Loading...
'BYH' to the GOP, working on their new motto, "We don't mind if a man tries to rape you, we only care if you don't want...

Southern Poverty Law Center lost all credibility

MarcThiessen

Marc Thiessen

Loading…

Sunday, June 24, 2018

After years of smearing good people with false charges of bigotry, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has finally been held to account. A former Islamic radical named Maajid Nawaz sued the center for including him in its bogus "Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists," and this week the SPLC agreed to pay him a $3.375 million settlement and issued a public apology.

The SPLC is a once-storied organization that did important work filing civil rights lawsuits against the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s. But it has become a caricature of itself, labeling virtually anyone who does not fall in line with its left-wing ideology an "extremist" or "hate group."

Nawaz is a case in point. Since abandoning Islamic radicalism, he has advised three British prime ministers and created the Quilliam Foundation, to fight extremism. He is not anti-Muslim. He is a Muslim and has argued that "Islam is a religion of peace."

So how did he end up in the SPLC's pseudo-guide to anti-Muslim bigots? His crime, apparently, is that he has become a leading critic of the radical Islamist ideology he once embraced. Thanks to his courage, the SPLC has been forced to pay a multimillion-dollar penalty and acknowledge in a statement that it was "wrong" and that Nawaz has "made valuable and important contributions to public discourse, including by promoting pluralism and condemning both anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamist extremism."

Let's hope this settlement is the first of many, because this is not the first time the SPLC has done this. In 2010, it placed the Family Research Council (FRC) — a conservative Christian advocacy group that opposes abortion and same-sex marriage — on its "hate map." Two years later, a gunman walked into the FRC headquarters with the intention to "kill as many as possible and smear the Chick-fil-A sandwiches in victims' faces." He told the FBI that he had used the SPLC website to pick his target.

Unfortunately, many in the media still take the SPLC seriously. Last year, ABC News ran a story headlined: "Jeff Sessions addresses 'anti-LGBT hate group,'" in which it reported that "Sessions addressed members of the Alliance Defending Freedom, which was designated an 'anti-LGBT hate group' by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2016."

The Alliance Defending Freedom is a respected organization of conservative lawyers dedicated to defending religious liberty, and it just argued a case before the Supreme Court, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. It won, 7 to 2. It is not a "hate group." If anything, it is fighting anti-Christian hate.

In 2014, the SPLC placed Ben Carson — later a Republican presidential candidate and now the current secretary of housing and urban development — on its "extremist watch list," alongside neo-Nazis and white supremacists. After an uproar, the group removed him and apologized.

The SPLC also lists Charles Murray, a colleague of mine at the American Enterprise Institute and one of the most respected conservative intellectuals in the United States, on its website as a "White Nationalist." Last year, an angry mob of students, many citing the SPLC's designation, physically attacked Murray during a speech at Middlebury College.

He escaped unharmed, but the liberal professor who invited him ended up in the hospital.

Little wonder that Nawaz was not just angry but also afraid about being designated an extremist by the SPLC. He told the Atlantic in 2016, "They put a target on my head. The kind of work that I do, if you tell the wrong kind of Muslims that I'm an extremist, then that means I'm a target."

Unfortunately, the settlement that the SPLC reached with Nawaz is not likely to deter it from smearing others — $3.4 million is a drop in the bucket for the center, which raised $132 million between November 2016 and October 2017 and has a $477 million endowment, including a reported $92 million in offshore accounts. Sliming conservatives is big business.

The only way to stop the SPLC is if people stop giving it money and the media stop quoting it or taking it seriously. The SPLC once did important work fighting the Ku Klux Klan. But when it declares Maajid Nawaz, the Family Research Council, Ben Carson and Charles Murray as moral equivalents of the Klan, it loses all integrity and credibility.

Marc Thiessen is an author, columnist and political commentator. He served as a speechwriter for President George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

September 22, 2018

Bloomberg Opinion

President Donald Trump's planned nomination of Nellie Liang to the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors, which oversees everything from interest-rate policy to financial stability, is a little surprising. She's admirably well-qualified and in every way a good choice.

Trump hasn't…

September 22, 2018

An oft-used, if hackneyed, axiom is: Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Applied to politics, it means that if you lose a special election, don't try again in the general.

Danny O'Connor says he's going to defy that conventional wisdom. Last month, the 32 year-old Democrat barely…

albert hunt

September 22, 2018

There was the thought of leaping onto a desk and screaming “you tell ‘em” when a three-judge federal panel delivered a stern comeuppance for lawyers representing the General Assembly in the ongoing congressional redistricting case.

In their order last week to stay action of their…

Redistricting North Carolina

September 22, 2018

It happened once again with Hurricane Florence. Whenever North Carolina is in crisis — such as with storms or other catastrophes — we collectively rise to the occasion. Politics, rivalries and past animosities disappear, and we witness the best of humanity.

We have to commend state…

Tom Campbell.jpg

September 21, 2018

Where is James Baker when we need him?

The political maneuvering required to get Judge Brett Kavanaugh confirmed to the Supreme Court is probably the most important and consequential since the Florida recount in 2000, so deftly navigated by the old Republican hand Baker on behalf of George W. Bush.…

EdRogers

September 21, 2018

Hurricane Florence has drenched eastern North Carolina with more than 30 inches of rain, an all-time record for the state. Last year, Hurricane Harvey stalled over Houston and dumped more than 60 inches of rain, an all-time record for the whole country. Also last year, Hurricane Maria ravaged the…

Eugene Robinson

September 20, 2018

On Sept. 17, Politico reported, U.S. president Donald Trump partially declassified a government surveillance application targeting former campaign consultant Carter Page and directed the U.S. Department of Justice to publicly release text messages relating to the "Russiagate" probe between former…

Knapp

September 20, 2018

In his new book "Fear," Bob Woodward recounts that in April 2017, after President Trump saw images of dead Syrian children with their mouths foaming from a sarin attack, he called Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and issued an order: Get me a plan for a military strike to take out Syrian President…

MarcThiessen

September 19, 2018

Three days before the Washington-based trial against Paul Manafort was set to begin, special counsel Robert Mueller raised eyebrows in the legal community when his office filed a new charging document. Many began to wonder whether an announcement about a plea agreement with Manafort, President…

 Deanna Paul

September 19, 2018

So much of our reasoning about race is both emotional and faulty. In ordinary, as well as professional, conversation, we use terms such as discrimination, prejudice, racial preferences and racism interchangeably, as if they referred to the same behavior. We can avoid many pitfalls of misguided…

Walter Williams
296 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 30
        Next Page»   Last Page»