2

I have read in many of the answers in Politics.SE references to the SPLC. The assumption is that SPLC is a prestigious enough organization that their information is authoritative. It is not just here on this site, but both celebrities and politician also grant the SPLC authoritative status on their articles regarding anything related to hate speech or hate organizations.

On the other hand, There are articles (referencing opinions sometimes) that show that people and organizations have been falsely added to the SPLC list of hate speech. I am aware that anyone or any organization may say what they will and it is not necessarily true that they don't belong there

My personal experience is that I have not found anything in the SPLC website that is immediately false. In fact, some articles list hate-speech from people and organizations that one would think are liberal, including liberals that became nationalist white supremacist.

In the end, I am not sure how much to trust an organization that has a political agenda. However, if there is one, I don't know what the polical agenda is for the SPLC. Are they simply trying to get the word out but do not want to influence policy? Do they want to influence policy to help society?

I was not clear enough as pointed out by the comment. Wikipedia is an example of an organization that exists for information. Some of the information listed there is incorrect, some of it is political, but there is no intent on influencing political agendas. NRA is an example of an organization that uses information for a political agenda. Now I am pro NRA politically but I can see that the information on their articles is picked to influence the agenda. The SPLC role is not clear to me. Is the SPLC more wikipedia or NRA?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Jeff Lambert, user1530, indigochild, James K, user4012 Oct 3 '17 at 20:47

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 5
    I'm not so sure that the distinction between a "political" or "information" organization can be really answered without some form of subjective line drawing. People have been erroneously added to TSA's no-fly list, would that make them a "political", or "information" organization? If you disagree with the "information" they provide, does that then make them (and/or those disagreeing) "political"? – Jeff Lambert Oct 3 '17 at 15:23
  • In that the groups that track tend to advocate for changes in policy, I think it's fair to say the SPLC is certainly a group heavily involved in politics. – user1530 Oct 3 '17 at 15:37
  • 3
    I also think you may be overthinking things. There's no reason to not trust any group just because they are political. You can certainly trust the NRA to back up gun interests, for example. You just need to be aware of the angle they are coming at in regards to tackling issues. Nearly every organization (political or otherwise) wants to influence people, society, consumers, etc. – user1530 Oct 3 '17 at 15:41
  • 2
    @blip, The NRA does back up gun interest. With that in mind, if I need to find out if the new Glock is worth buying, i will trust them, If I need to know the number of gun owners who aren't vetted properly in gun shows, i will have a more difficult time. In that vein, will SPLC fairly judge those in the black list or does their agenda leans towards, the-bigger-the-list-the-bigger-the-problem-and-the-more-political-influence? – Frank Cedeno Oct 3 '17 at 15:49
  • 2
    You might be interested that there exist people who disagree that wikipedia exists for information. rather than politics en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – origimbo Oct 3 '17 at 18:00
4

The SPLC was originally focused on hate groups but there have been some legitimate concerns of late. The SPLC page on hate groups says

The SPLC is the premier U.S. organization monitoring the activities of domestic hate groups and other extremists – including the Ku Klux Klan, white nationalists, the neo-Nazi movement, antigovernment militias and others.

Over the years, we’ve crippled or destroyed some of the country’s most notorious hate groups – including the United Klans of America, the Aryan Nations and the White Aryan Resistance – by suing them for murders and other violent acts committed by their members or by exposing their activities.

These groups are all widely considered dangerous or extremist. Some advocate violence or openly racist activities. It was hard work, but the SPLC did some good in fighting groups like that.

The problem is that they shifted gears a few years ago and began listing political action groups, like the Family Research Council, that oppose LGBT rights (there are several more in that list) and individuals like Charles Murray. So you have a list that contains openly extremist groups (some advocating violence) and some that the SPLC disagrees with politically.

As David French noted, people then start lumping the extremists together with the political, sometimes with negative results

Last year, a radical mob tried to physically attack American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray. He escaped unharmed, but a female professor who tried to protect him was injured, suffering a concussion and other injuries as the mob surged toward Murray. What helped motivate the mob? The SPLC’s absurd designation of Murray as a “white nationalist.”

