The term “hate group” just brings up negative feelings. The natural human impulse is to reject any group that someone labels a hate group. After all, who wants to be known as someone who just hates other people?
The problem is, typically, people define a hate group as a group that disagrees with their political position. If you keep this in mind, it makes it difficult to know who is a hate group simply by the name. In fact, some would argue that some of the worst hate groups are the ones that label other groups as hate groups.
Take, for example, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Based on their name, you would think that this is simply an organization that seeks to help poor people with legal troubles in the American southeast. In fact, they’d probably tell you that that is exactly what they do. Karl Zinsmeister describes what the SPLC does now this way (hat tip to here for the source):
The SPLC employs a two-pronged strategy:
First, find a handful of crazies with barely any followers, no address, and no staff, and blow them up into a dangerous movement— proof that there are neo-Nazis lurking everywhere. On their notorious “Hate Map,” the SPLC lists 917 separate hate groups in the U.S.! No one has even heard of more than a handful of them.
The second strategy of the SPLC is to undermine legitimate political voices that they oppose by associating them with extremists like the KKK.
Let’s be clear, the SPLC’s political slant is from a very left-wing political perspective, and they have every right in America to have that political leaning. The problem is that the SPLC acts in the manner that they accuse “hate groups” of acting: that is, targeting people who haven’t actually done any harm to you and attacking them.
And, if they think you aren’t listening, they’ll tell you that is what they are doing. Mark Potok of the SPLC was caught saying “[T]he press will describe us as ‘monitoring hate groups’…. I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups [Christian, politically conservative, and/or libertarian groups], to completely destroy them.”
And the effect? Violence. Yes, the SPLC causes violence. Zinsmeister writes,
Portraying someone with political views different from your own as a public menace is bullying.
And it’s a dangerous game. Instead of reducing hate and violence, the SPLC’s name-calling directly incites it.
In March 2017, Charles Murray was trying to discuss his acclaimed book Coming Apart at Middlebury College when he was violently attacked by protesters inflamed by the SPLC’s labeling of him as a racist. A professor escorting Murray ended up in the hospital.
In 2012, a gunman attempted mass murder at the Family Research Council, and failed only because the first man he shot managed to disarm him. The attacker told the police he acted because the SPLC had listed the Family Research Council as a hate group.
It’s a vicious irony: while promoting itself as a monitor of “hate groups,” the SPLC has, in practice, become a fomenter of hate.
But, remember the SPLC has such a nice, innocent name. It makes you wonder who you can trust, and, the answer is that, based on the an organization’s name, you shouldn’t believe one thing or another. You need to look at what they do and the affects of their actions. This will give you an indication of whether an organization might be trusted. And this is exactly what you need to do if you want to keep yourself informed about what is really going on in this world and, especially, in our country because organizations like the SPLC will give you information which will color your thinking so that, if you believe them, you won’t be able to make clear, well-informed decisions about actions that you need to take.
So, if you want to take care of your family, if you want to be prepared and safe in this world, you need to be careful who you believe when someone labels another group a hate group, and you need to not simply believe the name of a group reflects who they really are because, as the SPLC shows, a name isn’t an honest reflection of who they are.