How the Left Conquered Wikipedia, Part II: Coddling Progressives

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[3] Leave out the Embarrassing ‘Personal Life’ details.

One of the most sanitized of Wikipedia entries is that of Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC.) In the ‘70s and ‘80s Dees rose in prominence as a “courageous” white Southerner who dared to sue racist organizations like the Klan. Through Dees and the SPLC’s legal strategy the Klan was bankrupted. Thus, the SPLC quickly became the best-funded “Civil Rights” organization in the country as Dees’ lawsuits attracted the tax-exempt donation dollars of guilty whites eager to go after racist rednecks. And of course Dees was lionized with his own 1991 TV movie, described at the Internet Movie Database as,

This is the story of Morris Dees, a civil rights lawyer, who’s being threatened, so he has to have an armed bodyguard.

The SPLC has since leveraged much of this success into attempts to marginalize mainstream conservative organizations with the “racist,” “bigot,” “hate group,” and “homophobe” slurs. The SPLC aims these rhetorical weapons exclusively at groups on the political Right. Islamist and leftist groups who engage in hate speech are exempt from the SPLC’s efforts.

In spite of the useful services it provides to the Left’s causes, what has become apparent even to Dees’ progressive colleagues is that his organization is primarily a scheme for him to make money. A devastating article in Harper’s in 2000 by progressive journalist Ken Silverstein revealed that,

The Center earned $44 million last year alone–$27 million from fund-raising and $17 million from stocks and other investments–but spent only $13 million on civil rights program , making it one of the most profitable charities in the country.

Silverstein’s article features quotes from Dees himself and former associates revealing that this was no accident. Dees brags that he learned to “hustle” from going to church.

You think a conservative would be able to get away with this kind of shameless, nonprofit fraud? Wikipedia would likely create a standalone page for such a controversy if it came from  the Right. Dees has been exposed not only in Harper’s but in  The Nation, the Left’s most influential publication. Yet Wikipedia drops this material down the memory hole.

It’s not as if some of its insiders have not tried to get an accurate entry for Dees. On the Morris Dees “talk” page, three users voice their unanswered objections under the heading “Morris Dees entire Bio page is a Whitewash”:

Substantiated information such as Dees documented abuse of his ex wife and his affairs, per Alabama court records has been removed from this document as well as statements from The Nation, Harpers, and even the SPLC’s hometown newspaper, the Montgomery Advertiser, which all came to the same conclusion: the SPLC is a self-propagating fundraising machine with little regard for the truth. If Wikipedia refuses to acknowledge all negative attributions then what possible value is the service? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:57, 21 October 2009 (UTC)

I’m amazed at how one-sided and biased this bio is. None of the conclusions reported by Harpers or The Nation are attributed or reported. Also none of the divorce proceedings and physical abuse filings from Alabama courts are included. Most bizarrely, there is no documentation of the unbelievable amounts of money that the SPLC has used for the direct enrichment of Dees. Wikipedia is rarely credible when it comes to bios. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Bellinghamsailor (talk • contribs) 19:12, 21 October 2009 (UTC)

This most definitely is a whitewash and shows yet again one of the fatal flaws of Wikipedia: some people are more equal than others. Maybe if I were a scam artist raking in big bucks by creating hysteria, I, too, could influence what goes on Wikipedia. Someone had the temerity to accuse me of being someone on the other side of the ocean, just because I saw the added information and that it had suddenly vanished and I then reverted it. I’d read the information elsewhere and think it should be part of Morris Dees’ entry. Is he going to come after me now and break my knees or something? Nothing would surprise me now. The whole thing is patently unfair. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:41, 13 January 2010 (UTC)

The last anonymous Wikipedian nailed it: “Maybe if I were a scam artist raking in big bucks by creating hysteria, I, too, could influence what goes on Wikipedia.” Contrary to Wikipedia’s rhetoric about being a democratic, anti-elite, open encyclopedia “anyone” can edit, on this particular farm some animals are more equal than others.

