Scalise Shooter 'Liked' the Terror-Linked SPLC, Which Repeatedly Attacked Scalise
James T. Hodgkinson, the Bernie Sanders supporter who targeted Republicans at a congressional baseball game practice and gravely wounded Congressman Steve Scalise (R-La.), gave moral support to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the group whose "hate map" inspired a terrorist attack in 2012. The SPLC had repeatedly attacked Scalise, along with former presidential candidate Ben Carson and women's right activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
"Over the decades, the SPLC has refined a method of defaming its political opponents that is extremely effective when combined with the massive war chest it can rely upon," explained Lt. Gen. (Ret.) William Boykin, executive vice president at the Family Research Council (FRC), in a letter to senators on Tuesday.
"The SPLC targets people by using the 'hate' or 'extremist' label against them seeking to destroy them," Boykin explained. "Few people or organizations have the resources to fight back, so the SPLC typically has a clear target."
Boykin's letter, which referenced the connection to Hodgkinson, protested the presence of SPLC President Richard Cohen at a hearing on free speech Tuesday.
"The SPLC bullies and dehumanizes many ordinary Americans by calling them names and portraying them grotesquely in terrible photographs and sketches," Boykin wrote. "It seeks their silence and submission and not an honest, open debate with opponents."
Laird Wilcox, one of the foremost experts on American political extremism, said the SPLC has "specialized a highly developed and ritualized form of defamation ... a way of harming and isolating people by denying their humanity and trying to convert them into something that deserves to be hated and eliminated."
In 2012, that "hate" labeling inspired a terrorist attack in the nation's capital. Floyd Lee Corkins III broke into the FRC armed with a semi-automatic pistol and Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwiches. Had unarmed security guard Leo Johnson not wrestled him to the floor, Corkins said he would have killed everyone in the building.
In February 2013, Corkins pled guilty to committing an act of terrorism and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. During an FBI interrogation, the shooter said he targeted FRC because it was listed as an "anti-gay group" on the SPLC website. (Horrifyingly, the "hate list" that inspired the attack was recently adopted by GuideStar.)
James Hodgkinson, the man who shot Steve Scalise, "liked" the SPLC on Facebook, The Washington Examiner reported. The SPLC had attacked Scalise numerous times over a 2002 speech the congressman gave to the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), a group founded by former Klu Klux Klan leader David Duke. Scalise once even described himself as "David Duke without the baggage."
While the speech is a black mark on Scalise's record, he apologized for it in 2014. In fact, Duke threatened to run against Scalise in 2016, attacking the congressman as a "sellout" who "meets with radical blacks."