The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Hate-Mongers
by John Vennari
Saint Augustine once said that in the case of some individuals, an intellect may
be capable of forming an objection without being capable of understanding the
argument that meets that objection. Is the Southern Poverty Law Center, supposedly
staffed by intelligent people, truly incapable of grasping basic rudiments of
Catholicism? Or are they willfully malicious in their refusal to understand the
Catholic Faith, and in their refusal to admit the most fundamental distinctions?
My guess, it is a combination of both.
In its Winter 2007 Intelligence Report, the Southern Poverty Law Center [SPLC],
an enormously wealthy left-wing organization that sets itself up as a watchdog
of hate-groups, racism and anti-Semitism, published a brutal attack on traditional
Catholics. For years, SPLC monitored scurvy groups such as Neo-Nazis, the Ku
Klux Klan, Skinheads and White Supremacists. More recently it targeted the so
called “Christian right”. Pat Buchanan’s organization is listed
as a hate group, one reason being Buchanan’s opposition to illegal immigration.
Two years ago, its Winter 2005 Intelligence Report disparaged the “Christian
Right” for its opposition to homosexuality, gay marriage and the gay agenda,
after which the homosexual New York Blade celebrated with the headline: “Report
Labels Religious Right as Hate Group”.
Now the SPLC has targeted traditional Catholics, claiming various “radical
traditionalist” organizations “are preaching anti-Semitism to as
many as 100,000 followers.” Twelve traditional Catholic groups, which
the SPLC calls “The Dirty Dozen”, have been “added to the
Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of hate groups.” Catholic Family
News is listed as one of the “Dirty Dozen”, along with the Remnant,
the Fatima Crusader, Catholic Apologetics International, the Slaves of the Immaculate
Heart in New Hampshire, Tradition in Action and others, including at least one
sedevacantist organization. The Society of Saint Pius X was also lambasted,
independently from the “Dirty Dozen” section, as a “Radical
I knew the SPLC assault was coming, and the attack is every bit as absurd
as I thought it would be. The members of the other groups targeted are capable
of answering the SPLC if they choose to do so. My response and observations
will center primarily on what was said about Catholic Family News.
In its so-called “interviews” with various traditional Catholics
before the article was published, and in the article itself, the SPLC employs
tactics and stratagems designed to demonize its opponents. Their tactics are
what I call “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Hate-Mongers”,
which we will look at one by one.
1) Ignore the facts and adhere to your pre-conceived prejudices.
In late September, Michael Matt from The Remnant was contacted by a representative
from the SPLC. She explained they were working on a piece about traditional
Catholics, and asked Mr. Matt a series of antagonist questions. The questions
revealed a formidable lack of understanding of what the traditional Catholic
Movement is all about, but when Mr. Matt tried to answer or offer a clarification,
she immediately jumped to another question. One of the questions was: “Isn’t
it true that traditional Catholics share the same heroes with the neo-Nazi movement
such as Father Denis Fahey and Father Charles Coughlin?” Mr. Matt tried
to explain the clear distinction between traditional Catholic teaching and Neo-Nazi
racism, but to no avail. He then terminated the conversation, as it seemed clear
that the SPLC had no intention of trying to understand traditional Catholics
or to present them in an unbiased manner.
Around the same time I received a call from Heidi Beirich of the SPLC. I was
not in the office at the time, but called her back a few days later: twice,
only to receive her answering machine on which I left polite messages. She never
tried to contact me again. As I was aware of Michael Matt’s bizarre interrogation,
I was not eager to attempt to contact Ms. Beirich any further. From the beginning,
there was a strong note of SPLC ill-will. It is my belief that the SPLC telephoned
various traditional Catholics for one reason only: so the SPLC could say, if
asked, “Yes, we contacted, or tried to contact, them.” But this
contact was not for the purpose of seeking the truth, or seeking to be corrected
of their pre-conceived prejudices. This was obvious from the SPLC’s phone
call to Mr. Matt.
2) Employ “Politician’s Logic”
“Politician’s Logic” is a term coined by the brilliant British
comedy, Yes, Prime Minster. It runs as follows:
– all dogs have four legs,
– my cat has four legs
– therefore, my dog is a cat.
In the SPLC context, “Politician’s Logic” runs as follows:
– Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists are hate groups that talk against Jews.
