Four years ago, Ron DeSantis was running for governor in Florida against a socialist drug addict under indictment for corruption, who happened to be black. Instead of asking their candidate to step aside so that they could run a more suitable individual to be the chief executive of one of America’s largest states, the Democrats stayed with their man and placed their hopes on smearing DeSantis as a “racist.” Their evidence? In a speech on the economy he said, “The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state.” There was nothing remotely racist about this statement. However, the Florida NAACP responded by saying comparison of blacks to monkeys – a comparison DeSantis did not make – was “by far the best-known racist reference to African Americans in our national folklore.”
DeSantis was being hung for a perfectly innocent and apt statement that only a party as morally defective as the Florida Democrats could construe in the way they did. This was soon accompanied by a second charge involving me. DeSantis had spoken four times at an event I hosted annually which had featured mainstream conservatives, including three US Attorneys General, and senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Mitch McConnell, Huffington Post reported it under a screaming headline: “DeSantis Gave Four Paid Speeches for Infamous Racist.” That would be me.
Now, four years later, as a very successful Governor DeSantis positions himself for a presidential run, The New York Times’ columnist, Charles Blow has re-opened the charge, saying DeSantis has a significant race problem, holding me up as a case in point: “In a 2018 gubernatorial debate, the moderator asked DeSantis why he had spoken at several conferences hosted by David Horowitz, a conservative writer who the Southern Poverty Law Center says is a ‘driving force of the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-Black movements.’” In the four years between these attacks, I have refuted these easily disproven lies of the SPLC, numerous times on the Internet, and in my recent book, aptly titled, The Enemy Within: How A Totalitarian Movement Is Destroying America.
The SPLC, is the chief engine of progressive efforts to blacklist conservatives. This $731 million tax-exempt hate machine, posing as a charity, came to national prominence in 1987 when it won a $7 million lawsuit against the United Klans of America, putting them out of business. As it happens the Ku Klux Klan was already on its last legs, down to 3,000 members nationally from its high in the 1920s of 4 million. The United Klans were already so crippled by lack of support that they were only able to pay $50,000 of the $7 million judgment. Having slain an already mortally wounded dragon, the SPLC won judgments against other marginal groups, the White Aryan Resistance and the Aryan Nations. SPLC’s leaders then hit upon a wildly successful but sinister political and fund-raising strategy – first, exaggerate the threat of marginal neo-Nazi hate groups and, second, conflate them with mainstream conservative groups whom SPLC leftists opposed ideologically. SPLC subsumed these libels under the inclusive term “hate groups,” and became the premier slander machine in American history, comparable to Der Sturmer in Nazi Germany.
In 1997 SPLC reported a national surge in “hate groups,” a claim it supported by counting as separate entities all the known branches and chapters of the “hate” organizations it had already listed. By 2009, a mere four organizations and their many branches accounted for 229 separate “hate groups” or one-fourth of the SPLC total. Four years later, using these inflated statistics, SPLC could claim that over the previous decade the number of hate groups had increased 67%, and argue that the increase was “fueled by anger and fear over the nation’s failing economy, an influx of non-white immigrants, and the diminishing white majority, as symbolized by the election of the nation’s first African-American president.”
SPLC’s real focus is its political attack on conservatives, Republicans, and patriotic Americans as revealed in its “Hate Watch” section, whose purpose it explains in these words: “Hate Watch monitors and exposes the activities of the American radical right.” The radical left, represented by such obvious hate groups as Antifa and Black Lives Matter, are notably absent from the SPLC radar. The SPLC site even features a report declaring “Black Lives Matter Is Not A Hate Group.” As for the “radical right,” according to the SPLC this category includes such staid, mainstream conservative organizations as the American Enterprise Institute, the Family Research Council, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, and 60 religious organizations whose beliefs on marriage and abortions it finds “hateful.” The conservative individuals listed as “hate mongers” and “extremists” include famed brain surgeon and Trump cabinet member Ben Carson, Somali-born, former Dutch Parliament member and human rights crusader, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and former Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell who, like Carson, is black.
The sin committed by these conservatives was to disagree with the leftwing radicals who run SPLC, and to do so on matters such as affirmative action race preferences, illegal immigration, Islamic terrorism, same-sex marriage and other policy matters. SPLC ascribes these policy differences to racism, homophobia, and other demonizing stigmas that leftists favor. Even the liberal magazine Politico has noted SPLC is “more of a partisan progressive hit operation than a civil rights watchdog.” But this is little consolation for those individuals and groups unfairly labeled racist hatemongers, a slander that the mainstream media is happy to spread. Even Fox reporters too lazy to look into the facts have been known to describe SPLC as a “civil rights organization.”
