(Frontpage) -- The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was founded in 1971 by two Alabama attorneys, Morris Dees and Joseph Levin Jr. The latter served as the Center's legal director from 1971-76, but it was Dees, who views the U.S. as an irredeemably racist nation, who would emerge as the long-term “face” of the organization.
Identifying itself as a “nonprofit civil rights organization” committed to “fighting hate and bigotry” while “seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society,” SPLC describes the United States as a country “seething with racial violence” and “intolerance against those who are different.” “Hate in America is a dreadful, daily constant,” says the Center, and violent crimes against members of minority groups like blacks, Latinos, homosexuals, and Arabs/Muslims “are not ‘isolated incidents,’” but rather, commonplace. To combat this ugly state of affairs, SPLC dedicates itself to “tracking and exposing the activities of “hate groups and other domestic extremists” throughout the United States. Specifically, the Center's “Hate & Extremism” initiative publishes its findings in SPLC’s Hatewatch Blog and in its quarterly journal, the Intelligence Report.
SPLC first gained widespread national recognition in 1987, when it won a $7 million verdict in a high-profile civil lawsuit against the United Klans of America (UKA). By the time that lawsuit was filed, UKA was already a destitute, impotent, disintegrating entity that virtually all white Americans emphatically rejected; the SPLC lawsuit merely drove the final nail into the UKA coffin. SPLC boasts that it has likewise won “crushing jury verdicts” that effectively shut down groups like the White Aryan Resistance, the White Patriot Party militia, and the Aryan Nations.
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