Ron Radosh

The SPLC's Attack on Rush Limbaugh, David Horowitz, and Me

The column  I wrote last week, it turns out, has created somewhat of a storm. This is due to one thing only: Rush Limbaugh read it aloud on his radio program. (Start reading in the middle from where it says “BREAK TRANSCRIPT.”) That one decision by Rush led all of our mutual enemies to go viral, sending numerous Tweets and Facebook posts attacking Rush and me for supposedly arguing that the anti-Semitic neo-Nazi Glenn Miller acted because of Max Blumenthal.

Of course, as I wrote last week in an addendum, this was not the point I was making. I wrote the following, and repeat it once again:

 Joan Walsh of Salon has tweeted my column, saying that a two year old blog post by the killer does not show that Blumenthal inspired his actions. What it does show, I argue, is how Blumenthal and his ilk have the same perspective on Israel and the Jews as does this neo-Nazi. Yes, he did not need Max Blumenthal’s book to get him to engage in murder against Jews, only classic antisemitism. My point is simple: It is revealing how the work of this would-be leftist is endorsed by a Nazi sympathizer, who sees things in the same way as Blumenthal. As Dan Pipes asks, how will The Nation folks respond to this?

Now, an even more important attack has been made on Rush, David Horowitz and me, and it comes from that so-called civil-rights organization, the Southern Poverty Law Center. It appears in a report from what the SPLC calls its “Intelligence Project,” and is in their publication called HATEWATCH: Keeping an Eye on the Radical Right. Its headline proclaims: “Limbaugh, Right-Wing Pundits Try to Blame Max Blumenthal for Kansas Rampage.

If you are not aware of what the SPLC really is, you must first look at these two very important articles. The first hails from Ken Silverstein and appeared in Harper’s in the year 2000. The second article, unfortunately under a firewall where it was originally published,  is by the always insightful investigative journalist Charlotte Allen, and was the cover story in The Weekly Standard  in their April 15, 2013 issue. It is titled “King of the Fearmongers: Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center, scaring donors since 1971.” (You can, however, read it here.)

Both Silverstein’s and Allen’s articles present a devastating case that can simply be put this way: The SPLC is not a civil rights group, but rather a far left group that trades in fear and guilt and gains phenomenal backing from gullible liberals who think they are helping to fight hate and racism. But instead, they are helping Morris Dees to line his own pockets and spread a grossly exaggerated picture of a United States dominated by merchants of hate. Interestingly, the paragraph in Allen’s article I find most interesting is the one in which she quotes the views of the late leftist writer Alexander Cockburn. Allen writes:

This leads to yet another SPLC irony: Its severest critics aren’t on the conservative right (although the Federation for American Immigration Reform, another “hate group” on the SPLC’s list, has done its fair share of complaining), but on the progressive left. It may come as a surprise to learn that one of the most vituperative of all the critics was the recently deceased Alexander Cockburn, columnist for The Nation and the leftist webzine CounterPunch. In a 2009 article for CounterPunch titled “King of the Hate Business,” Cockburn castigated Dees and the SPLC for using the 2008 election of Barack Obama as America’s first black president as yet another wringer for squeezing out direct-mail donations from “trembling liberals” by painting an apocalyptic picture of “millions of [anti-Obama] extremists primed to march down Main Street draped in Klan robes, a copy of Mein Kampf tucked under one arm and a Bible under the other.” Cockburn continued: “Ever since 1971 U.S. Postal Service mailbags have bulged with Dees’ fundraising letters, scaring dollars out of the pockets of trembling liberals aghast at his lurid depictions of hate-sodden America, in dire need of legal confrontation by the SPLC.”

Most interesting is Allen’s argument that Intelligence Report, the blog that attacks us, “features alarmed articles, often written by Mark Potok, who now serves as the SPLC’s press spokesman and also as the editor of Intelligence Report and the organization’s Hatewatch blog.” All, she notes, bear “scary sounding titles.” The new attack fits the mold and reveals the SPLC’s true nature.

