The SPLC Claims the U.S. Is Three Times More Hateful Than It Actually Is
On Wednesday, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) released its "hate map" for 2018, plotting all the "hate groups" across America. The far-left smear group not only marks mainstream conservative and Christian organizations "hate groups" along with the Ku Klux Klan, but it also inflates the numbers by counting every chapter of any organization as its own separate "hate group."
This reporter analyzed the SPLC report and found that the SPLC is inflating the numbers more than three times over. While the smear group counts 1,020 "hate groups," by their own reckoning there are only 354 "hate groups," and at least 19 of those are not actual hate groups. This means the real number of hate groups is only 335, although it is likely to be even lower than that.
When Americans hear the label "hate group," they associate it with an organization, not a chapter of an organization. Listing chapters enables the SPLC to map them, but it is still extremely misleading to say there are 1,020 "hate groups."
The SPLC defines a "hate group" as "an organization that — based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities — has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics." Because the organization operates from a liberal worldview, it considers immigration, Islam, and LGBT identities "immutable characteristics," while ignoring any organizations dedicated to demonizing conservatives or Christians.
To its credit, the organization is fairly reliable when it comes to race issues. The SPLC tracks many kinds of white nationalist and white supremacist groups, but also black nationalist groups.
It is important to note the errors in the SPLC's report because many mainstream media outlets uncritically cited the group's wildly inaccurate numbers. The far-left group aims to smear the United States of America as increasingly hateful and dangerous. A more accurate count dispels this disgusting smear. Many Americans do indeed harbor animus against their neighbors, but not nearly as many as this group would suggest.
For purposes of this analysis, PJM took most of the SPLC's "hate group" designations at face value, removing those we do not consider to be hate groups. This is subjective and limited, and we did not reach out to every organization classified as a "hate group" to get their response. All the same, the 19 groups we identified as not being "hate groups" were large and influential.
The SPLC lumps "hate groups" by category, so we counted up each actual organization in each category to calculate the true number. Here's how it broke down.
1. Ku Klux Klan
While the SPLC reports that there are 51 different KKK "hate groups," there are only 27 actual organizations.
The far-left group counts 112 "hate groups" that follow modern versions of Adolf Hitler's National Socialism, but there are only 27 separate organizations.
3. White Nationalist
The SPLC counts 148 white nationalist "hate groups." There are only 39 separate organizations on their list, however. For an example of how they inflate the numbers, the group Identity Evropa has 38 chapters. Rather than listing Identity Evropa as one "hate group," the SPLC lists it as 38 separate "hate groups."
4. Racist Skinhead
The far-left group tallies 63 "hate groups" in this category, while there are only 25 separate organizations.
The smear organization lists 36 neo-Confederate "hate groups," but there are only five separate organizations pushing a return to the Confederacy. It is tragic that any exist at all, but America is not so pro-Confederate as the hatemongers suggest.
6. Christian Identity
The SPLC routinely brands conservative Christian organizations that hold to the Bible's sexual morality — that God created humans male and female and that sex should be reserved for marriage between one man and one woman for life — "hate groups," but the "Christian Identity" category is rather specific. The true anti-Christian bias comes with the "Anti-LGBT" label.
"Christian Identity is a unique antisemitic and racist theology that rose to a position of commanding influence on the racist right in the 1980s," the SPLC reports. "'Christian' in name only, it asserts that whites, not Jews, are the true Israelites favored by God in the Bible. The movement’s relationship with evangelicals and fundamentalists has generally been hostile due to the latter’s belief that the return of Jews to Israel is essential to the fulfillment of end-time prophecy."
7. Black Nationalist
There are a surprising number of black nationalists in America, and the SPLC deserves credit for listing them along with the white nationalists. However, there are not 264 black nationalist "hate groups," as the group reports. Rather, there are 34.
The inflation is clear from the way the SPLC tallies the Nation of Islam, led by notorious anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan. According to the "hate map," there are 76 "hate groups" under the Nation of Islam.
