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September 6, 2017
Dear Members of the Media:
We are writing to you as individuals or as representatives of organizations who are deeply troubled by several recent examples of the media’s use of data from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The SPLC is a discredited, left-wing, political activist organization that seeks to silence its political opponents with a “hate group” label of its own invention and application that is not only false and defamatory, but that also endangers the lives of those targeted with it.
The fifth anniversary has just passed of the terrorist event for which the SPLC’s hate map and website were used to target its victims for political assassination. The following facts were established in the record of a federal court case. On August 15, 2012, Floyd Lee Corkins II entered the Family Research Council offices in Washington, D.C. and shot and badly wounded its building manager, Leo Johnson, who stopped his intended killing spree.1 According to his own statements to the FBI, Corkins intended to kill everyone in the building, and then go on to terrorize additional organizations.
That day, Corkins carried both the means to carry out this act of terrorism and a list of additional targets. The U.S. Attorney stated in federal court that Corkins targeted FRC and the additional targets by using the SPLC website’s “Hate Map.” On February 6, 2013, Corkins pleaded guilty to three felonies, and became the first person convicted of violating the District of Columbia’s Anti-Terrorism Act of 2002.2
We believe the media outlets that have cited the SPLC in recent days have not intended to target mainstream political groups for violent attack, but by recklessly linking the Charlottesville melee to the mainstream groups named on the SPLC website – those that advocate in the courts, the halls of Congress, and the press for the protection of conventional, Judeo-Christian values – we are left to wonder if another Floyd Lee Corkins will soon be incited to violence by this incendiary information.
The SPLC is an attack dog of the political left. Having evolved from laudable origins battling the Klan in the 1970’s, the SPLC has realized the profitability of defamation, churning out fundraising letters, and publishing “hit pieces” on conservatives to promote its agenda and pad its substantial endowment (of $319 million). Anyone who opposes them, including many Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and traditional conservatives is slandered and slapped with the “extremist” label or even worse, their “hate group” designation.3 At one point, the SPLC even added Dr. Ben Carson to its “extremist” list because of his biblical views (and only took him off the list after public outcry).
To associate public interest law firms and think tanks with neo-Nazis and the KKK is unconscionable, and represents the height of irresponsible journalism. All reputable news organizations should immediately stop using the SPLC’s descriptions of individuals and organizations based on its obvious political prejudices.
Laird Wilcox, one of America’s foremost genuine experts on political extremist organizations, has said of the SPLC: “What they do is a kind of bullying and stalking. They pick people who are vulnerable in terms of public opinion and simply destroy them.” Comparing his research to the SPLC group lists, Wilcox concluded that SPLC’s work was completely unreliable.4
Writing at Harper’s, journalist Ken Silverstein also noted how fast and loose the SPLC plays with derogatory labels like “hate” and “extremism:” “In doing so, the SPLC shuts down debate, stifles free speech, and most of all, raises a pile of money, very little of which is used on behalf of poor people.” 5
There are many others who agree with this determination and have raised questions about the SPLC. On October 18, 2013, the Secretary of the Army, John McHugh, a former member of the House of Representatives, disassociated his service from the use of SPLC materials on two occasions. He wrote that “[m]edia accounts have highlighted instances of Army instructors supplementing programs of instruction and including information of material that is inaccurate, objectionable and otherwise inconsistent with current Army policy.” 6 Furthermore, in March 2014, the FBI removed the SPLC as a “trusted resource” from its Hate Crimes resources page.7 For years, experts and journalists have cast doubt on the integrity of the SPLC’s methodology and the motives of its founder, Morris Dees.8
Finally, we will leave you with the observations of the U.S. Ambassador to Israel who had a great deal to say about the SPLC at an event in December, 2016. The SPLC attacked numerous critics of radical Islam in one of its recent publications, “A Journalist’s Manual: Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists,” but the seventh profile was particularly disturbing.9In it, the SPLC slandered human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a woman who has experienced the violent and misogynistic side of Islam firsthand. The first sentence of the two-page section defaming her stated, “Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Somali-born activist who says she endured female genital mutilation and fled civil wars and an arranged marriage in Africa.”