– Traditional Catholics “talk against” Jews
– Therefore, traditional Catholics are a hate group on a par with Neo-Nazis.
Yet nothing could be further from the truth. The Catholic’s quarrel
with Judaism has nothing to do with race, but is religious in essence. Our Lord
Jesus Christ said, “He who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.”
Our Lord also commanded his Church, “Go forth and make disciples of all
nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the
Holy Ghost. He who believes and is baptized will be saved. He who does not believe
will be condemned.”
The adherents of Judaism reject Jesus Christ, and some are openly hostile
to Him and to the Church he established. Witness the explosion of fury from
certain Jewish groups over Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, a film
that merely attempted to portray the Gospel account of the Holy Thursday to
Easter Sunday. Witness the hostility to the Oberammergau Passion Play from Jewish
groups who called for an international boycott. Witness the Tel Aviv journalist
who in the May 3, 2000 edition of Ha’aretz Daily Newspaper, openly denounced
the New Testament, saying that any Passion Play based on the Gospel is beyond
redemption. Here, Eliahu Saltpeter wrote, “The New Testament was written
by a cult which loathed the Jewish establishment and everything it stood for.
Christianity is founded upon the New Testament, and no script alterations or
interpolated explanation can change that fact.”
Catholics have no choice but to oppose those who display such hostility to
Christ and His Gospel, not by force or bloodshed, but by argument, by proclaiming
the truths of the Catholic Faith, and by not complying with their demands.
Father Denis Fahey, whom the SPLC despises, made the clear distinction in
his treatment of Anti-Semitism. He explained, “On the one hand, Catholics
must stand unflinchingly for the Integral Rights of Christ the King, as contained
in the Papal Encyclicals, while on the other hand, keeping their minds and hearts
free from hatred of Our Lord’s own nations according to the flesh. On
the one hand, they must battle for the Rights of Christ the King and the Supernatural
Organization of Society, as laid down in the Encyclical Quas Primas, unequivocally
proclaiming that the rejection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the True Messiah, by
His own nation, and the unyielding opposition of that nation to Him, are a fundamental
source of disorder in the world. On the other hand, as members of Our Lord Jesus
Christ, Catholics should neither hate the members of the nation in which, through
the Blessed Mother, the Lily of Israel, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity
assumed human nature, nor deny them [Jews] their legitimate rights as persons.”
SPLC’s Heidi Beirich presents a skewed summary of Father Fahey’s
distinction and immediately rejects it as a “distinction without a difference.”
To the SPLC, Father Fahey and those like him oppose Jews. Therefore, Fahey and
those of his ilk are anti-Semitic. The dog is a cat because they both have four
legs. Politicians’ logic!
3) Don’t even try to get your facts straight.
Ms. Beirich’s SPLC report gets a number of facts wrong, which displays
shoddy journalism. I will not treat all of them, but a few regarding myself,
the 2003 Catholic Family News conference, and some obvious falsehoods concerning
the Society of St. Pius X.
Beirich writes that John Vennari “says he is now part of the official
Vatican press corps.” I have no idea where she got that one. Any CFN reader
will attest that I have never made such a claim. I received Press Credentials
from the Vatican Press Office for the June 2002 Vatican Press Conference on
the clerical scandals, but this does not constitute any journalist as a member
of the Vatican press corps. It seems Ms. Beirich just made up certain things
as she went along.
There were also some silly falsehoods contained in SPLC comments on the October
2003 Catholic Family News conference in Philadelphia. “Sunday’s
activities started with a now rarely celebrated hour-long recitation of the
Rosary.” Again, where that came from is anyone’s guess. We have
never at any of our conferences recited a rosary that lasted an hour. Of the
vendors at this CFN conference, Beirich writes, “Priests in Roman collars
staffed many tables: brown cloaked monks manned others.” Again, this is
straight from outer space. Only one table at that conference was manned by two
brothers in Roman collars, the rest of the venders were that of lay organizations
staffed by laymen and women all wearing lay clothes. Perhaps, if there was a
SPLC informant at the conference, he saw a vender in a brown hoodie and knows
so little about Catholicism that he could only describe him as a “brown-robed
monk”. This is an “Intelligence” Report?
The report also published blunders regarding the Society of Saint Pius X.
