March 19, 2019
For as much money as Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has, they could certainly do better in the crisis PR department. A week after the organization's stunning announcement that founder Morris Dees had been fired for allegations of racism and sexual misconduct, the group's only move has been setting out to prove detractors right. Instead of seizing the moment for some honest soul-searching, SPLC decided to show once again how unapologetically partisan it is.
It took years for the media to start seeing the cracks in SPLC's seemingly civil façade. After the group's "hate map" inspired the gunman at FRC, members of the press started wondering if the group's tactics were too reckless. Another shooting in 2017, this one by a fan of SPLC's at a GOP baseball practice, raised even more eyebrows. Suddenly, Politico, the Washington Post, Huffington Post, Weekly Standard, the Atlantic, Wall Street Journal, PJ Media, the Free Beacon, and others started sniffing around the group's offshores bank accounts, its fiercely liberal leadership, and dangerous methodology -- publishing one damning column after another "They've lost their way," "They aren't judging fairly," "They're biased, polarized, and unfair."
Then came the events of last week -- ripping away SPLC's hypocritical mask once and for all. In an astounding turn of events, the self-anointed arbiter of hate turned out to be the guiltiest one of all. There were allegations of "mistreatment, sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and racism" all threatening, the group wrote, "the moral authority of this organization and our integrity along with it."
Like so many of us who know the real SPLC, Rich Lowry of NRO couldn't believe the group could write that with a straight face. "The missive is touching in its assumption that the SPLC still has moral authority or integrity. The scandal is, nonetheless, a remarkable comeuppance for an organization that has weaponized political correctness for its own money-grubbing."
Now, instead of taking the opportunity to dig deep and recalibrate, SPLC is proving their critics right. Showing they have absolutely no interest in weeding out the bias and extremism that's poisoned the group for years, SPLC has hired Michelle Obama's former chief of staff to lead its "top-to-bottom" investigation of workplace culture. Tina Tchen, the group insists, will "hold a mirror" up to the organization and its leaders. "No one's actions, no matter that person's position at the SPLC, including those of us on the board, will be exempt from scrutiny and accountability."
For an organization that's never shown interest in a fair evaluation, the choice isn't all that surprising. Instead of hiring an outside investigator with an open mind, SPLC is intentionally rigging the outcome -- an approach it's certainly familiar with after years of framing opponents. For anyone still clinging to the group's last gasp credibility, that ought to tell them all they need to know. If SPLC were truly interested in reinventing themselves and earning back society's trust, they would hire a neutral party -- not a political hack, who will help them bury their skeletons.
Now that the SPLC has been exposed, the onus is on the media. "There's a lot of talk," Lowry says, "of the need for more civility in our public life. Any journalist who believes this should shun the SPLC. Its business model is based on an elaborate form of name-calling. It lumps together people who have legitimate, good-faith opinions the SPLC finds uncongenial with hideous racists, using revulsion with the latter to discredit the former..." It's time for America to walk away, because finally "they have designated themselves."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.