Ambassador Dermer was appalled by the attack launched upon Hirsi Ali by the SPLC.10He made these observations about the SPLC at the end of a longer address to the Center for Security Policy on December 13, 2016 in New York City:11
But the biggest shock of all came when I saw a name on that [SPLC] list of someone I regard as a hero – Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
For those of you who do not know Ayaan, she was the Dutch parliamentarian who in 2004 produced a film with Theo Van Gogh called Submission, which focused on the oppression of women in the Muslim world.
Because of that film, Van Gogh was assassinated by a fanatic Muslim and Ayaan was forced into hiding. She has had to live with death threats and under constant protection ever since.
Yet rather than cower in anonymity, Ayaan writes books, publishes articles, makes speeches and fights for her ideas – in particular the need for sweeping reform in the Muslim world.
Today, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one of the world’s great champions of freedom, pluralism and tolerance.
And every self-respecting group that claims to value any of those things should be defending her not defaming her.
Yet in an Orwellian inversion of reality, a woman whose life is threatened every day by extremist Muslims is labeled by the SPLC an anti-Muslim extremist.
Have those who put Ayaan on that list no shame? Have they no decency?
The SPLC and others who asked me not to come here tonight claim to support free and open debate. But in reality, they seem to want to stifle debate….
Unfortunately, some have amended that famous Voltairian dictum to be “I hate what you say and I will never defend your right to say it.”
I will defame you as an extremist. I will label you a racist and a bigot. I will put you on the blackest of lists that should be reserved for Nazis, for the Klan, and for the true enemies of mankind.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, I don’t stand with the defamers and the blacklisters. I stand with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. We all should stand with Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
For if we do not stand with her, then the values she champions – the same values we cherish – will be under threat and the dangers we face will only grow.
We must not let the defamers and blacklisters succeed….
We wonder how the media would react if a corresponding situation arose on the center-right of the political spectrum. For example, let’s assume that congressional debate were raging as to whether or not taxpayers should continue to fund Planned Parenthood, which receives about $500 million a year from Congress. If a national pro-life advocacy organization were to release a map with caricatures of abortionists and title it, “Here’s Where the Baby Killers are Located in Your State,” would the media run the story? Would it reprint the map and discuss the location of these “pro-death” doctors throughout the news day? Clearly, it would not.
Given the above points, and most alarmingly that the SPLC’s “hate group” propaganda has been linked to two terrorist shootings in the D.C. area, we respectfully request that you cease using the SPLC’s data and its various lists and maps in your reporting.
L. Brent Bozell III
Media Research Center
1 More recently, James Hodgkinson, the attempted political assassin of House Whip, Rep. Steve Scalise and many other Republican members of the U.S. House and Senate, was discovered by the public to have “liked” the SPLC on Facebook. Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, “Support for Southern Poverty Law Center Links Scalise, Family Research Council Shooters” (June 14, 2017). Scalise had for years been the subject of the SPLC’s vitriol. Tyler O’Neil, PJ Media, “CNN Goes Full ‘Fake News’” (Aug. 18, 2017) (https://pjmedia.com/trending/
2 If Corkins had been successful, his killing spree could have rivaled that of the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. See: Cratty, Carol and Michael Pearson, CNN, “DC shooter wanted to kill as many as possible, prosecutors say” (February 7, 2013) (http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/
3 Ben Carson had the unfortunate distinction of making the SPLC’s list in 2014, though the criticisms from the public were so vehement that the SPLC was pressured into removing him. Fox News staff article, “Southern Poverty Law Center Apologizes to Ben Carson, Takes Him off ‘Extremist’ List” (Feb. 12, 2015) (http://www.foxnews.com/
4 Laird Wilcox, Social Contract, “An Expert on Fringe Political Movements Reflects on the SPLC’s Political Agenda” (Spring 2010) (http://downloads.frc.org/EF/
5 Ken Silverstein, Harpers, “‘Hate,’ Immigration, and the Southern Poverty Law Center” (March 22, 2010) (https://harpers.org/blog/
6 Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh, Department of the Army, Memo for Distribution, “Standardization of Equal Opportunity Training with the Army,” October 18, 2013 (http://downloads.frc.org/ EF/EF13J55.pdf).
