Southern Poverty Law Center

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The Southern Poverty Law Center is a left-wing legal and activist organization created in 1971 in Montgomery, Alabama. It was founded by trial lawyers Morris Dees and Joe Levin, and its first president was civil rights leader Julian Bond, who would later take control of the NAACP. SPLC supports a wide variety of liberal positions; it is pro-immigration (both legal and illegal), advocates multiculturalism and the homosexual agenda, supports racial preferences and defendants' rights, and advocates against what it considers "hate groups". In 2012, Black pastors confronted the Southern Poverty Law Center for smearing as ‘hate groups’ pro-family organizations opposed to homosexual agenda. [1] Reverend Dr. Patrick Wooden declared that it is wrong to compare “my beautiful blackness” with homosexual perversion.[2]

The SPLC's op-ed writings have appeared in the Communist Party USA's newspaper People's World. [3] This "controversial, liberal organization" [4] has been criticized in mainstream press for being extravagant in its spending, and using charges of racism to stifle conservatives. [5]


The last year that the Better Business Bureau's Philanthropic Advisory Service reported on the SPLC, in 1994, Dees and then Executive Director Edward Ashworth took home over $150,000 each, and the organization then possessed over $62 million in assets [6]. It now controls over $200 million, and Dees pulls $286,000 in salary.[7] In 2000, SPLC fundraised $27 million and made an additional $17 million from investments, but spent only $13 million on its civil rights program. [8] It is no longer listed in the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance[9] because that would require that "at least 50 percent of total income from all sources, should be applied to programs and activities directly related to the purposes for which the organization exists." The SPLC spent 89 percent of its total income on fund-raising and administrative costs. [10]

In addition to donations from liberal members, which are often elicited by sensationalizing hate crimes, the center raises a lot of revenue seizing assets of violent groups, and by extorting groups that do not want to be accused of racism. In 1987, the SPLC won a major case on behalf of Beulah Mae Donald, the mother of a Klan lynching victim. This was the invention of a clever new tactic-- suing domestic terrorist groups into bankruptcy-- but Ms. Donald benefitted very little. Of the $7 million verdict, only $50,000 went to her. This was because the Klan chapter had no assets other than a warehouse used as a headquarters, the warehouse itself was valued at about $50,000. [11]

The SPLC's fundraising tactics came under heavy criticism most recently by the Council of Conservative Citizens, [12] as well as by articles in Harper's magazine in 2000[13] and in the local Montgomery Advertiser newspaper in 1994.[14].

SPLC attacks on conservatives

While SPLC organizes against obvious hate groups such as the KKK or Aryan Brotherhood, it also lumps in conservative organizations in an attempt to intimidate them. For instance, SPLC considers Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) a "hate group", because it opposes illegal immigration, and uses demonstrations as a method, which the SPLC deems intimidation.[15] Similarly, the center labels the immigration reductionist/reformist website VDARE as a "hate group", because it argues against illegal immigration [16].

Also smeared as "hate groups" by the SPLC include: the California Coalition for Immigration Reform, and The Social Contract Press (a liberal group publishing environmentalist works such as those of Garrett Hardin, apparently solely because they republished French writer Jean Raspail's 1973 novel The Camp of the Saints which foretells catasrophe befalling Europe from boatloads of illegal immigrants arriving from South Asia).

Another example is the Council of Conservative Citizens, a conservative activist organization that advocates on behalf of states' rights and against immigration, communism, racial quotas and gun control. SPLC labels all members as racist because a minority of members had decades-past connections to segregationist organizations. In fact, the CCC attracts such mainstream speakers such as former Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), Gov. Kirk Fordice (R-MS) and Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.), and engages in charitable and cultural events.

The SPLC has also recently added new categories to its categories of "hate groups", including Traditionalist Catholics (that is, those who advocate for a return to the Latin Mass), and an "anti-gay" category of groups who do not support the homosexual agenda and/or advocate for homosexuals to come out of that lifestyle.

During the 1990s, the SPLC maintained a separate list of "patriot groups", which although they did not include them as part of their "hate groups" list, carried the same intent: to smear those groups by association, and create the public impression those groups were some sort of threat to society. Their "patriot groups" list included groups opposed to the income tax, groups campaigning for jury and court reform, and the venerable conservative organization the John Birch Society, among others.