Beirich said, “In the late 1980s, Pope John Paul II excommunicated all
SSPX priests and declared the sect formally in schism.” In truth, any
mention of “excommunication” was limited only to the six bishops
involved in the June 30, 1988 consecrations, and even these “excommunications”
are extremely doubtful when examined in light of the Canon #1323 of the 1983
Code of Canon Law. Also, Ms. Beirich chose not to mention that the Vatican’s
Cardinal Hoyos said in November 2005 — well before the Intelligence Report
went to press — that the SSPX is not in formal schism.
Regarding the possibility of the SSPX’s reconciliation with Rome, Beirich
said Pope Benedict XVI “last September approved an institute for French
priest who left the movement [SSPX]. The pope’s move marked the effective
end to efforts by the Vatican to bring the SSPX sect back into the Catholic
fold.” This is patently untrue. The resolution between today’s Rome
and the SSPX will indeed be difficult, but it is a lie to claim Pope Benedict
has abandoned all efforts to effect a reconciliation. The Vatican has never
made such as statement. Again, Beirich appears to be making it up as she goes
To spotlight each of the various untruths, partial truths and misrepresentations
is beyond the scope of this short commentary. Suffice to say that the SPLC is
so arrogant and reckless, so accustomed to bullying others with impunity, that
it prints falsehoods and inaccuracies that would not be tolerated in a fourth
grade history report.
4) Use pot-boiler rhetoric at every opportunity.
The SPLC employs explosive terminology calculated to generate emotional response.
It uses the term “anti-Semitic” constantly. Traditional Catholics
“may represent the largest population of anti-Semites in the United States.”;
Father Fahey spouted “the same kind of anti-Jewish propaganda as the Nazis.”
(Beirich does not understand the distinction, nor does she mention that the
Vatican condemned the Nazis and praised Father Fahey.) From traditional Catholics,
“disdain and outright hatred of the Jews flows like a poisonous river.”
The CFN conference Sunday Mass was said by “an apostate priest”;
Father Charles Coughlin was “a leading American anti-Semite of the 1920s
and 1930s.” The list goes on.
Another example of the SPLC’s unbalanced rhetoric is their condemnation
of my booklet, The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita, a Masonic Blueprint
for the Subversion of the Church. SPLC calls it an “anti- Semitic”
tract. Yet throughout the entire booklet, readily available to anyone who wants
to read it, I do not mention Jews at all, nor do I employ the term “Judeo-Masonry”.
SPCL disparages the booklet nonetheless. Warnings against the dangers of Freemasonry
are a laughable conspiracy theory. After denouncing my critique of the French
Revolution, in which the SPCL, not I, mentions the Jews, Beirich then makes
an unbelievable admission. She says, “Catholic fears about Masonic power
have not been limited to Vennari. Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) for one branded
Freemasonry as an ‘enemy of religion and society’ and wrote in an
1884 encyclical that Masons sought to impose the ‘kingdom of Satan on
The SPLC thus denounces me for fidelity to the teaching of Pope Leo XIII,
and to all the Popes who condemned Freemasonry. Clearly, it is the Catholic
Faith of all time that the SPLC despises.
Further, the SPLC never mentions the fact that both Pope Pius IX and Pope
Leo XIII considered the Alta Vendita a true Masonic document that should be
published as a means of tearing the mask off of Freemasonry.
Ms. Beirich stokes the fires saying, “In his CFN newspaper in 2003,
Vennari called Judaism ‘part of the Kingdom of Satan’ and accused
the Talmud of ‘teaching of contempt’.”
As for the “Kingdom of Satan”, Beirich (deliberately, I believe),
did not tell her readers the context in which this is said.
In the 2003 article, which was on the attack against the Oberammergau Passion
Play by certain Jewish groups, I quoted Saint Augustine’s doctrine of
the Two Kingdoms, reiterated by Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical against Freemasonry.
Augustine and Leo teach that the world is divided into two camps, the Kingdom
of God to the contempt of man, and the kingdom of man to the contempt of God.
The kingdom of man is ultimately the kingdom of Satan.
Those who are baptized and live the life of sanctifying grace are part of
the Kingdom of God, and those who reject Christ and live outside of His Grace
are part of the kingdom of Satan. Muslims, Jews and all non-Catholics, according
to the defined dogma of the Catholic Church, are, in the objective order, not
part of the kingdom of God and are therefore part of the kingdom of Satan. There
is no third alternative. The eminent American theologian Msgr. Joseph Clifford
Fenton reiterated this truth in the pages of the American Ecclesiastical Review.
