Posts Tagged ‘Virginia’

SPLC — Virginia’s “Hate Groups” 2018

August 16, 2019

Every so often, it is useful to take a closer look at the “hate group” claims made by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In the first of a series of such claims directed at various states, we have examined the “hate groups” the SPLC has assigned to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

First, a little background information:

  1. There is no legal definition for “hate group.” As abhorrent as most people would find the words and deeds of many of these groups, it is important to remember that it is entirely legal to belong to any of them. This is why the FBI and local law enforcement cannot act against them until they actually break the law, or appear to be on the verge of doing so.This observation is not to be interpreted as any kind of endorsement for any group, but a reminder that as soon as individuals decide that “it’s okay to punch a Nazi,” it is only a matter of time before it’s okay to punch someone who “looks like a Nazi,” or “sounds like a Nazi,” or drives a Volkswagen, etc.Sooner or later, someone will decide that YOU must be a Nazi.Until just recently, the SPLC’s “Hate Map” tool always included the boilerplate disclaimer that:

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

    That disclaimer went away a couple years ago, leaving the donors to come to their own conclusions. Another SPLC claim that was attached to every new “Hate Map” until recently read:

    Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing.”

    The very idea that an organization purporting to defend civil rights would deliberately conflate six of the most fundamental, constitutionally protected First Amendment rights with “criminal acts” and “hate group activities” is beyond comprehension.

  2. The SPLC’s definition of a “hate group” is intentionally broad, so that the company can apply it as widely as possible, as we will shortly see:“All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”“Attack or malign” is too imprecise to be useful, and, as we have pointed out repeatedly in the past, is all too often applied selectively by the SPLC, so as not to offend the almighty donors.Due to the lack of an official or universal definition for “hate group,” the media and donors rely on the SPLC’s claims, thereby making the company the sole arbiter of that extremely lucrative label ($111 million donor-dollars in 2018, $130 million in 2017, way up from a mere $50 million for 2016). 
  3. The SPLC’s definition of “group” is criminally broad to the point of outright fraud. The company has no benchmark for determining how many people actually constitute a “group,” and makes no verifiable estimates of how many members a “group” might actually have.Laird Wilcox, one of the most respected researchers on the Hate Industry, noted nearly 20 years ago:“What [the SPLC] apparently did was list any group they could find mention of, including groups only rumored to exist. These included the large number of “post office box chapters” maintained by Klan and skinhead organizations. Some Christian Identity “ministries” consist only one person and a mailing list and many “patriot groups” consist of but three or four friends.”More recently, in 2015, Mark Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League repeated Wilcox’s findings in the South Jersey Times:“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 [SPLC’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.”

     

  4. In addition to numerous PO box “groups,” the SPLC’s “Hate Map” is loaded with one-man websites, something the company has denied counting for years:”Websites appearing to be merely the work of a single individual, rather than the publication of a group, are not included in this list. “The 2017 “Hate Map” included this disclaimer, which was subsequently dropped for the most recent, 2018 map:“Entities that appear to exist only in cyberspace are not included because they are likely to be individual Web publishers who likely to falsely portray themselves as powerful, organized froups [sic].”Also in 2017, long-time SPLC frontman Mark Potok was claiming that: “We make a big effort to separate a man, his dog and a computer from a group with on-the-ground activity.”

    In February, 2019, the SPLC’s new outreach director, Kate Chance, told a gathering in Mankato, Minnesota: “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.”

    As we shall see in our examination of Virginia’s SPLC-designated “hate groups” below, these claims are patently and demonstrably false.

The Southern Poverty Law Center assigned 39 “hate groups” to Virginia for 2018. Using basic Internet search skills that any journalist or donor could easily duplicate, we searched for information on each group.

While thorough, we do not in any way claim that these searches are infallible or that other information may not be available elsewhere. If any readers have verifiable information on any of these groups, please contact us through the Comments section at the end of this post.

Better still, since the SPLC is known to monitor this blog, perhaps they would be willing to show their work and share their information with the world and their donors.

Big claims, after all, demand big proof, or any proof, for that matter.

To simplify our results, we broke our findings into three basic sections. The first consists of alleged “groups” where either a physical address could be identified, or those where no information could be found whatsoever.

The second section identifies “groups” that appear to exist only as websites. The last section contains alleged “groups” that the SPLC has designated only as “statewide,” a dubious device that we will explore further in detail.

VaGroups2018-3

Group One

As our Group One results indicate, we were only able to identify five alleged groups with verifiable physical addresses. Using Google Maps street view tool, we were able to identify brick-and-mortar locations with appropriate signage.

Using this tool, we were able to eliminate several other groups listing physical addresses on their websites when those addresses turned out to be private mail forwarding services, such as the UPS Store.

It’s worth noting that the advocacy group, ProEnglish, has been residing in Washington, DC, since at least 2017, according to the Internet Archive’s amazing Wayback Machine, and should not be on Virginia’s list to begin with.

In fact, whether or not you agree with ProEnglish’s stated mission to make English the official language of all federal and state governments, the argument is a legitimate political position, which in no way “attacks or maligns” anyone. Calling the organization a “hate group” because you disagree with the position is disingenuous at best, especially since the vast majority of the world’s nations have one or more official languages.

Three of Virginia’s alleged Black Nationalist groups had verifiable addresses as well. The rhetoric of the Nation of Islam’s leadership clearly falls within most people’s definition of anti-Semitism.

