Isn’t the Southern Poverty Law Center the Real Hate Group?
by Michael Brown
For many years now, Focus on the Family (FOTF) has been one of the most respected and influential evangelical ministries in the country, and so it came as quite a shock when, earlier this month, FOTF’s traditional, pro-family views were deemed so extreme that TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie, himself a member of an evangelical church, decided to break ties with them. He stated, “Had I known the full extent of Focus on the Family’s beliefs, I would not have accepted the invitation to speak at their event.”
Prior to his apology, Mycoskie had been blasted for his association with FOTF, and a blogger on the radically leftist Daily Kos website complained “that Mycoskie and his company TOMS supports one of the quintessential hate groups, Focus on the Family, which was named as a Hate Group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.” Focus on the Family a “quintessential hate group”?
If it’s any consolation, FOTF is not alone. When Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced a stadium prayer event to be held on Aug. 6, he came under heavy and immediate fire, not just over an alleged violation of the separation of church and state, but also because he was cooperating with the American Family Association (AFA), another so-called hate group. Yes, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has branded the organization founded by Don Wildmon, best known for his calls for boycotts over morally offensive programming and advertising, as a hate group. (To be technical, the SPLC labeled them an “anti-gay group” but featured them on the same list with the other “hate groups.” Since then, the liberal media, almost without exception, has labeled the AFA an SPLC-designated hate group. And because the SPLC in the past labeled FOTF an “anti-gay group,” they too are considered to be on the SPLC’s hate group list.)
What is the SPLC’s criteria for such extreme charges? It claims that the groups in question (which include the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America) knowingly disseminate false information and demonizing propaganda about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, as documented by them (I use the word “documented” lightly) in their report “10 Anti-Gay Myths Debunked,” published late last year.
And while the report itself is nothing new, what is new is that its findings are now coming to national attention through these recent events. And many people, rather than questioning the SPLC, are instead questioning these venerable family organizations. Perhaps it is time to ask this question: Is it the SPLC that should be designated a hate group? Are they the ones spreading false information and demonizing propaganda about other groups, thereby defaming their good names and placing them in the ranks of the KKK and neo-Nazis?
It should first be recalled that the actual SPLC report was terribly flawed, as I and a number of others pointed out. For example, based on the report, if you state that kids do best when raised by a mom and dad (as opposed to two moms or two dads), you are propagating a known falsehood. Or if you agree with the many therapists and psychologists who argue that a child’s upbringing and early-life experiences (including being sexually abused) play a major role in the development of his or her sexual orientation, you are propagating a known falsehood. The same is true if you claim that hate crime laws could lead to the arresting of pastors who criticize homosexuality (this has already happened in Sweden, England and Canada), or if you argue that it would be detrimental to the military to have gays serving openly. Yes, according to the SPLC, disseminating such views officially constitutes “hate.”
All of which begs the question: Is the SPLC, by its own criteria, the real hate group? It still carries weight in plenty of circles here in America, and so when it categorizes an organization as a hate group, many people of good conscience are influenced by that designation, one which is quite stigmatizing and destructive, as evidenced by the recent events involving FOTF and AFA mentioned above. Yet it is the leaders of the SPLC who are either irresponsibly attacking other fine organizations, or worse still, knowingly defaming them.
Who then deserves the title of “hate group,” Focus on the Family or the Southern Poverty Law Center? Who has been guilty of demonizing others and spreading hurtful, inaccurate information? Whose actions and words have been hateful? The record speaks for itself.
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