It would be unfair to hold the SPLC responsible for these violent acts. After all, the ultimate moral responsibility for violence rests with the criminal. But we all know that speech has power. It can influence men to do great good or inflict great harm. The SPLC is using its speech to inflict harm, to express its own form of hate, and to spread misinformation and deception throughout the land.

  • 4
    This answer is doing the same as Brythan's. It's not answering the question directly, but is making a statement that there are groups that shouldn't be considered hate groups...based purely on your opinion. Note that they aren't about tracking 'extremists'. They are about tracking 'hate groups'. Political groups that actively advocate for denying equal rights can certainly be legitimately considered a hate group by many people's definitions--despite it not matching your personal definition. – user1530 Oct 3 '17 at 15:36
  • 3
    @blip You seem to have misunderstood. The reason the list holds any power at all is that the SPLC has gone after extremist groups. Suddenly changing the meaning and adding groups that are different from those you previously fought is a deliberate attempt to drag those you disagree with down to the level that almost nobody disagrees with. There are real world consequences to this. The Daily Stormer, a white nationalist site, recently lost its domain name and hosting. Imagine what happens if someone says "Nobody on the SPLC list can own a domain name or host with us" – Machavity Oct 3 '17 at 15:51
  • 1
    mmm...I guess that's an opinion but I don't think everyone would agree the only reason the SPLC holds power is just because they went after the KKK. In your opinion you feel a hate group is different than an extremist group, and that's fine, but in other people's opinion they aren't all that unrelated at all. – user1530 Oct 3 '17 at 15:53
  • 5
    you have a list that contains openly extremist groups (some advocating violence) and some that the SPLC disagrees with politically -> What's the difference? Jim Crow is a political policy; opposing that is no more or less "political" as opposing the FRC. Not saying I agree or disagree with FRC's listing – I haven't looked in to it and don't really have an opinion – just that I don't see how it's essentially different than listing groups that advocate Jim Crow laws (which, certainly at the time, was "mainstream" politically). – user11249 Oct 3 '17 at 16:07
  • I would go so far as to say that, with their pivot to attacking non-violent organizations who simply hold policies that they disagree with, often provoking violence by doing so (see the Murray example above, or any of several others,) the SPLC has become a de facto hate group themselves. Let he who hunts monsters beware... – Mason Wheeler Sep 4 '18 at 18:09
12

Wikipedia is an example of an organization that exists for information. Some of the information listed there is incorrect, some of it is political, but there is no intent on influencing political agendas. NRA is an example of an organization that uses information for a political agenda.
The SPLC role is not clear to me. Is the SPLC more wikipedia or NRA?

Slavery, racial segregation, and extermination of all Jews are 'valid' political viewpoints that have been codified in law more than once. The SPLC considers these viewpoints to be bad, and spends time and effort to fight against movements that promote such policies.

An example from their website:

Over the years, we’ve crippled or destroyed some of the country’s most notorious hate groups – including the United Klans of America, the Aryan Nations and the White Aryan Resistance – by suing them for murders and other violent acts committed by their members or by exposing their activities.

Therefore, by your definition, the SPLC is more "political" than "informational", as it actively works to achieve political goals.


I think we can all agree that the United Klans of America is bad. Other viewpoints of the SPLC might be more controversial, such as its take on LGBT rights. My recommendation is to look at the actual matter at hand. Either rejecting or accepting anything the SPLC says without at least briefly looking in to would be foolish.

  • Also, trust but verify (Russian Proverb). With any organization you can take them for their word, but verify their results before using any examples. – Reed Oct 3 '17 at 20:20
4

Having a specific social, moral or ethical agenda is not the same as being political. Saying I'm against racism or hate groups might align more with a particular political party at one time or another, and might even lead one to oppose a political party because of their stances, on those issues, but that's not the same as being political.

Being political, in the context I'm getting from your question, would be taking the moral stance or position because that's what a particular group takes as their stance, or only applying that standard to one party or group.