7 Paul Bedard, “‘Shocked’ Anti-Defamation League Slaps FBI ‘Diss’ on Hate Crimes,” Washington Examiner (March 26, 2014).
8 A number significant articles on the SPLC: Mark Pulliam, City Journal, “Demagogic Bully,” (July 27, 2017) (https://www.city-journal.org/
9 “A Journalist’s Manual: Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists,” Southern Poverty Law Center (Oct. 2016), at 20-21; (https://www.splcenter.org/
10 Gavin Rabinowitz, Times of Israel, “Defending Anti-Muslim Group, Israel’s Envoy to US Slams Racism Watchdog,” (Dec. 14, 2016) (http://www.timesofisrael.com/
11 Remarks, Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, to the Center for Security Policy Gala Dinner, YouTube (New York City; Dec. 13, 2016) (begin 19:50; end 25:45) (https://www.youtube.com/
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By Tina Aviles, Guest Writer
Texas Eagle Forum Devotionals (#TEFDevo)
“I listened for God. He said to build things and grow things.” Quite a straightforward proclamation for a 10 year old to make at the breakfast table. But, as many moms know, sometimes God reveals himself through words spoken from a child’s toast and jelly stained lips.
That particular morning, I didn’t catch on to the significance of his words right away. I filed it away as our youngest son’s simple response to his Daddy’s challenge earlier that week to try to listen for God’s side of the conversation and not always just ramble on during prayer time. As is his way, God has repeatedly used the truth revealed in that fleeting moment as a touchstone in our lives. Those first words from God that my son heard have a firm place in our family lore and spiritual growth because they are rich with meaning. More importantly the concepts of building and growing have continued to cause us to meditate on God’s word, influenced our course, and driven us to action.
Building and growing are similar and yet distinctively different. When building something, you use materials readily available, plan, and create something tangible. Fairly quickly, the hands of man can provide results from building. Growing something is altogether different. It requires that you take what is available to you, bury it, wait, and see if God turns what you have seeded into something tangible. Planting requires faith.
Our foremost desire as parents was to be faith planters in the lives of the four children God miraculously sent us. So, to teach the precepts of building and growing, we turned to God’s Word. It was easy to find references throughout the Bible to both building and growing, but it was chapter 32 of the Book of Jeremiah that we continually found ourselves drawn to. Much like today, the days of Jeremiah’s life were filled with some major government turmoil. The people faced God’s imminent judgement due to their sinful ways, yet refused to repent. Jeremiah obediently delivered a message from the Lord that foretold utter destruction and capture of the king by enemies. For this gloom and doom prophecy, the king had Jeremiah shuttled to straight to prison. And, as is common for prisoners, he prayed. Jeremiah’s prayers were the kind of prayers that my husband challenged my son to have. A two way conversation with God, where concerted effort is given to listening for God’s response. Ever faithful, God did respond to Jeremiah with a message that proved once again God’s loving kindness. This is where knowing the difference between building and growing comes back in play. God told Jeremiah to buy a parcel of land and make the purchase known publicly because even though total destruction was coming, God deemed it would not be final. In time, God promised to restore not only their land, but peace and safety to the people as well. Have faith amid impending ruination, a season of building and growing was coming.
No matter what it looks like on the ground, remember that nothing is too difficult for God. Expect restoration. The very course of our lives, the big choices, and the small changes have all been influenced by that kind of faith. My dear friend recently shared these words of Mother Teresa with me, “We are called to love the world. And God loved the world so much that He gave Jesus. Today He loves the world so much that He give you and me to be His love, His compassion, and His presence, through a life of prayer, of sacrifice, of surrender to God.” This great woman of faith understood these precepts. She lived a life that exemplified the way God works through both building and growing. She knew that both were worthy endeavors at the right time. As Ecclesiastes extols, there is indeed a time to build and a time to plant.
Contemplating all of this brings me to pray that we would all want more. More time listening to God. More focus on prayer. More revelation of God’s precepts. Today, consider taking some time to listen for God too. He gave a 10 year old some meaty morsels to chew on and share. He has good things for you too.
- Direct all life-threatening calls to 9-1-1. Wet carpet or low levels of water in a house are not life-threatening.
- Elderly and disabled callers should call 2-1-1 for assistance.
- City of Houston help line is 3-1-1 and should be called for all non-life-threatening matters.
