By Lela Gilbert
It's well known that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has a long record of hate-listing Christian and conservative organizations that do not agree with their ultra-liberal point of view. They have particularly focused on Family Research Council for strongly defending life issues and for disputing the LGBT's radical agenda.
But this week, some very positive steps were taken to combat SPLC's unjust attacks. First, fifteen members of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee wrote a letter to Jeff Bezos, founder and president of Amazon. They voiced their objections to Amazon's reliance on SPLC guidelines regarding which organizations should benefit from "Amazon Smile" charitable donations.
At the same time, the Republican National Committee (RNC) passed an important resolution, refuting the "Legitimacy of the Southern Poverty Law Center to Identify Hate Groups."
On Tuesday's Washington Watch, Tyler O'Neil, senior editor of PJ Media was a guest on Washington Watch. O'Neil has also authored an important book on Southern Poverty Law Center, and Tony Perkins asked him about these recent developments.
"The resolution was really heartening." O'Neil said. "I was glad to see that the RNC took the Obama Biden administration to task for having the Department of Homeland Security use information from the Southern Poverty Law Center. And the statement said the policy is a radical organization. And the federal government should not view it as a legitimate foundation equipped to provide actionable information to DHS or any other government agency."
O'Neil unscored the significance of the 2012 attack on Family Research Council's headquarters, when a deranged gunman saw that FRC was listed as a hate group by SPLC and went to their offices in downtown D.C., intending to do a mass shooting there. Thankfully, the would-be killer was confronted and disarmed by a courageous building manager and arrested by the police.
"That is really the key moment that told many of us on the conservative Christian right recognized that the SPLC is a dangerous organization," O'Neil explained, "And of course, they condemned the attack, but they've continued to this day to list FRC's as a hate group. And I think that's particularly noteworthy and terrifying."
"I should mention," Tony Perkins pointed out, "that since you have written the book on Southern Poverty Law Center you certainly have examined and studied them. Last March, they fired the cofounder, Morris Dees. And they really cleaned house at the top.. What prompted this?"
"SPLC's own staffers actually signed a letter asking for Morris Dees to be booted," O'Neil explained. "And this followed decades of sexual harassment and racial discrimination claims made against Dees in particular, but also of other leading staffers as well, and against the organization as a whole."
In a groundbreaking 2019 article for the New Yorker, writer Bob Moser exposed that black former staffers in the 1990s were routinely denied the ability to rise within the ranks of the organization. And amidst this scandal, after Dees was fired, former employees also came forward admitting that they had been complicit in efforts to bilk northern liberals financially by exaggerating hate.
This included the SPLC's exaggeration of their hate group accusations, which invariably includes mainstream conservative and Christian groups.
Tony Perkins concluded the interview with Tyler O'Neil by pointing out the hypocrisy of both SPLC and the media. "If this a conservative group had been engaged in the very things they were supposedly fighting against, would the media overlook it? Would they treat them as protectively as they have the Southern Poverty Law Center? I don't think so."