Once-proud civil rights group sinks low

Whether one agrees or disagrees with the actions of the National Organization for Women (NOW), at least when it was formed in 1966 its mission was lofty: securing “political, professional, and educational equality for women.”

Forty-three years later, NOW has diminished to a caricature of its former self — issuing ridiculous news releases criticizing television for extolling “skinny” women rather than those who are “plus-size.”

Another organization founded in the same era that spawned NOW has fallen victim to a similar fate — the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

Formed in 1971, the SPLC initially focused its energies and resources on a very real problem facing our country at that time — virulent racism. Co-founder Morris Dees and his associates at SPLC quickly developed a well-deserved reputation as tireless and fearless fighters, taking on such targets as the KKK, the Aryan Nations, and other violence-prone racist groups. During my tenure as the U.S. Attorney in Atlanta in the late 1980s, my office occasionally worked with the SPLC to strengthen cases against such criminals.

In recent years, however, the focus of the SPLC has blurred considerably, and the targets of its ire have become decidedly less tangible. The Southern Poverty Law Center seems to be grasping for continued relevance in an age clearly less hostile to racial minorities than two generations ago.

A report titled “Return of the Militias” illustrates the degree to which SPLC has diluted its message and its strength. Straying far from its earlier focus against true, violence-oriented racial hate groups, this latest work raises suspicions about virtually any group that takes serious issue with the policies now being proposed and implemented by Barack Obama’s administration. The report also determines that many of the people and entities disagreeing with the new president are doing so based on racial motives. Painting so broadly with the “race card” further diminishes the Center’s credibility.

Often citing unnamed sources to support its conclusions, the “militia report” chronicles a rise in “militia activity” based on such scholarly sources as YouTube sightings and other Internet activities. One might legitimately wonder whether the SPLC’s findings that “militia groups” are communicating and strengthening themselves via the Internet, is laying the groundwork to have the government monitor or even control the Internet in order to squelch “inappropriate” uses.

One of the source documents cited by the SPLC in support of its cry that “militias” are on the rise and pose a dire threat to our country is a report that had been posted on the webpage of the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC). The report in question linked suspect “militia” activity to such innocuous actions as displaying Ron Paul or Bob Barr bumper stickers. It was in fact ordered removed by Missouri’s Director of Public Safety last March, because it implied that a person’s exercise of First Amendment-guaranteed rights was a proper basis for government surveillance — an implication with which the SPLC apparently is comfortable.

The “militia” net cast by the SPLC is indeed wide.

The “tea parties” that have sprung up this year to protest the expansion of government power and spending are suspect in the SPLC’s jaded eyes; as is even the “Tea Party Anthem.” CNN’s Lou Dobbs, Fox News Channel’s Glenn Beck, and even Texas Gov. Rick Perry are casually, if not causally, linked to the “militia movement” by the SPLC writers. Not surprising, one of the favored punching bags of the Left — the National Rifle Association — doesn’t escape being linked to “militias.”

The once-proud Southern Poverty Law Center has honed the practice of guilt by association to a fine art, and is pandering to peoples’ prejudices in a manner it once would have properly denounced.

65 comments Add your comment


August 25th, 2009
12:41 pm

On the one hand it’s a bit surprisingly welcome to see Barr write this. On the other, it needs to be pointed ou that Barr supports some form of amnesty, something that would give groups like the SPLC even more power than they have now. During the election, his campaign (not that I followed it that closely) said at least one thing that could have come from the SPLC. In other words, Barr isn’t exactly fundamentally opposed to the far-left goals of the SPLC. But, in case he wants to discuss them again, perhaps he could ask them whether they’re still part of a coalition headed by someone with a series of links to the Mexican government:



August 25th, 2009
2:11 pm

I have watched what these groups do for years. These racist angry women mainly target white males, as does the SPLC. Many people in this nation, are on the whole, too stupid to understand any of this and will suffer the consequences. The SPLC and many of these other groups create, and thrive on the racial tension they claim to abhor.

[...] Just All Wear Pink Sheets! I was  reading this here article by Bob Barr, Once-proud civil rights group sinks low. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the actions of the National Organization for Women (NOW), at [...]

