A coalition of 45 prominent conservative groups and figures called Wednesday on those partnering with the Southern Poverty Law Center to sever their ties, saying the center’s credibility has been further eroded by this week’s defamation settlement.
In a joint statement, organizations targeted by the SPLC as “extremists” or “hate groups” cited the center’s apology and $3.375 million payment to the Quilliam Foundation and founder Maajid Nawaz for including them in a 2016 guide to “anti-Muslim extremists.”
The settlement announced Monday comes as “tangible proof that the SPLC, which amounts to little more than a leftist instrument of political warfare against those with whom it disagrees, fully deserves the infamy which it has lately earned,” said the statement.
“[W]e call on government agencies, journalists, corporations, social media providers and web platforms (i.e., Google, Twitter, YouTube and Amazon) that have relied upon this discredited organization to disassociate themselves from the Southern Poverty Law Center and its ongoing effort to defame and vilify mainstream conservative organizations,” said the statement.
Signers included former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, American Values president Gary Bauer, Center for Security Policy founder Frank Gaffney, New Zealand author Trevor Loudon and ACT for America founder Brigitte Gabriel.
Other organizations represented include the Family Research Council, Alliance Defending Freedom, PragerU, Americans for Limited Government, the Ruth Institute, the Liberty Counsel, Public Interest Legal Foundation and WallBuilders.
“Editors, CEOs, shareholders and consumers alike are on notice: anyone relying upon and repeating its misrepresentations is complicit in the SPLC’s harmful designation of large numbers of American citizens who, like the undersigned, have been vilified simply for working to protect our country and our freedoms,” the statement said.
The SPLC lists 954 groups on its “hate map,” up from 917 a year ago, using designations such as “anti-immigrant,” “anti-LGBT,” “anti-Muslim,” “hate music,” “neo-Nazi,” “white nationalist” and “Ku Klux Klan.”
“All hate groups have beliefs or practices that malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics,” according to the SPLC.
The Alabama-based center has built a reputation as the go-to arbiter on “hate,” partnering with celebrities, tech firms and social-media giants, despite criticism that the group hypes the KKK threat to juice its massive fundraising operation.
The SPLC may not miss the $3.375 million: The center had amassed a $320 million endowment as of 2016, investing nearly 20 percent in offshore equities located in the Cayman Islands and elsewhere, according to reports.
• Valerie Richardson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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