Rather than condemn the extremist Max Blumenthal — a hater of Israel and one of the most vile and self-proclaimed journalists one can think of — and exposing his warped methodology and one-sided pronouncements, as even his Nation colleague Eric Alterman has done numerous times, Hatewatch chooses as its would-be evil hatemongers those who have appropriately noted the ways in which the racist and neo-Nazi Miller shares the world-view of Max Blumenthal.

So extreme is Blumenthal that last week the Democratic pro-Israel activist and lawyer Alan M. Dershowitz told that “Max Blumenthal is well outside the acceptable range of rhetoric about Israel. His constant comparisons between Nazi Germany and the Jewish state establish him as an extremist bigot whose greatest appeal is to antisemites and others who apply a double standard to the Jewish state.”  (Dershowitz was writing to warn Hillary Clinton that if she runs for president, she must dissociate herself from Max’s father Sidney Blumenthal, because he is vociferously defending his son’s book.)

Rush Limbaugh can speak for himself. If he got some details wrong, his overall point was correct. The dangerous words of someone born Jewish, like Blumenthal, were accurately cited by Frazier Glenn Cross,  AKA Glenn Miller, because Miller was saying in effect: Look, even a “Jew journalist” acknowledges that Israel was trying to buy “the presidential election for the neo-con, war-mongering Republican establishment.”

In other words, Miller sees Max Blumenthal as a courageous Jew who alone tells the truth. As Ben Cohen puts it in his valuable column in The Algemeiner:

It’s not an accident that today’s Nazis are attracted to left-wing, viscerally anti-Zionist writers like Blumenthal. Both share the view that the so-called “Israel Lobby” drove the U.S. into foreign wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both believe that politicians kowtow to Jewish interests because they fear the costs of not doing so. And both are convinced that the type of “Jewish supremacism” practiced in Israel makes a nonsense of American Jewish appeals for tolerance and understanding.

Cohen notes that Blumenthal has tweeted the entries of one David Benedetti, who, on his own website, went after a Jewish reader using Holocaust images, and saying “your grandmother also made a nice lampshade.” Now, he points out, Blumenthal is trying to argue that there is a similarity between Nazi ideology and Zionism — an old canard of pre-war and wartime anti-Zionist leftists. The same website on which Alterman writes, Mondoweiss, also has published an article by Annie Robbins, who wonders if Miller’s Kansas murders were an Israeli conspiracy.

The danger, as I have pointed out in earlier columns and Cohen too notes, is that left-wing anti-Zionism has become respectable, as the endorsement of Blumenthal by liberal journalists James Fallows and Peter Bergen has revealed. Months ago, I waged an unsuccessful effort to get the New American Foundation to cancel Blumenthal’s appearance. As Cohen writes, the group was “apparently unperturbed by his flock of Nazi admirers, or by the fact that he was the subject of a flattering profile on Press TV, the official mouthpiece of the Iranian regime.”

Now, hardly surprisingly, Mondoweiss has published a piece by Phil Weiss and Annie Robbins, who write in praise of the SPLC attack. Indeed, they say — possibly intimating plagiarism — that their article “somewhat echoes our excellent piece by Alex Kane and Phan Nguyen.” This well-known anti-Israel extremist site’s editor and co-author write that “The Southern Poverty Law Center has come to Max Blumenthal’s defense against the wretched smear campaign propagated by neoconservatives and Rush Limbaugh that seeks to connect him to the murders outside Kansas City Jewish organizations a week ago.” No wonder they are also upset that the left-wing Israeli daily Haaretz saw the truth and headlined their own story “Kansas Murderer Admires Prominent Israeli Critic,” referring to Blumenthal.

So, Blumenthal is responsible for the way others interpret his columns, and that includes the manner in which Frazier Glenn Miller uses his words for his own purposes. He wrote his columns to gain adherents for his own point of view; unfortunately for him, a reader who accepted his case was none other than an American KKK advocate and a Nazi. Miller’s interpretation of what Blumenthal believes in is accurate, and hence this proves to be more than embarrassing for Blumenthal.

