The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a traditionally far-left watchdog organization, recently reported the lowest number of identified “hate groups” in the U.S. since its first annual report in 2000. But this notable reduction, however, hasn’t stemmed their claim of rising extremism. The reason? A strategic expansion in criteria now encompasses mainstream conservative entities and parental rights groups.
This year, the SPLC reported 523 active “hate groups,” a substantial decrease over the years. Yet, they introduced a new classification, adding a staggering 702 “anti-government groups” to their list. This move drastically inflated their reported numbers, with their headline boldly announcing that they “tracked 1,225 hate and antigovernment groups across the U.S.” in 2022.
The SPLC lost its credibility a quite while back. 🤷♂️https://t.co/azylHm9r6N
— Liberty First 1776 🇺🇸 (@PrimoLibertas76) August 14, 2023
However, there’s a discernible distinction between these categories. According to the SPLC, “Hate groups hold beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people while antigovernment groups see the federal government as an enemy of the people and promote baseless conspiracy theories.” Critics argue that by conflating the two, the SPLC blurs lines, broadening its net, perhaps to further a specific narrative. Disturbingly, proof or examples of such “baseless conspiracy theories” promoted by these groups remain notably absent from their report.
One inclusion that sparked significant debate is the conservative parents’ rights organization, Moms for Liberty. This group, which now boasts 285 chapters across 45 states, vehemently opposes certain reading materials in public schools. Their mission predominantly revolves around ensuring transparency in educational content and promoting parental involvement in decision-making processes regarding their children’s education. No overt element of hate or bias based on race, religion, or origin is evident in their mandates. Yet, their unexpected appearance on the SPLC’s list has raised eyebrows and sparked concerns about the subjective nature of SPLC’s criteria.
In their defense, Moms for Liberty co-founders Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich stated, “Name-calling parents who want to be a part of their child’s education as ‘hate groups’… exposes what this battle is all about: Who fundamentally gets to decide what is taught to our kids in school — parents or government employees?”
This isn’t the first time the SPLC’s methodologies and classifications have been scrutinized. In 1995, the Montgomery Advertiser was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize, highlighting the SPLC’s “questionable management practices and self-interest.” Ken Silverstein, an investigative journalist, commented in 2010 on the SPLC’s propensity to casually label groups, suggesting they often prioritize fundraising over genuine advocacy for the marginalized.
The recent inclusion of policy advocacy organizations and parental groups, traditionally viewed as detached from any “hateful” ideology, questions the reliability and authenticity of SPLC’s “Hate Map” data. By casting a wider net, the SPLC seems to risk diluting the fight against genuine hate, undermining its cause through its rabid leftist partisanship.