If Wikipedia leftists cannot be trusted to be unbiased on the most extreme of cases like Dees and Sharpton then can one really expect fairness on other genuinely controversial political territory? Sharpton and Dees are reviled even by many on the Left who accurately regard them as charlatans and racial bomb throwers out to “hustle” their way to multi-millionaire lifestyles. Yet after a decade, the process created by Wikipedia’s founders to find an objective truth has instead been hijacked to further enable these men  who have conned Americans out of millions of dollars over the course of their honorary degree-laden careers in “professional” activism. Wikipedia is the first google search result for Sharpton and the second for Dees. Thus, Wikipedia is complicit in the duo’s schemes.

I wonder if deep down Wikipedia’s founders Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger recognize the Frankenstein’s Monster they’ve unleashed. Certainly, at least Sanger – who left Wikipedia in 2002 and now runs the competing encyclopedia Citizendium — sees his beast with eyes wide open. (Citizendium runs on completely different rules than Wikipedia and results in fewer but more accurate, less biased articles.) How much longer until the rest of the world wakes up to the false information utopia called Wikipedia? Considering the rate at which Wikipedia’s editors are abandoning the project it likely will be sooner than one thinks.

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  • Chezwick_mac

    Excellent journalism, David. This piece was sorely needed.

    Malik Shabbaz's false persona as "an African-American Jew" is laughable. It's obviously camouflage for his anti-Semitic views.

  • StephenD

    Notwithstanding the exposure of Wikepedia itself, exposure of the Al Sharptons of the world in their true light can be as a tonic to the soul. Good job with this.
    I'd love to see these folks on live television responding to the charges. Talk about Americas got Talent! I bet we'd see some pretty good dancing then!

  • Flipside

    Wingnut. Wikipedia is run by a bunch of gay nerds with aspergers who meticulously prune and cultivate pet articles on Rainbow Brite, female circumcision, and The Boondock Saints. It’s not a vast conspiracy to make Al Sharpton look good. Al Sharpton can never look good. Wikipedia has a MASSIVE section on Jews, Judaica, antisemitism, etc and it is obsequious and jam packed with extraneous boring facts. They do, however, treat Chip Berlet as an authority.

  • Ben

    Wiki is not only the leftists` megaphone, it`s Europocentrist,veild racist,antisemitic and pseudo-scientific.It`s scientific articles are twisted ,simplified, patriotic anf often wrong.
    Its hate of citation sources is well-known.So it`s the real voice of the people(mediocre and active)

  • Nathan

    One small point of fact: Semi-protection is certainly not “the status for all biographies of living people”. Only a tiny fraction of them have that status, which must be applied on a case by case basis.
    Wikipedia as a whole doesn’t have positions on anything. It’s all over the map. Whatever appears in an article is determined by who shows up to write it. And frequently that introduces all sorts of bias and other flaws. But none of it is permanent. Everyone is invited to help make improvements.

  • angel

    Wikipedia is a public encyclopedia. Anyone can add content to it. At least that's what I remember. I have not used it in four years. Because I do not trust their information. It was not because of political reason just the plain fact that anyone can actually change the content. Maybe we should rename it to "Wackypedia".

    What do you think Dan?

  • Sarah

    The best friend of porno lover Malik Shabazz is Israeli hater Nableezy who is sad that he mostly speaks English… .

    I have never been able to figure out why Wikipedia leftist including wikipedia lesbians and gays support radical Islam. Don't they realize how they would be treated if Radical Islam is to win? Really as Krauthammer would have said it wikipedia is full of "useful idiots and terror sympathizers", and there are many terror sympathizers in wikipedia. See how one of them Lihaas is talking about the crash of helicopter in which Navy Seals were killed: [ "Wo ho ho! I was just about to say 1 old cripple vs. 31 competent, solid soldiers…who wins now? on that logic this is more notable. What goes aroind come around…we dont censor stuff we dot like here especially when loads of stuff thats unproductive by a multitide of editors stays here; we dothn refactor other people comments without explanation (which would be ban -worthy when a nin-admin does it); there was not a comment on the toasting of bin ladens death…just because one doesnt like this doesntmean its shouldnt be here. ]

  • Lamont Cranston

    Maybe its the facts that have a left wing bias?

  • Tonda Mcconville

    I wish more people would write sites like this that are actually fun to read. With all the garbage floating around on the internet, it is refreshing to read a site like yours instead.

  • thekohser2

    I think you mean "grand jury", not "grand journey".