Letters to the Editor

Credibility gone

February 3, 2011


To the editor:

Whatever credibility attorney Kris Kobach has had as a professional, a politician or, for that matter, as an intelligent human being, goes completely down the drain when he describes the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “left-wing smear organization.”

The SPLC has been a primary nongovernmental defense against homegrown bigotry and terrorism for many decades now. It is neither left-wing nor right-wing — or any other wing.

Until now, the SPLC has been attacked by neo-Nazi movements, the Ku Klux Klan and a variety of groups with similar ideologies.

It seems that Mr. Kobach has joined an auspicious lineup of hate groups.


BornAgainAmerican 7 years, 3 months ago

The SPLC is nothing more than a radical, far left, smear group that exists only to advance the far left agenda and smear Conservatives. It is an activist political organization rather than a defender of human rights. Read all about it:


pace 7 years, 3 months ago

If far left smear group means they fight racism and racists, You got it right. It is an activist political organization that defends human rights. There is a rise in racism cloaked in immigration radicalism. I am all for correcting real immigration issues and border problems. The effective way to do that is go after the illegal hiring, follow the money. Create working visa program for agriculture. It should not save billions to hire illegally, it should cost money to hire illegally. While it will cost industries more to hire people legally, it will save America big bucks. They are giving our jobs away. Follow the money. Kobach's strategy does not follow the money. I am a far left smear group, politically active against racist and racism. I am against Kobach's strategies.

overthemoon 7 years, 3 months ago

Well said. Nativism, of which Kobach is a representative force, is nothing short of the fight to keep 'European' whites in the majority and in control. Problem with that is, demographic trends worldwide will not sustain that entitlement without apartheid...

overthemoon 7 years, 3 months ago

LOL...like 'conservapedia' is a reliable, unbiased source. Exists only to advance the far right agenda and smear progressives...and anything remotely connected to reality.

Corey Williams 7 years, 3 months ago

Wow! And you bring up a "conservapedia" link as proof? Talk about credibility being gone...


Yes, any of your posts will look as intelligent as that link above if you quote from conservapedia.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

Spin plus spin does not equal truth.

jafs 7 years, 3 months ago

And none of that has anything to do with whether the accusations are accurate.

That's the problem.

rkeefe57 7 years, 3 months ago

According to his 1991 autobiography, "A Season for Justice," SPLC founder Morris Dees writes that he served as the chief fund-raising manager for the McGovern, Carter, Ted Kennedy and Gary Hart campaigns.

Ken Silverstein wrote in Harper's Magazine in 2000 that Dees agreed to serve in this role in exchange for the candidates' extensive donor mailing lists, which he promptly used for his own SPLC fund-raising efforts.

When your core contributors are hardcore supporters of people like George McGovern and Ted Kennedy, you'd have to admit that the SPLC's target audience is somewhat "progressive."

Of course, Dees also wrote that he served as Gov. George "Segregation Forever!" Wallace's "Youth Coordinator," (one can only imagine what that job entailed...), so maybe there are a few John Birchers on the donor list too.

The most ironic (read: "hypocritical") thing about the Southern Poverty Law Center is that NOT ONE of its top ten, highest paid executives is a minority.


In fact, according to the SPLC's hometown newspaper, the Montgomery Advertiser, despite being located LITERALLY in the back yard of Dr. Martin Luther King's home church, the SPLC has NEVER hired a person of color to a highly paid position of power.

Some "experts"

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

So if Dees were to repudiate his anti-racist stances (and maybe even joined the Aryan Brothers,) would you like him better?

voevoda 7 years, 3 months ago

rkeefe57, You are confusing "poverty" with "race." The Southern Poverty Law Center helps people who are poor, regardless of race. So its clients are often white.
Incidentally, Ted Kennedy, George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, and Gary Hart are in the American mainstream politically. It's the Kris Kobachs who are on the radical fringe.

rkeefe57 7 years, 3 months ago

Mr. Shaw writes that the SPLC is neither Left Wing nor Right Wing. This statement is patently inaccurate.

Mr. Silverstein writes that Mr. Dees used his influence on behalf of four Democratic candidates in order to obtain their donor lists.

Mr. Dees made his millions in the direct mail business, not as a lawyer, and he knew/knows full well that his donor base lies with progressive Democrats, not rich Republicans.

Of course, given the success rate of the candidates that Mr. Dees "helped," it is not impossible that he was actually a paid agent of the Republican National Committee.

