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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