The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) recently teamed up with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to produce Hate-Free Philanthropy, a 32-page report founded on the premise that “in recent years, we have witnessed the normalization of hate” against nonwhites, immigrants, Muslims, and the LGBTQ community. This publication exhorts the philanthropic sector’s 728,000+ Donor-Advised Funds (DAFs) – which issued a combined $37.12 billion to a multitude of recipients in 2018 alone – to cut off all contributions to conservative organizations that SPLC has tarred as “hate groups.” DAFs are pass-through operations that take money from donors who specify precisely the recipients for which they want it earmarked, and in turn funnel the money to those entities. This process allows the donors to remain anonymous and thereby avoid being publicly associated with the groups being funded. It also permits them to take an immediate tax write-off for their contributions.
Hate-Free Philanthropy heaps praise specifically on Fidelity Charitable and Schwab Charitable, for their recent decision to ban any further contributions to the National Rifle Association. The report also lauds a decision by GuideStar.org, a massive online database of information about charities and nonprofit groups, to label certain organizations as “hate groups” if they have been so designated by SPLC. Moreover, the report praises iTunes, PayPal, and AmazonSmile for taking various “measures to screen out hate from their platforms” and to cut all business ties to the “hate groups” named by SPLC.
This blacklisting of so-called “hate groups” raises a very important question: What exactly constitutes a hate group, and who determines which groups meet the criteria for being designated as such? Hate-Free Philanthropy, of course, provides a ready answer: The Southern Poverty Law Center is entrusted with the weighty responsibility of assigning that label however it sees fit. But SPLC itself has an extraordinarily problematic history.
Describing itself as a “nonprofit civil rights organization” dedicated to “tracking and exposing” the activities of “hate groups and other domestic extremists” throughout the United States, SPLC periodically publishes updated lists of these entities on its website. Some of the groups can, in fact, be accurately described as hate groups whose platforms are rooted in values like racial separatism, racial supremacy, or the promotion of discrimination or violence against people because of their race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, etc.
But many of the organizations targeted by SPLC are not “hate” groups in any legitimate sense of the word. Rather, they are thoughtful, articulate conveyors of conservative values and principles whose only fault is that they conflict with the agendas of SPLC. Their inclusion in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of “hate groups” constitutes an egregious libel that is based on nothing more than SPLC’s intolerance for ideas with which it does not agree. SPLC senior fellow Mark Potok actually acknowledged this when he stated that his organization’s blacklists 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.” By conflating actual hate groups on the one hand, with respectable conservative organizations on the other — and thereby giving the impression that conservative values are somehow inherently hateful, racist, or otherwise repugnant — SPLC seeks to shut down debate, shut down free speech, and delegitimize conservatives as odious monsters whose viewpoints do not even merit a fair hearing. And now, with the publication of the Hate-Free Philanthropy report, SPLC seeks to starve such groups of the very funding that they need in order to stay alive.
SPLC’s one-sidedness in identifying “hate groups” came into sharp focus in September 2017, when it elected not to include the violent Marxist/anarchist Antifa movement in its list of hate groups. SPLC’s president at the time, Richard Cohen, explained that while “we oppose these groups and what they’re trying to do,” Antifa did not qualify for designation as a “hate group” because its adherents did not discriminate against people on the basis of race, sexual orientation, religion, or other variables protected by anti-discrimination laws. In short, said Cohen, Antifa’s brand of hate is “not the type of hate we follow.”
In a very accurate assessment of SPLC’s operations, a Baltimore Sun piece once stated: “Its business is fundraising, and its success at raking in the cash is based on its ability to sell gullible people on the idea that present-day America is awash in white racism and anti-Semitism, which it will fight tooth-and-nail as the public interest law firm it purports to be.” This business model has been enormously profitable for SPLC. By the end of its 2016-17 fiscal year, the organization’s net assets totaled more than $449 million — including some $92 million invested in tax havens like the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, and Bermuda.
CAIR’s background, meanwhile, is every bit as odious as SPLC’s. Indeed, CAIR was co-founded in 1994 by Nihad Awad, Omar Ahmad, and Rafeeq Jaber, all of whom had close ties to the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), which was established by senior Hamas operative Mousa Abu Marzook and functioned as Hamas’s public-relations and recruitment arm in the United States. Thus it can be said that CAIR was an outgrowth of IAP, which in turn was directly linked to Hamas, a genocidal entity dedicated to the mass murder of Jews.
CAIR opened its first office in Washington, D.C. with the help of a $5,000 donation from the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), a pseudo-charity that in 2001 was shut down by the U.S. government for collecting money “to support the Hamas terror organization.”
CAIR’s links to Islamic extremism are far too numerous to list in their entirety. A few examples, however, will suffice to give you some idea of what this organization stands for:
- Co-founder Nihad Awad has declared himself a proud “supporter of the Hamas movement.” He denounced the 1994 conviction of four Islamic terrorists who had perpetrated the previous year’s World Trade Center bombing as “a travesty of justice.”
- In October 1998, CAIR demanded the removal of a Los Angeles billboard describing Osama bin Laden as “the sworn enemy.” According to CAIR, this depiction was “offensive to Muslims.”
- Abdurahman Alamoudi, one of CAIR’s former directors, is a supporter of both Hamas and Hezbollah, and is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence for terrorism-related convictions.
It is nothing short of astounding that CAIR and SPLC continue to be taken seriously by so many organizations and corporations. These two groups have made an art form of turning false allegations of “racism” and “Islamophobia” into rivers of cold, hard cash. It is they who deserve to be blacklisted from polite society.