Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.
The left has a problem.
Americans are doing all the wrong things. They’re voting for Republicans, reading conservative sites and donating to conservative organizations. Something needs to be done about it. Something is being done.
Post a conservative story on Facebook or search for it on Google and out pops Snopes, a partisan site, to warn you of wrongthinking. And, until recently, when you searched for a conservative organization on Guidestar, out popped the Southern Poverty Law Center to accuse you and it of being deplorable bigots.
The Southern Poverty Law Center and Snopes are left-wing partisan groups with no qualifications to do anything except hate conservatives. The SPLC’s list of hate groups includes numerous individuals, including me, also listed until recently as a hate group was a sign outside a Pennsylvania bar.
Morris Dees, a mail order guru and cut rate lawyer for a KKK thug, built the Southern Poverty Law Center into one of the greatest mail order scams on earth. Harper’s Magazine dubbed the SPLC a “fraud” that casually throws around the “hate group” label, “shuts down debate” and “stifles free speech”.
The FBI dumped SPLC’s scam artists, but Guidestar decided to help the left-wing group stifle speech.
Guidestar’s mission is providing information about non-profits. Instead its boss, leftist activist Jacob Harold, pursued a partisan agenda. 46 organizations were accused on Guidestar’s listings of being hate groups. According to Harold, the SPLC "has the most comprehensive information on hate groups".
There’s no question that the SPLC’s listings are comprehensive. They included, at one point, Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz’s father, a Republican nominee for Governor of Colorado, a former Republican member of the House from Colorado, a Republican member of the House from Iowa and the African-American former Secretary of State of Ohio. Current SPLC targets include the President of the United States and nearly every member of his cabinet. The SPLC’s definition of extremist is Republican.
The David Horowitz Freedom Center was among the conservative groups targeted by the SPLC/Guidestar collaboration. Having lost the White House and its access to the IRS, the left was looking for a new way to attack the finances of conservative organizations. Jacob Harold first dragged Guidestar into partisan waters with an election post that praised the Clinton Foundation and disparaged Trump.
Now he was looking to go after conservatives. But the Freedom Center didn’t let him get away with it.
The Freedom Center’s legal team warned Guidestar that it would be held accountable for these slanders. Other conservative groups joined the outcry. And before too long, Guidestar backed down.
The Guidestar attack was the latest manifestation of the left poisoning the open informational spaces of the internet with partisan agendas. Harold, a “social change strategist” was a veteran of left-wing organizing. He had participated in at least one anti-Trump rally. Even afterward, Harold had insisted in an editorial that Guidestar’s mission would still include attacks on “hate groups”.
"Hateful words can cultivate a climate of hostility. That hostility can yield tragic consequences: The FBI documents thousands of hate crimes each year, with most directed against vulnerable people in marginalized communities,” Harold wrote.
There is zero evidence linking the conservative groups smeared by Harold and his SPLC allies to violence. The same cannot be said for the SPLC which has been linked to violence against its political targets.
Floyd Lee Corkins’ shooting spree at the Family Research Council began with the SPLC. Corkins confessed to the FBI that he had used the SPLC website to research targets. James Hodgkinson, who opened fire at a Republican charity baseball practice, was a fan of the SPLC. The Middlebury College assault which injured a female professor was driven by the SPLC’s wrongful listing of Charles Murray.
While the SPLC claims to fight bigots, it defended a Hamas supporter who had called for the mass murder of Jews in its attack on David Horowitz, while calling Horowitz “the Godfather of the anti-Muslim movement in America,” which actual hate groups continue to use against him.
If Guidestar wants to list hate groups that harm vulnerable people, it can start with the SPLC. Unless Howard thinks that defending Hamas calls for the murder of Jews is acceptable behavior.
And then there’s one of the SPLC’s “Active Hate Groups”: Bosch Fawstin.
Bosch is only one man. But the SPLC decided to list him as a hate group. It added him to the list after the first ISIS terrorist attack in America. Their target was the Draw Mohammed contest. Had the attack succeeded, Bosch would have been killed. But instead of adding Islamic terrorists to its list, the SPLC’s Heidi Beirich announced that it was adding him instead because it had figured out a location for him.
Tragic consequences indeed.
The Freedom Center’s victory is important. The left had overreached this time. Pressure from a range of conservative activists forced a temporary retreat. But Harold has made it clear that he will try again.
Newly emboldened conservative activists are turning the tide against the left. They are refusing to accept being harassed, abused, threatened, assaulted, marginalized and silenced as business as usual.
Conservatives rallied, stood up and fought back. The targets included the Family Research Council, which had come under fire because of the SPLC hate map, and AFDI, which was targeted in the ISIS attack. Among other groups listed by Guidestar/SPLC was Tea Party Nation and the Center for Security Policy.
The SPLC list is heavily biased, tainted and flawed. It is not based on any meaningful research. And yet it continues to be widely used. Meanwhile the SPLC’s Heidi Beirich is campaigning to further censor internet search results. The message is that the left’s agenda of embedding its worldview into the informational spaces of the internet will be the major battle of the next five years.
And the Freedom Center is eager to fight that battle.
The Freedom Center has fought hard for academic freedom. It believes that the marketplace of ideas should stay open. It is convinced that the internet must also remain free of left-wing censorship.
The first freedom is the right to dissent. The SPLC’s mission is the suppression of dissent. It deliberately jumbles together totalitarian and open organizations, racists and conservatives, Nazis and anti-Islamists as a smear campaign to delegitimize everyone it disagrees with. And that’s everyone to the right.
Guidestar can’t be a trustworthy information source and participate in a partisan campaign; particularly an unprincipled extremist campaign such as the SPLC is conducting. Like Google and Facebook, it must choose. And the Freedom Center will remain vigilant in this fight for freedom.
This time the Freedom Center beat the Southern Poverty Law Center. But the battle goes on.