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47 Nonprofit Leaders Denounce the Southern Poverty Law Center's 'Hate List' in Open Letter to the Media

A map of organizations across the United States which the Southern Poverty Law Center considers "hate groups."

On Wednesday, 47 leaders of conservative nonprofits sent an open letter to the media warning against using the notorious "hate map" put out by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The leaders denounced any news organization that would cite the SPLC's list of "extremists" and "hate groups" as if it carried moral authority. "The SPLC is an attack dog of the political left" and should be treated as such, the leaders wrote.

"To associate public interest law firms and think tanks with neo-Nazis and the KKK is unconscionable, and represents the height of irresponsible journalism," the leaders declared. "All reputable news organizations should immediately stop using the SPLC's descriptions of individuals and organizations based on its obvious political prejudices."

The letter addressed "Members of the Media" and strongly warned against the SPLC. The leaders characterized the organization as "a discredited, left-wing, political activist organization that seeks to silence its political opponents with a 'hate group' label of its own invention and application that is not only false and defamatory, but that also endangers the lives of those targeted with it."

Leaders from across the nonprofit spectrum signed the letter, including: L. Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center; Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC); Frank Gaffney, president and CEO of the Center for Security Policy; Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel; Frank Wright, president and CEO of D. James Kennedy Ministries; Brigitte Gabriel, founder and chairman of ACT for America; J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation; Jennifer Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute; and Edwin Meese III, a distinguished fellow emeritus from the Heritage Foundation.

The leaders pinned the letter to the fifth anniversary of a terrorist attack inspired by the SPLC's hate list. "On August 15, 2012, Floyd Lee Corkins II entered the Family Research Council offices in Washington, D.C. and shot and badly wounded its building manager, Leo Johnson, who stopped his intended killing spree," the letter explained. "According to his own statements to the FBI, Corkins intended to kill everyone in the building, and then go on to terrorize additional organizations."

As the letter noted, Corkins pled guilty to committing an act of terrorism and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. During an FBI interrogation, he said he targeted the FRC because of the SPLC "hate map."

"We believe the media outlets that have cited the SPLC in recent days have not intended to target mainstream political groups for violent attack, but by recklessly linking the Charlottesville melee to the mainstream groups named on the SPLC website — those that advocate in the courts, the halls of Congress, and the press for protection of conventional, Judeo-Christian values — we are left to wonder if another Floyd Lee Corkins will soon be incited to violence by this incendiary information," the leaders wrote.