The Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that has been linked in a federal courtroom to a domestic terror attack, now has added pro-life activists to its expanding list of targets, smearing the citizen journalists who are exposing Planned Parenthood’s sale of baby body parts as “extremists.”
In a post on its ominously titled blog “Hatewatch,” SPLC’s Mark Potok complained the group “behind the recent spate of undercover videos accusing Planned Parenthood of illegally selling ‘body parts from aborted fetuses’ is tightly linked to some of the country’s hardest-line anti-abortion extremists.”
Potok attacked the Center for Medical Progress, which produced the videos. But he also targeted Cheryl Sullenger and Troy Newman, leaders of the pro-life activist group Operation Rescue and the authors of “Abortion Free: Your Manual for Building a Pro-Life America One Community At a Time.”
Potok suggested Newman implicitly supports violence against abortion providers and highlights Sullenger’s conviction in 1988 for providing logistical support in a conspiracy to bomb an abortion clinic.
But Sullenger fired back, arguing the Southern Poverty Law Center was misrepresenting her record and Newman’s record as well as trying to change the subject away from Planned Parenthood’s misconduct.
“The information provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center is a gross distortion of our backgrounds. Troy has always rejected violence against abortion clinics and providers. As for my criminal conviction, it was a mistake I freely admit. I have worked very hard since then employing peaceful means within the law to expose abortion abuses and bring those responsible for them to justice,” she told WND.
CMP released its ninth video in the series Tuesday, as WND reported, in which a baby parts “buyer” talks about paying clinics.
While the SPLC’s alleged focus is on “extremism,” its blog post seems to indicate support for Planned Parenthood’s abortion services and even its sale of baby parts.
Potok claims it is “obvious” Planned Parenthood complied with “legal and accepted practice for tissue donors” and says the claims of the Center for Medical Progress are “entirely false.”
The facts don’t agree, Sullenger said.
“Many of the statements made by the SPLC in reference to the videos veracity are downright false,” she said.
“Even Planned Parenthood’s own ‘analysis’ of the videos, done by those hired by Planned Parenthood to discredit them, found that there were no audio alterations in the videos whatsoever. What the Planned Parenthood executive said was true. Even the video alterations that were found were minor ones that included blurring out faces of waitresses and placing a logo in the bottom corner. These alternations did not affect the content.”
As reported by WND, Planned Parenthood hired Fusion GPS to analyze the videos created by the Center for Medical Progress.
The resulting report “did not reveal widespread evidence of substantive video manipulation.”
However, the report was critical of the use of “ominous music, replays, color manipulation, ‘scratch’ effects, strategic display of frame counters and timestamps” used to create greater emotional impact.
Sullenger believes the report commissioned by Planned Parenthood itself is confirmation of what the Southern Poverty Law Center is trying to deny – the videos are accurate.
“The reality is that the videos are true, and Planned Parenthood and their cronies at the Southern Poverty Law Center have nothing in response but to attack us and spread falsehoods about the accuracy of the videos in a vain attempt to distract people from Planned Parenthood’s unethical and illegal behavior,” Sullenger said.
As Sullenger noted, some of the figures associated with the Southern Poverty Law Center have a long history of attacking pro-life groups. Attorney James McElroy has served as an attorney for Planned Parenthood and has tangled with Sullenger and other activists in legal battles.
SPLC’s enthusiastic defense of Planned Parenthood and aggressive denunciation of the authenticity of the CMP videos is the latest example of the organization’s expanding definition of “fighting hate.”
In June, the organization issued what critics charged was a “hit list” of women in the American media who oppose Islamic extremism and Shariah. The list included Laura Ingraham, Diana West, Pamela Geller and Ann Coulter.
The progressive organization has been especially critical of two of the leading Republicans in the presidential race.
It raised hackles by recently placing Dr. Ben Carson on its “extremist watch list.” After being widely mocked, the SPLC removed Carson from the list and issued a backhanded apology that contained further criticism of Carson’s supposedly “extreme” statements.
Only a few months later, Potok gave an interview to the Huffington Post in which he called Donald Trump’s statements on Latino immigrants “flat out racist” and alleged, “In some ways, Trump has taken an even more extreme position than many white nationalists.”
SPLC has also attempted to “put out of existence” any counseling services for minors suffering from unwanted same-sex attractions, which critics charge will effectively “ban help for gay people.”
And SPLC launched a program called “Erasing Hate,” designed to identify all state-sponsored statues, holidays and even street names linked to the Confederacy. SPLC founder Morris Dees declared in a video such memorials are “symbols of hate” “that in the year 2015 and forward, we just don’t need to be a part of our public.”
However, Dees himself once stated during a ceremony in Montgomery, Alabama, “The Confederate flag that’s flying over that capital today is just as much a part of my heritage as Dr. [Martin Luther] King’s march down 6th avenue.”
Dees made his comments in 1989, more recently than the criminal conviction which is now being used to attack Sullenger.
SPLC has been accused of “inflating” the number of hate groups it is “tracking.”
Mark Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League noted SPLC’s practice of counting single members as constituting “hate groups” and called the SPLC’s list “wildly inflated” in an interview with the South Jersey Times.
The practices have been extremely lucrative for SPLC and its top officers, including Potok. According to Charity Navigator, the group has net assets in excess of $290 million and its top officials take home more than $300,000 per year, with Potok himself reportedly earning more than $130,000 a year.
SPLC’s link to terror came in the court case after the Aug. 15, 2012, shooting at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.
Floyd Corkins II shot a security guard at FRC’s headquarters but was disarmed before anyone was killed. The homosexual activist later told FBI investigators he targeted FRC because the Southern Poverty Law Center had listed it as an “anti-gay” group.
He confessed to wanting to kill “as many people as I could.”
Sullenger argues it is time for the Southern Poverty Law Center to stop using toxic rhetoric against Christian conservatives and opponents of abortion.
“It’s time for the SPLC to stop expanding the definition of hate to include pro-life activists. They seem to say everyone who disagrees with them philosophically or politically is involved in some kind of hate crime. And that’s just ridiculous.
“You can’t bully the whole world into thinking like you do. And that’s exactly what they do. They throw out these incendiary accusations and it’s just a pejorative. It’s time to stop.”