A new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) states that the number of “conspiracy-minded antigovernment ‘Patriot’ groups reached an all-time high of 1,360 in 2012” while also calling on the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to devote more resources to fighting these groups.
This report is in line with a West Point study conflating the “violent far-right” with recognizing the tyrannical, corrupt nature of government, a Homeland Security Policy Institute report emphasizing the supposed threat of domestic terrorism while ignoring the facts contrary to their claims, the White House’s focus on domestic extremism and the FBI’s demonization of “anti-government extremists.”
The SPLC makes a habit of targeting anyone who opposes the government, especially the so-called sovereign citizen movement, while joining the many others who endlessly promote an absurd fear of the non-existent threat of terrorism.
The newest SPLC report describes the rise of what they dub the “Patriot movement, which generally believes that the federal government is conspiring to take Americans’ guns and destroy their liberties as it paves the way for a global ‘one-world government.’”
The report goes on to imply that the “Patriot movement” is connected with domestic terrorism, while never actually showing how that is the case. See the “Latest report exemplifies the SPLC’s odd method” section for a brief examination.
Is the SPLC credible?
While some may love to claim that the SPLC is a wonderful and credible organization, others aren’t so ready to give it so much credence.
Indeed, Ken Silverstein, writing for Harper’s in 2000, penned an article, “The church of Morris Dees: How the Southern Poverty Law Center profits from intolerance” (article mirrored here) in which the SPLC and their tactics come under a great deal of criticism.
Others, like Dana Milbank writing for The Washington Post, have criticized the SPLC’s irresponsible labeling policies that have lumped the Family Research Council in with the Aryan Nations and the KKK.
Betta Dobratz and Stephanie Shanks-Meile, authors of “The White Separatist Movement in the United States,” also indicated that the SPLC is less than reliable.
“We relied on SPLC and ADL reports for general information, but we have noted differences between the way events have been reported and what we saw at those rallies,” the authors wrote. “For instance, events were sometimes portrayed in Klanwatch Intelligence Reports as more militant and dangerous with higher turnouts than we observed.”
“Also, ‘watchdog’ groups promote ‘claims’ that are compatible with their political agenda and neglect other ones as they attempt to wield political influence among policy makers. The general caution that the literature on the movement needs to be read with care seems to be particularly relevant here,” the authors conclude.
Source Watch, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy, includes the claim, “Federal law enforcement agencies and Homeland Security Fusion Centers have been issued a warning against relying on their erroneous and politicized ‘reports.’” This cannot be independently verified with any degree of certainty at this time.
Latest report exemplifies the SPLC’s odd method
To see just how nonsensical the SPLC’s reports can be, one must just read the “Conspiracies and Terror” section of their latest report.
They begin with discussing how Agenda 21 has been opposed by the John Birch Society, the Republican National Committee, among others, and then suddenly transition, with no justification whatsoever, into a list of violent incidents and alleged plots to commit violent incidents.
“The radical right last year produced more than its fair share of political violence,” writes Mark Potok, immediately after writing, “The state of Alabama passed a law barring any policies traceable to Agenda 21 without ‘due process.’”
There is no logical connection between “a neo-Nazi gunman stormed into a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, murdering six people before killing himself” and the subject immediately preceding it but Potok has no problem stringing them together as if they somehow are connected.
Potok continues to list incidents and alleged plots, never relating it back to his claim that, “Another factor driving the expansion of the radical right over the last decade or so has been the mainstreaming of formerly marginal conspiracy theories.”
This is just one microcosmic example of how Potok and others who write for the SPLC simply sideline any kind of logical thinking process to create connections in the readers’ minds that simply do not exist in reality.
It’s worth noting that the SPLC’s Hatewatch blog has identified End the Lie as “a clearinghouse for conspiracy theories of the antigovernment ‘Patriot’ movement, whose adherents want to end the Federal Reserve, drastically shrink the government, and put most power in the hands of county-level officials, and who believe that civilian militias will be essential for keeping order after society collapses.”
The SPLC makes a business of throwing in what they call the “Patriot movement” with neo-Nazis and other racist individuals and organizations, the “radical-right,” domestic terrorists, etc. without ever showing any connection between them.
They simply throw them together, sometimes within a single paragraph, despite the fact that there is no logical connection to be seen. Furthermore, no evidence is ever provided linking the Patriot movement with violent acts or alleged plots, let alone neo-Nazis and others.
SPLC’s recommendation: more resources to tracking, combating “radical antigovernment groups”
In a letter published March 5, 2013 by Think Progress, written by J. Richard Cohen, president and CEO of the SPLC, the SPLC calls on the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security to “establish an interagency task force to assess the adequacy of the resources devoted to responding to the growing threat of non-Islamic domestic terrorism.”
“The resources devoted to countering domestic hate and radical antigovernment groups and those they may inspire do not appear commensurate with the treat,” Cohen writes.
Cohen claims that “serious questions have been raised about the level of resources that are now being devoted to assessing the threat of non-Islamic terrorism” and based on the “disturbing trends we have described in this letter, we believe it is time to take a fresh look at the issue.”
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