Before the boys from Covington Catholic High School were demonized for smirking at a native American man, they had been jeered by Black Hebrew Israelites with the group Israel United in Christ. That organization has 43 chapters, which the SPLC deceptively lists as 43 separate "hate groups."
Again, immigration status is not an immutable characteristic, and most groups labeled "anti-immigrant" support legal immigration. In this one case, the SPLC is not inflating numbers. There are only 17 "anti-immigrant" groups.
However, many of the organizations listed as "anti-immigrant" are known not to be "hate groups." These include the Center for Immigration Studies, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, and Americans for Legal Immigration (ALIPAC). It is likely many of the other "hate groups" listed in this category are not actually hate groups.
The SPLC brands mainstream conservative Christian groups "anti-LGBT hate groups" due to their defense of traditional Christian sexuality. The organization cherry-picks old quotes and twists court cases to make it seem as though these organizations are attacking LGBT people while in reality most of them preach the gospel and defend the rights of conscience.
The smear group lists 49 "anti-LGBT hate groups," and the inflation of chapter groups is low, so there are 43 organizations named. The Alliance Defending Freedom, the American College of Pediatricians, the American Family Association, the Center for Family and Human Rights, D. James Kennedy Ministries, the Family Research Council, Liberty Counsel, Mass Resistance, and the Ruth Institute are not "hate groups." In fact, when the SPLC marked the Ruth Institute a "hate group," it quoted the catechism of the Catholic Church as evidence of the Ruth Institute's "hate."
The Family Research Council experienced a terrorist attack in 2012, motivated by the "hate map." Alliance Defending Freedom, a nationally-recognized law firm that has won nine Supreme Court cases in the past seven years, has been compared to Cambodian dictator Pol Pot and featured in liberal senators' witch hunts against Trump nominees.
All that said, a few of the organizations on the "anti-LGBT" list do belong. The Westborough Baptist Church, for example, claims to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, but it engages in disgusting protests using signs reading "God hates f*gs." This "church" needs to read and apply 1 Peter 3:15-17.
The smear group claims that there are 100 "anti-Muslim" hate groups, but it only lists 44 organizations. For example, ACT for America has 47 chapters, and each chapter is listed as a separate "hate group."
As with the "anti-LGBT" label, the SPLC uses the "anti-Muslim" label in a partisan fashion. Many of the groups on the list have proudly worked with Muslim reformers like M. Zuhdi Jasser and Maajid Nawaz. The SPLC attacked Nawaz as an "anti-Islamic extremist," and had to pay a settlement of $3.375 million for defaming him last year. That settlement encouraged about 60 organizations to consider their own lawsuits.
ACT for America, the Center for Security Policy, Citizens for the St. Croix Valley, the Clarion Project, the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and JihadWatch are not hate groups. ACT for America was blacklisted by Hyatt Hotels thanks to the SPLC "hate group" list.
11. General Hate
The far-left smear group's last category includes a wide range of organizations, from "hate music," to traditional Catholic groups, and more. While the group tallies 163 "hate groups" in this category, it only names 76 organizations. For example, the Proud Boys has 44 chapters, and was counted as 44 different "hate groups."
Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes is suing the SPLC for defamation and employment discrimination, arguing that the Proud Boys is not a hate group. Various social media companies have banned him from their platforms. While the Proud Boys may use some very questionable tactics, it is not a hate group.
The far-left smear group is currently facing numerous lawsuits over its "hate group" labels and its reporting on "hate." D. James Kennedy Ministries is suing them and Amazon for defamation. Liberty Counsel is suing GuideStar for using the SPLC labels. Baltimore lawyer Glen Keith Allen is suing them for RICO mail fraud and defamation. The Center for Immigration Studies is also suing them for RICO wire fraud.
Recently, the SPLC hired a high-powered attorney to defend itself against Glen Keith Allen. All the same, it seems determined to continue its false smears and inflated tallies.
While animus exists and some groups foster it, Americans need to realize that their country is not nearly as hateful as the SPLC claims.
Follow Tyler O'Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.