What It’s Like to Be Smeared by the Southern Poverty Law Center

Carol M. Swain, Wall Street Journal, September 11, 2017

Morris Dees and Heidi Beirich

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

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When Morris Dees and Joseph J. Levin Jr. started the SPLC in 1971, it was needed and it had noble goals. In recent years, however, it has become a tool of the radical left.

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What landed me in the SPLC’s crosshairs was a Sept. 10, 2009, Huffington Post blog entry titled “Mission Creep and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Misguided Focus.” I pointed out the SPLC’s silence about video footage released after the 2008 elections showing members of the New Black Panther Party, decked out in full paramilitary regalia, patrolling a polling precinct in Philadelphia where they were clearly intimidating white voters.

Although several news organizations covered the story, the SPLC ignored the incident. At the time, the law center was spending an inordinate amount of time attacking then-CNN host Lou Dobbs for his relentless focus on illegal immigration. It demanded that CNN fire the anchor. After CNN and Mr. Dobbs parted ways, the SPLC took credit for getting him off the air. I ended my post with a one-liner that raised the ire of the organization and had a devastating effect on my life. I wrote: “Rather than monitoring hate groups, the Southern Poverty Law Center has become one.”

The SPLC’s retaliation was vicious and effective. On Oct. 17, 2009, my photo appeared on the front page of my local newspaper, the Tennessean, with the quote: “ Carol Swain is an apologist for white supremacists.”

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Some of those vilified by the SPLC have been subjected to even worse treatment. The Family Research Council and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise have been violently attacked by individuals inspired by the propaganda the SPLC regularly dishes out—which is often accepted without criticism and passed on by media, law-enforcement agencies and universities.

The SPLC should not be dignified with invitations to provide congressional testimony about domestic extremism as long as it continues to advance a transparently partisan agenda—one Mr. Potok has publicly acknowledged is designed to “destroy” groups it opposes.

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