Legal Project Blog | by Sam Nunberg and Adam Turner
Original title: “The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Shameful Attack on Defenders of Freedom”. The Legal Project is a project of the Middle East Forum. © 2012 The Middle East Forum.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (‘SPLC’) newly released June “Intelligence Report” titled “30 New Activists Heading Up the Radical Right” is another attempt by the Left to silence those who seek to educate the public on the Islamist threat. While this report purports to describe persons who are so-called dangerous members of the “radical right,” it is a misleading work product. Specifically, this report lumps together respectable critics of Radical Islam, including World Net Daily Publisher Joseph Farah, founder and president of the American Center for Security Policy Frank Gaffney, blogger and activist Pamela Geller, writer Cliff Kincaid, and attorney David Yerushalmi, in with bigoted members of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and the New Black Panthers. This shameful attack on Free Speech is an attempt to silence SPLC’s ideological opponents by castigating them “as political opportunists and hard-line Islamophobes.” This report serves as another example of the SPLC further destroying its reputation as an unbiased civil rights observer by maligning respectable critics of Radical Islam as bigoted members of the so-called ‘radical right.’
The SPLC knows full well that people like Frank Gaffney, an ex-Reagan Defense Department official, and David Yerushalmi, a nationally respected attorney, are neither bigots nor radicals of any sort. For the SLPC to categorize individuals seeking to protect our homeland and rule of law with the likes of David Duke and Malik Zulu Shabazz is both preposterous and unsettling. For example, Malik Zulu Shabazz, the leader of the leftist New Black Panthers organization, is well known for his “long history of anti-Semitism” which “includes promoting conspiracy theories about Jewish foreknowledge of the September 11 terrorist attacks.” The SPLC’s intellectual dishonesty is a transparent attempt to silence those who educate the public on the threat of radical Islam and Islamist terrorism. It is also axiomatic that this report will be used as a tool by the Islamist’s to quiet their opponents — the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has already cited the report’s attack on both Dr. Gaffney and Mr. Yerushalmi.
Unfortunately, the SPLC has become increasingly known for its deceptive labeling of its ideological opponents. Their common practice was confronted head on this past December 2011, when 22 Republican lawmakers, including Speaker John Boehner along with three governors, and a number of conservative organizations took out full-page ads in two Washington papers castigating the SPLC for “character assassination” by listing the conservative Family Research Council as a hate group.
Not only have SPLC’s practices recently been called into question but also its true motives. Richard Samp of the Washington Legal Foundation has stated that “he finds it difficult to take anything the SPLC does nowadays seriously. There are so many of these [liberal groups] that they have to speak in particularly shrill tones in order to distinguish themselves from the many other groups out there. I certainly disagree with their saying America is racist. I don’t think they really believe that,” he said. Samp concludes that SPLC’s hyping of racism in America is “simply fundraising puffery.” Other observers from across the ideological spectrum, including left-of-center writers, such as Ken Silverstein and JoAnn Wypijewski, have also theorized that fundraising is behind the SLPC’s inflammatory language. Wypijewski has written that “(n)o one has been more assiduous in inflating the profile of [hate] groups than the center’s millionaire huckster, Morris Dees…'”
The threat of Radical Islam across America is very real issue and should not be trivialized by vilifying its opposition. By generalizing that Ms. Geller and Messrs. Farah, Gaffney, Kincaid and Yerushalmi are part of “an anti-Muslim movement,” the SPLC has acted irresponsibly and in an inflammatory manner. And by labeling these critics of Radical Islam as “bigots,” the SPLC is serving as a true impediment against its own mandate.