them.

Two small towns that were falsely smeared with “hate group” designations, Amana, Iowa, and Gurnee, Illinois, recently fought back and got the SPLC to rescind its spurious claims, though with very different results.

In the Amana case, the “town” is actually a collection of seven small villages known as the Amana Colonies. These villages were settled by German farmers in the 19th century and today the Colonies are on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places. People take their families there to see the old farms, blacksmith shop and grist mill. Think: Colonial Williamsburg or Plimoth Plantation.

So how does a tourist destination like Amana get listed on the “Hate Map”? Simplicity itself. Someone at the SPLC found a single troll posting on the Daily Stormer website saying that several neo-Nazis got together on a single afternoon in an Amana coffee shop as a “book club” and they haven’t been back since.

There’s no indication of how many people actually showed up at the coffee shop, but the SPLC’s definition of “group” can mean one or fewer individuals.

Amana officials fought back, demanding that the SPLC’s new PR Guru, Ryan Lenz, remove the phony “hate group” designation from their town. Lenz, who replaces veteran SPLC “Former Employee” Mark Potok, initially refused. A local TV news team, KCRG out of Cedar Rapids, did the unthinkable and followed up on Amana’s complaint. You can see the report here (after a 30-second ad spot). On August 28, Lenz and the SPLC eventually relented and agreed to remove the hate group designation… sort of.

What Lenz did was to simply relocate the alleged Daily Stormer site from Amana to “Statewide.” “Statewide” is where the SPLC puts “groups” they cannot locate on any map, including their own. There are currently 191 “Statewide” groups on the most recent “Hate Map,” or nearly one-in-four. The SPLC provides no information whatsoever about the alleged groups and the media say “sounds good to us.”

Iowa still has four “hate groups,” (three of which are now “Statewide”), and the national “hate group” count remains at 917 for 2016.

In 2011, long before he was unthinkably kicked to the curb, we had the opportunity to ask Mark Potok directly about these phantom “groups.” At that time, Potok could not account for 262 of his 1,002 alleged groups, and though a small number of them were marked “Statewide” on the map, the vast majority were simply empty slots with no location whatsoever, other than a particular state.

After acknowledging that the question “was not illegitimate,” Mr. Potok sputtered along, making several astounding admissions, such as the “Hate Map” was based largely on anecdotal reports, was “… a very rough measure,” and “an imperfect process,” which is hardly the impression the SPLC gives in its annual “Hate Map” press releases.

In the end, Potok stated, “What those basically are, those are state-wide units… that’s what those groups are…” And with that, the interview was pretty much ended, but it confirmed Potok’s high standards for inclusion on the lucrative “Hate Map.”

On March 25, 2009, Potok had told the San Luis Obispo (CA) Tribune that “…inclusion on the [hate group] list might come from a minor presence, such as a post office box.”

On July 6, 2009, Potok told the Appleton (WI) Post-Crescent that, “…the [hate group] report relies on media, citizen and law enforcement reports, and does not include original reporting by SPLC staff.”

With such high standards and scrupulous research methods as that, it is a wonder that any “hate group” could wind up on the “Hate Map” in error, but this year it happened, twice. Or not.

The second location to fight back against the “hate group” smear was the village of Gurnee, Illinois. On September 8, 2017, the local paper, the Lake County News-Sun reported that:

“Gurnee police and village officials said they have been told by the law center that the village was included after the center found that someone who listed his address as Gurnee had registered on a KKK website.

Gurnee police said an investigation into the name concluded there is no record of anyone by that name having been a Gurnee resident.”

Once again we see how the SPLC spins any microscopic link it can scrape up into a full-fledged “group.” And despite being contacted by the mayor and local police on the scene, the SPLC made the demonstrably false claim that:

“Nonetheless, officials said they were told by a representative of the Law Center that they only review and revise the map once a year, and it will be reviewed again in January.”

