News & Politics

Trump Campaign Slams SPLC's 'Division and Fearmongering' Amid Coronavirus Crisis

President Donald Trump talks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, Friday, Aug. 9, 2019, in Washington, as he prepares to leave Washington for his annual August holiday at his New Jersey golf club. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Last month, the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) released its annual list accusing conservative and Christian groups of being “hate groups” on par with the Ku Klux Klan. In that list, the SPLC attacked President Donald Trump no fewer than 66 times. The leftist group later went on to accuse the president of inciting anti-Asian harassment by countering Chinese Communist propaganda and referring to the coronavirus as Chinese. Both the White House and the Trump campaign have responded to the smear group’s attacks.

As I recount in my book Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the SPLC has weaponized its history as a civil rights group that bankrupted the Ku Klux Klan in order to smear its political opponents and scare donors into writing big checks. Its list of “hate groups” is inflated and politically biased, but it bills that list as the gold standard on hate, encouraging Big Tech, corporate America, and the media to demonize and cut off from polite society whichever organizations end up in its crosshairs.

President Trump has worked with organizations the SPLC unjustly smears as “anti-immigrant hate groups,” “anti-Muslim hate groups,” and “anti-LGBT hate groups.” Both the White House and the Trump campaign powerfully countered this narrative.

“President Trump’s leadership has lifted countless people from minority communities out of poverty, elevated LGBT Americans to the highest ranks of his Administration, and championed religious freedom for all faiths across the nation,” Ken Farnaso, deputy press secretary for the Trump campaign, told PJ Media. “The SPLC’s division and fearmongering are counterproductive as the American people are uniting behind the President to defeat the coronavirus and continue to keep America great.”

Similarly, White House spokesman Judd Deere, who as an openly gay man is one of the LGBT people Trump has elevated, slammed the SPLC as a “far-left smear organization” and condemned its attacks as “disgusting.”

In a statement to NBC News, Deere explained that Trump has “fought for inclusion and repeatedly condemned hate and violence.”

“While the radical left has pushed false accusations that LGBTQ Americans are threatened, the president has hired and promoted LGBTQ Americans to the highest levels of government, including positions at the White House, Cabinet agencies and ambassadorships,” Deere added. “He launched a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality. … And the president has made the bold declaration that we are committed to ending HIV transmissions in the United States within 10 years.”

Yet the SPLC considers such actions irrelevant so long as Trump works with conservative Christian groups like the Family Research Council (FRC) and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) or national security groups such as ACT for America or the Center for Security Policy. Any association with these falsely accused “hate groups” is grounds for condemnation in the eyes of this leftist attack dog.

Never mind that liberal activists like former ACLU President Nadine Strossen and Military Religious Freedom Foundation Founder Mikey Weinstein have rebuked the “hate group” label against ADF as false and deceptive. Never mind that an increasing chorus of voices from both the right and the left has exposed the SPLC’s hate labeling as a scam. Never mind that the “hate group” accusation actually inspired a man to attempt to carry out a terrorist attack at FRC’s Washington, D.C. headquarters.

As President Trump faces the coronavirus crisis, marshaling America’s medical experts and partnering with the private sector to battle the twin threats of disease and recession, the SPLC is throwing cheap shots, using fearmongering as a political weapon and a fundraising tool. When Americans are already on edge, the SPLC terrifies them with deceptive reports about “hate groups” that demonize the president in the midst of a crisis.

President Trump has too much on his hands to respond personally to these ridiculous attacks, but his White House and campaign rightly exposed the fearmongering as false. Americans already have more than enough to worry about.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.