The Southern Poverty Law Center was once an icon for Jewish values of racial tolerance and equality. It played a key role in the American civil rights movement.
The Center’s views have now been stretched so far that, in the name of tolerance and equality, the SPLC is partnering with, on the one hand, a Muslim group whose followers revere and support Hamas and Hezbollah, and a far-left think tank whose writers were spewing accusations of dual loyalty and other anti-Semitic canards just a few months ago.
On Wednesday evening, August 15, SPLC joined with the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Center for American Progress to present a teleconference call they publicized as addressing “The Real World Impact of Hate Rhetoric in America.” It was clear, however, from the participants and the language in the announcement that the hate-meter is all and only about measuring alleged anti-Muslim rhetoric, and will not take a baby step near anything so mundane as anti-Semitism.
Wajahat Ali, “an attorney and expert on the $40 million dollar Islamophobia industry in the US,” is a co-author of “Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” Ali represented CAP on the conference call. He explained that the Network is comprised of a small group of funders who support the experts who create the information, which is then transmitted to grass roots organizations, fed to the mainstream media, and then is inserted into the talking points of leading conservative politicians.
A quick peek at Fear, Inc.’s five supreme evil villains reveals four of the five are Jews, and the fifth works closely with Jews and Jewish organizations. Those five are Frank Gaffney at the Center for Security Policy; David Yerushalmi (Orthodox Jew) at the Society of Americans for National Existence; Daniel Pipes at the Middle East Forum; Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch and Stop Islamization of America; and Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
During the teleconference Wajahat included David Horowitz (yes, another Jew) of the Horowitz Freedom Center in his list of the Network experts. Horowitz was not surprised that the SPLC was joining with MPAC and CAP to criticize people like him.
“The SPLC is the most prominent and active leftwing smear site in America,” Horowitz told The Jewish Press. He explained that, “like much of the left it has joined the Muslim Brotherhood and its front groups in attacking patriotic Americans who oppose the Islamist oppression of women, gays and other religions and promote jihad against the United States.”
The Center for American Progress has been embroiled in a hate speech controversy of its own, one that was not discussed during the Hate Rhetoric teleconference.
Last spring CAP was hit with repeated charges of anti-Semitism over the use by some of its leadership of such terms as “Israel-Firsters” to describe politicians and others who allegedly put Israel’s interests above those of the United States. Several of the organization’s members left as a result of the controversy.
The third group anchoring the teleconference on “Hate Rhetoric” is one whose leader – and the one co-anchoring the call - blamed Israel for the terrorist attack on New York City on September 11, 2011. It is a group allegedly born from the seed of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Muslim Public Affairs Council president Salam al-Marayati is an expert on hate rhetoric, having long engaged in directing his own version towards Jews and the Jewish State. But he is tone deaf to certain kinds of hate speech – minimizing and even lauding the terrorist acts of Hezbollah which he claims constitute legitimate resistance.
So why is a nice group like the Southern Poverty Law Center joining forces to talk about Hate Rhetoric with two extreme purveyers of, well, Hate Rhetoric?
Steve Emerson is one of the “architects” of the Islamophobic Network, according to CAP. Emerson told The Jewish Press, “that now the SPLC has scurrilously jumped on the ‘Islamophobia industry’ like MPAC and CAP in promoting a totally fabricated conspiracy that alleges a group of ten individuals (yours truly included) colluded for a decade to hypnotize 300 million Americans to be suspicious of Muslims.”
In fact, according to Emerson, “the reality is MPAC, SPLC, CAP and also the ADL and ACLU are the true conspiratorialists in promoting the myth of Islamophobia, a term created by radical Islamic groups, together with their handlers like CAP, the SPLC and the ADL, to silence any criticism of radical Islam.”
A group of national religious leaders joined together in a letter they made public, called on the SPLC leadership to withdraw from the teleconference: “To treat MPAC as a legitimate organization, much less a valued partner of the Southern Poverty Law Center, is an extraordinary rejection of Jewish Americans and of moderate Muslim Americans. “
But the signers contacted were not optimistic that the SPLC would withdraw. And they were right.
Rabbi Jon Hausman of Stoughton, Massachusetts signed the letter. Hausman said he could not understand how the Southern Poverty Law Center, which was “founded to combat the worst impulses of hatred is now working with acknowledged purveyors of anti-Semitism, and which believes the State of Israel needs to be dismantled.”
Another one of the signers, Charles Jacobs, is a long-time human rights activist who founded the American Anti-Slavery Group in 1994. Jacobs explained that long ago he respected the SPLC, but he learned its true colors when they refused to help his anti-Slavery group nearly fifteen years ago. At that time, he was “shocked and disappointed.”
According to Jacobs, “the SPLC doesn’t really care about human rights. To be more precise, they only care about human rights violations committed by those in the West.” Jacobs told The Jewish Press that “the SPLC has abandoned the victims of non-Westerners, such as Black victims of Arabs, and women victimized by Islam, and Christians victimized by Muslim majorities.”
Heidi Beirich is the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Projects Director. During the teleconference Beirich discussed the “frightening and sustained growth” of hate groups over the past decade in America. She mentioned that there are now more than 30 anti-Muslim groups in America.
According to the most hate crimes numbers available from the FBI, religious bias accounts for only 20 percent of all hate crimes, and the number of anti-Jewish hate crimes in America is five times greater than that of anti-Muslim hate crimes.
Anders Breivik, the Norwegian mass-murderer responsible for the deaths of 78 people in Norway, on July 22, 2011, was mentioned by each of the speakers. They all emphasized that Breivik’s “manifesto” mentioned by name several of the people in the so-called Islamophobic Network. Each painted what they clearly see as the causal connection between Breivik’s acts and the writings of people like Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller and others mentioned in Fear, Inc.
A similar causal connection was not drawn to an act of violence that took place the same day as the teleconference, although it is possible the violence had some connection to “hate rhetoric.”
Wednesday afternoon, 28-year old Floyd Lee Corkins II, walked into the lobby of the conservative Family Research Council lobby and began shooting. Corkins worked at the DC Center for the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bi-sexual and Transgender) Community. According to CNN, a law enforcement official said Corkins made some remarks opposing the FRC’s policies before opening fire.
It is unclear whether Corkins knew that in 2010 the SPLC had officially branded the FRC a hate group. At the time, SPLC’s Heidi Beirich told a reporter that, “there is no difference between the FRC and the KKK in the eyes of the SPLC.”
Charles Jacobs, for one, was prepared to draw the connection. He said that the actions of the SPLC make it a hate group for inciting violence.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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