For years, the nation’s media, local media especially, have treated the the Southern Poverty Law Center with awe and its “hate list” as if it had real meaning.
The Kansas City Star alone has cited the “SPLC” by those letters 48 times and probably more often in its long form. A typical article from a year ago–“Dozens of civil rights groups band together to fight hatred they blame on Trump”–simply takes the SPLC at its word that there were 900 hate crimes committed in the year after President Trump’s election and insinuates that Trump was somehow responsible.
The question of the day, however, is whether the SPLC’s $3.3 million settlement with Maajid Nawaz will dim the media’s enthusiasm for the so-called watchdog group. Nawaz sued for defamation after the SPLC put his Quilliam group, “the world’s first counter-extremism organization,” on its hate list.
“Placing my name on a list like this not only smears my name but also puts me in physical danger,” said Nawaz. He was not exaggerating. Six years ago, for instance, a man launched an armed attack against the Family Research Council in Washington, citing the SPLC’s “hate” designation of the group as his inspiration.
Said Nawaz, “The Southern Poverty Law Center, or SPLC, who made their money suing the KKK, was set up to defend people like me but now have become the monster they have claimed they wanted to defeat.”
According to journalist Karl Zinmeister, the SPLC has been using a two-level strategy for years. On the first level, the SPLC has been identifying every irrelevant clown with a Nazi flag and a Facebook page and transforming said clown into a deviant superstar by placement on the hate list.
On the second level, the SPLC has been slandering political groups with whose politics they disagree by associating them with the aforementioned clowns.
As Zinmeister observes, “According to the SPLC, one of the most influential social scientists in the U.S.— Charles Murray—is a, quote, ‘white nationalist.’ Ayaan Hirsi Ali, perhaps the most eloquent spokesperson for the rights of Muslim women, is, to the SPLC, a ‘toxic… anti-Muslim extremist.’”
The SPLC has long harbored a grudge against Kansas gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach whom they slanderously identify as “lawyer for America’s nativist movement.”
The SPLC tried this second level strategy with Nawaz and got burned. As Nawaz attested in his suit, the SPLC accused him of being an ‘anti-Muslim extremist’ who causes ‘hate-based violence’ and ‘criminal hate violence’ against Muslims.”
The suit continued, “These statements are false and defamatory per se, both because they accuse Mr. Nawaz and the Quilliam Foundation of criminal activity and because they impugn them in their profession as activists dedicated to countering extremism and speaking out against hate crimes and the targeting of Muslims.”
Oops! The SPLC was forced to apologize publicly as part of the settlement. The media have no excuse now for not knowing just how reckless these people are.