It was less than two weeks earlier that the SPLC actually DID revise it’s “Hate Map” tool for Amana, sort of, so why won’t the company do the same for Gurnee? The simple fact of the matter is that they can’t.

The annual “Hate Map” is a fundraising tool, and, as shown above, has very little connection with reality (Mr. Potok’s “very rough measure”). Each winter the six-digit-salary executives at the SPLC come up with a “hate group” count upon which they will build all media and fundraising claims for the following year. Once a number is fixed, someone like Mark Potok or Ryan Lenz will get busy finding enough “groups” to match the prescribed quantity.

As we have noted in the past, the SPLC’s “Hate Map” tool is static. You can move a few deckchairs around, as they did with Amana, but you cannot change the magic number. As we pointed out in August, 2016, even though the SPLC announced that the rag-tag group “White Lives Matter” posed an immediate existential threat, they would not add them to the “Hate Map” for another six months.

(The company eventually conjured up three “White Lives Matters” “groups” for the 2017 map, all of which are… “Statewide.”)

In an age where any elementary school child can update a website in seconds, this makes no sense whatsoever, unless the “Hate Map” is a sham.

While Mr. Lenz can hide nearly 200 “groups” under the “Statewide” label, in the Gurnee case, he assigned a chapter of the Ku Klos Knights of the KKK to that location in addition to a second, “Statewide” iteration of the group to Illinois overall.

Even by SPLC standards, having two “Statewide” entries for the same “group” in the same state stretches credulity. Therefore, the village of Gurnee is stuck with it’s “hate group” until next year.

This brings us back to the point of of this post. The mayor of Gurnee is rightfully dissatisfied with the SPLC’s “tough luck” reply: “We’re going to continue to pursue it,” Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik said. “There is no reason to shame a whole community like that for no reason.”

Mayor Kovarik is completely in the right. There is no reason why any community or state should have to suffer the SPLC’s spurious “hate group” fundraising label. It unfairly smears the entire community based on nothing tangible whatsoever. The elected officials of Gurnee, Amana and every other locality falsely smeared have the reputation of their towns to protect and need to stand up against these unsubstantiated claims.

“Statewide,” governors, state and federal Senate and House members have the same, if not greater obligation to call out the SPLC and demand evidence. Serious claims require serious proof.

In 2015 the SPLC 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.

“According to Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the SPLC has a habit of counting single individuals as groups or chapters, which can give a skewed impression of hate groups in any given state.”

“The 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.

If the ADL can call the SPLC out for its “wildly inflated” “Hate Map,” so can local, state and federal representatives. Millions of people swallow the SPLC’s annual “hate group” numbers each year and few in the media will challenge the claims.

Huge corporations like Apple and Google are already making business decisions based on these bogus numbers. What legitimate company would build a new plant in a state with record numbers of “hate groups”? Why would skilled workers move their families to such “hate-ridden” states to work there?

While the SPLC rakes in tens of millions of dollars each year from its fraudulent “Hate Map,” the consequences for local and state economies could run into the billions.

Hold the SPLC responsible for its claims. Demand to see the proof.

 

SPLC — Whither Mark Potok?

August 31, 2017

It is a dark day at Watching the Watchdogs. A short while ago we were reading an article about a black musician who was fighting racism by befriending white nationalists when we read the following words: “Mark Potok, an expert on extremism formerly with the Southern Poverty Law Center.”

FORMERLY with the SPLC? WHEN did that happen? HOW could that happen? And why wasn’t it a major news item? For millions of people, Mark Potok has been the public face and voice of the Southern Poverty Law Center and the brains behind the insanely lucrative annual “Hate Map” fundraising tool for nearly two decades.

It would nearly impossible to estimate how many millions of donor-dollars Mr. Potok has brought into SPLC coffers over the years.

And now he’s gone? Without so much as a “So long, Mark. Thanks for everything!” from Morris Dees or Richard Cohen?

