On Tuesday, leftist activists targeted Mastercard’s shareholder meeting, demanding the Board of Directors adopt a “human rights committee” dedicated to blacklisting organizations unfairly accused of being “hate groups” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Activists with the group SumOfUs pestered the board with spurious questions about “doing business with criminals” in pursuit of its “blood money” campaign.
Nandini Jammi, a representative of the leftist group SumOfUs, demanded the shareholders and board members support proposal five, “which asks the board of directors to create a human rights committee at the board level. At least 2,300 people have written to their pensions and mutual funds in support of this proposal, and 127,000 people have signed a petition calling on Mastercard to stop processing payments for far-right hate groups.”
“I’m here to inform you that you have lost control of your financial network. Thanks to your financial partners, you are open for business with criminals,” Jammi declared.
“Charlottesville. Pittsburgh. New Zealand. There have been deadly consequences more than once. The white nationalist movement has gone global and it’s time for you to investigate who has been let into Mastercard’s network,” the leftist argued.
While Jammi did mention one legitimate concern — Mastercard allegedly processing accounts for a Neo-Nazi group in Germany, where Neo-Nazi organizations are illegal — her activism clearly aims at getting all the so-called conservative “hate groups” cut off from bank transactions.
The activist also parked a van outside the Mastercard shareholders’ meeting, plastered with the message, “Putting hate groups out of business? Priceless.” SumOfUs tweeted the image with the hashtag “NoMoreBloodmoney,” a reference to their “blood money” campaign.
— SumOfUs (@SumOfUs) June 25, 2019
That campaign pressures U.S. financial companies to blacklist various “hate groups,” heavily relying on the discredited accusations of the SPLC. The SPLC targeted the Ku Klux Klan and featured its battles with the KKK in fundraising literature. Eventually, it expanded this fundraising ploy by monitoring “hate groups.” The ever-expanding “hate group” accusation “is a financial and repetitional death sentence, effectively equating organizations to the KKK,” Meghan Meier, a lawyer who defended a victim of the SPLC’s “hate” accusations, told PJ Media.
“No right-thinking person wants to be associated with the KKK, so the SPLC’s ‘hate group’ accusation is incredibly effective at shaming organizations and causing them to be shunned by donors, fundraising platforms, service providers, the media, and others. Shaming and shunning are hallmarks of what makes a statement ‘defamatory’ under the common law,” she said, suggesting the accusations make the SPLC vulnerable to defamation lawsuits.
Yet the “hate group” accusations also suffer from more serious revelations. This March, the SPLC was roiled with a racism and sexism scandal, and amid the scandal, former employees admitted that the “hate group” accusations were an elaborate fundraising scheme.
SumOfUs seem unconcerned with the highly questionable, defamatory source of the “hate group” accusations, however. The “blood money” campaign relies heavily on SPLC claims.
The campaign condemns Mastercard for doing business with a broad swath of organizations unjustly demonized by the SPLC. Those organizations include the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), ACT for America, the American College of Pediatricians, the American Family Association, Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, the Center for Family and Human Rights, the Center for Security Policy, Jihad Watch, Mass Resistance, the Proud Boys, and the Ruth Institute, among others.
The AFLC is currently suing Michigan government officials for adopting the SPLC’s baseless accusation. ACT for America has been unjustly harassed by the SPLC and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has demanded that charities stop funding conservative nonprofits. Eventbrite blacklisted ACT for America in March. The Proud Boys has been banned from Facebook and Twitter, and its president, Enrique Tarrio, had his accounts suspended by Chase Bank. The Ruth Institute — which the SPLC demonized as a “hate group” for its direct quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church — lost its credit card processor, Vanco Payments.
Mastercard, in particular, seems to have been responsible for Patreon booting Jihad Watch and its founder Robert Spencer (not to be confused with the white nationalist Richard Spencer) off its platform. Jihad Watch monitors radical Islam and radical Islamic terror. These actions are far from illegal or “hateful.”
Similarly, ACT for America and the Center for Security Policy promote America’s national security. Many conservative Christian organizations on the SPLC’s “anti-LGBT hate group” list follow the Bible’s definition of marriage and reject gender identity.
The “hate group” accusations have inspired at least one terrorist attack against the Family Research Council. In some cases, even the conservative groups’ ideological opponents have rebutted the “hate group” accusations. In the case of Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian law firm that has won eight Supreme Court cases in recent years, a former ACLU president and the current president of the secularist group Military Religious Freedom Foundation have condemned the false accusation that ADF is a “hate group.”
SumOfUs is being disingenuous when they attempt to force companies like Mastercard to blacklist these organizations.
Mastercard rightly rejected the SumOfUs proposal for a human rights committee aimed at institutionalizing the attacks on “hate groups.”
Yet in a response to a follow-up question from Jammi, Mastercard Chairman Rick Haythornthwaite said he believed the work of the proposed committee is already being carried out “in the board room and in the nominations of corporate governance committee.”
The blacklisting of Robert Spencer and Jihad Watch suggests as much. Haythornthwaite added, however, that if there is no “illegal activity taking place … then we need to respect that transaction. If it is something that is sort of against the tide of society, it’s the society to rise up and change the law.”
“Thousands of SumOfUs members have spent months calling on Mastercard to up its game on human rights by taking far-right extremism seriously. Today’s news is a promising first step. We will hold the company to its commitment, and hope its leadership drives radical change across the industry,” SumOfUs Campaign Manager Eoin Dubsky said in a statement.
In other words, these leftists want to use the SPLC’s disingenuous and potentially defamatory accusations to shut down conservative organizations by cutting them off from banks and credit card processors.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.