Last week, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) scored something of a legal victory when it got the state of Alabama to concede it wouldn’t adhere to the provision of HB 56 — the 2012 anti-illegal immigration law — that required state officials to publish a list of people known to be illegally in the country.
For the uninitiated, the SPLC filed a federal suit last year against the state on behalf of four illegal immigrants caught fishing without a license.
At the time, it appeared to be a curious decision for the SPLC to become involved with these legal proceedings, but it does seem to be part of the ever-expanding mission of the organization.
Long before taking on immigration policy and other hot-button issues of the day, the SPLC had a much humbler, simpler, more important mission: To take on the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups attempting to stand in the way of racial progress by committing acts of hate.
One of its most notable cases involved a federal jury trial in Mobile, which ended with a verdict awarding $7 million in damages against the United Klans of America (UKA) and six Klansmen for the 1981 murder of 19-year-old Michael Donald, who was beaten, strangled and hung on what was formerly Herndon Avenue in midtown (the street has since been renamed after the victim).
The UKA was unable to pay the settlement and was forced to sell off its assets, which allowed for Donald’s mother to receive in excess of $50,000 and purchase a new home.
The SPLC, with its office just a block and a half from the Alabama state capitol, was then able to pick off other Klan-affiliated white supremacist groups one by one, effectively ending the threat of the KKK on civil rights for minorities.
Over the last decade, however, the Klan has been less and less of threat, somewhat undermining the necessity of a group like the SPLC.
Thus, in order to maintain its presence as a nonprofit organization and justify its $250 million endowment and $40 million in annual fundraising, the group has expanded its role and is now taking on legal action in other sectors, including cases dealing with immigration policy and against so-called anti-government groups and pro-Christianity groups that oppose same-sex marriage.
That expansion of mission has corrupted the integrity of the SPLC.
Quarterly, the SPLC releases its so-called Intelligence Report, which identifies what it deems to be “hate groups.” The SPLC would us have believe that hate groups are on the rise, making its presence more important than ever.
Now, instead of white supremacist groups, the SPLC warns against the likes of Glenn Beck, the John Birch Society, the Family Research Council and Tea Party-affiliated and pro-gun groups, it claims are the new threat to a civil society.
That might come as a bit of a surprise to those who have encountered real racial strife during the last century. The Southern Poverty Law Center now champions the notion that opposing gay marriage and protests of ObamaCare are the modern-day lynchings and cross-burnings.
It’s that completely unreasonable proposition put forth by the SPLC senior fellow Mark Potok and his acolytes that has diminished the moral authority of a once-respected organization.
In 2014, the SPLC is little more than a cheap, less consequential rip-off of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Regardless if you agree or not with the ACLU’s politics, the group adheres to consistent principles. The SPLC, not so much, particularly if you take into account its tireless efforts to seek out either irrelevant groups or organizations that have agendas unpopular with the left to deem “hate groups.”
In 2010, the SPLC officially declared Family Research Council to be an “anti-gay hate group,” since it is a group that opposes same-sex marriage and has considerable political clout among evangelical Christians.
But compared to the neo-Nazis and the Klan, the FRC is an innocuous group. The SPLC would have people believe otherwise. One individual in particular took the SPLC’s message to heart.
In 2012, Floyd Corkins II, a Virginia man, went to the headquarters of the FRC in downtown Washington, D.C. carrying nearly 100 rounds of ammunition and yes, 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches (since Chick-fil-A also opposes gay marriage or something). He then fired three shots in the organization’s lobby, shooting and injuring a security guard.
Corkins was later interrogated by the FBI and his explanation for the shooting was: the SPLC’s classification of the FRC.
“Southern Poverty Law lists, uh, anti-gay groups,” Corkins said on video. “I found them online — did a little research, went to the website, stuff like that.”
The SPLC showed little remorse and took no responsibility for Corkins’ actions. Instead, the group chalked Corkins’ acts up to mental illness and railed against the FRC’s opposition to homosexuality.
It’s also worth noting the SPLC’s selective outrage over acts of hate. For example, take last month’s beheading of an Oklahoma woman in which the accused Alton Alexander Nolen performed in the name of Islam.
There was not a peep out of the SPLC for this hateful act. Yet, for five years while on HLN and Fox News, the SPLC monitored Glenn Beck’s every utterance, warning that the wrong person could be inspired by Beck’s rhetoric and commit a random act of violence.
The reality is that the SPLC is nothing more than a left-wing storefront that is in a constant need to justify and maintain its pricey existence, but only if that justification fits a particular political narrative.
Unfortunately, this version of the SPLC, which is a far cry from the same organization of the 1970s and ‘80s, operates within the borders of the state of Alabama in the location of Montgomery where so many events that were central to the Civil Rights movement took place as its backdrop.