Wednesday, May 17, 2017

"Mainstream" Attacks on SPLC are the Result of Anti-LGBT Bias

Stella Morabito
At The Federalist Stella Morabito writes: “12 Ways The Southern Poverty Law Center Is A Scam To Profit From Hate-Mongering.” Labeling The Federalist as “mainstream” means that it is not the Daily Stormer or David Duke's newsletter on “Jewish Supremacism.” It is a low bar indeed.

About 2½ years ago Stella Morabito claimed that the goal — the real purpose — of marriage equality was to abolish the institution of marriage entirely. More recently Morabito asserted that the real purpose of the LGBT agenda was to silence dissent. Morabito has also opined that anti-bullying programs cause more bullying. In February, 2016 Family Research Council, an anti-LGBT hate group, hosted a lecture by Morabito titled: “Bruce or Caitlyn? Why Everyone Should Care About the Transgender Movement.” I haven't paid much attention to Morabito lately but she has burnished her anti-LGBT credentials.

It is reasonable to conclude that Morabito's bigotry is the cause for her (rather uninspired) effort to delegitimize SPLC.
Why do so many folks treat the SPLC with undeserved reverence, the way too many high school kids treat a self-appointed nasty queen bee? Why do they accept the Southern Poverty Law Center as the nation’s Grand Inquisitor dictating who may speak and who must shut up?
The first question is easy. SPLC has a reputation for fairness and accuracy. The second (begged) question is rhetorical. The issue isn't who may speak. Hate groups have extreme biases which form the information that they provide. Most anti-LGBT hate groups are so designated because they falsely characterize LGBT people. FRC, for example, is on the list principally because they claim that gay men are predisposed to be child molesters. The FBI disagrees and so does the research.

I am going to quote her first point in full because of the inaccuracies:
1. It’s a Big-Money Smear Machine

The SPLC’s main role is as a massively funded propaganda smear machine. The following information on the SPLC, provided by Karl Zinsmeister of Philanthropy Roundtable, is an eye-opener: “Its two largest expenses are propaganda operations: creating its annual lists of ‘haters’ and ‘extremists,’ and running a big effort that pushes ‘tolerance education’ through more than 400,000 public-school teachers. And the single biggest effort undertaken by the SPLC? Fundraising. On the organization’s 2015 IRS 990 form it declared $10 million of direct fundraising expenses, far more than it has ever spent on legal services.”
Before I get into specifics, the right wing Christian legal group, Alliance Defending Freedom, raised about $2 million more than SPLC and ADF's CEO received nearly $100 thousand more that SPLC's CEO. Morabito fails to mention that Zinsmeister was with American Enterprise Institute and also served in the George W. Bush administration. Philanthropy Roundtable is also a conservative group, counterpoint to the Council on Foundations.

According to the tax return, legal case work (in broad strokes) consumed $14 million of SPLC's expenditures and educational efforts consumed $15 million. Zinsmeister's assertion is not supported by the tax filing. He claims that fundraising expenses are greater than legal work. That simply is not evidenced by the documents.

With respect to that $10 million in fund raising expenses (ADF, by the way shows $8 million), The big numbers include $2.1 million of non-managerial payroll. ADF also reported $2.1 million. On the other hand SPLC had no advertising expense. ADF paid out $1.4 million in advertising and promotion.

More importantly the financial liquidity of SPLC is unrelated to criticisms of the quality of the work that it does. Morabito claims that SPLC is a “propaganda smear machine” because she does not like some of SPLC's conclusions. She is short on specifics. She presents a lengthy diatribe of accusations without any specifics.
2. The Center’s Work Has Incited Violence
Sure. This is about the Corker incident at Family Research Council. The hate groups listed by SPLC incite more violence each day than could possibly be associated with SPLC throughout its existence. I am neither condoning nor excusing violence but the incident in question was incited by the rabidly anti-gay propaganda of Family Research Council — not SPLC.
3. SLPC Uses Emotion-Laden Images to Spread Innuendo