We immediately turned to our favorite sleuthing tool, the Internet Archives’ cantankerous Wayback Machine to see if we could pinpoint Mr. Potok’s untimely departure.

As of February 20, 2017, Mr. Potok was still listed as a “Senior Fellow” on the SPLC website.

Mark Potok _ Senior-Fellow-Feb-20-17

As of now, Mr. Potok’s biography page, if you can find it, refers to him as “Former Employee.” No “Former Senior Fellow,” or “Senior Fellow Emeritus,” as SPLC co-founder Joe Levin and the late SPLC celebrity spokesman Julian Bond got upon their retirements.

Potok Former Employee

Potok was still listed on the “Leadership” circle page on the site in February.

Feb-22-2017-Leadership _ Southern Poverty Law Center

Today, his picture has been removed from the page with all of the subtlety of an old-time Pravda airbrushing.

8-31_14-Leadership _ Southern Poverty Law Center

In fact, Mr. Potok’s bylines on the hundreds of hit pieces he wrote for the company now refer to him as “Former Employee.”

Potok-byline

Potok’s Facebook page has one cryptic note from March: “Left Job at Southern Poverty Law Center.” No mention of “retiring” or “exploring new opportunities.” Not even a “wants to spend more time with his family.”

Potok Left SPLC

Twenty years of faithful, profitable service and the man is kicked out without so much as a thank you or a Fare-thee-well. What happened?

Apparently Mr. Potok has his own website now, where he is offering his “expertise” on the open market. “I’m an expert on the radical right who spent 20 years at the SPLC.”

Potok Keynote Speaker

While there is no denying that Mr. Potok was a master craftsman of fear-mongering and the smear while at the SPLC, it seems unlikely that he will find another gig that pays anything near the six-digit salary Dees and Cohen have paid him for years.

Potok990

Potok’s website includes several testimonials regarding his career, but the only one from the SPLC comes from retiree Joe Levin. There is no sign of Dees or Cohen to be found anywhere.

Potok Testamonials

What a sad end to a brilliant career. Here was a man who could find unfettered access to every form of media and every leading news outlet with the snap of his fingers. Cut down in his prime at the very dawn of the company’s Golden Era.

With Donald Trump in the White House and Nazi-wannabees holding torchlight processions in Charlottesville, Mr. Potok’s best material ever would have all but written itself. The money is pouring into the SPLC so fast these days that there will no doubt be fat raises for all of the white millionaire proprietors.

Just last week alone, Mo Dees found a way to cash in on the death of Charlottesville protester Heather Heyer. Every tragedy has a silver lining at the SPLC.

It only goes to show the extent of the SPLC’s transformation from “civil rights organization” to “advocacy group.” There are tens of millions of donor-dollars at stake and it’s quite possible that veteran Mark Potok is no longer the “face” of the company that will best appeal to fickle Millennial donors. Maybe he was back-stabbed by ambitious co-workers or somehow crossed his overlords.

For now, we’ll just have to wait until somebody spills the beans. If anyone knows the story, and that includes Mr. Potok himself, please let us know.

There is an old German term, Schadenfreude, which translates more-or-less to “joy or happiness felt at someone else’s misfortune.” Let the record show that we at Watching the Watchdogs take no pleasure at Mark Potok’s departure. While we have spent much of the past decade chronicling his various fear and fundraising campaigns, as a life-long student of communication, rhetoric, persuasion and propaganda, you just have to admire the man’s mastery of the arts.

Though we’ll never agree on much, unless Mr. Potok has a tell-all book up his sleeve, we sincerely tip our hat to a true legend of the art of persuasion.

The man deserved better.

Even if your former colleagues have abandoned you, Mark Potok, we offer you a heartfelt “Fare-thee-well” and we look forward to writing about your work in the future.

“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 speaking to Bill Holiday in 2008, Track 2.