If you seriously believe that George McGovern and Ted Kennedy are "mainstream," there's really not much left to discuss.

The SPLC turns 40 this year. In February, 1994, Dan Morse of the Montgomery Advertiser wrote that there were no highly paid minorities in positions of power at the SPLC, and the situation has not changed in the past 17 years.

(Dan Morse, “Equal Treatment? No blacks in center’s leadership,” Montgomery Advertiser, February 16, 1994.)

Dees will hire token minorities for public relations purposes. On page 132 of his autobiography, Dees writes that when he was preparing to send out his first batch of fund-raising letters in 1971, he "needed a name" that the donors would recognize. Dees called Julian Bond out of the blue and offered him what Dees called "the largely honorary post" of President of the SPLC.

This is nothing more than classic paid celebrity endorsement.


Dees also writes that he once ran for office on the States Rights Democrat platform, which he says was "closely aligned with Strom Thurmond's Dixiecrats."

Sadly, Dees also writes that he was a highly paid Klan lawyer in Montgomery in the 1960s.


If you folks have no problem with the fact that Dees will not hire minorities as executives, with his segregationist past or his self-confessed work on behalf of the KKK, that is entirely your prerogative.

To claim that Dees and his organization are unbiased and neutral, however, is inaccurate.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

You still haven't answered my question--

If Dees were to repudiate his anti-racist stances (and maybe even joined the Aryan Brothers,) would you like him better?

rkeefe57 7 years, 3 months ago

To answer your question: No.

I WOULD like him a lot more if he put an end to his 40 year old fear campaign and lived off the interest of his bloated Endowment Fund as he has repeatedly promised, though.

Dees set up the SPLC's Endowment Fund for just that very purpose in 1974, but as Ken Silverstein pointed out in his Nov. 2000 Harper's piece:

"Back in 1978, when the Center had less than $10 million, Dees promised that his organization would quit fund-raising and live off interest as soon as its endowment hit $55 million.

But as it approached that figure, the SPLC upped the bar to $100 million, a sum that, one 1989 newsletter promised, would allow the Center "to cease the costly and often unreliable task of fund raising. "

Today, the SPLC's treasury bulges with $120 million, and it spends twice as much on fund-raising-$5.76 million last year-as it does on legal services for victims of civil rights abuses."

The SPLC reports that as of October, 2010, the Endowment Fund stood at more than $216 million donor dollars, an increase of $27 million over 2009.

The SPLC reported total operating costs last year of $31 million, including $5.5 million in fund-raising costs (Five times as much as they spent on "legal case costs," btw.)


Doesn't take genius to figure out that if they lived off the Endowment Fund interest, as promised, they wouldn't need an expensive fund raising department.

Total expenses would drop to $26 million, versus the $27 million they made in Endowment Fund interest.

But the fund-raising letters continue to flow like clockwork.

I guess my concept of "non-profit" is outdated.

Oh, and according to pages 7 & 8 of the SPLC's IRS Form 990, linked above, the 2011 lineup of their top ten, highest paid executives is every bit as lily-white as their 1971 team.

Somethings just never seem to change in Montgomery.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

"I WOULD like him a lot more if he put an end to his 40 year old fear campaign"

Please explain-- what fear, and directed at whom?

Do you think the SPLC's criticisms of Kobach are acurate and warranted? And please explain your reasoning.

Do you think that there are hate groups out there that need exposing? If so, if the SPLC aren't the ones to do it, who should?

rkeefe57 7 years, 3 months ago

Those are fair questions. First of all, I don't know anything about Mr. Kobach either way. My comments were directed to Mr. Shaw in response to his assertion that the SPLC was unbiased, or neutral.

Second, there is no legal definition of "hate groups," which why even the FBI doesn't track "hate groups."

Hate crimes, yes, but "hate groups" -- no.

The SPLC uses the deliberately meaningless term "hate group" to denigrate any group with which it disagrees without having to accuse them of any actual crimes.

Basically, a "hate group" is anything Mo Dees says it is, which really is meaningless.

The SPLC is a private, fund-raising organization. It has no mandate, no authority, legal or moral, to designate anyone as anything.

The SPLC has no more power to designate "hate groups" than does the SPCA.

To follow up on your question about what fear and directed at whom, just take a look at the SPLC's primary fund-raising tool, its "Hate Map."


The SPLC refers to the "Hate Map" in its fund-raising letters to its mostly elderly donor base.

