Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Guidestar in perspective

Guidestar has removed the SPLC flags — for now.
Guidestar is an invaluable source of information on non-profit organizations including copies of their IRS filings. As most of you know, Guidestar recently started to indicate on its profile page if a non-profit was designated a hate group by Southern Poverty Law Center. Most of these were the anti-LGBT hate groups which are self-styled as Christian organizations (so is the Klan).

Those groups had a tantrum and riled up their supporters. Apparently SPLC's designations are not as irrelevant as these groups have been insisting for years. Although, there is nothing that these folks like better than to assert that they have been victimized by liberals, Muslims, gays, atheists or former President Obama. Disparaging LGBT citizens comes close but victimization fills the tills.

On Friday Guidestar relented, at least for the time being. Some of the reasoning is quite disturbing. Part of their press release reads:
We acknowledge there is a deep, nuanced conversation to be had with Americans of all political, cultural, and religious backgrounds regarding how we address—and identify—hate groups.

Dismayingly, a significant amount of the feedback we’ve received in recent days has shifted from constructive criticism to harassment and threats directed at our staff and leadership.

With this development in mind—driven by both our commitment to objectivity and our concerns for our staff’s wellbeing—we have decided to remove the SPLC annotations from these 46 organizations for the time being.
My personality disorder makes me unreasonably stubborn and resistant to threats. Yet I probably would have done the same thing.

Guidestar CEO Jacob Harold has a business to run. Two of his responsibilities are to keep employees safe and to ensure that employees perceive that they are safe. Those are two different things of equal importance. If you work for, say, SPLC you might expect to be threatened by these yahoos. I get them by phone from time to time. There are three elements that they always include: “Fag,” “Kike” and “I know where you live.” I am obnoxious. I expect to be harassed. Employees of Guidestar do not.

One of the reasons for identifying hate groups is that they have the ability to incite violence. A group of supporters has engaged in the kind of behavior that we expect from these societal outliers. Their leaders often claim that they resent being lumped in with racists like the Klan. Their supporters have done precisely what Klansmen do which is to threaten violence.

Guidestar's opponents do not like the organization pointing out nonprofits designated as hate groups. Their supporters have added to the justification for that designation. Threats of violence are the refuge of people incapable of making a compelling argument on the merits.

I have seen a number of statements from these groups celebrating a victory. None that I have seen have seen fit to distance themselves from the violent rhetoric of their supporters. That is telling.

Meanwhile Mr. Harold has solicited my input on how they might do this. I have some ideas that I will share in an open forum. I will update this post with a link.

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