Politico’s conclusion is confirmed by Mark Potok, the SPLC operative responsible for the “Hate Watch” lists. According to Potok, the Center’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.” In another unguarded moment, Potok explained to a City Journal reporter: “Our aim in life is to destroy these [conservative] groups. To completely destroy them.” It’s not too difficult to conclude that when media like the Washington Post and CNN collude with SPLC in smearing conservatives, it is for the same reason.
In 2016, SPLC published a Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists. “It is sad but telling,” commented Lee Smith, writing for the liberal magazine Tablet, “that the SPLC’s so-called field guide to Muslim-haters is not a list of violent extremists—who certainly do exist—but is instead a blacklist of prominent writers whose opinions on a range of cultural and political issues are offensive to the SPLC…. The SPLC blacklist list contains practicing Muslims like Maajid Nawaz, ex-Muslims like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, foreign-policy think-tankers like Frank Gaffney and Daniel Pipes, and right-wing firebrands like David Horowitz—none of whom could be reasonably described as anti-Muslim bigots.” Maajid Nawaz, the UK resident blacklisted by SPLC’s “Hate Watch” as an “anti-Muslim extremist” happened to be a well-known devout Muslim and moderate, “working [in his own words] to push back against extremism.” Nawaz sued SPLC, which voluntarily offered him a $3.4 million settlement.
The swift settlement with Nawaz before the case even went to court could be attributed to stringent British libel laws. In America, there are no such laws. Following the landmark Supreme Court decision in NY Times vs. Sullivan, there are effectively no libel protections for public figures because the bar was set so high in that case. The law requires a victim to prove malice – i.e., knowledge in advance that the published statement was false – and to show material damages, which are normally not easy to establish. It further requires the offending libel to be a factual claim not an opinion. In other words, calling innocent people “racists” and “hate-mongers” is protected constitutional speech because these are regarded as mere opinions not factual claims. But a willing national media repeats them as facts, without characterizing them as opinions from a biased source.
Weak libel laws might be a good thing for democracy, except that they require a level of public integrity that does not exist in America today. If articles appearing in powerful media venues like the New York Times or the Washington Post, refer to a public figure as a “racist” or white nationalist,” or “anti-Muslim extremist,” citing the SPLC, even if there is not a shred of evidence to substantiate the claim, the courts will regard it as “opinion,” therefore protected by the Constitution. This has relieved media institutions of legal liability for the slanders they publish and promote. Not surprisingly, as law professor Glenn Reynolds observes, “trust in the press has fallen steadily since the Sullivan ruling freed media organizations from previously existing legal accountability.”
Despite a rash of critical articles appearing in magazines as far left as The Nation and as mainstream as the Washington Post, exposing the SPLC’s dishonest standards and questionable agendas, its “Hate Watch” lies are regularly reported in the nation’s press, and repeated by TV pundits and news anchors. These risk-free slanders are a potent and dangerous force, promoting the stigmatizing – and suppression – of conservative views.
Indicating just how dangerous is the fact that among the recent mega donors to SPLC, facilitating its defamation crusade, are such titans of the business world as Apple CEO Tim Cook ($1 million) and J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon ($500,000). SPLC continues to be cited as a reputable source by mainstream media and virtually every college newspaper on whose campuses conservative speakers attempt to introduce their otherwise excluded voices. Because SPLC itself operates as a hate group, its impact can be deadly. In 2012, Floyd Corkins walked into the Washington D.C. headquarters of the Family Research Council with a hand gun and 100 rounds of ammunition intending to kill as many people as he could. Fortunately, he was subdued by the building manager before he could carry out his mission. When asked why he had targeted the Family Research Council, he replied, “It was a, uh, Southern Poverty Law lists, uh, anti-gay groups.”
This poison in the nation’s political discourse has affected more individuals than you can imagine. It has obviously affected me personally, despite the fact that I have been a public figure for nearly 60 years, and my views are well known. For more than a decade, I have been at the top of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s hate lists, where I am described as an “extremist” a “hatemonger,” and “a driving force of the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-Black movements.” I am further described as an “anti-Muslim fanatic” and “the godfather of the anti-Muslim movement in America,” a slander that has put a veritable target on my back.