 

SPLC — Cashing in on Charlottesville

August 19, 2017

While the violence and death at last week’s “Unite the Right” riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, was a national tragedy and a source of horror for most Americans, it follows as surely as the night follows day that the Southern Poverty Law Center would find a way to make money off it.

It was only a few weeks ago, in June, when the SPLC was writhing under some of the most negative media coverage it had possibly ever seen, in the wake of the GuideStar debacle. Reliable media allies such as Politico and the Wall Street Journal were openly criticizing GuideStar, a leading rating agency of non-profit organizations, for adding the SPLC’s spurious “hate group” label to dozens of its entries.

[The Politico article is one of the best exposés of the SPLC written in decades and well worth a read.]

Then came Charlottesville. The violent idiots on both sides of the fighting were right out of Central Casting and a godsend for the SPLC. Images of torchlight parades across the University of Virginia campus were tailor-made for the endless barrage of fundraising tweets, press releases, and, no doubt, fundraising letters. The cash has been pouring in ever since. The company will probably have to open several more off-shore bank accounts to house it all.

All of that paled in comparison to the tragedy of Charlottesville resident Heather Heyer’s death after being struck by a car that careered into a crowd on Saturday afternoon. Video footage of the incident gives little doubt that the act was intentional, and the driver of the car, James Fields, Jr., who was identified marching with white nationalists earlier in the day, is currently being held on charges of second-degree murder and several other counts.

Once Heyer’s name was released on the following day she was immediately canonized by the media and the Left, for their own financial and political purposes, but none of them could hold a candle to the Southern Poverty Law Center when it comes to monetizing murder.

Less than a week after Heyer’s death, the SPLC announced that it was “honoring Heather Heyer at Civil Rights Memorial Center.”

“Like the civil rights martyrs whose names are inscribed on the Civil Rights Memorial, Heather took a stand against hate and bigotry and made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Lecia Brooks, director of outreach for the SPLC, which built and maintains the memorial.”

Will Heyer’s name be immortalized on the SPLC’s “Martyr’s Monument,” a black granite disc designed by Vietnam Veterans Memorial artist Maya Lin? Well no, that monument cost the perpetually cash-strapped SPLC $5,000,000 in 1989 (nearly $10 million in today’s dollars.)

Instead, the SPLC is going to honor Heyer on its less-static and infinitely more economical “Wall of Tolerance.” Longtime Watching the Watchdogs readers may recall our 2016 investigation of the Wall of Tolerance fundraising scam. We found that, like the lucrative “Stand Strong Against Hate” map scam that preceded it, the Wall of Tolerance was little more than a fundraising tool designed to recruit new donors.

While invoking the names of the “civil rights martyrs,” the Wall of Tolerance scam is built solidly upon the age-old persuasion technique of “reciprocity,” in which an organization sends out free gifts to potential donors in the expectation that the recipients will feel obliged to make a donation. Many readers may remember receiving packs of return address labels from various veteran’s groups. It’s a simple, cost-effective method that has been around for decades.

In the Wall of Tolerance scam, prospective donors receive a suitable-for-framing certificate from the SPLC thanking them for joining the ranks of the civil rights martyrs by supporting the company in its never-ending “fight against hate.” In addition to the certificate, the recipient will be memorialized forever on the “Wall of Tolerance,” a 20-by-40-foot Jumbotron screen at SPLC headquarters, where hundreds of thousands of names drift autumn-leaf-like across the screen “as the gentle rain from heaven.”

Recipients, honored to be included among such auspicious company, feel obligated to send along a little something in appreciation. Others can add their names simply by passing along their personal contact information to the Fundraising Department.

As our report noted, at least one honoree, Marcus Epstein,  had the dual honor of having his own page on the SPLC website that denounced him as a racist. Oops!

