On Thursday, the leftist attack dog Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) launched the first direct salvo against PragerU, the conservative nonprofit behind hundreds of short videos explaining conservative ideas. The SPLC is most notorious for its list of “hate groups,” especially after a terrorist targeted the Family Research Center (FRC) using that very list. Internet companies like Google have taken to using the SPLC list to censor “hate groups,” and PragerU is suing Google over YouTube censorship.
“They claim to be a hate watch group, but they’re actually a hate group,” PragerU CEO Marissa Streit told PJ Media in an interview on Thursday. “They cannot tolerate opposing ideas. All that matters to them is that we come up with information and ideas they don’t agree with and therefore we’re bad.”
Citing the terrorist attack on FRC, Streit confided to PJ Media that PragerU is “nervous” about responding to the SPLC’s attacks. “We know that we have reasons to be scared, because we have seen what happened to our friends at FRC,” she said. “What do we need to do to feel safe in America to voice our opinions which may be contrary to what the SPLC is allowing us to say?”
“We would be fools or blind to not be nervous about being on the SPLC’s hate list,” Streit confided. Even so, the conservative nonprofit is determined to stand for American values, no matter the opposition.
“America is about sharing ideas, it’s about allowing people to voice their ideas even if you don’t agree with them. If we don’t fight for this very basic American right, then we lose America as we know it,” the CEO declared.
“Are we nervous, do we think it’s dangerous to confront the SPLC for what they’re doing? Absolutely. But we also feel like we have no other choice,” Streit declared. “It’s the same reason we’re suing Google. Somebody has to do it, or we’ll lose everything.”
Last October, PragerU sued Google and YouTube for “intentionally” censoring conservative speakers on the massive video platform. YouTube restricted access to more than 40 of PragerU’s videos, while leaving similar videos — and videos more offensive than PragerU’s videos — unrestricted. In March, a federal judge struck down the suit, but the conservative nonprofit appealed the case to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“It’s not a surprise to us that this is a process,” Streit told PJ Media. “There’s no precedent for this kind of legal decision. The Internet, social media censorship is new. We’re paving the way to get judges to think about the Internet and censorship differently.”
The SPLC’s “hate group” list has been used by many Internet sites to blacklist organizations marked for destruction by the left-wing group. Vanco Payments, GuideStar, Amazon, and Google have used the list to drop service from mainstream conservative organizations marked as “hate groups” by the SPLC because they support marriage as between one man and one woman. Last year, 47 nonprofit leaders denounced the SPLC’s “hate list” in an open letter to the media.
Confirming the SPLC’s deep connections with Silicon Valley, the Daily Caller’s Peter Hasson reported this week that Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Twitter all consult with the SPLC in policing their platforms for “hate speech” or “hate groups.”
Organizations marked as “hateful” by the SPLC not only face being blocked or suppressed on the Internet; they also face the specter of a terrorist attack, when a shooter used the SPLC’s “hate map” to target the FRC, aiming to kill every person in the building.
The SPLC attacked PragerU on its “hatewatch” blog Thursday. Although the article did not designate PragerU as a “hate group,” it did report on the conservative organization’s influence as if it were a threat to American society. “PragerU’s Influence” tried to connect this conservative nonprofit to the alt-right, but could not establish a solid connection.
Ironically, the article referenced a video denouncing the alt-right as closer to the Left’s identity politics than to conservative principles.
“We’re so careful about what we put out there, we’re so non-sensationalist and fact-based that they are scrambling to find bad things to say about us,” PragerU’s CEO Streit explained. “They actually give us compliments even though they’re trying to write a hit piece about us.”
“What are we claiming that we’re doing is so bad?” Streit asked. “Writing arguments that are so clear that people watch additional videos.”
Indeed, the SPLC resorted to claiming that PragerU videos “function as dog whistles to the extreme right,” and attacked the organization’s content as “‘very blatantly algorithmically connected’ to the extreme right content found on YouTube.” As any YouTube user knows, the algorithms often connect videos to a plethora of content, attempting to get users to move from one video to another and never leaving the platform.
These attacks demonstrated that the SPLC “couldn’t really come up with any evidence about how dangerous we are, but concluded that we’re dangerous. The truth doesn’t matter to them,” Streit explained.
PragerU will continue to fight back, both against Google and against the SPLC. Streit told PJ Media that for-profit companies focus on “return on investment” or ROI. “For PragerU, our ROI is to keep America from going down this road of possibly no return.”