SPLC’s Hate Map Hysteria Enables Hoaxes
As Jussie Smollett’s apparently fraudulent hate crime house of cards collapsed in spectacular fashion recently, it was awkward timing for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to release the latest incarnation of its notoriously controversial “hate map.”
By recklessly keeping the nation in a perpetual state of agitation on matters of race, immigration and gender, the SPLC all but guarantees that we will get more fake hate crimes in the future. This will only serve to polarize the nation even further, and it needs to end immediately.
To be sure, there are fringe groups in our country that truly espouse hatred, and they deserve to be marginalized. Fighting groups such as the Ku Klux Klan several decades ago gave the SPLC stature and credibility. Sadly, the SPLC has squandered that heritage by now acting as a left-wing thought police bully, hurling the “hate group” slur at people and organizations who simply have different political views.
“Hate groups are on the rise!” That was the message from breathless reporting on the new “hate map” by media enthusiastic to advance the SPLC’s narrative. Why are hate groups allegedly on the rise? One reason might be that the SPLC has watered down the definition of a “hate group” to the point where anyone advancing a traditional or pro-American position is deemed guilty.
Numerous Christian churches have been added to the SPLC’s list along with racial supremacist groups, under the guise that these religious groups are “anti-LGBT.” Have these churches ever committed acts of violence against LGBT Americans? No, most simply believe, because of their religious faith, that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
Targeted groups quickly find that character assassination is just the beginning. The SPLC’s ultimate goal is to destroy the groups on its “hate map” by bankrupting them through online de-platforming and encouraging banks, insurance companies and other vendors to treat them as pariahs. This is modern-day racketeering on a scale that would make Al Capone proud.
My own organization, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), has been targeted by the SPLC. Our crime? Defending the interests of American citizens and legal immigrants of all backgrounds while politicians, corporations and well-funded advocacy groups exploit our laws to benefit foreign nationals. The SPLC has come down firmly on the side of illegal aliens, many of whom drive down wages for Americans, act as a drain on our social services and commit felonies that injure or kill innocent Americans.
Another reason why hate crimes might be on the rise is because being a self-appointed “hate crime watchdog” is a highly profitable enterprise. The “poverty” part of SPLC’s name reeks of Orwellian irony, as the group has raised nearly a half-billion dollars in donations from the likes of Apple, JPMorgan Chase and actor George Clooney. This is in addition to the cozy relationship the SPLC enjoys as the “trusted flagger” for Big Tech giants, serving as judge, jury and executioner for content on platforms like Google and Facebook. An IRLI investigation revealed that the Department of Defense was using SPLC manuals for its employee training on hate groups and hate crimes until the practice was discontinued in 2017.
For all those who hyperventilate at the unveiling of the latest SPLC “hate map,” there is an alarming and ever-growing list of fake hate crimes since Donald Trump has been president. Many of these incidents get lavish media coverage when they occur. Significantly less coverage is given when they are later revealed to be the work of politically motivated scam artists.
So why did Jussie Smollett think he could get away with what appears to be a shameless hate crime hoax? Maybe because thanks in part to the SPLC seeing “hate” under every rock, there is a huge upside to being seen as the victim in 2019 America. When the alleged attackers check the right boxes—in this case white, male Trump supporters—there is no shortage of media talking heads willing to believe it. Only because Smollett’s apparent hoax was so implausible did it cause even those wishing it to be true to balk.
Much like it appears with Smollett, the SPLC has been crying “wolf” to excess with its nonstop accusations of hate. The fact is that most Americans just want to live their lives in peace alongside their neighbors, regardless of their color, faith or orientation. It is only when seen through the politically agenda-driven lens of the SPLC and the mainstream media that America looks like a hopeless cauldron of hate and division. Instead of being treated as a watchdog for extremism, the SPLC should be shunned as the irresponsible, hyper-partisan and financially-motivated extremist group it is.
Dale L. Wilcox is executive director and general counsel at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of illegal migration.