When it comes to wailing about the rise of “extremists” on the Right, few organizations play the game more doggedly than the Southern Poverty Law Center. Looking through their “What We Do” page on “Hate and Extremism”—which discusses suing “hate groups” for “murders and other violent acts,” and bears pictures of cross burnings and sieg heils—you could be forgiven for thinking they were really a non-partisan watchdog group.
But despite the image they project and whatever good work they’ve done in the past taking down the likes of Klansmen and skinheads, the SPLC also abuses and undermines that mission with a second, more insidious purpose—leftist demonization of conservatives by lumping them in with bigots and terrorists. SPLC has smeared Don Feder, the Republican Party, the American Enterprise Institute, Dinesh D’Souza, David Horowitz, and the Freedom Center. They’ve smeared amnesty opponents as racist while turning a blind eye to the racists of La Raza. They smeared Robert Stacy McCain. And they’ve smeared critics of Islam, but don’t seem to have much to say about Islam itself.
Labeling the Family Research Council a hate group puts one of Washington’s most powerful social issues advocates into the company of groups like the Nation of Islam and the now mostly defunct Aryan Nations in the eyes of the SPLC, which tracks 932 active hate groups in the U.S.
Groups are labeled hate groups by the SPLC — which made a name for itself by using civil lawsuits to severely weaken the KKK and other white supremacist groups — when they “have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics,” according to the group’s website.
For the Family Research Council, which hosts the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington — an event which this year drew presidential hopefuls like Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee — the designation comes thanks to the group’s standing at the forefront of opposition to gay marriage and open gay and lesbian service in the military.
More specifically, SPLC calls out top FRC researcher Peter Sprigg for controversial remarks about gays, including a controversy I covered for NewsRealBlog on February 4 and February 10 of this year, in which Sprigg said he’d support laws criminalizing homosexual behavior.