Thursday, August 13, 2009

Return of the Bogeymen (and Women)

As the Democrats depict opponents of ObamaCare as "Nazis" (and worse), they're getting some help from a reliable ally.

We refer to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the outfit run by Morris Dees in Montgomery, Alabama. For years, the SPLC has been "tracking" right-wing hate groups, issuing reports that warn--quite literally--of extremists behind every tree.

Three years ago, the organization announced that skinheads, white supremacists and other nutjobs were "flocking" to the U.S. military. Those claims, reprinted by The New York Times and other media outlets, prompted creation of a DoD commission to "study" the issue. As far as we can tell, the panel never reported their findings, suggesting that the SPLC's claims were misleading, at best.

As we've noted in the past, the group's intelligence reports are decidedly suspect. With its original nemesis, the Ku Klux Klan, all but defunct, the SPLC has latched onto "new" threats to justify its existence (and solicit donations). And, the organization has a rather distorted view of what constitutes a "hate group." Conspicuously absent from a 2006 listing were Al Qaida, MS-13, Hamas and Hizballah, terror groups and criminal organizations that are active within the United States. The same groups are also missing from a more recent report, published last year.

SPLC "intelligence analysts" also ignore radical left-wing environmental groups, including the Earth Liberation Front and Earth First. In 2005, the FBI labeled ELF as the nation's "most serious" domestic terrorist threat, responsible for more than 1,200 criminal incidents, resulting in tens of millions of dollars in damage. The Departments of Homeland Security and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are equally concerned, but eco-terrorists aren't even on the radar at the SPLC.

But that doesn't prevent media organizations (like CBS News) from using the organization as a reputable source on right-wing threats. Never mind that the SPLC has rather remarkable timing in releasing its reports, or shaping the facts to fit a certain agenda. Just over four years ago, the Southern Poverty Law Center announced that the "militias' era was all but over." Mark Potok--the same analyst responsible for this week's "resurgence" report--said the militias had disappeared. In his 2005 study, Mr. Potok said that none of the militias were conducting para-military training, a far cry from his most recent assessment.

Clearly, much has happened since the mid-1990s. According to the experts, the economic recession, coupled with the election of our first black president (and other factors) have pushed more people into the militia ranks--and into the woods.

It's a claim that should be taken with a huge grain of salt, given the SPLC's refusal to acknowledge left-wing groups as a serious domestic threat. But focusing on Earth First or the ELF won't boost contributions from the law center's liberal donors. That's one reason why the SPLC has returned to its tried-and-true bogeymen and women, at the very moment the health care debate has intensified.

From their perspective, it's just a hop, skip and jump from concerned citizen to right-wing terrorist. As for the Democrats, they're happy that someone is echoing their ridiculous charges, all dutifully reported by a stenographic press corps.


J.R. said...

You "need" to "take it easy" with the "scare quotes" if you "want" to be taken "seriously".

owr084 said...

Pssstttt... Hey SPLC, here's a tip. The KKK has infiltrated the US Senate. I'm not kidding. Go dig into the background of the senior senator from West Virginia. There's a conspiracy out there to keep this all hush hush, so be careful...