Well. Finally someone wrote a realistic, balanced piece about the work of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Washington Post Magazine staff writer David Montgomery put together a (roughly) 6,700-word piece that asks whether the SPLC is what it pretends to be — the ultimate (and accurate) judges of hate in America.
It gave ample voice to several of the SPLC’s most prominent critics, including one mainstream evangelical Christian organization that narrowly missed being in a bloodbath because of being labeled a hate organization.
See that speck there?” retired Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin says, directing my gaze to the ceiling of the Family Research Council’s lobby in Washington. I spy a belly-button-size opening in the plaster. “That’s a bullet hole.” … Fired on August 15th, 2012, by Floyd Lee Corkins.” …
Asked by an FBI agent how he came to single out the FRC, Corkins replied: “Southern Poverty Law lists anti-gay groups.” The gunman, who was found to be mentally ill, was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
“He came in here to kill as many of us as possible because he found us listed as a hate group on the Southern Poverty Law Center website,” continues Boykin, FRC’s executive vice president, who is dressed today in a leather vest over a shirt and tie. “We and others like us who are on this ‘hate map’ believe that this is very reckless behavior. … The only thing that we have in common is that we are all conservative organizations. … You know, it would be okay if they just criticized us. … If they wrote op-eds about us and all that. But listing us as a hate group is just a step too far because they put us in the same category as the Ku Klux Klan. And who are they to have a hate-group list anyhow?”
The piece then switches venues to Montgomery, Ala., headquarters of the SPLC, which began in 1971 as a legal aid group, then expanded in the 1980s to monitor Klan groups.
Then the SPLC began widening its definition of hate and extremism.