Finally, let me respond to the attack in the Hatewatch column on David Horowitz, because it exemplifies the warped methodology used by the SPLC.  To the SPLC, Blumenthal himself is not a hate-monger, but simply is being attacked for “his criticism of Israel.” Really? Anyone reading Blumenthal’s hating screeds knows he goes way beyond criticism, as Nation columnist Eric Alterman has shown.

They describe David Horowitz as “a close associate of Radosh,” and someone whom, they suggest, I should “denounce for inspiring Miller’s murderous rampage.” The reason they argue this is because they quote a years old post by Miller who said that Horowitz’s book Hating Whitey and Other Progressive Causes, which Miller does not comprehend and which he distorts and also gets the title wrong,  “throws Whitey journalistic bones from time to time,” whatever that means.

Secondly, they say that has “apparently condoned Miller’s behavior in the past- notably, his role in the 1979 Greensboro Massacre, in which Klan members shot and killed five protest marchers. Miller was a leader of that massacre and did no prison time.”

Their claim is not only totally wrong, but Horowitz’s website never published anything condoning the Klan members who shot and killed a group of white Maoists who marched in Greensboro and did all they could to incite the Klan to attack them. The article they ran did not, as the SPLC claims, blame “the victims for the massacre because they were Communists, and ultimately praised the KKK and neo-Nazi perpetrators. ‘In this war they were the patriots fighting an anti-American threat that was global in scope.’” The quote they reproduce from the review is meant to prove their argument, and as I will show later, is taken entirely out of context.

Here is the link to the review they are talking about. What author Barbara Kay actually argues, and documents as well, is that the Maoist sect, the Communist Workers Party, wanted to stage a suicidal attack and make themselves Klan targets so that they would “evoke the sympathy of poor blacks and enlist them in their Communist cause.” She documents the earlier attempts of the CWP to provoke the KKK to attack them, and quotes one CWP leader as saying: “There [had] to be some bloodshed. We want as many comrades and friends alive as possible, but some will be killed.” Welcome to Maoism in the USA, 1979 style!

Indeed,  Kay’s nuanced review praises the author of the book, a former CWP member named Sally Avery Bermanzohn, as a person who “struggled back, to a life of normalcy and academic achievement,” which she writes is “a testimony to her determination and strength,” and writes that her own testimony “is more nuanced than” others in her book. She says after her husband was paralyzed in the shooting, Sally ran the household all on her own, and she praises her “intelligence and spirit.”

Her entire review is sympathetic to the motivations of the deluded CWP members. In particular, she explores why the black members of the Party responded to real iniquities of Southern racism, and how that led them to be susceptible to Maoist doctrine. Communists, she writes, “are extremely good at mythologizing their own past,” and at “forgetting the victims their ideology has created.” Rather than salute the real victims of racism at their memorials to the 1979 events, she writes that it is mainly “white radicals of the Communist Workers Party” they celebrate, a group that “manipulated blacks for their own political ends” and whom they can now claim were “civil rights heroes.”

Rather than praise the Klan as Hatewatch claims, Kay’s review says that the KKK members “were not more virtuous than the Communists who confronted them, and indeed not virtuous at all. But in Greensboro the Communists provided a symbol that persuaded them [the Klan] that a real war had been declared and that in this war they were the patriots fighting an anti-American threat that was global in scope.”

So, she was saying what the Klan believed about themselves — not as the SPLC Hatewatch author writes, that the quote means Horowitz and his reviewer believe that the Klan were patriots who were fighting a Communist threat. Anyone reading the review can see the meaning of what Kay wrote. The distortion is intentional. It says a great deal about how the SPLC makes an argument, and shows why anything they write cannot be taken seriously.

So, dear readers, I hope you have learned what the SPLC is really about. Their current campaign against all of us reveals their true agenda — not civil rights, but a willingness to use their clout to attack honest conservatives, who know that both the Ku Klux Klan and the likes of Glenn Miller are as much our enemy as the Communists and anti-Zionists of the far left, and like the man who gives journalism a bad name — Max Blumenthal.

The SPLC owes an apology to Horowitz, Rush Limbaugh, and to me as well.