Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson is an extremist: At least that is the assertion of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Not only is that assertion absurd, it is highly subjective, and in the United States, the expression of such opinions, however ludicrous, is protected by the First Amendment.
But this week it was revealed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) uses such subjective assertions by the SPLC to monitor alleged “hate groups,” which may reveal a great deal about the political bias existing inside the Bureau. In 2009, the first year of the Obama presidency, the FBI called the SPLC a “well-known, established, and credible” organization.
Representative Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) is disturbed that the FBI continues to have a favorable relationship with the SPLC, and in a letter to the FBI, he wrote, “This is surprising and worrisome, as the SPLC is known to use its platform in order to denigrate and disparage certain groups by labeling them ‘hate groups.’ The SPLC’s conflation of mainstream political advocacy groups with legitimate hate groups and domestic terror groups is absurd, frequently indiscriminate and dangerous.”
The best-known example of just how dangerous such a designation can be is the 2012 shooting of an employee of the Family Research Council in the FRC's Washington office. The FRC is one of dozens of groups listed on the SPLC’s “hate map,” found on its website, along with blatantly racist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.
Floyd Corkins of Virginia pled guilty in 2013 to that shooting, saying he disagreed with the FRC's stance against same-sex "marriage." He was sentenced to 25 years in prison. The shooting took place in Washington at the conservative policy group's office. The research council is a Christian group that focuses on family, protecting the life of the unborn, and supporting religious liberty. The FRC considers homosexuality harmful.
Corkins found out about FRC’s views from the SPLC.
Investigators also discovered 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches in his backpack when he was arrested. He later explained that his intent was to smash the sandwiches in the faces of the staffers he expected to kill at the Family Research Council in Washington. The owner of Chick-fil-A, Truett Cathey, is a Christian who has expressed opposition to same-sex "marriage."
Jerry Boykin, the executive vice president of the Family Research Council, is incensed that the FBI continues to partner with the SPLC. "This Southern Poverty Law Center is an arm of the extreme Left," he declared. "This hate labeling is totally illegitimate. It’s contrived and totally for political purposes."
Boykin added, “I think the FBI is making a terrible mistake by doing this, given the track record of the Southern Poverty Law Center. This is more proof of a deep state. As far as I’m concerned, it delegitimizes so much of what the FBI does.”
That the FBI would partner with the SPLC certainly raises questions about some of its other activities, especially when it involves partisan politics — such as when former FBI Director James Comey opted to clear Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the summer of 2016, and the adversarial role the FBI has played against President Donald Trump.
The FBI issued a statement, offering a defense of its relationship with SPLC. “The FBI has forged partnerships nationally and locally with many civil rights organizations to establish rapport, share information, address concerns, and cooperate in solving problems.”
“For many years, the FBI has engaged with various organizations, both formally and informally. Such outreach is a critical component of the FBI’s mission, and we welcome information from these organizations on any possible violation of civil rights, hate crimes or other potential crimes or threats,” the FBI explained.
“We do, however, evaluate our relationships with these groups as necessary to ensure the appropriateness of any interaction.”
The FBI is part of the Department of Justice, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered that its relationship with groups such as the SPLC be reevaluated. A statement from the DOJ said, “The attorney general has directed the FBI to re-evaluate their relationships with groups like this to ensure the FBI does not partner with any group that discriminates.”
Boykin responded, “If the FBI will follow through on that, I think it’s a great day in America.”
Part of that evaluation should consider the SPLC’s role in inspiring the shooting in 2012 at the headquarters of the Family Research Council. Another incident that should be a part of any such evaluation should be the settlement that SPLC had to pay out to the Quilliam Foundation, and its founder, Maajid Nawaz. SPLC was forced to pay $3.375 million for including that organization in its 2016 “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists.”
Oddly, Nawaz is not anti-Muslim. He is a Muslim who opposes terrorist activity in the name of Islam.
On its website, the SPLC states that its “Hatewatch is a blog that monitors and exposes the activities of the American radical right.” Perhaps what is needed is a blog that monitors and exposes the activities of the radical left Southern Poverty Law Center.
Photo: The FBI