SPLC uses emotion-laden images with nary any evidence to “spread stigma just by innuendo.” Zinsmeister from Philanthropy Roundtable notes: “Over the years, numerous investigators have pointed out that most of the scary KKK and Nazi and militia groups that the SPLC insists are lurking under our beds are actually ghost entities, with no employees, no address, hardly any followers, and little or no footprint.”
This is absurd. The White Knights of the KKK of Anytown USA are a hate group. They may not file a 990 and they may have no employees. So what? How many of those are spreading hate over the Internet? How does anyone know how many followers a hate group has? I bet that Mr. Zinsmeister and Ms. Morabito would reach a different conclusion over an Islamist Twitter troll. SPLC's legal docket counters the activities of groups that do have employees, addresses, followers and money. “Innuendo?” What innuendo? Are those White Knights not a hate group even if they have no listed address?
4. The FBI Stopped Citing SPLC as a Resource

Two years ago, the FBI deleted the SPLC from its website’s list of legitimate resources on hate crimes.
Actually, the FBI removed the web links of external groups. SPLC is still included in the “list of legitimate resources on hate crimes.” It is still a resource.
Public Outreach: The FBI has forged partnerships nationally and locally with many civil rights organizations to establish rapport, share information, address concerns, and cooperate in solving problems. These groups include such organizations as the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, American Association of University Women, Anti-Defamation League, Asian American Justice Center, Hindu American Foundation, Human Rights Campaign, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Council of Jewish Women, National Disability Rights Network, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, National Organization for Women, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, The Sikh Coalition, Southern Poverty Law Center, and many others.
Simply stated, Item 4 is bullshit. Skipping 5 for idiocy.
6. Its Nonprofit Status Masks Highly Political Fundraising

The SPLC operates far more as a political action committee than as the nonprofit it claims to be. The hyper-partisan nature of the SPLC’s operations makes its nonprofit status seem like a joke. In a recent letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the Federation for Immigration Reform argued that the SPLC’s tax-exempt 501(c)3 status should be revoked because in the 2016 elections, the SPLC clearly violated the Internal Revenue Service requirement that prohibits “participating in or intervening (including the publishing or distributing of statements), in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”
FAIR is an anti-immigrant right wing hate group. Their complaint is, for example, that SPLC was critical of Donald Trump's ties to right-wing extremists. The most recent case involved Catholic Answers which was charged an exise tax for writing disparaging comments about John Kerry in 2004. Catholic Answers sued and the IRS refunded the tax. The federal courts declared the matter moot.

ADF organizes Pulpit Freedom Sunday near election day every year. They encourage pastors to endorse (usually anti-LGBT) candidates from the pulpit. Some do and no one has been punished to date. I have no objection to the repeal of the Johnson Amendment providing that it does not create a conduit for tax-deductible campaign contributions. But I digress.

Items seven and eight are more kvetching about SPLC's fund raising. It is irrelevant to criticism of the quality of the work that SPLC does. It's really an irrelevant straw man. Item nine is also about fund raising. It cites an article in Harper's that requires a subscription that I have no intention of paying for. The facts are simple:
  1. SPLC is cash positive every year and;
  2. SPLC has a accumulated a substantial net asset value.
The potentially valid criticism is that SPLC does not spend enough of its money. That bears no relationship to the work that it does spend money on. Criticizing the organization for what it does based upon what it might do with the money it has not spent is inane.
10.The Center Is Advertising For New Revenue-RaisersSPLC is now advertising for help in “developing theories” to support its litigation projects. The following is from a current appeal to recent law school graduates at the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania: “Penn Law and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) have created a new, two-year, post-graduate fellowship for a new or recent graduate to work with the SPLC’s Special Litigation Practice Group. . .The Penn Law Civil Rights Fellow will serve as an integral member of the SPLC’s legal group, conducting legal research and analysis and developing theories to support new litigation projects and advocacy campaigns …” (emphasis mine). If you need to develop a “theory” to support an argument intended to condemn those you’ve labelled <sic> as haters, there probably isn’t any there there.
Morabito's conclusion is nonsensical. It's is also a non sequitur. She insists on treating the organization as a for-profit entity. It is not. For example, SPLC is not using its accumulated assets to benefit it executives. As I noted, ADF's CEO is paid nearly $100 thousand more than SPLC's. The intent is to falsely imply that SPLC is operated to return a profit. There is no evidence to support that contention. Developing theories to support new litigation projects means legal theories and is not limited to existing hate groups. It might very well include, for example, means of recovering more money for victims of hate crimes. None of this has anything to do with donations.
11. SPLC Propaganda Seems to Encourage Hoax Hate Crimes

