Voltaire wrote that the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire. Something similar could be said of the Southern Poverty Law Center—if it ever had anything to do with helping poor people in the South with their legal problems, it doesn’t any longer. (It is a center, though!)
Instead, it’s turned into the Inquisition for the True Faith of today’s leftism. It sniffs out heretics and blasphemers who are promoting the false doctrine they deem “hate” and uses smears to, in their own words, “completely destroy them.” It even publishes a map to target the infidel.
This has proven an enormously lucrative enterprise for the SPLC. Rather than seizing the assets of its targets like the original Inquisition, the SPLC’s fundraising feasts on the fear of gullible liberals, amassing a hoard of close to half a billion dollars, much of it stashed in offshore accounts.
The SPLC occasionally has paid a price for its promiscuous accusations of “hate” and “extremism,” most notably in a court settlement of $3.375 million for smearing Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz as an “anti-Muslim extremist.”
But such settlements have not deterred the SPLC from its mission of cleansing society of heretics, the most notorious of which are designated as “hate groups.” My own organization, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), was placed on this list shortly after Donald Trump’s election, and the list includes a host of other mainstream conservative groups, including the Alliance for Defending Freedom, the Family Research Council, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, Liberty Counsel, The American Family Association, the Center for Security Policy, Act for America, the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and many others.
The point is to smear groups that disagree with the SPLC’s radical-left politics by associating them with the hodgepodge of Klan factions, skinheads, and Neo-Nazis that are also on the list. As I wrote in the Washington Post after CIS was honored with the “hate group” tag, this is “an attempt to delegitimize and suppress views regarding immigration held by a large share of the American public.” The “hate group” designation is a political weapon, wielded by the SPLC to gain power over its enemies.
The most recent use of this weapon has targeted White House advisor Stephen Miller, who over the past three years has become the Left’s second most-hated figure, after only the president himself. The SPLC acquired a cache of e-mails from a disgruntled former Breitbart employee that Miller had sent when he was media director for Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) media director. The e-mails supposedly expose Miller’s “white nationalist” leanings.
The material is so thin that it makes the claims behind the Democrats’ Ukraine impeachment hoax look persuasive in comparison. One can’t help thinking that SPLC’s “Hatewatch” writer Michael Edison Hayden was disappointed after combing through 900 emails (which I suspect the SPLC paid the source to acquire). Finding almost nothing beyond what any press officer would send to a friendly news source, Hayden needed to build it up to justify all the time and expense.
The SPLC was shocked to learn from the e-mails that Miller forwarded links, suggested stories, complained about Ted Kennedy’s 1965 immigration law changes, and praised Calvin Coolidge(!). As unremarkable as this is, one subhead in the first installment of the smear makes clear the SPLC’s despicable agenda: “Miller backs immigration policies Hitler once praised.” See! He’s a Nazi!
Hitler, you see, praised the national origins aspect of the 1924 immigration law, which favored immigration from certain countries. Miller, on the other hand—like all other immigration skeptics—praised the results of the immigration pause, which successfully promoted the assimilation of the huge wave of newcomers from the previous 40 years. The conflation of these points is as puerile as using Hitler to attack vegetarians because Hitler also eschewed meat.
Hayden milked an entire 2,500-word article out of Miller’s references to CIS: “Miller sent at least 46 emails relating to CIS material, employees or contributors to former Breitbart editor Katie McHugh over 10 months, the emails show.” Egad! That’s 4.6 e-mails a month!
This may seem faintly ridiculous, consistent with the SPLC’s image as “Part Karl, Part Groucho.” But nothing is too ridiculous for the New York Times when it comes to attacking the malefactors of the Trump Regime. The SPLC aggressively marketed its multi-part smear, garnering news stories in the Washington Post and USA Today. But the Times was orgasmic, writing not one story, not two stories, but three stories on it. The pieces aren’t so much news coverage as dictation—unquestioningly repeating the SPLC’s breathless claims, as though they had substance.
The real point of the SPLC reports, and the New York Times’ coverage of them, is clear from a paragraph in the first of the Times’ three stories:
Since the publication of the emails, several prominent Democrats, including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota—two members of a group of nonwhite congresswomen who have drawn the ire of the president and his supporters—have called for Mr. Miller to resign.
The coordinated nature of this hit is even clearer when one observes that at the top of the SPLC page linking to all the Miller stories there is a button that reads: “Read and sign our petition to have Stephen Miller removed from the White House here.” The White House, so far, has not caved in, as it has so often before.
This whole episode may seem too inside-the-beltway to concern people who aren’t part of the political class. Who cares if an administration’s enemies target a White House operative? But it presents a model for how the Left operates today. Rather than offering voters reasoned arguments for why their policy preferences are better than those of the other side, today’s Left wages political war on the infidel, attempting to “completely destroy” its enemies by concocting outlandish guilt-by-association smears which are eagerly spread by formerly respectable news organizations. In American politics, we don’t expect the Spanish Inquisition, but it’s here nonetheless.