The Southern Poverty Law Center: A Twisted Definition of Hate

Matthew Vadum, Capital Research Center, November, 2006

Obsessed with fundraising, the fabulously wealthy Southern Poverty Law Center exaggerates the scope of racism in the United States to frighten donors into opening their wallets. SPLC is nominally a public interest law firm, but it spends little on actual litigation. Instead, it uses politically skewed definitions of racism to indoctrinate children while smearing conservatives who question racial preference programs.

...Conservative writers have observed that to be called a "racist" today is akin to the label "Communist" in the 1950s. Indeed, the SPLC's tactics are hard to distinguish from those of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy, who was also a fan of guilt by association.

Although SPLC bills itself as a civil rights law firm, it devotes only a fraction of its resources to actual legal work. Of the $28.9 million in expenses it declared for the year ended October 31, 2005, it spent only $4.5 million on "providing legal services for victims of civil rights injustice and hate crimes," and $837,907 for "specific assistance to individuals" in the form of "litigation services," according to its Form 990...

In the same period, SPLC paid Morris Dees $297,559 in salary and pension plan contributions...

"No one has been more assiduous in inflating the profile of [hate] groups than the [SPLC]'s millionaire huckster, Morris Dees, who in 1999 began a begging letter, 'Dear Friend, The danger presented by the Klan is greater now than at any time in the past ten years'" - JoAnn Wypijewski of the Nation magazine, 2001

...It may take some intellectual toughness to insist that the nation has the right to decide who may or may not cross its borders, but surely it's not hate. But Morris Dees doesn't see it that way. He sees all opposition to immigration as a symptom of hate...

Richard Samp, chief counsel for the Washington Legal Foundation, told Organization Trends that he finds it difficult to take anything the SPLC does nowadays seriously. "There are so many of these [liberal groups] that they have to speak in particularly shrill tones in order to distinguish themselves from the many other groups out there," Samp said. "I certainly disagree with their saying America is racist. I don't think they really believe that," he said.

SPLC's hyping of racism in America is "simply fundraising puffery," Samp said.

Yet it may be too easy to dismiss SPLC. It has mastered the art of inflaming racial passions, and in doing so it undermines Americans' confidence in the nation's racial progress. SPLC's activism may be too profitable an enterprise for it to give up, but it can have a corrosive effect on our politics. Jim Sleeper, author of Liberal Racism, wrote that "there is a race industry that has a moral and financial stake in ginning up these racial bogeymen." Sleeper told columnist Deroy Murdock that the race industry makes "a real effort to play up the bad news and play down the good... The ground is shifting under our feet, and a lot of these people don't want to let go."

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