Their opinions are splattered across television sets, national newspapers, and government intelligence reports. And what they have to say on the rising citizen backlash against the United States government is treated as the final word on the subject. Who are they? To some they are the Batman and Robin of hate crime, but others believe what they do requires the traits of the Joker and Two-Face.
Mark Potok and Morris Dees are the directors and spokesmen for The Southern Poverty Law Center, and they are viewed in some powerful as circles as just two civil rights inspectors who are willing to go to bat against bigots, racists, terrorists, and other manifestations of right-wing intolerance. According to Potok and Dees, anti-government views have grown across the United States in recent years, and they’re on the lookout. But don’t tell them the global economy is crashing, two unpopular wars are being waged on two innocent countries, and bailout galore for the big banks on Wall St. has anything do with people’s distrust of Washington. If you do, you might just find yourself on one of their famous lists.
Some people will disagree about my last statement. The SPLC is still regarded by as a disinterested and astute political and social watchdog. But a more critical look at their practices and history suggests that their good-nature persona is only make-believe. Potok and Dees are not the stewards of fairness, social tolerance, and democracy, and they do not aim to root out anti-discrimination, instead, they conflate and exaggerate the threats of racism and violence, and create lists meant for political demonization.
If my rhetoric is unconvincing, and you are unsure about the SPLC, I hope the two articles that are linked to in this short exposé, and the videos that appear at the end, will give you a better impression of what Potok and Dees are really concerned with, and what their unstated mission is.
According to Ken Silverstein, who is an editor for Harper’s Magazine’s Washington bureau, the SPLC does not do what it preaches. In his article entitled “The Church of Morris Dees,” Silverstein writes:
Morris Dees doesn’t need your financial support. The SPLC is already the wealthiest civil rights group in America, though this letter quite naturally omits that fact. Other solicitations have been more flagrantly misleading. One pitch, sent out in 1995-when the Center had more than $60 million in reserves-informed would-be donors that the “strain on our current operating budget is the greatest in our 25-year history.” Back in 1978, when the Center had less than $10 million, Dees promised that his organization would quit fund-raising and live off interest as soon as its endowment hit $55 million. But as it approached that figure, the SPLC upped the bar to $100 million, a sum that, one 1989 newsletter promised, would allow the Center “to cease the costly and often unreliable task of fund raising. ” Today, the SPLC’s treasury bulges with $120 million, and it spends twice as much on fund-raising-$5.76 million last year-as it does on legal services for victims of civil rights abuses. The American Institute of Philanthropy gives the Center one of the worst ratings of any group it monitors, estimating that the SPLC could operate for 4.6 years without making another tax-exempt nickel from its investments or raising another tax-deductible cent from well-meaning “people like you.”
What is clearly a damning fact is that the SPLC is an organization that is dedicated to making charity money, and not at all interested in combating racism. But Dees and Potok are no screwballs. Their intelligence reports are taken very seriously. So it is especially worrisome that they engage in character assassinations, puruse guilt by association attacks, and use a string of other tactics that are generally employed in totalitarian regimes.
Carol Swain, a Professor of Law at Vanderbilt University says that although the SPLC may have once fought for legitimate civil rights issues, today it has distanced itself from its original lofty ideals. In her article called “Mission Creep and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Misguided Focus,” she writes:
There is a name for what has happened. It is called “mission creep.” Mission creep occurs when an organization strays beyond its original purpose and engages in actions antithetical to its goals. Rather than monitoring hate groups, the Southern Poverty Law Center has become one.
In their latest data-mining operation, the SPLC focuses on the growing Patriot movement, and general political activists who are rightfully angry at the United States government and corporate America. They use the term “patriot” in a patronizing fashion, and the general tone of the authors is one of condensation. The report says:
Although the resurgence of the so-called Patriots — people who generally believe that the federal government is an evil entity that is engaged in a secret conspiracy to impose martial law, herd those who resist into concentration camps, and force the United States into a socialistic “New World Order” — also has been propelled by people who were key players in the first wave of the Patriot movement in the mid–1990s, there are also a large number of new players.
Included in their list of thirty-five patriots are politicians, journalists, activists, and regular citizens. Names such as Texas Congressman Ron Paul, Stewart Rhodes of Oath Keepers, Luke Rudkowski of We Are Change, Alex Jones, Sheriff Richard Mack, are interwoven with con-artist Glenn Beck, and Republican Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann who I believe had a cameo role in the film The Crazies.
If the list didn’t look like a harbinger of political persecution by the State, you could describe it as ridiculous. But then again, all persecutions start off as ridiculous. Tyranny loves self-fulfilling prophecies, and the SPLC doesn’t mind doing the dirty work for the new scientific Western tyranny.
Unsurprisingly, a lot of people are troubled by the implications for political speech if the report is treated as the New Rage gospel by federal officials and news pundits. In reaction to the report, Robert Stacy McCain wrote:
So what about this grab-bag of names on the SPLC’s “Patriot” list? Is it really possible that a single “movement” could include Joseph Farah, Michelle Bachmann, Cliff Kincaid and Alex Jones? Andrew Napolitano, Glenn Beck, Ron Paul and Red Beckman? I put that question to SPLC director of research Heidi Beirich.