In 2010, the SPLC created a list entitled "Meet the Patriots", which included such people such as Chuck Baldwin, Orly Taitz, and Alex Jones as supporters of this "patriot movement".[17] A supplement entitled "The Enablers" was also released, which included Michele Bachmann, Glenn Beck, Ron Paul, and Judge Napolitano.[18]

In 2012, the SPLC found four individuals to file a law suit against a group providing therapy to homosexual men in order to help them become ex-homosexuals.[19] The SPLC alleges the group violated New Jersey's Consumer Fraud law in advertising that conversion therapy will help people become ex-homosexuals. Instead of being a pro-consumer lawsuit, as the SLPC implies, the suit is a collateral attack on conversion therapy, and the free exercise of religion.

These incidents further prove the SPLC is a left-wing political organization rather than one focused on racism and civil rights.

Infiltration into the classroom

Additionally, the SPLC runs, a website that advocates multiculturalism, the homosexual agenda and "social justice". It is designed with teachers in mind so that these ideas can influence young children in the classroom [20] For instance, teachers can click "classroom activities" then "early grades" and "Tolerance Issues: Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual issues:" or "tolerance issues: Gender Issues" and arrive at a pro-alternative family article, among others.[21]. Its magazine is sent to over 400,000 eduators, and over 10,000 schools participate in its programs.

Interference in the Sierra Club

In early 2004, Morris Dees filed to run as a candidate for the board of directors of the Sierra Club, an environmentalist organization. Dees', who has no background in environmental issues at all, ran only to use his ballot statement to smear three other candidates for the Sierra Club board, who advocated the Sierra Club address the environmental impact of excessive legal and illegal immigration into the United States. Dees and two other fake board candidates were part of a broader smear campaign by the radical left, which also included Dees, MoveOn, and others smeared these three candidates, all of whom were staunch liberals and environmentalists (one of them, former Democratic governor of Colorado, Richard Lamm) solely because they understood excessive immigration numbers to be an environmental issue.[22]

Cooperation with law enforcement

The SPLC has been criticized by civil rights writer Laird Wilcox for essentially functioning as a private intelligence gathering agency for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies, doing activities as a private organization that public law enforcement agencies are barred by law from doing (such as keeping dossiers on people solely because of their political or religious views) because for a government agency to do them would be a violation of civil rights. Wilcox points out the dangers of the FBI and other law enforcement working with ideologically-driven groups like the SPLC, which has its roots in 1960s radical liberal activism, because of the danger this poses that the SPLC's own ideological differences with another group can be treated as a law enforcement issue rather than as an ideological dispute between a left-wing group (the SPLC) and a group on the right. This can, and has, led to attacks on such groups' freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.[23]

Indeed, the SPLC has a history of adding groups to its listing of purported "hate groups" in advance of a government law enforcement campaign against them. The SPLC inexplicably added the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS) to its "hate groups" list just before FLDS leader Warren Jeffs was indicted on charges of arranging polygamous underage marriages. The timing of this listing by SPLC was suspicious, as is the accuracy of calling FLDS a "hate group" to begin with, any controversy over their polygamous practices notwithstanding.

Into the Mainstream controversy

In the summer of 2003, the SPLC's Intelligence Journal carried a feature article entitled "Into the Mainstream", by Chip Berlet. The cover of the journal had an image of Adolf Hitler in front of the American flag and the caption, "Marching toward the Mainstream: the radical Right invades American culture". The implication was that such conservative activists as David Horowitz and his Center for the Study of Popular Culture, as well as other groups including the libertarian Ludwig von Mises Institute, were "radical right" and Hitlerian.[24] This smear was denounced by David Horowitz, who demanded an apology, although none was forthcoming.

For further details see Chip_Berlet#Hate_speech.

SPLC as film critic

The SPLC has published criticisms of movies they deem to be not politically correct, often smearing the filmmakers in the process and portraying them to be part of a purported "radical right" conspiracy to influence the culture. Films the SPLC has criticized in this manner include Ronald Maxwell's American Civil War epics Gettysburg (1993) and Gods and Generals (2003), and Mel Gibson's 2004 film The Passion of the Christ.

See also


  3. SPLC article featured in communist newspaper, The Daily Caller, January 22, 2011
  13. Silverstein, Ken. "The Church of Morris Dees: How the Southern Poverty Law Center Profits from Intolerance". Harper's, November, 2000.
  14. Morse, Dan and Greg Jaffe. "Critics Question $52 Million Reserve, Tactics of Wealthiest Civil Rights Group". Montgomery Advertiser, February 13, 1994
  22. For much background and material on the takeover of the Sierra Club in 2004 by radical pro-immigration and political correctness advocates, including Dees' role as a fake board candidate, see
  23. Wilcox, Laird. The Watchdogs. Olathe, Kansas: Editorial Research Service, 1999.
  24. Kantor, Myles. "Morris Dees' Defamation". FrontPage magazine, September 25, 2003.