Frank Lee

August 25th, 2009
3:19 pm

SPLC = Slimy Putrid Lying Charlatans

Frank Lee

August 25th, 2009
3:26 pm

Philip said:
“On the contrary, the SPLC does this country a great service. Many hate groups are listed and categorized based upon their hate speech and threat level. Knowledge, Mr. Barr, is power. You just are not into it” ————————————————————————————————————————

But oddly, the SPLC doesn’t have any of the many Hispanic/Latino brown supremacist hate groups, such as National Council of La Raza, listed on its infamous “Hate List”.

david carney

August 25th, 2009
4:43 pm

The Michigan Militia’s website includes job descriptions like “Rifleman1,” “Rifleman2″ and “Medic.” Clearly, MM is preparing for armed conflict.

The U.S. military requires all inductees to swear an oath to protect the Constitution. Michigan Militia makes vague assertions about government telling people what to do, but they offer no alternative to government except heavily armed, ad hoc private armies. These private armies have no accountability to anybody. But the U.S. Constitution offers protocols for how government and citizens must account for themselves. The neo-anarchists of the so-called militia movement perceive themselves as existing above and beyond any public accountability. How easily we forget about Oklahoma City.
Bob Barr’s sanitizing of the militia movements agenda makes one legitimately wonder whether he receives financial support from such groups.


August 25th, 2009
9:41 pm

DGROY:”We are being bombarded from within and without by people that want to see America’s way of life destroyed”

Well then, who, specifically, are these straw people that are trying to destroy America? My apologies if I mistook your words as reference to the to the clamor over health care. I have no idea what you are talking about otherwise. All I know is the venom spewed Obama’s way over his health care initiative is all out of proportion to his kindly intention of trying to help out his fellow man.

Khalil Malik

August 25th, 2009
10:39 pm

The need to not make decision base on hate or fear is not a good thing, second hand and beyond is not good in analyzing information, to define what is good or bad for me the litmus test is “it should be for everybody, or it should not be for nobody”, having something the only a few can enjoy at the expense of the many who can not is not equitable. Can we all just get along? We should be better at playing with others.

Khalil Malik

August 25th, 2009
11:04 pm

Capitalism is the economic system we’re using, just as the english language is made up of words that have there origins from many cultures and countries throughout this planet inside of our economic system attributes of many other systems exist that help it to stand out among the rest. The frustrations many of us are experiencing are a result of less resources and the isolation from one another and not having dialog. Wether the usefulness has come or gone for any body or thing bares out in time. We’ve got a lot of house cleaning to do, have a great day, Peace.


August 26th, 2009
7:53 am

GHANDI: Are you in Australia trying to imitate the Ostriches? Man, get your head out of the sand, open your eyes, take your blinders off, quit being led around by the B***s…..oh,


August 26th, 2009
11:45 am

Dgroy: Someone is being led around …. but who? Are you so sure Rush and Neal and Sean et al aren’t leading you around like the toy you are?

[...] activity is spotty and that the Southern Poverty Law Center is unfairly lumping …   Once-proud civil rights group sinks lowAnother organization founded in the same era that spawned NOW has fallen victim to a similar fate [...]


September 3rd, 2009
2:41 am

So have you forgotten about Oklahoma city ? The Michigan Militia kills 1000 people and S-11 about three times that. You would be bleating loud enough if the US government did not closely watch Islamic militants in the US on privacy grounds. Why are the Militias not worthy of the same attention ? Just cos they is god fearin white folks ?

Kristin. MN.

September 5th, 2009
5:46 pm

The SPLC has ALWAYS had a far left political agenda. They turned their guns on white traditional america a long, long time ago. They were created for that purpose.


September 5th, 2009
10:07 pm

To “Dave” : Dave, No one in any Michigan Militia had anything to do with OKC, No one in any Michigan Militia would have wanted anyone killed, PERIOD. If you have any evidence that says they have, contact the FBI NOW. My name and address can be traced through the web-site. If not, PLEASE KEEP YOUR LIES TO YOURSELF. http://www.MichiganMilitia.com