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 ATLAH World Missionary Church is located in the heart of Harlem right off Malcolm X Boulevard. Pastor David Manning grew up picking cotton in the segregated South. The African-American church and its pastor have had plenty of critics over the years, but none have accused them of white supremacy.
Color of Change has rolled out its version of the Southern Poverty Law Center blacklist. The race-baiting group, co-founded by CNN’s Van Jones, put up a petition demanding that credit card companies stop taking “blood money” by “processing funds for over 100 white supremacist hate groups.”
The Color of Change list of “white supremacist hate groups” includes Pastor Manning’s black church. It also features the David Horowitz Freedom Center, Faith Freedom International, the Center for Security Policy, Jihad Watch, Act for America, the Shoebat Foundation, Stop the Islamization of the World, the American College of Pediatricians and, incidentally, Sultan Knish, my own personal blog.
If you believe Color of Change, Ibn Warraq of Pakistan, Brigitte Gabriel of Lebanon and Walid Shoebat of the West Bank, are running “white supremacist” groups. As are David Horowitz, Pamela Geller and me.
Not to mention a Harlem pastor who preaches a block away from Marcus Garvey Park.
How does an African-American church come to be listed as a “white supremacist” group? The answer lies with the Southern Poverty Law Center and the left’s dangerous witch hunt for “hate groups”.
The unacknowledged origin of the Color of Change blacklist is the Southern Poverty Law Center. Color of Change took the SPLC’s sloppy and malicious blacklist and made it sloppier and more malicious.
The Southern Poverty Law Center’s hate map groups together Christian organizations opposed to gay marriage, critics of unlimited immigration and counterterrorism investigators with black separatists and Neo-Nazis. Color of Change eliminated the groups and accused everyone of being white supremacists.
It’s easier that way.
Tellingly, Color of Change left off the black separatists like Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam and the New Black Panther Party despite their violence and racist views. The Nation of Islam solicits donations through PayPal and the New Black Panther Party takes MasterCard, Visa and American Express. But Color of Change has no interest in petitioning credit card companies to have them banned.
As SPLC’s Mark Potok admitted, the organizations being blacklisted have “nothing to do with criminality or violence or any kind of guess we’re making about ‘this group could be dangerous.’ It’s strictly ideological.’”
Ideological means the SPLC doesn’t like them. The hate map is a list of groups the SPLC hates.
The SPLC may frown on the Nation of Islam, but Color of Change doesn’t. And so it’s not on their list. Instead the Color of Change petition shrieks about “blood money” and blames its targets for everything from the Oklahoma City Bombing to Charlottesville. It demands that credit card companies refuse to do business with a list of “white supremacists” that includes a black pastor and a number of Jews.
The Southern Poverty Law Center blacklist is sloppy, biased, poorly researched and deeply dangerous. That it’s sloppy enough to have at one point listed a sign outside a Pennsylvania bar as a hate group and yet dangerous enough to inspire a terrorist attack at the Family Research Council while being promoted by CNN, Guidestar and other organizations as authoritative is due to the left’s furious fact-free rage.
As the SPLC blacklist goes viral, it becomes an even worse disaster.
CNN ran the SPLC blacklist before having to take the full thing down. Guidestar rolled the blacklist into its non-profit listings before pulling back. Both organizations had mindlessly used an “authoritative” list without actually examining it because it came from inside the left and it fit their prejudices.
And that’s the danger of witch hunts. Truth and facts don’t matter. It’s all about finding witches to burn.
The Southern Poverty Law Center’s list listed individuals and even inanimate objects as hate groups. After repeated protests, it stopped listing an Iowa town as the location of a hate group. Its only basis for that listing was that some members had met there “sometime in September 2016 at a restaurant”.
It’s a short step to Color of Change listing a black church as a white supremacist hate group. After all the Southern Poverty Law Center is being sued by a Muslim whom it accused of being an anti-Muslim extremist. What Color of Change did is no worse and no more dishonest than its SPLC inspiration.
After all this, why is the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list treated as authoritative by so many organizations? Why is the Color of Change campaign being taken seriously by anyone?
This isn’t a research project. There are no best practices. It’s a lynch mob. And lynch mobs don’t research, cite and verify. They’re not interested in getting the facts. They want to hurt someone.
The SPLC blacklist and the Color of Change blacklist are forms of political violence. They’re part of the same ugly movement as the masked thugs attacking protesters and the rioters starting fires at colleges.
Behind the slick presentation is the same ugly agenda. In four words. We will silence you.
They’re not fighting hate. Instead they’re possessed and driven by it. That is why they’re so sloppy. It’s why they don’t bother getting the facts right. It’s why they can’t be bothered to check that a black church isn’t a white supremacist organization or that a Muslim probably isn’t an anti-Muslim extremist.
You can’t shame them by pointing out all their basic factual errors. They don’t care.
The American left has become a dangerous movement obsessed with inflicting violence on its enemies. The blacklist, whether that of the Southern Poverty Law Center or its derivative copycats, is about hurting and punishing someone. The SPLC and those who use its map don’t care if they’re targeting the right people or not. What matters to them is that they’re hurting someone who is probably on the right.
And even if he isn’t on the right, it doesn’t matter much. Hurting someone is its own reward.
Like their Antifa counterparts, it’s not about making the world a better place, but about unleashing their anger. The progressive mask is coming off and underneath is a hateful rictus and a frenzied scream.
When Floyd Lee Corkins wanted to find someone to shoot, he turned to the SPLC.
"Southern Poverty Law lists anti-gay groups. I found them online,” Corkins later confessed to the FBI.
When the shooter entered the Family Research Council headquarters planning to, as he later told the FBI, "kill as many as possible and smear the Chick-Fil-A sandwiches in victims' faces", he encountered Leo Johnson.
Floyd Lee Corkins told Johnson, the building’s African-American manager, that he didn’t like his politics and opened fire. Johnson survived but had to undergo multiple operations after the attack.
The Southern Poverty Law Center still lists the Family Research Council on its blacklist.
The Corkins attack and the Color of Change blacklist are both spinoffs of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Floyd Lee Corkins was fueled by the same anger and hatred as the Southern Poverty Law Center and Color of Change. He shared their agenda to eliminate those whom he hated by any means.
What Corkins tried to do with bullets, the SPLC and Color of Change are doing with lies and smears.
Like Corkins, who ended up shooting an African-American employee while trying to fight bigotry, they don’t care whom they hurt. That’s why a black church is on the Color of Change hit list.
The left is lashing out. It’s angry, violent and it wants to hurt someone. Like Corkins, it must be stopped.