For many years, the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled groups with values it doesn’t tolerate as “hate groups,” but now the organization is taking its attacks a step further, demanding Amazon and PayPal blacklist bloggers and websites that don’t fall in line with its leftist agenda.
Headlined “Financing Hate” in the group’s Intelligence Report publication, the Southern Poverty Law Center, or SPLC, listed 91 “hate groups” ranging from those clearly on the fringe to mainstream bloggers and websites such as Catholic Family News, Atlas Shrugs, Jihad Watch, WND and the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC.
Clearly stating its opposition, it describes how some of the organizations utilize Amazon, PayPal and other online services to sell products.
SPLC said the Intelligence Report contacted Amazon in September about the participation of “hate groups” and “hate sites” in Amazon programs that earn the groups commissions.
Amazon, according to the report, said it would assign “appropriate teams to investigate, review applicable policies, and take appropriate action.”
But SPLC lamented that some of its targets “were still earning commissions through Amazon.”
Several of the targeted organizations have criticized the “thuggish” behavior of SPLC, charging the organization is “somewhere to the left of Karl Marx.”
Renowned Islam expert Robert Spencer, whose Jihad Watch monitor on Islamic radicalism was targeted, said it shows “the desperate insecurity of the left: even at a time when they control the government, the media, and the entertainment industry, they have to strike out against the small, under-financed voices of truth that challenge their hegemony.”
“It also demonstrates their true totalitarian colors, in their absolute unwillingness to tolerate the smallest dissent. This is Goliath striking out against David. But we all know who wins,” Spencer said.
William Gheen, whose organization, Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, or ALIPAC, opposes illegal immigration and amnesty, said it was all too much.
In an open letter to SPLC posted online and to be “delivered to your offices by certified mail and then turned over to our attorney for further action,” Gheen said SPLC’s claims are “demonstrably false.”
“This letter is to inform you that we have Internet posts and emails containing threats and death threats against my life and the lives of my family members in reaction to your false claims that we are a hate group,” he said. “The threats we have received specifically cite SPLC claims that suggest we are somehow motivated by racism and advocating violence against minorities, both of which are demonstrably false.”
The issue of “hate,” “hate crimes” and “hate speech” has moved back into the headlines now because of a proposal in Congress to evaluate online speech for “hate” and then take action based on that assessment.
As WND reported, if two Democratic lawmakers have their way, Barack Obama’s Justice Department soon will submit a report for action against any Internet sites, broadcast, cable television or radio shows determined to be advocating or encouraging “violent acts.”
That’s from the text of a new bill from Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.
The Hate Crime Reporting Act of 2014 “would create an updated comprehensive report examining the role of the Internet and other telecommunications in encouraging hate crimes based on gender, race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation and create recommendations to address such crimes,” stated a news release from Markey’s office.
Gheen said SPLC is “fully aware” that ALIPAC is “racially inclusive … and that a substantial percentage of our supporters are minorities.”
“The SPLC is fully aware that ALIPAC has openly and eagerly worked with minority organizations and leaders,” he said. “The SPLC is fully aware that I have a background in registering and transporting minority and student voters and working to elect women and minorities to public office in the ’90s. The SPLC is fully aware that we never intentionally work with any racist or violent groups or individuals, and you are aware that we have publicly spoken out against racism and racist groups and individuals on numerous occasions.”
The letter, he wrote, is to “serve as your official notice of all of the factors I’ve listed here including your official notice that your designation of ALIPAC as a hate group, while no evidence exists that anyone in our organization has ever engaged in racism, hate, or violence against minorities, has crossed the line of civil discourse and is now directly encouraging people to threaten violence against me and my family.”
He charged that SPLC was “attempting to mislead our donations company, PayPal, by telling them that we are one of the 91 ‘hate groups’ using their services in the hopes they will stop allowing us to accept donations which pale in comparison to your multimillion dollar yearly budget.”
“Let this letter serve as notice to each of you at the Southern Poverty Law Center including Morris Dees, Mark Potok, and Heidi Beirich that I personally intend to hold you each legally responsible and personally responsible for any physical harm that befalls me, my organization, or my family due to your intentional lies and distortions.”
Gheen said the organization’s “false characterization of groups has led to violence such as the D.C. shooter Floyd Corkins, who tried to kill as many people as possible at the Family Research Council.”