Seventy-six of the 264 Black Nationalist groups the SPLC designated nationwide last year are Nation of Islam mosques, but surprisingly, the company does not consider them to be “Muslim hate groups,” as that would clash with their more lucrative “anti-Muslim hate group” category.

The largest single alleged anti-Muslim group on the map is ACT for America, at 47 iterations, but the national website no longer tracks local units and all new members must sign on as individual activists. If the SPLC can show proof of the locations of any of their ACT groups we’d be very interested in seeing it.

It’s also noteworthy that Virginia’s remaining Black Nationalist “groups” are Black Israelite churches, who are “hateful” because, as the SPLC notes, “Some religious versions assert that black people are the biblical “chosen people” of God.”

Think about that for a moment.

VaGroups2018-Full

Group Two

Group Two of our results are those for which nothing could be found beyond a website and Post Office or Private Mail Box (PMB). While people may gain access to these “groups” through their websites or snail mail, there was nothing on any of the sites to indicate any extensive jackboots-on-the-ground, with one glaring exception.

The Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation (FGF), whose mission since 2003 has been “…to promote and preserve the glorious traditions and culture of Western civilization and Christianity,” invited its members to join them this past February for a magnificent “Evening of Viennese Waltzing” in DC.

Waltzing

If Western Civilization and Christianity were not enough to trigger SPLC donors, a night of waltzing would be money in the bank.

The event previous to the Grand Ball was an 80th birthday tribute to publisher Jon Utley in 2014 and a PowerPoint presentation from 2011.

VDARE and American Renaissance are both online blogs. Washington Summit Publishers, IHS Press and even FGF are online booksellers. In the Spirit of Chartres Committee, “Dedicated to promoting and defending Pre-Vatican II Catholic social teachings…,” offers books like Ethics and the National Economy and Catholicism, Protestantism, and Capitalism, as well as DVDs of lectures recorded in the early 2000s.

The American Immigration Control Foundation is located in picturesque Monterey, Virginia (population 156), which is also home to one of the best maple syrup festivals this side of northern New England. There is more of hotcakes than “hotbeds” in that part of the world.

Red Ice, as its website explains, “delivers videos” and offers “an alternative to the mainstream, covering politics and social issues from a pro-European perspective.” Based in Sweden, they recently announced a presence in Harrisonburg, Va, but the address given is for a UPS Store in a strip mall, and their website ISP is registered in Montreal, Canada.

Harrisonburg is a college town and the local colleges and universities compete nationwide for the best students. Does the town really deserve to be tarnished with a “hate group” over a private mail box for a foreign website?

In all, 15 of Virginia’s alleged “hate groups” appear to exist only as online entities. We won’t pretend that some, perhaps many, will find their content to be offensive, but it is still protected speech and do one or two social Neanderthals running a website really constitute a “group”?

Is it really “attacking and maligning” when you have to physically search these “groups” out in order to be properly outraged?

Perhaps the biggest question would be how many people would ever have heard of these “groups” without the free worldwide publicity generated by the SPLC?

VaGroups2018-Statewide

Group Three

Our last section deals with those alleged “hate groups” the SPLC has merely designated as “statewide,” without even going through the motions of making up an alleged city or town.

As many Watching the Watchdogs readers are painfully aware, our primary focus is to get out the word that the SPLC’s “statewide” designation is worthless for verifying any claims about these groups. As the data provided above demonstrates, even the inclusion of a known location is no guarantee that a “group” actually exists there.

Imagine telling someone that your organization had identified hundreds of active UFO bases across this great land of ours.

“Great Scott!,” they might exclaim. “Where are they?”

“We found 17 in Georgia, 23 in Wisconsin, four more in Rhode Island…”

“This is incredible news! You have to take us there!”

“Um, well, we don’t actually know WHERE the sites are, but we sure as heck know that they are really out there. Trust us!”

People would throw rocks at you, and rightly so. Tell the same folks that you found hundreds of invisible “hate groups,” with no verifiable proof whatsoever, though, and they will throw millions of donor-dollars at you instead.

Incredible news, indeed. Literally.

Nationwide, fully 322 of the 1,020 “hate groups” designated by the SPLC for 2018 are “statewide” phantoms. That works out to one-in-three, just as it does with Virginia’s alleged count. In many states, 80-, 90- and even a full 100% of the groups designated are homeless “statewide” phantoms.

The SPLC padded its “Hate Map” with 107 brand new “statewide” phantoms in 2017 alone. And nobody in the Media said a word.

Just for fun, check out how some of Virginia’s invisible “groups” fare across the country:

VaGroups2018-Statewide-Nationwide

Nationwide “Statewide Groups”

In all, 153 of 194 alleged “groups” turn out to be “statewide” across the country, or, once again, roughly one-in-three. Do you see a pattern here?

We found this exercise to be illuminating and we hope you did as well. As mentioned, we plan on examining the “hate groups” designated to several other states, though we will skip the lengthy preamble next time and get right to the meat.

It is our intention to pass this information along to the Attorney General of Virginia’s consumer fraud division. Considering the hundreds of millions of dollars the Southern Poverty Law Center takes in from peddling these faulty figures, the matter deserves to be brought to the attention of the proper legal authorities.

Maybe that will induce the SPLC to show its work. If they have the proof in hand already, how hard can it be?

 

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