SOFII, the Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration, was hugely impressed by the elegant simplicity of the Wall of Tolerance:

SOFII’s view

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

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

Merits

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

It cost the SPLC nothing to add Heather Heyer’s name to the Wall o’ Tolerance Jumbotron but the tax-free donor-dollars will be rolling in by the truckload for weeks and months.

Incidentally, Lecia Brooks, who is quoted above in the Heyer press release, holds two concurrent Directorships at the SPLC. One of the few African-Americans in the SPLC hierarchy, Double-Director Brooks has never been named among the company’s highest paid executives.

One wonders what Heather Heyer would have made of that?

 

SPLC — The Black Elephant in the Room

March 31, 2017

The Southern Poverty Law Center released its annual “Hate Map” fundraising tool in February and, as usual, it made a lot of claims without providing a lot of proof. One thing that immediately caught our eye, however, was this graphic on the company’s web site:

Active Hate Groups 2016 _ Southern Poverty Law Center

While the numbers given do add up to the 917 “hate groups” promised at first glance, as usual, closer inspection reveals that the SPLC cannot provide a known city or town location for 191 of them, or about one-in-five. When you strip out these homeless “hate groups,” especially from the “Big Four,”  you come up with significantly different numbers:

2016 Homeless

Nearly half of the groups attributed to the KKK, neo-Nazis, racist skinheads and white nationalists seem to exist only in the imagination of the SPLC’s Public Relations Guru and chief Hate Map cartographer, Mark Potok.

We know these homeless groups really, really exist because Mr. Potok tells us so, and that’s more than good enough for the media. Note that Mr. Potok can assign at least a city or town to nearly all of his alleged Black Separatist groups, but more on them in a moment.

The first graphic we showed you, giving the SPLC’s own breakdown of its “hate groups” by category, got little or no mention from the press. The one that really excited them was this one:

197-percent-hate-map-_-southern-poverty-law-center

Most media outlets were only too eager to allow Mr. Potok to pontificate on the, Gasp!!, “197% increase in anti-Muslim” groups to pay much attention to the other numbers. We explained Potok’s anti-Muslim group scam in an earlier post and won’t rehash it here.

Oddly enough, nobody in the media seems to have noticed that the biggest number on Mr. Potok’s list refers to his 193 alleged Black Separatist groups, which is to say, the largest single category of “hate group” in the country, according to Mark Potok.

When you add in the eight Black Muslim “hate groups” Mr. Potok has tucked away under “General Hate” (tucked away even more deeply under the sub-category of “Other”), you come up with 201 Black “hate groups” in all.

Even without stripping out the homeless “hate groups,” Mr. Potok’s Black groups outnumber his KKK groups outright and his neo-Nazi, racist skinhead and white nationalist groups by two-to-one, respectively, and yet the media doesn’t find this particular piece of Potokian punditry to be newsworthy. Why not?

The media couldn’t regurgitate Mr. Potok’s claims of 101 anti-Muslim “hate groups” quickly or often enough, and yet when Potok claims that 89 of his Black “hate groups” are distinctly Muslim in nature, nearly a one-to-one ratio to the alleged anti-Muslim threat, all we hear from the media is crickets.

“Nothing to see here. Move along!”

The remarkable thing about this situation is that Potok’s numbers are right out in the open where anyone on the planet can see them. You do not have to dig through his website or even be particularly numerate to compare the numbers. Mark Potok says that “hate groups” are some sort of threat to the world and that the largest segment of that threat, by far, is Black and/or Muslim, and yet nobody in the media will take him up on it.

Either Mark Potok and the SPLC are your go-to “experts” on hate or they are not. You cannot pick and choose which dire threat du jour you are going to take their word for. And take their word you must, because the SPLC provides little or no evidence to back the existence of most of its alleged groups.

Some “experts.”

SPLC — The “Anti-Muslim” Scam

February 22, 2017

The Southern Poverty Law Center released its latest “Hate Map” fundraising tool a couple of weeks ago and its “Senior Fellow” Mark Potok has been making the usual media rounds and making the usual empty claims.