These are all easily demonstrable lies. In the last 18 years, I have written and spoken more than half a million words, including the 2004 book Unholy Alliance, about Islam and the Islamic jihad. These are readily available in print and on the Internet. Yet the SPLC researchers could not turn up a single sentence that a reasonable person would describe as “anti-Muslim.” In fact, in speeches and writings available on the Internet I have made it clear that I am not anti-Muslim at all.
In 2009, for example, I gave a speech at USC, which is recorded on YouTube and is online at Frontpagemag.com, and is available in my book, Islamo-Fascism and the War Against the Jews (2014). In the speech I say: “Here are my views concerning Muslims: There are good Muslims and bad Muslims, just as there are good Christians and bad ones, good Jews and bad Jews. Most Muslims are like everybody else; they want peace, and are law-abiding. Probably their religion is very personal to them, and doesn’t involve efforts to convert and subordinate or kill others. There is a difference between religious institutions and the religion of individuals. Many Catholics do not follow church doctrine on birth control and abortion, for example. The Ku Klux Klan is a Protestant Christian organization, but virtually all Protestants and their churches condemn the Ku Klux Klan.”
In 2012, I spoke at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. There was a demonstration inside my talk by Muslim Students who walked out in protest soon after I began. My comment was this: “It is too bad that all our Muslim friends have left the room and did not stay to hear this; but notwithstanding the evil intentions of Muslim leaders in the Middle East, there are good Muslims and there are bad Muslims, and most are probably good Muslims – decent, law-abiding, desirous of peace.”
On virtually every campus I have spoken at in the last ten years, I have repeated these words. Nonetheless, I have also been preceded by flyers and handouts filled with the SPLC slanders against me, including the slander that I am “the godfather of the anti-Muslim movement in America.” These slanders are featured in college newspaper accounts of my visits, reaching tens of thousands of members of the academic community. This is an experience shared generally by conservatives like Heather MacDonald, Milo Yiannopoulos and many, many others.
The charge that I am “anti-immigrant” is also without merit, and merely reflects the left’s refusal to distinguish between legal immigration, which conservatives like myself support, and illegal entry into the United States, which we oppose. The SPLC “Hate Watch” also describes me as “anti-black.” This is equally specious but even more personally unpleasant, since I have immediate family who are black. For over sixty years my public life has been dedicated to fighting for the civil rights of black Americans. I have written scores of articles, and four books on race – Uncivil Wars: The Controversy Over Reparations for Slavery (2001), Hating Whitey and Other Progressive Causes (1999), Progressive Racism (2016), and I Can’t Breathe. Each of them is guided by the vision of Martin Luther King that people should be judged on their merits and not on their skin color.
The potency of a discredited blacklist like SPLC’s “Hate Watch” can be attributed first of all to the way the racial politics of the left label every policy dissent – over abortion, affirmative action, immigration, anti-police vigilantism, and due process – “racist,” “sexist” and related derogatory terms. The vast networks of the left share SPLC’s political agendas and believe in their own righteousness so passionately that they could hardly be less concerned with the facts, let alone the rights of those who disagree with them. These networks include ancillary smear sites and blacklists such as Right Wing Watch, Source Watch, Media Matters, Think Progress, Bloodmoney.org, Color of Change and innumerable others that draw extensively on the slanders provided by SPLC, and add some of their own. But the slanders are also abetted by journalists too lazy or uninterested in ascertaining the facts, and by corporate organizations apprehensive of attacks from the left should they fail to respect and repeat its prejudices.
On March 14, 2019, Morris Dees, the founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center was fired. His removal was quickly followed by the resignation of the Center’s president Richard Cohen. According to press reports, “Dee’s ouster had come amid a staff revolt over the mistreatment of non-white and female staffers, which was sparked by the resignation of the senior attorney Meredith Horton, the highest-ranking African-American woman at the center. A number of staffers subsequently signed onto two letters of protest to the center’s leadership, alleging that multiple reports of sexual harassment had been ignored or covered up, and sometimes resulted in retaliation against the women making the claims.”
For weeks the press had a field day reporting the hypocrisy of the SPLC leaders who had proposed themselves as the arbiters of who was, and was not, a racist, sexist, hate monger, and should be shunned. But in the end the SPLC was allowed to continue its vigilante crusades and smear campaigns against conservatives, because the demonization of political opponents was so much the chosen strategy of the political left. The Obamas’ lawyer was entrusted with rescuing the institution, an indication of how central it is to the Democrat Party and the mainstream left.