“I think our definition of what a ‘Patriot’ group is is very clear. And all these folks, to my mind, fall within that definition,” said Beirich, a Ph.D. in political science from Purdue University who has been with the SPLC since 1999. “It may not seem that way to you, but from my perspective and given our definition, I’m actually surprised that you would ask me this question. The connections are crystal clear.”
Connections between people who’ve never met — some of whom vehemently disagree with each other — are “crystal clear”? Sounds kind of like a “secret conspiracy.” But only dangerous kooks believe in that stuff.
The denial of free thought within the population by the State and its undisclosed arms always remains a singular aim in undemocratic countries. Anybody who questions the integrity of the governmental system, who draws connections between policies and political contributions, and who suggests that a power elite are making the key decisions in the country, are given the silent treatment at first, and once they become too vocal, they’re ridiculed, and eventually persecuted, and killed.
But persecution wouldn’t be possible with conditioning the population of the “threat” that the persecuted pose to general society. And that is where the seducers, propagandists, liars, and cheats at SPLC fit in. They make money on the side by scaring the gullible, but that’s their main preoccupation. They are in the business of dividing the public, criminalizing dissent, and undermining the forces of democracy.
Politically conditioning is a phenomenon known to psychologists and historians of Nazi Germany and Communist Russia. Dutch Psychologist and author Joost A.M. Meerloo wrote a book about the psychology of brainwashing and thought control called “The Rape of The Mind.” On the subject of political conditioning, Meerloo said:
Political conditioning should not be confused with training or persuasion or even indoctrination. It is more than that. It is taming. It is taking possession of both the simplest and the most complicated nervous patterns of man. It is the battle for the possession of the nerve cells. It is coercion and enforced conversion. Instead of conditioning man to an unbiased facing of reality, the seducer conditions him to catchwords, verbal stereotypes, slogans, formulas, symbols. Pavlovian strategy in the totalitarian sense means imprinting prescribed reflexes on a mind that has been broken down. The totalitarian wants first the required response from the nerve cells, then control of the individual, and finally control of the masses. The system starts with verbal conditioning and training by combining the required stereotypes with negative or positive stimuli: pain, or reward.(1)
The SPLC casts a wide net by discriminating against legitimate political dissent, and positioning them with racist and politically intolerant groups. The purpose is to scandalize political rhetoric and create the impression in the public mind that critics of the federal government are also likely to be racist, radical, and generally unfriendly. And it has an effect. Once somebody or some group is identified as a practitioner of “hate speech” or “racist rhetoric” and has “anti-government views,” they’re credibility plummets, they are not considered as an equal, and what they have to say is immediately dismissed, even if the accusations are not true. To produce a different impression, all that is needed is free debate. As Meerloo writes, “Freedom of discussion and free intellectual exchange hinder conditioning.” (2)
A wide circulation of ideas and opinions help a create a safe and free society, a society in which everybody is heard and respected. Less judgments, and more conversations, allow people to think critically about their institutions, leaders, and themselves. Theodore Zeldin wrote about the beneficial effects of conversation in his book “An Intimate History of Humanity.” “Conversation,” Zeldin says, “demands equality between participants. Indeed, it is one of the most important ways of establishing equality. Its enemies are rhetoric, disputation, jargon and private languages, or despair at not being listened to and not being understood.” (3)
Potok, Dees, and the rest of the gang at the SPLC can continue to ring the Pavlovian bell all they want, but as long as we don’t take their “intelligent” reports seriously, and understand what they’re trying to do, their tactics will be proven ineffective and out of date. And they can seduce the liberal intelligentsia about all the great work that they’re doing, preach their propaganda across the various “news” outlets, and lie and cheat to their fundraising base, but sooner or later they will be revealed for what they truly are to everybody in the land. And that is a day that I’m looking forward to.
The SPLC and the Immigration Debate: (Introduction by Mark Krikorian)
The SPLC and the Immigration Debate: Jerry Kammer, (Center for Immigration Studies) – Part I of II
The SPLC and the Immigration Debate: Jerry Kammer, (Center for Immigration Studies) – Part II of II
The SPLC and the Immigration Debate: Ken Silverstein, (Harper’s Magazine) – Part I of II
The SPLC and the Immigration Debate: Ken Silverstein, (Harper’s Magazine) – Part II of II
The SPLC and the Immigration Debate: Carol Swain, (Vanderbilt University Law Professor) – Part I of II
The SPLC and the Immigration Debate: Carol Swain, (Vanderbilt University Law Professor) – Part II of II
1. Meerloo, Joost A.M. “The Rape of the Mind.” Pg. 48-49.
2. Ibid. Pg. 49
3. Zeldin, Theodore. “An Intimate History of Humanity.” Pg. 41