The “Hate Map” is a highly lucrative fundraising tool that claims to track the number of SPLC-designated (there is no legal definition for the term) “hate groups” in the country for the previous year. As such, the most recent 2017 map refers to the U.S. in 2016.

Here are some of the highlights from the latest map, according to Mr. Potok:

197-percent-hate-map-_-southern-poverty-law-center

We’ll be breaking down some of the other “hate group” claims in future posts, but let’s have a closer look at the big news for 2017:

“Anti-Muslim Groups have exploded by 197%!!”

Ah, Mr. Potok does love his percent sign. It makes the most mundane figures pop with alarm and that brings in the donor dollars. Mr. Potok has been breathlessly announcing that anti-Muslim groups have “nearly tripled” in the past year, by growing from 34 alleged groups to 101, but shies away from the actual details in his media interviews.

We’re not shy at Watching the Watchdogs. We’ll be happy to flip the flat rock and see what scurries away.

The vast majority of Mr. Potok’s alleged explosion, (69% in Potokian terms) comes from one single source. In 2015, Potok added one single instance of something called “ACT for America,”from Virginia Beach, Va., to his Hate Map.

For 2016, Potok counted ACT 45 times! A Potokian increase of 4,400%!!

The group itself has been around since 2007, though Potok only discovered it in 2015. Even more amazing is that the ACT website boasts of more than 1,000 chapters nationwide. That’s a huge discrepancy that Mr. Potok seems eager to avoid.

Another ten groups arrived for the first time in 2016 in the form of “The Soldiers of Odin,” an apparent American offshoot of a Finnish anti-Muslim outfit founded in 2015. Of the ten chapters claimed by Potok he can only put a known city or town to two. The other 80% is part of the 191 “groups” Mr. Potok cannot locate on any map, including his own. Instead, he papers them over with a catch-all label of “statewide.”

We know all 191 of those groups are really, really out there because Mark Potok tells us so.

Most of the remaining “groups” are a rag-tag collection of one-off, one-man websites, something Potok claims he doesn’t count, except when he does, which is frequently, such as the “Sultan Knish: A blog by Daniel Greenfield” “group,””Islamthreat.com” and a couple of yahoos peddling pork-tainted anti-Muslim ammunition online.

It is with great sadness that we witness the passing of our all time favorite Potokian “hate group,” Casa d’Ice Signs, which was actually an Italian restaurant and bar in a K-Mart strip mall on the outskirts of Pittsburgh.

It’s not that we agreed with the crude messages that owner Bill Balsamico would put on the marquee sign outside his bar each week, but Casa d’Ice was the ultimate poster child for just how far Mr. Potok would go to stretch his definition of “hate group.”

The good news, according to Daniel Greenfield, is that Balsamico sold the business and retired, undefeated.

In all fairness to Mr. Potok, though, he never claimed that Balsamico was guilty of anything but “wrong thoughts.” As the stalwart Senior Fellow has proclaimed on man occasions:

“Our criteria for a hate group, first of all, have nothing to do with criminality, or violence, or any kind of guess we’re making about ‘this group could be dangerous.’ It’s strictly ideological.”

And so, there you have it. The suits at the SPLC decided that anti-Muslim “hate groups” were going to be the featured flavor for 2017 and instructed Mr. Potok to show “explosive growth” thereof for fundraising purposes and overnight one “group” becomes 45.

Some may remember that last year Potok swore that “the Klan had more than doubled in size!!” in 2015 by claiming it had grown from 72 chapter to 190 overnight. Potok failed to mention that he himself had slashed his Klan count from 163 to 72 the year before.

This year, as the graphic above notes, the Invisible Empire shrank by 32% to a mere 130 chapters, 30 of which Potok cannot find. And as usual, nobody in the media called him on it.

