How labeling my organization a hate group shuts down public debate
By Mark Krikorian
Since 2007, the Southern Poverty Law Center has methodically added mainstream organizations critical of current immigration policy to its blacklist of “hate groups,” including the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the Immigration Reform Law Institute and Californians for Population Stabilization, among others. In February, my own organization, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), got its turn.
The wickedness of the SPLC’s blacklist lies in the fact that it conflates groups that really do preach hatred, such as the Ku Klux Klan and Nation of Islam, with ones that simply do not share the SPLC’s political preferences. The obvious goal is to marginalize the organizations in this second category by bullying reporters into avoiding them, scaring away writers and researchers from working for them, and limiting invitations for them to discuss their work.
The rationale offered for CIS’s inclusion on the blacklist is implausible even for those predisposed to support blacklists. The SPLC long ago made a hate figure of John Tanton, a controversial Michigan eye doctor it breathlessly describes as the “puppeteer” of various groups skeptical of current immigration policy, including CIS. But whatever his vices and virtues, they are irrelevant to CIS; as he himself has written, “I also helped raise a grant in 1985 for the Center for Immigration Studies, but I have played no role in the Center’s growth or development.”
The SPLC may have done someworthwhile work 40 or 50 years ago, but it has long since been hijacked and reforged into a weapon to use in political fights having to do with little hate other than the SPLC’s. And the SPLC’s agendizing their “hate group” list has had consequences more serious than “merely” marginalizing good people.