By 2019, the SPLC’s slanders were reaffirmed by its new leaders, who resumed its function as the supplier of ideological poison to a vast network of so-called “progressive” organizations seeking to shut down the platforms and financial resources of conservatives generally. One of these organizations, the violent group Antifa is dedicated to the idea that anyone who disagrees with its Marxist ideas is either a racist or a fascist and must be “de-platformed” by any means necessary, including violence.
People who work for organizations or in institutions that they themselves do not run are subject to “cancelling” – i.e., being fired for stepping out of line. The platform that enables me to participate in the national debate is one that I created in 1988 – the David Horowitz Freedom Center. But even that doesn’t protect me from the political censors. In the fall of 2018, one of our donors received the following letter when she tried to get matching funds directed to the Center through a charity set up for that purpose.
Thank you for reaching out to us about David Horowitz Freedom Center. At this time, the organization that you are interested in supporting is not included in the program because they are on the SPLC watch list. The SPLC is, “Dedicated to reducing prejudice, improving intergroup relations and supporting equitable school experiences for our nation’s children.” Because David Horowitz Freedom Center is on the SPLC watch list, they have been marked as an ineligible organization. More information on the SPLC can be found on their website (www.splcenter.org/) and if you have any questions for us, please let us know.
The letter was signed by the “Goodness Engagement Specialist” of the charity. Orwell could not have named it more appropriately.
Breitbart editor Allum Bokhari has called this “financial blacklisting… the most totalitarian form of blacklisting,” and a “terrifying new threat to freedom:”
Financial blacklisting doesn’t just rob you of a chance to spread your message: it robs you of your ability to do business, your livelihood, your very means of functioning in a capitalist society. Thanks to the encroachment of progressive ideology into the financial industry — including major credit card companies like Visa, Discover, and Mastercard — it has now become a reality.
In the fall of 2018, as the congressional mid-terms approached, I was dragged into the most dramatic and critical of the races – the gubernatorial contest in Florida. My SPLC caricature was used to tar the Republican candidate, Congressman Ron DeSantis, as a hatemonger too. The outcome of the race in Florida, a critical swing state, was particularly important because of its implications for the 2020 presidential election, since Florida was a battleground state. In September the Democrat Party and its loyal media were using me – or rather the SPLC lies about me – as a weapon with which to destroy the character and candidacy of DeSantis simply because he had spoken at events I hosted.
DeSantis was a West Point graduate and Iraq veteran with a stellar legislative record. He was running against the black mayor of Tallahasee, Andrew Gillum, a political leftist who was under federal investigation for corruption – and as was revealed when he collapsed in a motel room not long after the election, a drug addict. Gillum regularly fended off his critics by calling them racists, or accusing them of repeating racist tropes. As the campaign began in earnest, the Democrats and the media were already attacking DeSantis as an alleged “racist” for the innocuous remark he had made about Gillum’s socialist beliefs.
Just after Labor Day, as the mid-terms began in earnest, the following headline appeared in the Washington Post: “GOP Candidate for Fla. Governor Spoke at Racially Charged Events.” The events The Post was referring to were ones I had been hosting annually for more than twenty years in Palm Beach as the “Restoration Weekend.” There was nothing “racially charged” about these events whose speakers were from the conservative and Republican Party mainstream. Among the featured speakers we had hosted were three former Speakers of the House Newt Gingrich, Denny Hastert and John Boehner and congressmen Roy Blount, Mike Pence, Bob Goodlatte, and Devin Nunes,. Far from being racist, as the Post insinuated – without bothering to offer evidence – the Weekends also featured prominent black conservatives such as J.C. Watts, Ben Carson, Herman Cain, Jason Riley, Larry Elder, Allen West, Candace Owens and Fox Business anchor Charles Payne. Among the awards we gave, one went to Carson and another to Adrian Fenty, former African-American Mayor of Washington D.C. – and a Democrat – for his advocacy for inner city black children.
