Is the Southern Poverty Law Center Part of the Problem of Antisemitism?

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) bills itself as the “premier U.S. non-profit organization monitoring the activities of domestic hate groups and other extremists.”  In reviewing the articles and analyses on its website, one can see a particular bias in covering hate groups and victims: aggressively monitoring alt-right white supremacist groups while doing very little work on other hate groups, and focusing on anti-Black, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ acts while doing very little work about antisemitism.

And it matters, because the average Jew suffers more hate crimes than any other group in America with the pace of hate crimes increasing rapidly, and more hate crimes are increasingly being committed by non-Whites.

SPLC Ignoring The Murder of Jews

On November 12, 2019, the SPLC wrote an article about the FBI Hate Crimes Report of 2018. The article focused on:

  • Blaming white supremacists and President Trump for attacks: “This uptick in violent hate crimes comes on the heels of FBI Director Christopher Wray’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee in July, when he said the majority of domestic terrorism investigations are connected to white supremacy. Given President Trump’s incendiary – and often false – rhetoric about immigrants, it is not surprising that the FBI reports a nearly 14 percent increase in hate crimes against Latinos in 2018. A president’s words have consequences, and this administration continues to normalize the bigotry that motivates hate crimes. Earlier this year in El Paso, we witnessed one of the deadliest white nationalist, anti-immigrant acts of domestic terrorism in U.S. history.” But the article didn’t say that anti-Black hate crimes declined by 1.3% in 2018; anti-Jewish crimes by 9.5% and anti-Muslim by 27.4%. What’s more, while the total hate crimes against those groups went down, the anti-White hate crimes JUMPED by 20.1%, the largest one year increase since 2012.
  • No discussion of anti-Jewish murders. The report noted an increase in anti-LGBTQ hate crimes and that the largest percentage of hate crimes were against Blacks. But it said nothing about the facts that an average Jew was three times more likely to suffer a hate crime than an average Black person. It said nothing about the slaughter of Jews in Pittsburgh, the largest mass shooting of Jews in U.S. history. NOTHING. The words “antisemitism” and “Jews” never even made the article, even as the number of murders reached 1.0% of total hate crimes for the first time since the FBI has kept such statistics, mostly due to the killing of Jews.

That article was not an aberration in focusing on White perpetrators and ignoring Jewish victims.

Go to the site’s tab on “Hate & Extremism.” The only hate groups featured are all White supremacist, even though it claims to track 1,600 hate groups, many of whom are anti-White.

In an article describing the “Year in Hate” on February 15, 2017, the  SPLC bemoaned the increase in anti-Muslim hate groups which it claimed was not unexpected. Why?

“By far the most dramatic change was the enormous leap in anti-Muslim hate groups, from 34 in 2015 to 101 last year — a 197% increase. But that explosion was not unexpected. Anti-Muslim hate has been expanding rapidly for more than two years now, driven by radical Islamist attacks including the June mass murder of 49 people at an Orlando, Fla., gay nightclub, the unrelenting propaganda of a growing circle of well-paid ideologues, and the incendiary rhetoric of Trump — his threats to ban Muslim immigration, mandate a registry of Muslims in America, and more.”

Read that highlighted section again: a Muslim extremist killed 49 members of the LGBT community in a horrible hate crime, and rather than call attention to the victims being LGBT and the perpetrator being Muslim, the SPLC reoriented the reader to state that presumably White people are anti-Muslim because a Muslim killed gay people.  Huh?  SPLC, are you warning us that White people are the real problematic haters because they don’t like Muslims slaughtering gay people?

The article capturing the year in hate mentioned “Muslims” fifteen times, while “Jews” was referenced just three times.  This despite there being 834 hate crimes against Jews and 381 against Muslims, according to the FBI in 2016.  Where’s the focus and where’s the problem?

When the SPLC addressed the shooting of Jews in Poway, CA on April 27, 2019, it focused on the perpetrator: “Once again, a young white male has apparently been influenced by dangerous online white supremacist propaganda.  And once again, we see how this propaganda can lead to terrorist acts.”  But when the attacks in Jersey City, NJ were committed by Black people, SPLC seemed to be confused as to whether the two killers belonged to the Black Israelites which SPLC labels as a hate group, while noting many Hebrew Israelites are neither explicitly anti-white nor antisemitic and do not advocate violence, there is a rising extremist sector within the movement.” Maybe the killers were part of the group, maybe not.  The group is considered a hate group, but many people are not really racists.  It’s very clear, thank you.  It seems that uniquely among the 1,600 hate groups the SPLC tracks, there may be some “very fine people” (to quote Donald Trump) among the Black Israelites.

When Jews were attacked again on Hanukkah 2019, SPLC said  “When any one of us is attacked, we are all at risk. This is a time in which the voices for good cannot be silent. Stand with the Jewish community and SPLC as we continue to challenge the rise in antisemitism. As Martin Luther King Jr. once wrote: “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”  Thank you for your recent concern.  You’ve been absolutely mum for years.

People have described Jews as the canary in the coal mine when it comes to hate crimes but what happens to the miners when the person who claims to be in charge of watching the canary is in fact staring at everything else but the canary? The canary dies and the miners are too sick to even escape.

And here we are.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has systematically ignored the plight of Jews in America for years while it solely focused on white supremacists attacking Blacks and Muslims. In doing so, it has failed the Jews and it has failed America.

Protester in New York City’s March Against Hate, January 5, 2020 (photo: FirstOneThrough)

First published at FirstOneThrough

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