The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a far-left outfit that labels mainstream conservative organizations “hate groups” and whose “hate map” inspired a terrorist attack in 2012, has released a map of every Confederate monument in America. But the map does not just include statues: it also lists towns, cities, counties, and even middle schools that bear the names of Confederate generals.
“More than 1,500 Confederate monuments stand in communities like Charlottesville with the potential to unleash more turmoil and bloodshed,” the SPLC posted with the map (emphasis added). “It’s time to take them down” (emphasis original).
The post urges visitors to send a letter to the editor of their local newspaper. “White supremacists incited deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last week in defense of a Confederate monument. We must show the country that [your city’s or county’s name] gives no safe harbor to such hatred. We must remove the monument at [location],” the sample letter read.
“If our government continues to pay homage to the Confederacy, people of color can never be sure they will be treated fairly,” the letter continued. “And we will never solve our community’s problems if an entire group of citizens is alienated or feels targeted for discrimination.”
As is often the case when the SPLC takes up a cause, this issue is far from clear cut. An NPR/PBS News/Marist poll found that 62 percent of Americans supported leaving “statues honoring leaders of the Confederacy” standing. At the same time, 86 percent of those in the poll said they disagreed with white supremacy and 73 percent said they disagreed with white nationalists.
Even African Americans favored keeping the statues (44 percent to 40 percent). Indeed, a group in Dallas organized to protect Confederate statues — and the members are mostly African-American.
“I’m not intimidated by Robert E. Lee’s statue. I’m not intimidated by it. It doesn’t scare me,” former city council member Sandra Crenshaw, a black woman, told CBS Dallas-Fort Worth. “We don’t want America to think that all African Americans are supportive of” removing the statues. She denounced as “misguided” the idea that “by taking a statue down, that’s going to erase racism.”
But the SPLC not only encourages this “misguided” idea, it warns of “more turmoil and bloodshed” unless the statues are removed.
The group does not only list statues, either. Its Confederate map includes counties named after Confederate generals like Lee County, Fla., in the Fort Myers area. It also includes parks like Confederate Park in Demopolis, Ala. It lists cities like the city of Fort Bragg in California.
Most dangerous of all, the map lists dozens of schools, including: Jeff Davis Middle School in Hazlehurst, Ga.; Lee Elementary School in Tulsa, Okla.; Robert E. Lee Elementary School in Columbia, Mo.; J.E.B. Stuart Elementary School in Richmond, Va.; Robert E. Lee Elementary School in Petersburg, Va.; and Stonewall Jackson Elementary School in Bristol, Ga.
This listing of schools is utterly vile behavior, given the SPLC’s track record of inspiring politically motivated violence.
The SPLC’s “hate map,” a similar graphic to the Confederate map, inspired a terror attack in 2012. That summer, Floyd Lee Corkins III broke into the Family Research Council (FRC) in Washington, D.C., aiming to murder everyone in the building. In February 2013, Corkins pled guilty to committing an act of terrorism and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. During an FBI interrogation, the shooter said he targeted FRC because it was listed as an “anti-gay group” on the SPLC website.
He got the address from an SPLC “hate map.”
While the SPLC took no responsibility for their hate map inspiring the FRC shooting and refused to remove the FRC from that hate map, the group did claim that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s political action committee released maps putting Democrats in Congress in crosshairs, inspiring the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Az.).
But Jared Lee Loughner, the man who shot Giffords, developed his hatred for the congresswoman over many years, and there is no evidence he was even aware of the Palin maps. PolitiFact rated the SPLC’s claim “false.”
Nor was the 2012 attack the only terrorist event involving the SPLC. Earlier this summer, Bernie Sanders supporter James Hodgkinson shot people at a Republican Congressional Baseball Game practice, nearly killing Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) Hodgkinson “liked” the SPLC on Facebook.
Despite these events, the SPLC has received a great deal of support after Charlottesville. George Clooney and his wife Amal pledged $1 million to the group, as did the company J.P. Morgan. Apple CEO Tim Cook was even more generous, announcing his company would give $1 million to the SPLC, that it would match any donations from employees, and that it would set up a system in iTunes software to let consumers directly donate to the organization.
CNN broadcast the SPLC’s “hate map” on its website and Twitter account this month (with the FRC still marked on the map). In June, the charity navigation website GuideStar adopted the SPLC “hate group” list, marking each profile of the targeted organizations as a “hate group.” ABC and NBC parroted the SPLC’s “hate group” label against Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) last month.
The SPLC was founded to fight back against white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan, and it indeed tracks this kind of racist group, along with black nationalist groups. But the organization has also falsely branded mainstream conservative groups — and even Muslim reformers — as “hate groups” and “extremists.”
The “hate” list features Christian organizations like D. James Kennedy Ministries, 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. In addition to Nawaz, it also lists women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali as an “anti-Muslim extremist.”
The organization has also mistakenly added innocent towns to its “hate map.” This week, the SPLC removed the historic Iowa town of Amana Colonies, after listing the location as the home of Daily Stormer. Local leaders had condemned white supremacy, but the SPLC justified keeping the town on the list because a user known as “Concerned Troll” claimed to have hosted a book club at a restaurant in Amana Colonies.
Some of the SPLC’s justifications for listing Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz as an “anti-Muslim extremist” were similarly ludicrous. The group claimed that Nawaz visiting a strip-club on his bachelor party justified targeting him as a “hater.”
For an organization whose “hate” labeling has inspired a terrorist attack to go after elementary and middle schools because they are named after Confederate generals is unspeakably vile. These children are completely innocent, and do not deserve to be attacked because their school has a controversial name.
But the SPLC actually went further. The organization claims that “Confederate monuments” like elementary schools have the “potential to unleash more turmoil and bloodshed.”
The SPLC should immediately remove any school from its Confederate map, as it grudgingly removed Amana Colonies from the “hate map.” It should cease the horrid defamation of moderate Muslims like Maajid Nawaz and Christian organizations like D. James Kennedy Ministries and the Family Research Council.
Until the SPLC does this, Americans should complain about CNN, Apple, J.P. Morgan, and George Clooney giving such hatred a platform.
By all means, write a letter to the editor. But don’t complain about Confederate monuments — or elementary schools! — complain about the SPLC. No organization should be able to target children and get away with the claim that it is “fighting hate.”