- Callers seeking family members should call the American Red Cross. 713-526-8300 in Houston and 409-832-1644 in Beaumont or call (866)526-8300
- Centerpoint Energy can be reached at 800-752-8036 or for outage: 713-207-2222 or 800-332-7143 Report Downed Power Lines: 713-207-2222
- City of Houston Emergency Management Number is 713-884-4500
- Harris County Flood Control District is 713-684-4000
- Houston TranStar is for transportation information and can be reached at 713-881-3000 or use their app
- FEMA can be reached at 800-621-3362
- FEMA support for Hurricane Harvey https://www.fema.gov/hurricane-harvey
- Current City of Houston Emergency Information www.houstonemergency.org
- Alert Houston Multi-Service Center Listing http://mailchi.mp/houstonoem/alerthouston-harvey-update-7-8-27-2017?e=4bdbc85a7a
- Individuals and Business Owners that sustained loss can apply for FEMA assistance www.DisasterAssistance.gov
Any heavy equipment operators along the coast who are willing to travel to the coast are needed to help clear roadways in Rockport. Please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Bethany Jarrell, Guest Writer and current Texas Eagle Forum intern.
Texas Eagle Forum Devotionals (#TEFDevo)
What would you do if you took a month to completely unplug? No screens. Not a movie, a TV episode, a quick Facebook scroll or an Insta-story. For a solid month. Could you do it?
For as long as I can remember, my family has made it a point to do exactly that during the month of August. Growing up, my friends mourned with me as August approached. As an adult, most look at me strangely when I attempt to explain why I disappear from social media for so long.
Even as I write this, I am on day 14 of our month turned off. And it is glorious.
The first week is torture.
I delete all of my apps that would tempt me to distract myself and I find my thumb hovering over a spot where an icon should be. After those first days, I start to notice a few more details in my interactions that amuse me and I find I am no longer looking for a way to phrase my “noticings” to humor the few hundred followers I have accumulated on Instagram.
Halfway through, I might check into Facebook to make sure I hadn’t missed a message, only to realize that the noise and clamor of political posts, those weird quizzes to find out what herb you are, and videos of people trying to smear lipstick all over their faces no longer holds as much entertainment as it did a few weeks before. (No offence, lippies. I’m sure your product is still fabulous.)
It is in this time I reflect on the changes in my life since deleting my apps, turning off my notifications, and generally avoiding the mindless distraction that is so readily available.
And here is what I found:
- I feel infinitely more creative – Given back the time no longer wasted away on my phone, I am looking for more outlets of productivity. I built a bookcase, bought a set of watercolors, and have actually written more like I said I would ‘if only I had more time’.
- I am more focused – Not at first. The initial struggle of not falling into old habits is a tedious battle. The weekends are even harder. No Netflix binging or Twitter Trolling for this girl. Instead, I sit to read the book I bought at the beginning of the year and organize my planner for the upcoming semester of grad school.
- I am more intentional with my friendships – I may not know what they ate for lunch or what funny little thing their toddler said. I might miss an engagement announcement or an occasional invitation. But the connections that bring me life are given the opportunity to be poured into and shaped into something no Facebook post could accomplish. The other night, I had an hour-long conversation with my fourteen and twelve year old brothers about leadership and bravery. We got out the book of Joshua and counted the number of times the Lord told Joshua to be strong and courageous.
- I pray more – There is nothing I love more by the end of August than paying attention to the little changes in my relationship with my Heavenly Father. Inevitably, He uses this time to help me process the previous months and prepare for those ahead. I spend more time reading and memorizing scripture and watching it impact my decisions and relationships. My prayers are less drive-thru demanding and more five-course dine-in satisfying.
And all of those changes are what make September so hard. As long as it is August, I have a compelling reason to stay “disconnected”. But the first days of September are a tussle between the side of me that wants to pull a Kuzco and boom-baby my way back onto social media and the side that is desperate to hold onto what August brought me.
By the end of the month my life is not extraordinarily different. Only exceptionally fuller, purposed, and peaceful.
I promised myself I would not end this with a challenge for you to do the same thing I do. You wouldn’t have the exact same experience anyway. But I will attempt to summarize my thoughts with this:
Our world is full and the noise can be overwhelming, and the stillness we long to have even briefly is harder than ever to find. Tragedy, celebration, and victory will all come in waves but fighting to clear the air and settle our souls is a worthy endeavor.
Appropriately paraphrased in The Message, Psalm 46:10 says:
“Attention, all! See the marvels of God! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, Bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee. ‘Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.’”