If someone seems to apply their stances in a uniform manner (ACLU filing a lawsuit to protect Rush Limbaugh's private prescription history from review, for instance), without regard to the politics of the people involved, then we can say they are issue advocates, even if their issues seem to more closely align with one end of the political spectrum.

If someone only advocates for a particular issue, depending on who it applies to (see liberals and conservatives on the importance of: deficits, transparency, using private email servers, "rule of law", appropriate use of filibuster, use of "reconciliation", "family values," time spent golfing, etc), then it's political, masquerading as issue, moral or ethical advocacy.

3

The Southern Poverty Law Center is a rather openly partisan organization that provides information on what it considers hate crimes. Its definition of hate crimes is rather broad and includes people who have spoken to organizations that believe that homosexual acts are morally wrong.

They also condemn things like black separatism, but their definition there is much more limited. For example, Black Lives Matter is not considered a hate group, even though some of their supporters advocate violence, particularly against police officers. Of course, after the deaths of two police officers, they said

On behalf of the Millions March NYC, we express our deepest condolences to the families of the officers who were killed on Saturday. Our march last weekend was a peaceful outcry that senseless violence in our society is harmful to trust, community, and security. This tragedy is in no way connected to our march, or ongoing protests against police brutality, discrimination, and profiling – and we condemn, and are disappointed with any entity that would try to imply such connection. As New Yorkers, we will continue to march for a peaceful society, where trust between communities and law enforcement is finally achieved.

There are two problems.

  1. This did not happen until after the violence.
  2. They condemn people for linking the two events rather than condemning the call to violence or the actual violence.

Of course, people can point to conservative groups that do the same thing. That pattern was common after violence at abortion clinics, although the groups have matured their message over time.

In terms of their goals, you can read their website.

For example, Fighting Hate:

We publish investigative reports, train law enforcement officers and share key intelligence, and offer expert analysis to the media and public.

That seems pretty clear on an intent to influence policy.

Or Seeking Justice:

We’ve toppled remnants of Jim Crow segregation and destroyed violent white supremacist groups. We’ve shattered barriers to equality for women, vulnerable children, the LGBT community and the disabled. We’ve protected migrant workers and immigrants from abuse, ensured the humane treatment of prisoners, reformed juvenile justice practices, and more.

In that, they claim to have already affected policy.

  • 3
    this answer seems to imply anti-gay groups shouldn't be considered a hate group. why? – user1530 Oct 3 '17 at 15:24
  • 7
    Black Lives Matter is not considered a hate group, even though some of their supporters advocate violence: this is flawed logic. There are vegetarians who advocate violence. Are all vegetarians now part of a hate group? Of course not (I can go on with many more examples). There are many ways to define "hate group" (these sort of classifications are genuinely tricky), but "some members advocate violence" is most certainly not a good way to define "hate group". – user11249 Oct 3 '17 at 15:27
  • 4
    There is a big difference between a group's stated public goals, beliefs, and missions and those of their members. Has BLM as an organization called for violence? FRC has published anti-LBGT material on their web site. – jalynn2 Oct 3 '17 at 16:49
  • 6
    @Brythan Sorry, but the SPLC did not list the FRC "based on similar logic". If you read the website then you see it is listed based on statements made in official capacity by high-ranking officials which very strongly demonize homosexuals. Some examples include "pedophilia [..] is a homosexual problem", "Gaining access to children has been a long-term goal of the homosexual movement", etc. Whether they should be listed on SPLC is up for grabs, but it's a far cry from BLM. – user11249 Oct 3 '17 at 17:25
  • 4
    There's a difference between openly denouncing violence, as BLM always has, and trying to incite it. To claim that BLM only made statements of anti-violence after officers were killed is simply not true. No group can control all members or supporters. What is the message from the organization, itself? Is it muddled, contradictory. Does it match with actions? Or is it a bit "wink-wink." BLM has never advocated violence against police, and have always, formally and officially, been against it. – PoloHoleSet Oct 3 '17 at 19:20

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .