Everyone who supports President Donald Trump is racist. So said a local Facebook troll, going all in with the fashionable new tool for casting political opponents as monsters.
We have all seen the propensity of friends, neighbors and colleagues to thoughtlessly charge "racism" when someone disagrees with anything from immigration policy, to a proposal for health care reform, to tax cuts.
Most rational people despise racists, so charging another person with racism feels like a win-win for the accuser. "I'm not a racist, but you most certainly are. Therefore, we must discount anything you say."
Unlike amateur pundits, professional media cannot whimsically lodge hate accusations. Even under today's lowered standards of media conduct, reporters and editors know they need a third-party, authoritative "source" to accuse individuals or groups of racism and other forms of hatred.
They typically rely on the Southern Poverty Law Center, quoting it liberally as an ostensibly objective, knowledgeable source on all things hateful, racist and anti-Semitic.
Wednesday, a group of 47 prominent conservatives asked journalists to knock it off. The signers represented groups as diverse as the Jewish Institute for Global Awareness, Refugee Resettlement Watch, the American College of Pediatricians, the Alliance Defending Freedom, and the Media Research Center.
"The SPLC is a discredited, left-wing, political activist organization that seeks to silence its political opponents with a 'hate group' label of its own invention and application," they wrote, in five pages detailing the SPLC's careless and politically motivated attacks on groups it disagrees with.
The letter explained how the Southern Poverty Law Center placed The Family Research Council, a Christian organization opposed to same-sex marriage, on a "hate map" with violent and dangerous groups like the Ku Klux Klan. They quoted a U.S. Attorney's evidence of terrorist Floyd Lee Corkins II using the law center's "hate map" to target the Research Council and other Christian groups on the list.
"Having evolved from laudable origins battling the Klan in the 1970's, the SPLC has realized the profitability of defamation, churning out fundraising letters, and publishing 'hit pieces' on conservatives to promote its agenda and pad its substantial endowment (of $319 million). Anyone who opposes them, including many Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and traditional conservatives is slandered and slapped with the 'extremist' label or even worse, their 'hate group' designation. At one point, the SPLC even added Dr. Ben Carson to its 'extremist' list because of his biblical views."
We have seen the SPLC carelessly hate-list Coloradans. The law center labeled as "anti-Semitic" a Denver-area radio talk show host who owned with a gun store. Unbeknownst to the SPLC, the man was Jewish and lost relatives in the Holocaust.
SPLC's lawyers have every right to operate their law firm as a high-dollar, left-wing think tank that acts like a bombastic social media bully. Donors who like these tactics should feel free to send their donations to pad that $319 million endowment and the hefty salaries of SPLC employees.
Meanwhile, we remain confounded and slightly scandalized by the mainstream media's routine reliance on this outfit, and the propensity of reporters to present the "hate map" and assorted blacklists as sources of objective findings.
Don't expect the legacy media to accept this polite warning from 47 conservatives, but the general public should know: The Southern Poverty Law Center is a private, wealthy, activist law firm with a far-left political agenda. By labeling opponents as monsters, the law firm foments hate.
The Gazette Editorial Board