Every year the number goes up a little to keep the scare on, but since the SPLC is the sole arbiter of the "hate group" designation, the numbers are meaningless.

Take a look at the New England states, say, New Hampshire:


According to the SPLC, NH has five alleged "hate groups," but when you look at their actual data, the SPLC doesn't even bother to identify the location of three of the groups, and the fourth and fifth "groups" are one and the same institution in the exact same location.

Five out of six of Connecticut's "groups" are phantoms, as are ALL of Vermont's.

Over 170 of the "Hate Map" groups are similarly homeless and more than two dozen are counted more than once.

Here are a few quotes from the SPLC's $146,000 donor-dollar-a-year public relations guru, Mark Potok:

“…a “hate group” has nothing to do with criminality… [or] potential for violence…” Rather, as Potok put it, “It’s all about ideology.”

No crime, no violence, just “wrong thinking”

“Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing.”

Marches? Rallies? Speeches? Aren't these supposedly inalienable rights? Isn't this how Mr. Obama and every other president got his job? Isn't this what we remember and revere Dr. King for?

“Potok says inclusion on the list might come from a minor presence, such as a post office box.” (www.sanluisobispo.com, March 25, 2009)

Potok is a public relations man whose six-digit income is dependent on getting the old folks to send in the cash. Therefore, he has an undeniable financial stake in the designation of "hate groups."


In fact, Mr. Potok got an $8,000 raise last year. Not bad for a guy with no legal or law enforcement experience, but he brings in the cash.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

It would appear that your complaints with the SPLC are that they raise lots of money and do so by defining and identifying "hate groups" in a way you don't like.

Are there any hate groups that the SPLC identifies as such that you think warrant such a label, by a definition that you could agree with?

rkeefe57 7 years, 3 months ago

It's not up to me to agree or disagree, though I do find the SPLC's nebulous references to "bad ideology" and "marches, speeches and publishing" as "hate group activities" a little disconcerting.


Look, if I go around saying "Bozo is a car thief," then it is up to me to prove beyond a doubt that Bozo did indeed take a car without permission in clear violation of defined legal statutes, right?

If I can't prove that Bozo did indeed violate those legally defined statutes then Bozo can, and most probably will, sue me for slander/libel, and quite rightly so.

If Morris Dees says that Bozo's church, fraternity, political party is a "hate group," he doesn't have to prove a thing.

In fact, Dees CAN'T prove a thing because there is no LEGAL definition. Dees might as well designate "pretty groups," "funny groups," and "mean groups," because they are all merely manifestations of his own subjective personal opinion.

You know, it's all well and good when you happen to agree with Dees' designation of certain "hate groups," but what happens when he goes after YOUR group?

Last year, the Missouri Highway Patrol passed along an SPLC report that informed the troopers that they could identify "domestic extremists" by their third-party bumper stickers.

THAT doesn't scare you? It scares me.

Now, I've answered several of your questions, how about answering one of mine?

Are you okay with the fact that in its entire 40 year history the SPLC has NEVER hired a person of color to a highly paid position of power?

We're not talking celebrity endorsements by Julian Bond, or token members of Dees' rubber-stamp Board of Directors, who are unpaid and have no decision-making authority.

(Dan Morse, “Friendly Board,” Montgomery Advertiser, February 19, 1994.)

Are you okay with that simple fact?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

"It's not up to me to agree or disagree, though I do find the SPLC's nebulous references to "bad ideology" and "marches, speeches and publishing" as "hate group activities" a little disconcerting."

Why did they march? What was in the speeches? What did they publish? It would seem to me that if these activities entailed "hate" and/or bigotry of some sort, labeling them hate groups isn't nebulous at all.

Did they really label any of these groups as car thieves?

"In fact, Dees CAN'T prove a thing because there is no LEGAL definition."

It's not a crime to be hateful, nor is it a crime to call someone out as hateful. So, no legal definition is required. Can you give us a specific example of a group that the SPLC has labeled as hateful that you think is undeserving? Please tell why you think SPLC has done this, and why they're wrong.

"Last year, the Missouri Highway Patrol passed along an SPLC report that informed the troopers that they could identify "domestic extremists" by their third-party bumper stickers."

Sounds pretty obvious to me. Bumper stickers definitely do tell a lot about those who choose to display them, but I certainly wouldn't want the police to start pulling people over on that basis-- not even racists. But it sounds like your complaint is more appropriately directed at the Mo. Hiway Patrol, since they are the ones who distributed it to their officers, with whatever instructions and expectations.

