June 19, 2018
For the extremists at Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), it's been a record-shattering year. After limping through the last term of the Obama administration, hobbled by the connection to the shooting at FRC and a shunning by the FBI, U.S. Army, Justice Department, and media, the group's fortunes started to change -- quite literally -- with the election of Donald Trump. Donations shot up 164 percent. By last October, total assets were close to the half-billion dollar mark.
SPLC's comeback, aided by the largesse of Apple, JP Morgan, and other donors, hit a pretty significant roadblock this week when it was forced to pay Maajid Nawaz a $3.3 million settlement for wrongly including him on a list of anti-Muslim extremists. Nawaz, whose Quilliam group, became part of the organization's infamous "hate" list, sued for defamation. "Placing my name on a list like this not only smears my name but also puts me in physical danger" -- a fact FRC can vouch for after gunman Floyd Corkins used the SPLC's map in his armed attack on our office almost six years ago.
Asked why he was fighting back, Nawaz said, "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." The pushback worked. SPLC had to cough up a significant amount of money and issued a public apology, which only weakens the group's already shaky reputation. "After getting a deeper understanding of their views and after hearing from others for whom we have great respect," SPLC admitted, "we realize that we were simply wrong to have included Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam in the Field Guide in the first place." As for the multi-million dollar settlement, the group said, "It was the right thing to do in light of our mistake and the right thing to do in light of the growing prejudice against the Muslim community on both sides of the Atlantic. We will look to our insurance carrier to cover the cost of the settlement."
For now, any pretense of SPLC's neutrality is gone -- and no self-respecting media outlet will pretend otherwise. This settlement ought to leave the press and big business without excuse if they continue to use the SPLC as an objective, independent source. Already, some seem to recognize as much. Over at the New York Post, editors were glad to see SPLC finally called on the carpet. "The SPLC rakes in donations by claiming to fight hate, but its lists of hate groups routinely include not just truly vile outfits but also ones that simply don't toe a politically correct line... It's probably too much to hope for, but maybe the SPLC will start thinking twice before trying to 'counter' hate by spreading hate of its own."
Over at the Weekly Standard, editors tell readers that SPLC can "surely afford" the $3.3 million dollar damage control. But, they insist, "We'll take the SPLC seriously when it labels itself a hate group." Don't hold your breath. The organization has been through the PR ringer over the last decade and somehow "clung on to its halo," as NRO put it, even after peddling hysteria and hoaxes that put its opponents' lives at legitimate risk.
"It has consequences, this sinister and spendthrift game that the SPLC has been playing..." Douglas Murray warns. "As of today it seems possible that the SPLC's position may finally be taken back down to the position it should have been reduced to years ago. Perhaps after today those donors who still give money to the SPLC will realize that they are backing a disgraced and disgraceful organization, if any were unaware of and unbothered about this before
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.