What do you get when you add Marxist critical race theory to exaggerated “hate group” smears after the horrific attack on the U.S. Capitol? The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has an answer, and it amounts to blacklisting more than half of the Republicans in Congress — if not expelling them altogether. For good measure, the SPLC also calls for the permanent social media “deplatforming” of every “public figure” who questioned the 2020 election results.
The SPLC’s annual “Year in Hate and Extremism” report presented this cancel culture overdrive as the solution to “far-right and racist narratives.” While the SPLC has long branded mainstream conservative and Christian organizations “hate groups,” listing them alongside the Ku Klux Klan, and urging Big Tech to blacklist them, this latest cancel culture demand seems extreme, even for the SPLC.
The SPLC report accuses Trump and the 147 Republican congressmen and senators of inciting the rioters who breached the Capitol on January 6, 2021, even though Trump called for peace and Republicans have condemned the violence and demanded the rioters be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Neither Trump nor figures like Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) called for a violent attack on the Capitol. They did contest the results of the 2020 election, however.
The SPLC report opens with Trump’s words at the Ellipse on January 6. It quotes the then-president as urging his supporters to “fight like hell,” adding, “we’re going to the Capitol.” The SPLC claims that “with those words… Trump incited a mob that included the hate and antigovernment groups the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, and the Three Percenters to storm the U.S. Capitol in an insurrection to maintain white supremacy.”
The SPLC then claims Trump “refused to condemn the insurrection,” even though Trump did condemn the rioters on January 7, saying, “You will pay.” Trump later issued a statement unequivocally condemning “the incursion of the U.S. Capitol.” It is true that the president appeared to coddle the rioters on January 6, saying, “we love you” and “you are very special,” but his remarks on January 7 and January 13 put the lie to the SPLC’s false claim that Trump “refused to condemn” the attack.
The SPLC not only blamed Trump for “inciting” the Capitol riot, but it also implicated more than half of the Republican caucus in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate.
The leftist organization claimed that rooting out Republicans is a priority for “confronting far-right and racist narratives.” It claimed that the Biden administration should engage in the “work of exposing and dismantling the engines of entrenched, systemic white supremacy.”
The SPLC cited a poll it conducted in August 2020 as evidence of entrenched racism in America. The poll found that 65 percent of respondents said racism exists and is harmful, but lamented that 49 percent said people of color are more likely to be poor because of a lack of work ethic.
“Despite some high-profile support for Black Lives Matter protests this summer, the poll showed that 51 percent of Americans thought that the looting which occurred in several cities was a bigger problem than police violence against Black people.” The SPLC also lamented that only 38 percent of respondents in a poll attributed racial gaps in health outcomes to systemic racism. It lamented that only 38 percent of respondents said “systemic racism” played a role in racial health gaps.
The SPLC, which condemned Trump’s attacks on antifa during the riots last summer — riots that destroyed black lives, black livelihoods, and black monuments — also lamented the fact that Americans expressed worry about this violence. “Despite some high-profile support for Black Lives Matter protests this summer, the poll showed that 51 percent of Americans thought that the looting which occurred in several cities was a bigger problem than police violence against Black people,” the report claimed.
The SPLC claimed that “these racist narratives and beliefs have been reinvigorated thanks to one of the most enduring and pernicious legacies of the Trump era: the far right’s success constructing a false alternative reality, bolstered by a never-ending stream of baseless conspiracy theories and disinformation.” The report faulted Big Tech for failing to stop this “alternative reality” before January 6.
There is some truth to the claim that echo chambers have fostered conspiracy theories and that conspiracy theories have inspired violence. Some organizations the SPLC brands “hate groups” were indeed involved in the Capitol riot, although the degree to which those organizations — the Proud Boys, for example — supported the violence remains unclear. Militia groups have indeed plotted kidnappings of government officials like Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.).
Yet the SPLC has no credibility in condemning a “false alternative reality” when it itself routinely smears mainsteam conservative and Christian organizations as “hate groups.” The SPLC itself is pushing a propagandistic false alternative reality in which conservatives are a hateful terrorist threat.
In line with this vision, the SPLC’s recommendations for fighting racism support Trump’s impeachment, call for his disqualification from public office, and urge Congress to “discipline, censure, or expel” the 147 senators and representatives “who supported the insurrection.”
The report says “corporations should permanently suspend political donations to Members of Congress and other elected officials that helped incite the violent siege and request that any past political donations to their campaigns be returned.” It also recommends that “public figures involved in inciting and giving encouragement to the armed insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 … should be permanently deplatformed from all social media.”
It appears the SPLC is characterizing the Republicans’ decision to contest the 2020 election results as “supporting the insurrection,” even when those Republicans condemned the violence. Using this logic, the call for permanent social media deplatforming seems to apply to any public figure who contested the 2020 election results. The report makes no mention of the Democrats who claimed the 2016 election results were fraudulent.
The SPLC has long urged Big Tech to censor “hate groups,” but this call for widespread expulsion and deplatforming goes far beyond anything the SPLC has previously demanded. This cancel culture push would not just bar more than half of the 261 Republicans in the House and Senate from Congress, but it would silence a broad spectrum of public figures on social media, including Eric Metaxas, Samaritan’s Purse CEO Franklin Graham, Fox News host Tucker Carlson, and more, based on false pretenses regarding their words.
Furthermore, by the logic of this cancel culture push, Democrats should also get expelled from Congress for “inciting” the Black Lives Matter and antifa riots over the summer. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called for “uprisings” against the Trump administration and accused the Republicans of “trying to get away with the murder of George Floyd.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) claimed that allegedly marginalized groups have “no choice but to riot.” Then-Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said the riots “should not” stop.
According to this standard, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) might even be held accountable for the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) because a Sanders supporter targeted Republicans for political violence, even though Sanders rightly condemned the attack. In fact, the SPLC itself may be held accountable for “inciting” the deranged man who tried to murder everyone at the Family Research Council (FRC) in 2012 — even though the SPLC rightly condemned that attack — because the man used the SPLC’s “hate map” to identify and target FRC.
Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.