The graphic does include one truly astounding number, besides the spurious “197%” malarkey. Mr. Potok claims there are 193 Black “hate groups” in the country today, far outnumbering the KKK and every other category, respectively, and he knows where every one of those chapters are but two.

But that’s a topic for our next post.

SPLC and “Disqualified Persons”

February 12, 2017

Is there a tax doctor in the house? Last week the Southern Poverty Law Center released its IRS Form 990 tax returns for Fiscal Year 2016. The Form 990 is always an informative read because it contains so much useful information.

Page 1, Line 15 notes that the company paid $20,291,678 in “salaries, other compensation, employee benefits,” (11% of which went to the top 9 execs, leaving the other 282 employees to split the rest for an average of $64,000 each.)

We get that. What we don’t get is the entry on Page 10, Line 6 that reads: “Compensation not included above, to disqualified persons.”

disqualified

Who exactly are these “disqualified persons” and are they being paid outside of the $20 million dollar pot listed on Page 1?

Naturally, the IRS website was virtually incomprehensible on the subject, but several other sources defined disqualified persons as:

  • “Disqualified persons” are those who are in a position to exercise substantial influence over the affairs of the organization, during the five years before the excess compensation was made.

  • “Disqualified persons” would include, for example, voting members of the governing body, and presidents, chief executive officers or chief operating officers, treasurers, and chief financial officers.

  • Also included as “disqualified persons” are certain family members of a disqualified person, and 35% controlled entities of a disqualified person.

  • Other people could also be considered “disqualified persons,” depending upon the relevant facts and circumstances that show substantial influence over the organization, such as a founder, substantial contributor, or manager of a substantial portion of the organization’s activities.

So, apparently, for a 501(c)(3) public charity like the SPLC, “disqualified persons” include founders, presidents, and other top executives, who are already got paid on Page 1, Line 15.

It can also include members of the Board of Directors, who, according to Page 10, receive no compensation for their efforts.

Or, it may include family members of all of the above.

Sadly, the Form 990 does not disclose the identities of the people who are receiving that $14.4 million compensation. Surely somebody has this information. Perhaps the Freedom of Information Act could help?

We ask these impudent questions because the SPLC has a habit of hiding expenditures from the donors. For example, the company routinely makes the claim that “During the last fiscal year, approximately 68% of our total expenses were spent on program services.”

History has shown that this figure relies on the use of legal but ethically dubious gymnastics on the part of the bookkeepers. For example, Page 1, Line 16b of the Form 990 states categorically that “total fundraising expenses” for the year came to $9,689,461, or 21% of expenses for 2016.

Page 10, Line 26, however, notes “joint costs” of $6,989,987. What are “joint costs”? According to the SPLC’s own auditor: “The Center incurred joint costs of $7,983,475 for educational materials and activities as part of fundraising appeals during the year ended October 31, 2016.” (p. 14) Note that the auditor’s figure comes in at nearly a million dollars more than the Form 990.

Translation: “Joint costs are fundraising costs assigned to other departments.” For example, “Management” spent $737,711 on postage last year. That’s more than 1.6 million first-class stamps. Don’t the employees have email? Who else would “Management” need to contact on such a scale?

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

Add the auditor’s joint fundraising costs to the fundraising costs listed on the Form 990, ($17,672,936) and we’re already looking at 38% of last year’s budget, not the 32% claimed by the SPLC.

As it turns out, compensation to disqualified persons is also spread out across several departments, including another $2 million to fundraising, not listed above. That brings Fundraising’s grand total to $19,834,444, or 43% of the budget, not the 32% claimed by the SPLC.

disqualified2

Long story short, if the Southern Poverty Law Center is willing to obfuscate its fundraising numbers to hide reality from the donors, why wouldn’t it use the same kind of accounting prestidigitation concerning what it pays its all-white executive suite?

Does anyone out there know how Watching the Watchdogs can obtain the names of these mysterious “disqualified persons”? If so, please contact us as soon as possible.


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