It repeatedly claims that even the mildest racial message creates an atmosphere of “hatred” that can lead to violence, yet its very purpose is to stir up the worst sort of hostility against people who express certain ideas.
by Jared Taylor
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is a Montgomery, Ala- bama, organization that monitors “hate.” Founded by Morris Dees, it has accumulated tens of millions of dollars through sensational direct mail campaigns seeking money to combat the rising tide of “bigotry.” The SPLC has been prominent in trying to publicize the hidden “white supremacy” of the Council of Conservative Citizens, and its director of publications, Mark Potok, has been widely quoted as an expert on the true nature of the C of CC.
On March 2, James Lubinskas and I attended a lecture Mr. Potok gave on the “hate movement,” at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. The lecture was free and Washington is about two-thirds black, but there were perhaps only a dozen blacks among the audience of well over 300.
Mr. Potok stuck to the usual theme of the relentlessly growing threat of “hate.” He reported that the number of “hate” groups was up 20 percent in 1996 and six percent in 1997. He said this was partic- ularly worrying because “hatred” normally subsides when the econ- omy is strong. As causes of this increase, he first mentioned the disappearance of good, union jobs and the resulting disaffection of blue-collar whites. He then spoke at length of the power of the Internet to promote “hate” and “white supremacy.” According to his count, the number of “hate sites” increased 60 percent in 1998, and many are “beautifully done.” He is concerned that they seem to be appealing to college-bound teenagers and that the Internet gives what he called “lone haters” a network and community. “They don’t feel isolated and crushed anymore,” he explained. Mr. Potok also men- tioned “white power rock and roll” as another ominous new recruiting tool.
Perhaps most disturbing, however, was the “very good organizing work” the leaders of the movement have been doing for “over 30 years.” According to Mr. Potok, by a stroke of near-genius, “white supremacists” have managed to channel discontent about other issues straight into their own campaigns. They have drawn on anger over gun control and “simple resentment of the federal government” to start the militia movement which, in his view, is largely a cover for “white supremacy.” Abortion is another issue that has been “picked up by the movement.”
Mr. Potok spoke at some length about other things he seems to think are associated more or less closely with a larger “white supremacy” movement: the Republic of Texas, the common law movement, the League of the South, and a number of recently-foiled plots to bomb government buildings. He is particularly outraged by the League of the South — which advocates secession and independence for the former Confederacy — because it is “just filled up with PhDs and university professors.” Although they may not be militant hate mongers themselves, their reactionary views on race and the South “give academic, cultural, and historical legitimacy to those with white supremacist views.”
Mr. Potok finds that AR plays a similar but more sinister role. Its articles and conferences are a “safe haven” for “racial science,” for misguided academics who can boast that they are “not afraid of the PC dictatorship.” Prof. Glayde Whitney of Florida State University, who has written for AR and spoken at a conference, is an example of “a tenured professor” lending the “sheen of legitimacy” to white supremacy. Mr. Potok summarized the work of Philippe Rushton, another conference speaker, in the usual single sentence: “There is an inverse relationship between brain size and penis size.” People like Prof.Whitney and Prof. Rushton are important because their work is “sucked up wholesale by the real white supremacists.” Mr. Potok claims to believe that the question of race and IQ “cannot be sorted out and never will be sorted out,” but if the truth is un- knowable it is odd that we must act as if we are certain race has nothing to do with IQ.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Potok spent some time denouncing the C of CC, which he called “an out-and-out white su- premacist group” that is “far more dangerous than any Klan or Neo-Nazi group.” Although the council does not advocate violence, it creates the atmos- phere in which violence flourishes.
Mr. Potok also mentioned “wide-spread fear of the loss of a white majority” as a reason for increased “hatred.” He said people are saying, “This isn’t the country I grew up in; something’s wrong out there,” but he assured the audience that diversity is “something to be celebrated.” Nevertheless, Mr. Potok obliquely recognized the revolutionary character of what is happening. He said that global- ization and multi-national enterprises mean that “the whole notion of the nation state is really in trouble.” As a consequence, “the whole concept of America is up for grabs in a way it hasn’t been for years.” He believes that this state of psychological flux means that the country could conceivably be “grabbed” by racial nationalism.
Two of Mr. Potok’s most detested enemies are the Christian Identity movement and William Pierce’s National Alliance. He described and decried the beliefs of Identity Christianity and then made the surpris- ing claim that increasingly “Christian Identity is the glue that holds the radical right together.”
He reported that Mr. Pierce has had the “very clever idea” of draw- ing whites into his organization through Euro-American cultural festivals that attract Irish dancers, bag-pipers and the like. As Mr. Potok put it, “what are really ethnic societies are being pulled into a fascist movement.” He also believes that through his contacts with European miscreants, Mr. Pierce is “organizing an international fascist revolution.”
Much as he abhors what the “haters” say, Mr. Potok does not advocate censorship. However, he does not exactly see an exalted role for the SPLC in talking back. “Let them say what they want on the Internet,” he explained. “We’ll tell people what they really are.” “A few of the leaders of this movement have criminal histories,” he added; “They’re petty crooks.” The SPLC therefore does not counter free speech with corrective speech; instead it makes ad hominem charges.
There was a very limited question period after the talk, but both Jim Lubinskas and I were able to speak. Mr. Lubinskas wanted to know why Hispanics are a victim category for hate crimes but not a perpetrator category, and whether it is fair for hate crimes committed by Hispanics to be attributed to “whites.” Mr. Potok did not appear to hear the question properly, and after a rambling answer about the imprecision of ethnic labeling conceded, “I know I’m not really answering your question.”
I asked why the United States should seek diversity and dispossession while non-white countries may maintain their majority populations. He bravely took the position that non-white countries should seek diversity and dilution too!
It is useful to know what frightens the organized opponents of the traditional American republic and why. However, the SPLC’s main tactic of simply “un-masking” people as “white supremacists” is not likely to work for much longer. Increasingly, only fanatics are likely to be convinced by such intellectually empty tactics. Moreover, the
group is openly hypocritical. It repeatedly claims that even the mildest racial message creates an atmosphere of “hatred” that can lead to violence, yet its very purpose is to stir up the worst sort of hostility against people who express certain ideas. If the leaders of the C of CC or the staff of AR are ever attacked, would the SPLC ever concede that it contributed to an “atmosphere of violence?” Finally, although it preens itself on respect for free speech, its legal strategies are a clear attempt to stifle speech. It brings civil suits for “conspiracy” when there are insufficient grounds for criminal charges — in effect, bullying ideological opponents into silence.
It is dawning on more and more people that “watch-dog groups” that call people names and try to shut them up may simply be unable to counter the ideas they oppose with anything like real arguments.