July 6, 2018
MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey
The Southern Poverty Law Center Expands its Tentacles…and is Still the “Merchant of Hate”
I turn again to a subject that has been of interest to me now for fifteen years. As a good friend suggested, it was perhaps the one topic—and a long investigative essay that I published on that topic in 2003—which thrust me “over the Rubicon,” politically, so to speak.
In the July/August issue that year of the (now defunct) Southern Mercury magazine, I had published “Merchants of Hate: Morris Dees, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Attack on Southern Heritage,” a long and heavily-documented investigation of Morris Dees and his “anti-hate watchdog” organization, the Southern Poverty Law Center, headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama. In that researched study I used only sources from what I would call the “mainstream.” Most especially I avoided references that might be construed as “right wing” or in any way ideological. Thus, major investigative articles in such journals as Harper’s and The Progressive, as well as a multi-part series that appeared in The Montgomery Advertiser (Alabama) newspaper, formed the basis for my report. My study was then picked up and re-published widely, showing up on the Georgia Heritage Council web site, in the pages of the traditionalist Catholic magazine Culture Wars (2008), and elsewhere. Copies were distributed widely (the late Sam Francis had 100,000 copies printed and sent out). I know for a fact that Dees’ operations were hurt by it.
But, when I write that I “passed over the Rubicon,” I had little idea what kind of reaction my essay would provoke from the SPLC and various “hate-monitoring” groups on the far left of the American political spectrum. I was, in 2003, still somewhat naïve about the depth and ferocity of those forces advancing the progressivist agenda and narrative in the United States, and their unwillingness to abide any challenge or dissent.
Within a short time Dees’ group, in response to my essay, had run a hatchet piece, titled “40 to Watch,” listing forty designated major “hatemongers” in the United States who were—to paraphrase his scribblers—“moving on up” in the recrudescence of “right wing hate” in America. I was on that list, and thus, I found myself (with a photo!) on a list with various American Nazis, skinheads, thugs and anarchists! Curiously, a representative of a group denominated “Skinheads of America” published a protest of my inclusion on the list: I had done nothing, committed no acts of “hate,” they declared, to be “up there with them”!
That was bad enough, but what happened then was even more bizarre and surprising to me—after all, my previous activities in political matters had been mostly limited to working for Republican candidates, including chairing Pat Buchanan’s 1992 presidential campaign in North Carolina. But I had also been associated with the traditionalist Catholic Society of St. Pius X, and had allowed my name to show up on advisory boards of the old Southern Partisan magazine, as well as a now-defunct journal that published controversial revisionist views about World War I and II. I had written for Southern Partisan, but most of my pieces were—I thought—innocuous enough (e.g., about Western actor Randolph Scott, an interview with historian Eugene Genovese, historical pieces on Nathaniel Macon and Robert Lewis Dabney, reviews of fiction by Russell Kirk, etc.). And on the world wars, revisionism, anti-semitism, and such questions, I had never published anything, nor participated in any way in the workings of that journal.
It did not matter. Now, every time I attempted to publish anything in a “conservative” outlet or when my name came up for a professional position, the “40 to Watch” SPLC hatchet job surfaced as well, like a dark, unwanted albatross. Even the local newspaper, The News & Observer, got into the act with a short article (I refused to talk with them). And most recently, in 2016 it was a “conservative”[!] publication, The Daily Caller, in a short piece on a “Scholars for Trump” group in which I was involved, which trotted out the same old SPLC attacks. [I suspect that had more to do with the fact that I am pro-Confederate, and The Daily Caller is part and parcel of the Neoconservative establishment that increasingly hates Confederate heritage.]
I’ve grown used to the leftist assaults and hyperbole. And I can say truthfully that I have lost not one real friend because of it.
But in recent months, particularly with the election of Donald Trump as president, the wild mudslinging, promoted half-truths, vicious character assassinations, and personal defamation by the SPLC have greatly expanded. Today it is not just Southern heritage groups and the Sons of Confederate Veterans, right wing Catholics, historical revisionists, and those mixed-in, more unsavory types that are in the cross hairs of the SPLC. The organization—always and foremost a giant “money mill” for coaxing the last few dollars out of the pockets of leftist widow ladies in Boston or San Francisco in the name of “fighting hate”—now has set its sights on “establishment” conservatives as well: National Review, Alliance Defending Freedom, any group that opposes open borders immigration or same sex marriage, and President Trump, himself. And that has brought a response—critical pieces in such paragons of the establishment as the Wall Street Journal.
One must wonder where those conservative establishment figures were years ago when folks like me were being mercilessly slandered?
Those newly-aggrieved establishmentarians spin their own reasoning: For them the SPLC, “formerly did a good job of monitoring hate groups like the Klan and Aryan Nations, but has now has ‘lost its way,’ and strayed from its ‘original mission’,” of fighting “hate.” Such an explanation, such a tepid defense, would be laughable if it were not uttered so seriously and worriedly by such National Review hacks as David French.
Like the fevered and unhinged assaults of the Deep State, now more hysterical and more visible and vocal than ever, the SPLC is only following suit. As the Mainstream Media has treated us to accusations of Donald Trump and his followers’ anti-semitism, Hitlerism, racism, sexism, and worse, the SPLC must keep pace. And so, dozens and dozens of “new” instances of rightwing “hate” are hatched, calculated and spewed forth monthly, in an ever-expanding gambit which includes everything and anyone who even half-heartedly or only nominally opposes the cultural Marxist agenda. Criticize Black Lives Matter, even mildly, and you are a “racist”; oppose same sex marriage, and you are a “homophobe”; demur on women sharing men’s bathrooms, and you are a “sexist”; advocate restrictions on illegal immigration or praise Western Christian heritage, and you are a “white nationalist.” These, then, are the contemporary crimes, not just for the cultural Left but also for the SPLC. And even the weak and “respectful” questioning by establishment conservatives gets them thrust into the same roasting pot with those of us who have been there for years.
It couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch of guys!
[a different version of this appeared a year ago in a MY CORNER mailing]