The far-left Southern Poverty Law Center, tax-funded abortion behemoth Planned Parenthood, and even the federal government are under fire for wild rhetoric and vicious hate-mongering that many conservatives and even some establishment analysts believe may have contributed to Wednesday’s shooting in Washington, D.C., by deranged homosexual activist Floyd Corkins. Some experts expect to see more similar violence in the future if the hostile climate is not addressed.
On August 15, the alleged would-be mass murderer walked into the lobby of the conservative-leaning Family Research Council, apparently intending to slaughter innocent people who simply disagreed with his views on homosexuality. Before shooting a security guard and being subdued, police say Corkins, who was carrying extra ammunition and 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches, told him something along the lines of "I don't like your politics."
In the wake of the incident, FRC president Tony Perkins (pictured) and other conservative leaders acknowledged that the shooter himself was responsible for his actions — unlike collectivist extremists, who consistently seek to blame acts of violence on their political foes rather than individual criminals. However, Perkins and even some establishment pundits like Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank had to point out the obvious: The vitriolic rhetoric used to slander conservatives by groups like the SPLC and the tax-funded abortion giant Planned Parenthood is out of control.
For years, the SPLC and its allies have been whipping up a hysterical frenzy of hate aimed at ideological opponents. The Alabama-based outfit regularly accuses pro-family organizations and churches that support the traditional definition of marriage, for example, of being so-called “hate” groups. It even lumps them together with true purveyors of hate like white supremacists and National Socialists (Nazis) for added effect.
Whenever there is violence that might in any way be linked to right-of-center political beliefs — no matter how implausibly — the group is at the forefront of spreading disinformation aimed at silencing and demonizing its opponents. With the help of biased establishment media outlets — disgraced ABC reporter Brian Ross erroneously linked the Tea Party to the Colorado shooting recently, for example — the SPLC regularly seeks to paint conservatives, libertarians, and Christians as potentially violent extremists.
Such tactics have largely discredited the SPLC in the eyes of normal Americans who follow the news. But bureaucracies like the Department of Homeland Security and even some law enforcement agencies regularly rely on the group in their own efforts to demonize and dehumanize right-of-center activists.
Consider the string of reports released by the federal government in recent years that have cited the SPLC to characterize the views of average Americans as potentially terroristic. Pro-life activists, proponents of national sovereignty, constitutionalists, opponents of illegal immigration, returning veterans, and countless others have all become victims of the hateful federal campaigns over the last decade.
In the FRC’s case, the “hate group” label was awarded by the SPLC in 2010 because the conservative group allegedly “spread false and denigrating propaganda" about homosexuals. The SPLC cites a 1999 booklet co-authored by an FRC policy analyst entitled "Homosexual Activists Work to Normalize Sex With Boys." That publication allegedly suggested the “gay rights” movement was trying to normalize pedophilia and gain access to children.
Planned Parenthood, meanwhile, claimed in 2006 that the FRC — along with Eagle Forum, Christian Coalition, Concerned Women for America, Feminists for Life of America, Focus on the Family, and other peaceful activist groups — were actually “Terrorists and Extremist Organizations.” As the largest abortion provider in the nation, Planned Parenthood receives hundreds of millions of dollars from taxpayers every year — about half of its budget, in fact. And it always has the ear of politicians, especially President Obama.
After the shooting, however, concerned conservatives suggested that it was time for such groups to stop spreading dangerous propaganda. After all, if a group is equated with the KKK, neo-Nazis, terrorists, and others, unbalanced individuals may see that as a green light to kill, possibly hoping to become "heroes" in the process.
"Let me be clear that Floyd Corkins was responsible for firing the shot yesterday," said FRC President Perkins after the shooting. "But Corkins was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center that have been reckless in labeling organizations hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy."
The respected pro-family leader thanked all of the homosexual activist groups that expressed their condolences in the wake of the shooting. However, he also challenged them to go a “step further” and call for an end to the “reckless rhetoric” that has put so many conservative organizations in the crosshairs. The SPLC, he added, "should be held accountable for their reckless use of terminology that is leading to the intimidation and what the FBI here has categorized as an act of domestic terrorism."
The SPLC promptly responded to the accusation, with SPLC senior fellow Mark Potok calling it “outrageous.” According to Potok, who regularly demonizes conservatives and liberty-minded activists in the wake of violence as “extremists” or purveyors of “hate,” Perkins was simply exploiting the shooting as an opportunity to “score political points.”
"Perkins' accusation is outrageous," Potok wrote on the SPLC’s website. "The FRC and its allies on the religious right are saying, in effect, that offering legitimate and fact-based criticism in a democratic society is tantamount to suggesting that the objects of criticism should be the targets of criminal violence."
Even liberal-leaning Washington Post opinion writer Milbank, however, conceded that the SPLC had gone too far in its efforts to demonize groups like the FRC. “I disagree with the Family Research Council’s views on gays and lesbians. But it’s absurd to put the group, as the law center does, in the same category as Aryan Nations, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Stormfront and the Westboro Baptist Church,” he wrote. “The Southern Poverty Law Center should stop listing a mainstream Christian advocacy group alongside neo-Nazis and Klansmen.”
Virtually all honest analysts agreed that the SPLC’s designation of the FRC and other Christian organizations as “hate” groups is absurd. Some analysts, however, had long predicted that violence would be the result. And many experts believe the latest attack is part of a broader “war on religion” that will continue contributing to violence in the future.
"This near-tragic incident marks an alarming turn in our cultural battle over values," Bryan Fischer, a senior official with the American Family Association, said in a statement, adding that the SPLC “must be called to account” for its “dangerously misguided” rhetoric. "The left’s war on religion and Christianity has now gone from symbolic to literal."
Of course, the individual shooter was solely responsible for his actions — nobody else, including the leadership of the SPLC, Planned Parenthood, or the federal government, can be legitimately blamed for the attack. However, when mainstream Christian conservative organizations are demonized and equated with the Ku Klux Klan, nobody — not even the Washington Post — can deny that the discourse has gone far outside of any rational bounds.
Conservative leaders still hope the SPLC and other like-minded organizations will reconsider the vicious hate-mongering tactics — especially Planned Parenthood, which has received billions in taxpayer funds. The federal government, meanwhile, has an obligation to all Americans not to accept the advice of discredited activist organizations seeking only to slander and intimidate political opponents.
Whether the SPLC, Planned Parenthood, and the federal government will apologize or change remains to be seen. In the meantime, however, right-of-center organizations across the country say they are stepping up security while praying for an end to the hate that again manifested itself through violence and terror.
Photo of Family Research Center's Tony Perkins: AP Images