Being declared a hate group wasn't in my plans for the day, but like winning the lottery, it seems to be one of those things that happens when you least expect it. Except that as the little bald man in front of the bodega tells you, you have to play to win, but you don't even have to buy a ticket to be declared an official hate group.
My first response on finding out that I was now a hate group was to look around to see where everyone else was. A hate group needs the "group" part, and one man and a cat don't seem to be enough. Even when the cat is a well known bigot who hates mice, birds, car alarms that go off in the middle of the night, the plumber and sudden noises.
Still the Southern Poverty Law Center had listed, "Sultan Knish a blog by Daniel Greenfield" as one of their "Active Anti-Muslim Hate Groups," alongside such other vast organizations as "Faith Freedom," a website for ex-Muslims, and "Casa D'Ice Signs," the signs on a bar located on K-Mart Plaza located in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.
Someone with less faith in the fact checking abilities of the Southern Poverty Law Center might have thought that whoever had made up this list had no clue that "Casa D'Ice" was a lounge with signs outside, that there was no such group as "Casa D'Ice Signs" and that signs are pieces of plastic and not a hate group. But I had faith that the Center knew more than I did. Perhaps its crack team of researchers had learned that the signs had come alive and formed their own hate group, somehow arranging their own letters to form messages about illegal immigration and the need to get out of Iraq.
My first thought was to wonder whether some mistake had been made in my own case, but the Southern Poverty Law Center people are experts on hate groups, even if they don't seem to know what the definitions of "hate" or "groups" or "hate groups" might be. Even if they seem to have copied their list off a forum somewhere at the last minute to have something to show the donors. Clearly I was now a hate group, and with tax season upon us, I called my accountant to find out if there was a tax deduction for that. There wasn't.
As a consolation though, I was listed as "active," which I took as a compliment because I had jogged a few miles yesterday and clearly the Southern Poverty Law Center had noticed. They also listed me as being in New York, which showed that the Center was well aware that it was aggressively trespassing above its jurisdiction below the Mason-Dixon Line and invading the north.
The Southern Poverty Law Center’s "Hate Map" (TM), which is either a map of hate groups or a map of groups that the center hates, had me floating somewhere in the East River next to the National Black Foot Soldier Network and the National Socialist Movement in Long Island. Say what you will, but I think it's a real tribute to the broadminded diversity of the city that there's room for all of us there, from Catholic Family News to the Nation of Islam to the newest massively organized hate group-- me.
I had fewer members, especially if you don't count the cat, and no uniforms or jackboots, but I had to soldier on. The Southern Poverty Law Center was in desperate need of more hate groups to fight and I couldn't let them down. It's not easy running a 216 million dollar organization which has been described as the country's richest civil rights organization with misleading fundraising practices.
Having succeeded in such diverse areas as being George McGovern's national finance director, Carter's national finance director and national finance chairman for Ted Kennedy's presidential campaign, SPLC head honcho Morris Dees doesn't have many options except to collect his 0.95 percent compensation and solicit more donations to fight active hate groups like me and that guy who puts up signs on his bar. I knew that I couldn't let him down.
Every time the Southern Poverty Law Center sent out another begging letter asking donors to help an organization with a mere 216 million dollar endowment fight an impossible uphill battle against Bare Naked Islam, Atlas Shrugs and Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment, I had to do my part so that all the poor employees of the Southern Poverty Law Center would have enough to eat that night.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which seems to have expanded beyond its core mission of using the law to impoverish people in the south, to qualify as an anti-Muslim hate group, you had to believe such outrageous filthy things as the notion that Islam might be, "sanctioning pedophilia, marital rape, and child marriage."
People who believe such Islamophobic nonsense include the Ayatollah Khamenei, the Grand Mufti of Australia and the author of a certain curious hadith that affirms:
"The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with 'Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death)." (Sahih Bukhari 7.62.88)
The Koran, meanwhile, also sanctions polygamy: "marry of women as may be agreeable to you, two, or three, or four."
Quickly I understood that I was now part of a much bigger anti-Muslim hate group than I had realized. This Islamophobic group included all of Islam. Was it possible for Islam itself to be an anti-Muslim hate group? It seemed mind-boggling, but there could be no other answer.
Pakistan, which had legalized the marriage of 12 year olds, was surely the base for a major Anti-Islamic hate group which was doing its best to demean Islam. It also appeared to be conspiring to depict Muslims as "irrational, intolerant and violent," which was another check box on the SPLC list. But the story didn't end there.
"These groups also typically hold conspiratorial views regarding the inherent danger to America posed by its Muslim-American community." Now it appeared that anti-Islam hate groups included the FBI and the NYPD, which were notorious for suspecting that Muslim-Americans might be terrorists and arresting them and detaining them for doing nothing more than practicing some aspects of their religion.
Suddenly it wasn't just one man and a cat-- it was the entire Muslim world, the FBI, the NYPD and it didn't end there. The Southern Poverty Law Center's own website had a list of Top 10 Jihadists, slurring the names of such respectable practitioners of traditional Islam as Anwar Al-Awlaki, a Muslim cleric who had appeared on PBS, NPR and many other outlets to explain the peaceful nature of Islam, and Abdullah Muhammad, whom the Center outrageously suggests was conspiring to terrorize South Park for mocking the other Muhammad, the one who, in a bid to make Islam look bad, practiced pedophilia, marital rape and child marriage.
Even the Southern Poverty Law Center had exposed itself as an anti-Islam hate group, and how could I or anyone else trust it to assemble a reliable anti-Islam hate group list, when it had left itself off that list?
It was hard for me to accept that a group of intrepid researchers who had cluelessly listed Ann Barnhardt twice, listed Silver Bullet Gun Oil, a gun lubricant, as a hate group, and listed single-author blogs like mine, Pamela Geller's and Bonni Intall's as "hate groups," could possibly be wrong. How could an organization which wrote down "Casa D'Ice Signs" as a hate group without realizing that Casa D'Ice was a bar, make a mistake?
But there was no way around it. The SPLC had proven to be Islamophobes and couldn't be trusted anymore. And so I could no longer take their word that I and my cat were an anti-Muslim hate group. Though Morris Dees may have to go hungry to bed tonight, I must decline the honor of posing as a member of a hate group in order to help him defraud his donors. But I will always remember the brief four hours when I had my own hate group.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.