On Thursday, President Donald Trump hosted a summit to discuss bias against conservatives on social media. Liberal groups and outlets attacked the gathering, but none was worse than the profiteering “hate” monitor, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The SPLC’s Intelligence Project Director Heidi Beirich blasted the summit as a “hate summit,” echoing the SPLC’s relentless attacks on conservative organizations as “hate groups” and attacks on the Trump administration for supposedly fostering “hate.”
“By hosting guests that include conspiracy theorists and extremists, President Trump continues to support and normalize hate speech targeting immigrants, Muslims, Jews, the LGBTQ+ community, and others,” Beirich wrote in an official SPLC statement on the summit. “Referring to such individuals and the groups they represent — many of whom have had their content removed, restricted or banned from social media platforms — as ‘digital leaders’ only legitimizes the hateful rhetoric they spread online.”
“For years we’ve watched social media serve as a gateway to radicalization and, far too often, real-life violence. Bringing these groups together is beyond irresponsible; it is essentially conducting a hate summit at the White House,” she concluded.
Echoing the SPLC, Jessica González, the founder of the Change the Terms coalition (which includes the SPLC), also condemned the summit for “hate.”
“I see this summit as a propaganda tool to pressure social media companies to allow hate, racism, xenophobia and religious bigotry, homophobia, to run wild,” González told The Hill.
While the SPLC has been increasingly discredited — from a recent racism and sexual harassment scandal to revelations that the “hate group” accusation is a cynical fundraising scheme — POLITICO cited this “hate summit” accusation without criticism.
The SPLC did not respond to PJ Media’s requests for comment to name the “hate groups” or “haters” at the summit. It would not defend the accusation.
Many outlets have reported a list of individuals invited to the summit, most of whom are conservative media figures like Ali Alexander, Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe, and Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk. Outlets have focused on the fact that Bill Mitchell, a conservative internet personality, has endorsed the QAnon conspiracy theory in the past. Yet even if Mitchell has not altered his position, his presence barely makes the event a conspiracy confab or a “hate summit.”
Attendees responded, claiming the SPLC’s attack is baseless. They suggested the SPLC’s “hate summit” claim involves reading the hearts of attendees.
“I’m biased against hate groups and in particular the most influential hate group in
America, SPLC,” lawyer and journalist Ron Coleman told PJ Media. “For that reason, I’m inclined to think that whatever they say is a lie. I do know this: unlike what SPLC claims it could do, I couldn’t look into the hearts of the attendees.”
“Besides my friend Ali, people of every race and faith were in the room,” Coleman added. “I am one of at least two orthodox Jews who were there, and I sat next to several Israelis and other poor candidates for Nazi Party membership. I’d say Harmeet Dillon, who spoke, fits into that category as well — as do Diamond and Silk, of course, and many others.”
“Did someone in the room harbor insufficiently tolerant thoughts? Probably. Just like every room with 200 people in it, regardless of their politics,” he admitted.
“There were over 250 people in the room for the summit,” Rob Bluey, vice president of communications at the Heritage Foundation and another attendee, told Fox News on Thursday evening. “The media is picking out a handful of people who they might disagree with, but the fact of the matter is there are mainstream groups in that room today and I think that the conversation was productive because we talked broadly about all of the concerns.”
“There were half a dozen members of Congress. I mean, would you apply that characterization to them as well?” he asked.
Given the SPLC’s history, the “hate summit” claim should be regarded with extreme skepticism. The far-left organization also has a history of desperate attacks on Trump. The SPLC attempted to tie Trump to the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter, despite the fact the shooter hated Trump. A lawsuit launched last year accused the SPLC of violating its 501c3 tax-exempt status by consistently engaging in attacks against only Republicans in the 2016 election. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) urged the IRS to open an investigation.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.