The Southern Poverty Law Center’s often cited map of hate groups is a deceptive promotion meant to raise funds, according to a politically progressive news editor.
Current Affairs editor Nathan J. Robinson wrote an opinion piece published Tuesday titled “The Southern Poverty Law Center is Everything That’s Wrong with Liberalism.”
In his editorial, Robinson critiqued the SPLC and its “hate group” map, which purports to chart the many hate groups in the United States. According to a widely referenced report by the SPLC, the number of hate groups in the country is on the rise.
Robinson took issue with the hate group map, labeling it “an outright fraud” that sought to “scare older liberals into writing checks to the SPLC.”
“The SPLC consistently declines to identify how many members these hate groups have. It just notes the number of groups. Without knowing how large they are, what does it mean that they exist? Are they one person? 1,000?” wrote Robinson.
“The number of hate groups could be increasing because the neo-Nazis were becoming weak and fragmented and splitting into tinier and tinier units.”
Robinson cited several examples of so-called hate groups on the map that are ultimately just a single individual, or a couple of people, or have yet to engage in anything resembling hateful activity.
“A 'Holocaust denial' group in Kerrville, Texas, called 'carolynyeager.net' appears to just be a woman called Carolyn Yeager,” continued Robinson.
“A ‘male supremacy’ group called Return of Kings is apparently just a blog published by pick-up artist Roosh V and a couple of his friends, and the most recent post is an announcement from six months ago that the project was on indefinite hiatus.”
While commending the SPLC for some of the work it has done against groups like the Ku Klux Klan, Robinson critiqued other aspects of the liberal group, including its reported mistreatment of minority employees and spending little of its donated resources on fighting bigotry.
“Many of the SPLC’s donors surely think they’re donating to a public interest law firm. In fact, they’re mostly donating to an ever-growing giant pile of money, a portion of which is used to finance some progressive legal work,” added Robinson.
The SPLC was founded in 1971 to help with legal battles against groups like the Ku Klux Klan. More recently, the far-left group has garnered controversy for labeling many conservative groups and individuals as hateful.
Critics have accused the SPLC of inciting violence against conservatives. For example, in 2012 a gay rights activist named Floyd Lee Corkins attempted to murder members of the Family Research Center. Corkins cited SPLC’s designation of the FRC as a “hate group” as a reason for why he committed the crime.
Last June, the SPLC issued an apology to ex-Muslim activist Maajid Nawaz and paid him $3.3 million as part of a settlement after wrongfully including him and his organization the Quilliam Foundation in a report on anti-Muslim activity.
"Although we may have our differences with some of the positions that Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam have taken, we recognize that they have made important contributions to efforts to promote pluralism and that they are most certainly not anti-Muslim extremists," the SPLC said in 2018.
"In addition to apologizing to Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam, we offer our sincerest apology to our supporters and all those who depend on our work. We pride ourselves on the accuracy of our reports and, although we know we are not perfect, it pains us greatly whenever we make a mistake."
Earlier this month, the SPLC fired its co-founder Morris Dees over what SPLC President Richard Cohen referred to as concerns over “workplace practices.”
“Morris has made incredible contributions to the fight against racial injustice in our country. But our work is about the cause, not the person. We’re committed to ensuring that our workplace embodies the values we espouse — truth, justice, equity, and inclusion,” stated Cohen.
“When one of our own fails to meet those standards, no matter his or her role in the organization, we take it seriously and must take appropriate action.”
Days later, Cohen himself resigned, explaining in a statement that he believed the SPLC should transition “to a new generation of leaders.”
“We've heard from our staff that we need to do a better job of making sure that our workplace embodies the values we espouse — truth, justice, equity, and inclusion,” continued Cohen, as reported by CNN.
“We're going to do that, and we have brought in Michelle Obama's former chief of staff, Tina Tchen, to help us do it.”