On Thursday, CNN posted and fully endorsed a “hate map” published by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an organization whose “hate” labeling inspired at least one terrorist attack. The SPLC rightly condemns various white nationalist groups like the Ku Klux Klan, but its “hate map” also includes organizations with which it merely disagrees politically. As such, it is a deceptive propaganda tool against the Right and Christians.
“917. That’s the number of hate groups operating in the US, according to data from the Southern Poverty Law Center,” CNN’s Dakin Andone reported. “The Alabama-based nonprofit activist group tracks civil rights and hate crimes and defines a hate group as an organization with ‘beliefs and practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.'”
CNN also included a map marking where every “hate group” exists across America. The outlet also tweeted a picture of the map to its 37 million followers.
— CNN (@CNN) August 17, 2017
In the wake of the Charlottesville violence, companies like Apple have sought to help the SPLC because it does mark white supremacist groups as “hate groups.” The problem is, it doesn’t stop there.
CNN’s Andone added, “Some are classified as anti-LGBT groups, and some are black separatists, who don’t believe in interracial marriage and want a nation only for black people, according to the group.” So Christian organizations that seek to foster traditional sexual morality are compared to the KKK and black separatists?
To his credit, the CNN reporter also admitted that “some critics of the SPLC say the group’s activism biases how it categorizes certain groups.” Andone brushed aside such criticism, however, on the basis that “since the FBI doesn’t keep track of domestic hate groups, the SPLC’s tally is the widely accepted one.”
It is indeed widely accepted — so widely accepted, that the very list CNN condones and posts for 31 million viewers actually inspired a terror attack in 2012, and may have inspired the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.).
In the summer of 2012, a man named Floyd Lee Corkins III broke into the Family Research Council (FRC), armed with a semi-automatic pistol and Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwiches, aiming to kill every person in the building. In February 2013, Corkins pled guilty to committing an act of terrorism and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Where did Corkins get the motivation and the address to attack the FRC? In his own words, the convicted terrorist told the FBI that he targeted this Christian group because it was listed as an “anti-gay group” on the SPLC website. Here’s the video of that interaction.
To this day, the SPLC still labels FRC a “hate group,” and it shows up on the map distributed by CNN.
But it didn’t end there. The SPLC repeatedly attacked Steve Scalise over a 2002 speech he gave to a group related to the KKK. The speech is a black mark on Scalise’s record, but the congressman apologized for it in 2014. Former KKK leader David Duke actually attacked him as a “sellout” who “meets with radical blacks.”
Despite this, the SPLC attacked Scalise again in July 2016, mentioning his speech at the white supremacist meeting but failing to mention his apology or the fact that Duke now considers him a traitor to the racist white nationalist movement.
James Hodgkinson, the Bernie Sanders supporter who targeted Republicans at a practice for the Congressional Baseball Game this summer, “liked” the SPLC on Facebook. This shooter may not have consciously aimed for Scalise because of the SPLC’s hate list, but the connection is notable.
“Over the decades, the SPLC has refined a method of defaming its political opponents that is extremely effective when combined with the massive war chest it can rely upon,” Lt. Gen. (Ret.) William Boykin, FRC’s executive vice president, explained in a letter to senators. “The SPLC targets people using the ‘hate’ or ‘extremist’ label against them seeking to destroy them.”
Laird Wilcox, one of the foremost experts on American political extremism, said the SPLC has “specialized a highly developed and ritualized form of defamation … a way of harming and isolating people by denying their humanity and trying to convert them into something that deserves to be hated and eliminated.”
While the SPLC “hate map” does include white supremacists like the KKK and black nationalists, it has added various groups that do not belong. The list features Christian organizations like the FRC, Liberty Counsel, the American Family Association (AFA), and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), along with other groups like the American College of Pediatricians and the Center for Immigration Studies.
The SPLC also attacked Ben Carson in 2014, placing (and later removing) the retired neurosurgeon and author on its “Extremist Watch List,” which features white supremacists. The SPLC attacked Carson because he defined marriage as “between a man and a woman” and made other “anti-gay” remarks. Similar reasons led the group to list FRC, AFA, ADF, and other groups on its “hate map.”
In October of last year, the SPLC attacked Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a women’s rights activist who has focused on the treatment of women in the Islamic world. The group questioned Ali’s harrowing story of female genital mutilation and arranged marriage in Africa. Ali has received many death threats, one of which came from the murderer of Theo van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker she worked with.
Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Rod Dremer, called Ali “one of the world’s greatest champions of freedom, pluralism and tolerance,” and added that “every self-respecting group that claims to value any of those things should be defending her not defaming her.”
“Yet in an Orwellian version of reality, a woman whose life is threatened every day by extremist Muslims is labeled by the SPLC an anti-Muslim extremist,” Dremer said. “Well, ladies and gentlemen, I don’t stand with the defamers and the blacklisters. I stand with Ayaan Hirsi Ali.”
The cases of Carson, Ali, FRC, and others reveal the true motivation of the SPLC — to blacklist all conservative viewpoints with which it disagrees as “hatred” on par with the KKK. This subversive tactic is deceptive, disgusting, and unbecoming of an organization supposedly dedicated to uncovering “hate.”
This is just one more step in the Orwellian redefinition of words like “hate” and “discrimination.” In the name of “nondiscrimination,” state governments have penalized conservative Christian business owners for refusing to take part in same-sex weddings.
The list of these people is long: Washington state florist Barronelle Stutzman, Oregon bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein, Michigan farmers Steve and Bridget Tennes, Colorado baker Jack Philips (whose case will come before the Supreme Court), and many others.
Each one of these people are committed Christians, who, for reasons of faith, refused to extend services to a same-sex wedding, despite their history of gladly serving LGBT people in other settings. All of them were attacked for “discriminating” against gay people when in fact they were using their First Amendment rights of free speech, free association, and freedom of religion to decide not to endorse a public event solemnizing something they consider not to be a marriage.
Recently, an LGBT megadonor declared that he intended to remove people’s First Amendment rights in an effort to “punish the wicked.” The SPLC agrees with this assessment, and is all too quick to label anyone who disagrees with their agenda a “hate group” or “extremist.”
Despite this deceptive labeling, the 2012 terrorist attack, the Steve Scalise shooting, and the mistake on Ben Carson (SPLC apologized to him afterward), the “hate” labeling organization has been given more and more airtime in recent months.
In June, the charity navigation organization GuideStar adopted the SPLC “hate list” on its website, branding groups like the FRC “hate groups.” In July, ABC and NBC printed headlines declaring ADF to be a “hate group,” following the SPLC’s deceptive labeling. On Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced an official partnership with the SPLC, pledging to give them over $1 million — to match employee donations, and to set up a way to sent money to the SPLC through iTunes.
Now CNN has jumped on board. This is particularly troubling, as tech companies have forced the hateful website Daily Stormer off the Internet. If charity navigation websites, tech companies, and the mainstream media adopt the SPLC standards, Daily Stormer will be just the beginning. How long before every viewpoint that disagrees with the far Left is stigmatized as “hate” and similarly silenced?
Americans are right to stand up against white supremacy, and to condemn groups like the KKK. But they need not look to the deception of the SPLC to fight hate. Indeed, the SPLC actually increases hate by peddling “hate group” labels to the Left’s favorite targets. There should be a national outcry against GuideStar, ABC, NBC, Apple, and CNN.
If CNN wanted to prove that they are not “fake news,” adopting the SPLC “hate list” is the last thing it should have done.