Posts Tagged ‘Stand Strong Against Hate’

SPLC — Cashing in on MS-13

May 28, 2018

When you have “tracked” the Southern Poverty Law Center for as long as we have, you take it for granted that the company will find a way to make money off the latest tragedy or controversy du jour. The SPLC now has more than 300 full-time employees, many of them involved in marketing, public relations and fundraising and they are not about to let an opportunity to cash in pass them by.

Just over a week ago, President Donald Trump ruffled feathers by referring to members of the violent and deadly Salvadoran gang MS-13, which has infiltrated many American cities and even smaller towns, as “animals.”

Considering the gang’s lengthy record of brutal murders, decapitation, torture and rape, “animals” is one of the kinder terms that could be used to describe them.

Naturally, Mr. Trump’s comments were clumsy and poorly articulated, as usual. Naturally, the SPLC and other Hate Industry players jumped on a chance to claim that the president was referring to all immigrants as “animals.”

Virtue signalers across the country couldn’t get their wallets out fast enough. Despite all the “outrage” and toga rending, Donald Trump has been a gold mine for these “advocacy groups.” The very mention of his name is guaranteed to agitate the donors and the money will soon follow.

According to its online tax records, the SPLC took in over $132 million in donations in 2017, up from $50 million in 2016. Its cash-on-hand endowment fund grew from $319 million to $432 million over the same period. Fully 98% of the endowment fund is designated as “unrestricted” in use.

Ironically (a term one uses so often when describing the company), the SPLC issued several statements declaring that: “Dehumanizing rhetoric — unacceptable from anyone — is especially dangerous when it comes from the mouth of the president.”

Considering the hundreds of millions of tax-free donor-dollars the SPLC has generated over the past decades specifically through the use of “dehumanizing rhetoric,” such as the ever-profitable “hate group” label, “domestic extremists” and “radical traditionalists” one has to wonder how the company avoids choking on its own hypocrisy.

“Unacceptable from anyone…”

Some readers may remember the SPLC’s longtime spokesman, Mark Potok, who was unceremoniously fired from the company in March, 2017, after 20 years of highly lucrative service, most of which was built squarely upon the use of “dehumanizing rhetoric.” Apparently, this usage was quite acceptable when Mr. Potok was channeling millions of donor-dollars into the company’s coffers.

One prime example can be found in a 2007 speech Mr. Potok gave before a hate crime conference in Michigan:

“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.”

That zinger drew a laugh from the assembled anti-haters, oddly enough. Potok continued with the statement:

“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!”

Feel the love. Donate early and often.

This brings us to the SPLC’s latest fundraising scheme. Just as the company found ways to cash in on the Confederate flag controversy in 2015 and the tragic death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville in 2017, the SPLC’s growing team of PR professionals have come up with another classic fundraising scam:

“TELL PRESIDENT TRUMP TO STOP USING RACIST AND DEHUMANIZING RHETORIC,” proclaims the page on the SPLC website. “This kind of rhetoric is unacceptable from anyone,” they remind us, in a brief statement that completely omits any reference to MS-13 whatsoever.

How best to do this? A link to the White House website? No. Mr. Trump’s personal Twitter handle? Nope. Maybe a useful email link to your senators or members of Congress? Not seeing any.

Instead, the SPLC has conveniently provided a short online form where you can enter your name, location and email address. That’s all you have to do.

Tell Trump

What happens to your personal information when you hit the blue button? The site doesn’t say. Maybe your name goes on a petition, though wouldn’t you’d think they’d mention that?

No. Just as with the SPLC’s brilliant, though now-retired, “Stand Strong Against Hate” map and its lucrative offspring, the “Wall of Tolerance,” your contact information will go directly to the company’s massive, in-house fundraising machine, and you put it there yourself, of your own free will.

Just as tens of thousands of SPLC donors, new and old, believe that they are “fighting hate” with their annual donations when their money actually goes to third party telemarketers, you haven’t “taken a stand against hate” any more than you have taken a solemn oath to “work for justice, equality and human rights.”

All you’ve done is given the Southern Poverty Law Center’s fundraisers your personal contact information.

Operators are standing by.

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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 an impression that the act may possibly have been 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 — Where Have “Potok’s Pinheads” Gone?

October 30, 2015

As part of our ongoing effort to “track” the public relations and fundraising tactics of the Southern Poverty Law Center it has recently come to our attention that one of the most cynical and dubious features of the company’s website is conspicuously absent.

We first reported on the SPLC’s “Stand Strong Against Hate” map in November, 2009, the brain child, no doubt of the company’s Senior Fellow and Public Relations Chief, Mark Potok.

Click Image to Enlarge

Click Image to Enlarge

In exchange for nothing more than your first and last name, zip code and email address, you too could become a digital pinhead on Mr. Potok’s map, “adding yourself as a voice of tolerance.”

Click Image to Enlarge

Click Image to Enlarge

What Mr. Potok has yet to explain is how turning over all of your contact information to him fought “hate” whatsoever. Not to worry, even if Mr. Potok couldn’t use your information to “fight hate,” no doubt the boys in the Fundraising Department could.

Please note the handy button on the lower right that would allow you to “report” any suspicious activities anonymously, right after you enter your name, zip and email info.

We reminded readers of Mr. Potok’s cynical data-mining in a post about the SPLC’s $8 million dollar telemarketing racket as recently as January 2015, where the “Stand Strong” map was still standing strong and welcoming new pinheads with outstretched hands.

A recent review of the SPLC’s revamped website, however, failed to turn up any trace of this blatant fundraising tool. Clicking on the original URL takes one to the company’s home page. The Internet Archive’s cantankerous marvel, the Wayback Machine, hasn’t seen the “Stand Strong” map since September, 2015.

Granted, it’s only October, as of this writing, and maybe the map will turn up again. We’d like to see it returned, as it has served exquisitely as a visual aid for the SPLC’s fundraising tactics. Even the most devoted Potok-o-phile is always at a loss to explain just how giving up your private information “fights hate,” and in an age where even the most secure websites are vulnerable to hackers, what could a real “hate group” do with that information?

More likely, though, the “Stand Strong” map is yet another reminder of how the SPLC is rebranding and retooling to meet the fundraising realities of the 21st century. The precipitous decline of the Mr. Potok’s longtime flagship, the infamous “Hate Map,” is the most obvious sign that marketing ploys that once worked so well and for so long with the company’s original blue-haired donor base cannot stand up against the Age of the Internet and the scrutiny of web-savvy donors.

This is, no doubt, the reason why the SPLC dropped all pretenses of being a “non-profit civil rights organization” in February, 2014. The real money, in this day and age, is in “advocacy,” where no correlation between civil suits and civil rights is required.

The SPLC’s revamped website has been a bit of a mess lately, so if anyone should locate the “Stand Strong Against Hate” map later on, please pass the info along to us. A watchdog couldn’t ask for a better bone to chew.

We miss Mr. Potok’s Pinheads already.


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