SPLC propaganda seems to encourage hoax hate crimes. There has been a recent surge of hoax hate crimes. In part, I believe this is due to the far reach of the SPLC’s propaganda and agitation machine, which has maligned legitimate think tanks and advocacy centers like the Family Research Center, Alliance Defending Freedom, and the Center for Security Policy.
The first link points to a 2015 story about a man who did in fact stage a hoax anti-gay hate crime. One story does not constitute a surge and there is absolutely no way to tie this to anything that SPLC does. Indeed, it seems preposterous to suggest that the existence of hate groups which are then identified as such by SPLC causes people to create hoaxes. The second link is to a 2014 piece in Crisis Magazine by Austin Ruse. Austin is a smart guy. He knows how to get his C-Fam off of the list.

Morabito lacks the intellectual curiosity to write a compelling piece. The way to go about this is to first find out why an organization is listed. Then there are two options. Either SPLC's allegation is false or the criteria is wrong. I suspect that Morabito would be left with the latter but throughout this lengthy polemic she has not identified a single reason why any of these groups are listed. Nor has she argued why they should not be designated as hate groups. Claiming that organizations have been "maligned" does not constitute an argument. It amounts to an unsubstantiated complaint. This entire misadventure on Morabito's part is lacking in substantiation.
12. Its Blacklist Foments the Campus Anti-Speech Movement

The SPLC is no doubt heavily invested in the campus anti-speech movement. …
(We are finally at twelve drummers drumming.)

“No doubt?” Where is the evidence to support Morabito's contention. I don't even know what the “anti-speech movement” is. Activists trying to preclude Ann Coulter from speaking on a college campus (which I think is wrong-headed) does constitute a movement. It would not surprise me if some folks at SPLC agreed with me on this issue.

This tedious testament to lunacy eventually comes to a tedious conclusion.
Sadly, history has revealed time and again that organized vilification campaigns endanger human dignity and freedom. The SPLC treads perilous ground, trading in explosively hostile language in return for what else but money and power?
That link is to a piece that Morabito wrote about the Armenian genocide. She should think about that. She says it herself describing  
a well-coordinated, aggressive propaganda campaign that enlists public support in vilifying the targeted group.
SPLC exists to limit the power of those propagandists who seek to have us live in fear of certain minorities. All Muslims are potential terrorists according to Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy. Family Research Council claims that I and other gay men are consumed by the desire to recruit and rape young boys. It has a certain familiarity to the supposed obsession of Black men to rape white women.

This allows those hate groups to claim the role of protector which is intended to insulate them from criticism. Ms. Morabito is a Christian extremist who disapproves of LGBT people. She is incensed that SPLC would label groups that share her views as hate groups because then, by extension, she is a certified hater. For that reason she is attacking SPLC which is merely the messenger. Hate groups are responsible for being designated as hate groups. SPLC is expected to use ordinary care (in legal terms). I do not think that any individual or group has ever successfully sued SPLC for slander or libel. It is the group that is responsible for the designation, not SPLC.

As I said at the outset, Morabito is a confirmed bigot. She propagandizes hate against LGBT people on a regular basis, usually by attacking our motives and usually incorrectly.

Morabito hasn't been able to document how successful we have been at abolishing the institution of marriage (as she has asserted). Nor has she been silenced so I guess that we failed in that regard too. She has also failed to correlate anti-bulling efforts with an increase in bullying incidents. Finally, she hasn't demonstrated how Caitlyn Jenner has proved to be a threat to anyone. That means that all of those things are confirmed lies (and I haven't tracked her much lately). If one lies to disparage a minority group then that is an expression of hate. No one believes that they are a hater. Their belief is not a requirement of being so labeled.

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