Ignoring these facts, the Post’s article began: “Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), a gubernatorial nominee who recently was accused of using racially tinged language, spoke four times at conferences organized by a conservative activist who has said that African Americans owe their freedom to white people and that the country’s ‘only serious race war’ is against whites.” Both statements – which the Post culled from the Southern Poverty Law Center “Hate Watch” feature -were true. What group in America other than whites could be openly attacked on the basis of their skin color? But in the prevailing political climate these quotes were just dog whistles to progressives geared up for wars against “whiteness” and America, a majority white nation that was indeed responsible for abolishing slavery as immoral after 3,000 years in which it had been a socially acceptable institution among black Africans, brown Hispanics, and red-skinned Indians as well as whites.
The Post’s prestige caused the article about my DeSantis connection to ignite a firestorm of attacks on him for his association with me. The Miami Herald, which simply reprinted the Post article verbatim, was the first of half a dozen major Florida newspapers to run with the slander. Once a slander is launched, an alarmingly broad cohort of media reporters can be counted on to repeat it without bothering to check its claims. In another typical headline, the website news organization Common Dreams, proclaimed, “Newly Revealed Paid Speeches Leave ‘No Question Whatsoever’ That Republican Ron DeSantis Is a Racist,” and then repeated the slanders about me from SPLC’s “Hate Watch.” Other media outlets joining the attacks included Esquire, New York Magazine, Politico, Newsweek, the Orlando Sentinel, the Tampa Bay Post, Naples News and the Sunshine State News. In blaring headlines, I was called “a hatemonger,” “a white supremacist” and a “race war theorist” because of my off-the-cuff comment about whites currently being the only serious targets of a race war.
The entire aim of the malicious distortions of statements and facts, indeed the whole tenor of the Democrat attacks was that Republicans were racists, unfit to be taken seriously, and that the country would be better off if there were only one party – a party dedicated to the “socially just” future as seen through the eyes of leftwing zealots. Just before the gubernatorial election, which DeSantis won by a hair, Axios published the results of a poll showing that a majority of Democrats – 61% – regarded Republicans as “racists,” “sexists” and “bigots.”
This was entirely predictable for a party which has come to rely on name-calling and hate rather than reason and persuasion, and whose leaders characterize their opponents en masse as “deplorables” and “irredeemables” and “white supremacists.” A party that relies on moral indictments to advance its political agendas, and which elevates tribal groups over the individuals who compose them is a totalitarian party in the making. A party that proposes to “save the planet” or establish a society where “social justice” reigns, is a party that demands intolerance from its adherents, and will regard democratic compromise with an imperfect world as a betrayal of its high-minded cause.
Such a party’s ideological roots and dispositions are the opposite of the liberal principles and values – equality, tolerance, and compromise – enshrined in the American founding. Instead, they are tribal and bellicose. Their origins lie in the 19th Century revolts against liberal democracy, which form the historical antecedents of the modern left, finding their clearest and most influential formulations in the doctrines of Marx and Lenin.
In Lenin’s view, a true revolutionary does not establish the correctness of his beliefs by appealing to evidence or logic, as if there were some standards of truthfulness above social classes. Rather, one engaged in “blackening an opponent’s mug so well it takes him ages to get it clean again.” Nikolay Valentinov, a Bolshevik who knew Lenin well before becoming disillusioned, reports him saying: “There is only one answer to revisionism: smash its face in!” “ In 1907, [Lenin] characterized his attacks on other Socialists as follows: “That tone, that formulation, is not designed to convince but to break ranks, not to correct a mistake of the opponent but to annihilate him, to wipe him off the face of the earth.”
This characterization pretty accurately sums up the goal of the left’s billion-dollar blacklist industry, and its general political discourse. It is reflected in the most popular leftist text of the last fifty years, Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals: “One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other side.”
https://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/216494/southern-poverty-law-center-blacklist;The present author is one of those listed:
 Glenn Harlan Reynolds, The Judiciary’s Class War, 2018, Kindle Edition, loc 234
 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/magazine/wp/2018/11/08/feature/is-the-southern-poverty-law-center-judging-hate-fairly/?utm_term=.8244b79917b0; https://www.thenation.com/article/king-hate-business/
 David Horowitz, The Black Book of the American Left, Vol IV: Islamo-Fascism and the War Against the Jews, 2014, Part 1, Ch. 16 “Jew Hatred at USC,” p. 143
 David Horowitz, The Black Book, op. cit., Part III, Ch. 10, “A Malignant Cause,” p. 312
 Gary Saul Morson, “Leninthink,” https://newcriterion.com/issues/2019/10/leninthink
 Harold Rosenberg, “Black and Pistachio,” https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1963/06/15/black-and-pistachio
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore