12 Ways The Southern Poverty Law Center Is A Scam To Profit From Hate-Mongering

Stella Morabito, The Federalist, May 17, 2017

Morris Dees and Heidi Belrich

Morris Dees and Heidi Belrich of the Southern Poverty Law Center. (Credit Image: © Buchan/Rex Shutterstock via ZUMA Press)

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1. It’s a Big-Money Smear Machine

The SPLC’s main role is as a massively funded propaganda smear machine. The following information on the SPLC, provided by Karl Zinsmeister of Philanthropy Roundtable, is an eye-opener: “Its two largest expenses are propaganda operations: creating its annual lists of ‘haters’ and ‘extremists,’ and running a big effort that pushes ‘tolerance education’ through more than 400,000 public-school teachers. And the single biggest effort undertaken by the SPLC? Fundraising. On the organization’s 2015 IRS 990 form it declared $10 million of direct fundraising expenses, far more than it has ever spent on legal services.”

2. The Center’s Work Has Incited Violence

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The SPLC website keeps tabs on designated bad guys with a Hate Map of the United States and an invitation for readers to #reporthate. The SPLC’s hate list includes the Family Research Council in Washington DC, and the 2012 shooting at FRC headquarters was inspired through the influence of SPLC agitprop, according to the gunman himself. He would have committed mass murder if he wasn’t stopped.

The recent mob violence in response to social scientist Charles Murray’s talk at Middlebury College, and the assault of a faculty member there, were products of the SPLC’s smear of Murray as an “extremist.” The list goes on.

3. SLPC Uses Emotion-Laden Images to Spread Innuendo

SPLC uses emotion-laden images with nary any evidence to “spread stigma just by innuendo.” Zinsmeister from Philanthropy Roundtable notes: “Over the years, numerous investigators have pointed out that most of the scary KKK and Nazi and militia groups that the SPLC insists are lurking under our beds are actually ghost entities, with no employees, no address, hardly any followers, and little or no footprint.”

But “hate groups” and “extremist organizations” are great copy, especially for fundraising. So the SPLC list of storm-troopers-in-our-midst is catnip for journalists looking for dramatic stories.

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4. The FBI Stopped Citing SPLC as a Resource

Two years ago, the FBI deleted the SPLC from its website’s list of legitimate resources on hate crimes. This is a promising sign of growing clarity that the SPLC’s designations for hate groups lack legitimacy.

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5. People On Its Political Team See the Problems, Too

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Even leftist Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote that the SPLC’s labeling of the Family Research Center as a hate group was a reckless act.

6. Its Nonprofit Status Masks Highly Political Fundraising

The SPLC operates far more as a political action committee than as the nonprofit it claims to be. The hyper-partisan nature of the SPLC’s operations makes its nonprofit status seem like a joke. In a recent letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the Federation for Immigration Reform argued that the SPLC’s tax-exempt 501(c)3 status should be revoked because in the 2016 elections, the SPLC clearly violated the Internal Revenue Service requirement that prohibits “participating in or intervening (including the publishing or distributing of statements), in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”

7. Its Public Activities Are a Ruse for Fundraising

The SPLC is little more than a “cash collecting machine” rooted more deeply in fund-raising opportunism than in any do-gooder impulse. The SPLC was founded in 1971, after much of the heroic heavy lifting of the civil rights era was already over and the Ku Klux Klan was pretty much beyond its death throes. But invoking the imagery of pointy white hoods still seems to be an irresistible fund-raising ploy for the SPLC.

Again, Zinsmeister at Philanthropy Roundtable calls it out: “The SPLC is a cash-collecting machine. In 2015 it vacuumed up $50 million in contributions and foundation grants, a tidy addition to its $334 million holdings of cash and securities and its headquarters worth $34 million. ‘They’ve never spent more than 31 percent of the money they were bringing in on programs, and sometimes they spent as little as 18 percent. Most nonprofits spend about 75 percent on programs,’ noted Jim Tharpe, managing editor of the SPLC’s hometown newspaper.

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8. Its Founder Is a Direct Marketing Guru

SPLC founder Morris Dees was inducted into the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame in 1998. That should tell you a lot. Dees’ experience as an ultra-successful direct mail marketer well precedes his SPLC days. Perhaps he employed those skills while working on George Wallace’s 1958 gubernatorial campaign in Alabama and as finance director for George McGovern’s 1972 presidential bid, as well as campaigns of Jimmy Carter and Ted Kennedy.

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9. Civil Rights Activists Say Its Founder Is ‘A Con Man’

Bona fide civil rights activists have described the SPLC founder as “a con man and a fraud.” A 2000 Harper’s Magazine article by Ken Silverstein quotes anti-death penalty activist Millard Farmer on Dees’ apparent fund-raising monomania: “He’s the Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker [notorious televangelists] of the civil rights movement, though I don’t mean to malign Jim and Tammy Faye.”

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10. The Center Is Advertising For New Revenue-Raisers

SPLC is now advertising for help in “developing theories” to support its litigation projects. The following is from a current appeal to recent law school graduates at the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania: “Penn Law and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) have created a new, two-year, post-graduate fellowship for a new or recent graduate to work with the SPLC’s Special Litigation Practice Group. . .The Penn Law Civil Rights Fellow will serve as an integral member of the SPLC’s legal group, conducting legal research and analysis and developing theories to support new litigation projects and advocacy campaigns …” (emphasis mine). If you need to develop a “theory” to support an argument intended to condemn those you’ve labelled as haters, there probably isn’t any there there.

11. SPLC Propaganda Seems to Encourage Hoax Hate Crimes

SPLC propaganda seems to encourage hoax hate crimes. There has been a recent surge of hoax hate crimes. In part, I believe this is due to the far reach of the SPLC’s propaganda and agitation machine, which has maligned legitimate think tanks and advocacy centers like the Family Research Center, Alliance Defending Freedom, and the Center for Security Policy. It also has smeared eminent scholars like Murray and Ayaan Hirsi Ali as well as pediatric neurosurgeon (now secretary of Housing and Urban Development) Ben Carson.

This indiscriminate free-for-all creates an easy climate in which hoaxes can thrive.

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12. Its Blacklist Foments the Campus Anti-Speech Movement

The SPLC is no doubt heavily invested in the campus anti-speech movement. It stands to reason that to control “hate speech,” one must control all speech. That’s a major reason any speaker on a college campus who is unapproved by the SPLC can end up shut down in riotous fashion as Murray at Middlebury or Milo Yiannopoulos at Cal Berkeley or Gavin McInnes at New York University. If you plan to attend such an event, you’ll notice that even lesser-known speakers often need police escorts after the SPLC has blacklisted them.

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