The SPLC, however, does not give the full context, but merely limits it to “Jews”,
as if the denouncement of Jews is all that traditional Catholics live for. Again,
skewed and selective journalism on Bierich’s part.
As for the Talmud containing “teaching of contempt”, this is admitted
by Jews as well.
First of all, the term “teaching of contempt” was coined by the
Jewish historian Jules Isaac in the 1940s as a derogatory term against the Catholic
doctrine that Jews will not find salvation unless they convert to Christ and
His Church. This, in fact, is the teaching of Our Divine Lord Jesus Christ that
Isaac finds contemptible. Our Lord said, “He who is not with me is against
Me”, and “He who believes and is baptized will be saved, He who
does not believe will be condemned.”
In describing the Talmud, I purposely used the term “teaching of contempt”
to emphasize that this Jewish holy book contains contemptible teachings against
Jesus Christ. Israel Shahak, an Israeli Jew, born in Poland, incarcerated for
four years in Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp during World War II, lived in
Palestine from 1945 until his death in 2001. His 1994 book, Jewish History,
Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years, speaks openly about the
Talmud’s anti-Christian teachings. Mr. Shahak writes:
“It must be admitted at the outset that the Talmud and Talmudic literature
… contains very offensive statements and precepts directed specifically against
Christianity. For example, in addition to a series of scurrilous sexual allegations
against Jesus, the Talmud states that His [Jesus’] punishment in hell
is to be immersed in boiling excrement a statement not exactly calculated to
endear the Talmud to devout Christians. Or one can quote the precept according
to which Jews are instructed to burn, publicly if possible, any copy of the
New Testament that comes into their hands. (This is not only still in force,
but actually practiced today: thus on March 23, 1980 hundreds of copies of the
New Testament were publicly and ceremonially burned in Jerusalem under the auspices
of Yad Le’ akham, a Jewish religious organization subsidized by the Israeli
Ministry of Religions.)
“… The Edito Princeps of the complete Code of Talmudic Law, Maimonides’
Mishneh Torah [is] replete with the most offensive precepts against all Gentiles
but also with explicit attacks on Christianity and on Jesus (after whose name
the author adds piously, “May the name of the wicked perish) …”
I published this quotation in the 2003 article that Ms. Beirich refers to,
but she never mentioned it. Only certain kinds of “hate crimes”
are worthy of her censure. Nor did she report that caveat I wrote in the same
article regarding the Talmud and the average Jew:
“I am aware that the average Jew on the street probably does not know
about the severe anti-Christian teachings in the Talmud. I am virtually certain
that many of them would be scandalized if they learned of these tenets. Even
Rabbi Drach, of the 19th Century, said that certain Talmudic passages made him
‘blush with shame’. Thus I am not trying to incite hostility against
the average Jew on the street, nor would it be fair to do so. But I do have
a quarrel with the Jewish leaders of the Anti-Defamation League of the B’nai
B’rith who are certainly not ignorant of these anti-Christ, Talmudic teachings.
Yet all the while, these same Jewish leaders accuse Catholics of a ‘teaching
of contempt,’ and muscle in to tell us what we may or may not say when
depicting the Passion and Death of Our Lord; and what we may or may not say
within our own Catholic liturgy, and in Catholic classrooms.”
Thus, the SPLC purposely uses pot-boiler rhetoric to denigrate its enemies,
and studiously omit quotations that disprove its claim.
5) Never present an honest depiction of those whom you wish to smear.
A former Communist who converted to Catholicism once told Bishop Fulton J.
Sheen that the most accurate definition he ever read of Communism was contained
in Pope Pius XI’s 1937 Encyclical against Communism. Likewise Modernists
of the early 20th century would tell their initiates that if they wanted to
fully understand the modernist system, read Pope Saint Pius X’s encyclical
The Catholic Church always presented in its teaching a clear and accurate
exposition of the doctrine that it set out to condemn. The Church did this without
emotional and pot-boiler rhetoric, but with fairness and precision. This is
the opposite approach from that of SPLC hucksters who construct a false image
of whomever they wish to smear, and never present his full system of beliefs
or try to understand his motives for action.