As far as their employment policies, I have no comment. What have they said about it? Do you think they need an affirmative action program?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

I agree, and Kobach should refrain from continuing this tactic.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

It appears that the latest wingnut campaign of fact-free hysteria involves doing an "ACORN" on La Raza.

Bananajoe 7 years, 3 months ago

NCLR is just a hispanic organization that stands for the rights of the Latinos for which they have earned the respect of the hispanic community. It is really tragic to see how little does the extreme conservative right knows about the issue. I met Janet Murgia when she used to work with KU. She is a brillian woman and somebody that knows how to stand againts a bully. NCLR did not have much importance for the exteme right until the day she confronted Lou Dobbs in national TV. Hispanics as you probably know are by far the fastest growing part of the population. I am not talking about the illegals here. The Latino birthrate is at least twice the rate ot the rest of the population and if this trend continues they will have a lot to say about the future of this country. Now, this might be a surprise for you but most of them are CONSERVATIVE in their values( see what happend with the gay marriage law in California) but the Republican Party not capitalized on this, as a fact they have done such a great job to scare them away that most of them vote for the Democrats. This might also be a suprise for you , the inmense majority of the legal hispanics opose illeal inmmigration. The new Latino faces of the Tea Party like Marcos Rubio in Florida. and Raul Labrador in Idaho have urged the Republican Parity to change its tactics. It's a matter of numbers, if the conservative right wants to have a future they need to attract the Latino vote.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 3 months ago

Saw the headline & thought this was about Sven. Never mind.

weeslicket 7 years, 3 months ago

question: do you mean to say that, you, tom shewmon, is journolist? (except for: it's not really a leftist or righty phenomenon)


PMN245 7 years, 3 months ago

For more info on the Southern Poverty Law Center, Google these terms:

“The Southern Poverty Law Center - A Special Report”

"Morris Dees divorce papers"

voevoda 7 years, 3 months ago

PMN245, The "Special Report" is published in a "journal" edited by Wayne Lutton, a notorious white supremacist. Here's an example of his thinking: "We are the real Americans, not the Hmong, not Latinos, not the Siberian Americans. The native Americans are not real Americans, they came from Siberia, and you've read about the digs in Washington state. We are the descendants of the real Americans. As far as the future, the handwriting is on the screen." Why would you want to associate yourself with such a person? As for Morris Dees' divorce, that has nothing to do with his work at the SPLC. Divorce is a private matter--none of your business or that of anybody on this forum.

voevoda 7 years, 3 months ago

The right-wing propaganda machine tries to discredit the liberal and centrist groups in the country by labeling them falsely as "radical" or "socialist" or "anti-American." Then they throw dirt incessantly and hope that the cloud of filth will discourage people from continuing to support their work. And what is the work of the Southern Poverty Law Center? Making sure that people (all people, regardless of race) are not denied their legal rights because they are too poor to hire lawyers to defend them. That's a cause all Americans should back.
Does the right-wing want a country where only the rich get to exercise their constitutional rights? Where only the rich can receive redress of their grievances?

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 3 months ago

"Does the right-wing want a country where only the rich get to exercise their constitutional rights? Where only the rich can receive redress of their grievances?" Dingdingding! We have a winnah!

overthemoon 7 years, 3 months ago

Yes...and the poor pawns who think they're voting for 'their freedoms' and for some skewed version of an Ayn Rand Utopia are going to be very surprised when they find that their fealty is worthless and they will be trampled as irrelevant 'little people'.

Kirk Larson 7 years, 3 months ago

They're left of the Klan and the Neo-Nazis. To Kobach, that makes them Liberals.

overthemoon 7 years, 3 months ago

Exactly, and ditto for most of the folks making the most noise here. "If its not to the right of me, it must be some be really scary" Oh well. The way they keep pushing, they'll fall off the edge of their flat earth reality pretty soon.

bendover61 7 years, 3 months ago

They are in favor of illegal immigration.

Scott Morgan 7 years, 3 months ago

Knock Knock
Who's there? Liberal Lemming Liberal Lemming who? Kobach bad keep running it's downhill from here

BigPrune 7 years, 3 months ago

The Southern Poverty Law Center is financed by George Soros, need anyone say anymore?

bearded_gnome 7 years, 3 months ago

Artie, love your music man.

your pretty shallow politically though.

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