“I believe it is time we put to the test in the courts your false claims and attempts to stir people and companies up against us by mischaracterizing a peaceful multiracial organization such as ALIPAC as similar to Neo-Nazis and the KKK,” he said.
Corkins, a homosexual activist, told investigators he had obtained his information about the Family Research Council from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which publicly had labeled FRC a “hate group” because of its biblical position on homosexuality.
SPLC lists the American Family Association, a traditional Christian ministry focusing on helping families, and the Family Research Council, in the same category as groups like the “Aryan Nations,” because of their biblically based opposition to homosexuality.
“White nationalist” and “racist skinhead” groups are posted in a warning list alongside the family organizations. It was the SPLC’s “Hate Map” that apparently was used by Corkins to identify Christians to kill in 2012.
Spencer told WND the listing of his group by SPLC was “bitterly ironic.”
“The SPLC has a multimillion-dollar budget, gathered by frightening leftists with smear propaganda about right-wing ‘hate groups,’” he said. “They have artificially inflated their list of such groups by including mainstream and reputable conservative groups and groups fighting for the defense of constitutional freedoms and human rights (like Jihad Watch), while largely turning a blind eye to genuine hate groups on the left, as well as Islamic jihad groups.”
Spencer noted that SPLC has “a huge endowment and massively inflated salaries – and now, in their authoritarian quest to stamp out all dissent, they’re targeting tiny organizations that rely on small ($25, $50) donations from PayPal and Amazon to finance their small blades-of-grass-through-the-concrete challenges to the stifling leftist political orthodoxy that currently dominates the public discourse, and of which the SPLC is a thuggish defender.”
Author Pamela Geller, who writes at Atlas Shrugs, told WND the SPLC is a “far left group that uses its hate group listings to demonize conservatives and anyone who dissents from its statist, authoritarian agenda.”
“Its hate group list is so tendentious and politically motivated that they were recently removed from a government website’s listing of resources on hate groups,” she said.
“The ill-gotten wealth of the SPLC amounts to tens of millions of dollars, while those whom they target, the supporters of freedom, are meagerly financed by average Americans who want freedom preserved in this country. The SPLC is highlighting Amazon and PayPal because they are the online means for Average Joes to send money to pro-freedom groups. These subversive destroyers mean to shut us down.”
Judson Phillips, whose Tea Party Nation also was listed, said SPLC is “the ultimate left-wing hate group. This is a group that is somewhere to the left of Karl Marx, and they hate real Americans.”
WND Editor and CEO Joseph Farah, who long as been personally targeted by SPLC, along with the news site he founded, said, “The Southern Poverty Law Center is hardly a credible watchdog on so-called ‘hate groups.’ In fact, it is a hate group. But, sadly, with its budget of hundreds of millions of dollars and its cozy relationship with government and the media elite, it has more power and influence than most Americans realize. Its hateful finger-pointing at companies and organizations has actually resulted in real acts of violence, as is the case of the Family Research Council shooting attack. I actually consider it a badge of honor to be targeted by the SPLC. But their attacks do come at a price, because they actually do place real targets on the backs of their enemies.”
WND previously reported on the wide range of groups the SPLC labels as “hate groups,” including the World Congress of Families.
SPLC even has attacked the Drudge Report and Breitbart Editor Ben Shapiro.
The looming “hate crimes” reporting plan has been supported by the National Hispanic Media Coalition, as well as the SPLC.
WND reported that the new one-page bill calls for the Justice Department and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to “analyze information on the use of telecommunications, including the Internet, broadcast television and radio, cable television, public access television, commercial mobile services, and other electronic media, to advocate and encourage violent acts and the commission of crimes of hate.”
The bill does not define which actions by broadcasters would be considered to have encouraged violence, seemingly leaving that open to interpretation.
Once the report is compiled, the bill calls for “any recommendations” for action “consistent with the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States” that is determined to be an “appropriate and necessary” way to address the purported encouragement of violent acts.
The Boston Herald took issue with the bill, calling it “frankly chilling” that Markey is seeking to “empower an obscure federal agency to begin scouring the Internet, TV and radio for speech it finds threatening.”
“Perhaps he could crack a briefing book on the crisis in Ukraine rather than looking for his own extra-constitutional methods of punishing speech he finds unacceptable,” added the Herald editorial.