It is not hard to explain the thinking and actions of traditional Catholics.
For example, an honest critic would explain that traditional Catholics oppose
today’s interreligious ecumenism, because it contradicts the defined doctrine,
“no salvation outside the Church”, and because today’s form
of ecumenism was explicitly condemned by the perennial magisterium of the Church,
summarized in Pope Pius XI’s encyclical, Mortalium Animos.
An honest critic could also explain with ease the reason traditional Catholic
resist change in doctrine. It is a perennial Catholic truth that doctrine cannot
change, no more than the formula two plus two equals four can change. Objective
truth is immutable.
Aside from this, there is the infallible definition of Vatican I that Catholics
must always believe everything that the Church always taught “in the same
meaning and in the same explanation”, that no updating or change of doctrine
can be made “in the name of a deeper understanding”, and that not
even the Pope has the power to change Catholic doctrine. This is all laid out
infallibly in Vatican I’s Dei Filius and Aeterni Patris. Yet the SPLC
does not even try to explain why the traditional Catholic thinks and acts the
way he does. Rather, Heidei Beirich, Mark Potok and those at the SPLC ignore
the basic decencies justice demands. Rather, they smear, smear, smear. In truth,
it is they who are the real hate-mongers.
6) Raise millions by claiming you are saving the world from hate groups.
The SPLC was founded in 1971 by millionaire and direct-marketing whiz Morris
Dees. Neither he nor the SPLC enjoys and an unsullied reputation.
• The Washington Times (2/9/01) said, “The Southern Poverty Law
Center, which sounds like the hide-out of a noble band of warriors against hate
crimes and other racial wrongs, is actually a fund-raising scheme that could
teach televangelists a thing or two.”
• Harpers Magazine (11/2000) reported the statement of Millard Farmer,
a leading anti-death penalty lawyer and former partner of Dees. Farmer said
Dees “is the Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker of the Civil Rights Movement, though
I don’t mean to malign Jim and Tammy Faye.”
• Organization Trends (11/2006) summarized the SPLC as follows: “Obsessed
with fundraising, the fabulously wealthy Southern Poverty Law Center exaggerates
the scope of racism in the United States to frighten donors into opening their
wallets. SPLC is nominally a public interest law firm, but it spends little
on actual litigation. Instead, it uses politically skewed definitions of racism
to indoctrinate children while smearing conservatives who question racial preference
• Morris Dees’ yearly salary is colossal. For the year that ended
October, 2005, SPLC paid Dees $297,559 in salary and pension plan contributions.
• USA Today ((8/3/96) quoted Stephen Bright of Atlanta’s Southern
Center for Human Rights who said Dees “is a fraud who has milked a lot
of very wonderful, well-intentioned people. If it’s got headlines, Dees
7) Trample underfoot the Eighth Commandment.
The SPLC is allegedly out to defend Jews, yet most people readily associate
Jews with the first Passover, the parting of the Red Sea, Moses and the Ten
Commandments. The Eighth Commandment states clearly, “Thou shalt not bear
false witness against thy neighbor.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center tramples this holy Commandment into dust through
its publication of falsehoods, half truths, and odious rhetoric against those
whom it wishes to demonize. This disdain for the Eighth Commandment is a mortal
sin that sends the soul to hell. It appears that those at the SPLC do not believe
in mortal sin, and think themselves above a Biblical injunction in force since
the days of Moses.
Much more could be said about the SPLC report, but what is written suffices
to demonstrate the SPLC as a dishonest critic that seeks to malign its opponents,
and will employ hate-monger tactics to achieve its ends.
Shortly after Our Lord’s resurrection, Saul of Taursus persecuted the
early Christians. The Christians prayed fervently for someone to answer Saul,
and Our Lord responded by sending Saul to answer Saul. Heaven did not condemn
him, but converted him into the most zealous proponent of Our Lord’s sacred
By some miracle, may those at the Southern Poverty Law Center be touched with
an extraordinary grace to convert that organization from an opponent of the
doctrine of Christ to its defender. Some may consider this a preposterous prayer,
since indeed it takes a miracle to convert those of ill will. At the birth of
Christ, the Angels did not say, “Peace on earth, good will to men,”
but “Peace to men of good will.” Nonetheless we may still pray that
the Immaculate Heart of Mary converts the hearts of those who calumniate us
and defame Catholicism.