- The Washington Times
Thursday, March 10, 2022

The Southern Poverty Law Center found hate groups in every corner of America but the most were in California and Florida, according to the center’s new “Hate Map.”

The SPLC maps the locations of what it calls “active hate and anti-government extremist groups” and managed to lump in the conservative-leaning American College of Pediatricians in Florida with various Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi organizations.

The group said that last year, the hard-right movement “has worked feverishly to undermine democracy, with real-world consequences for the people and groups they target.” It also pointed to new election laws in Republican-run states and opposition to teaching critical race theory and transgender materials in schools as forms of extremism.  

The latest rendition of the SPLC interactive “Hate Map” debuted this week and showed California with 65 so-called hate groups, the most in the nation. Florida, with 53 hate groups, according to SPLC, placed second.

States with the fewest hate groups included North Dakota, Wyoming and Utah, each with just two such groups identified by the SPLC. Alaska and New Mexico are home to just one SPLC-identified hate group apiece.

Their Hate Map has attracted criticism over the years and was blamed for fomenting a violent attack in 2012 on the evangelical activists at the Family Research Council in Washington.

SEE ALSO: Conservative student group blackballed by Massachusetts college for ‘anti-China hate’

The SPLC’s list of hate groups is leaner this year, tagging 733 entities, including many religious and conservative organizations as hate groups. The list has shrunk for the third year in a row from a high of 1,020 groups in 2018.

According to the SPLC, hate groups “vilify others based on such immutable characteristics as race, religion and gender identity. The organization also tracks anti-government groups, which it says “believe that the federal government is tyrannical, and traffic in conspiracy theories that often malign the same marginalized communities that hate groups target.”

The list also includes the National of Islam and New Black Panther Party for alleged antisemitism and “general hate.” The Proud Boys network is listed as a “general hate” group, while the alt-right group Patriot Front is labeled “white nationalist.”

The list has attracted criticism for listing Christian groups, immigration reform organizations and other mainstream conservative groups alongside the Ku Klux Klan. 

The SPLC’s Florida list includes the American College of Pediatricians, a conservative-leaning, pro-life group that promotes parental rights, the nuclear family and “honest interpretation of scientific pediatric research, without deference to current political persuasions.”

The Gainesville-based group is tagged on the hate map as “Anti-LGBTQ.”

The SPLC said the group provided “pseudoscience-based statistics,” used by Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, during the confirmation hearing of Rachel Levine, a transgender woman confirmed as the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health. Mr. Paul, during the hearing, called gender reassignment surgery for youth “gender mutilation.”

Dr. Scott Field, a pediatrician on the board of the organization, said they were targeted because they do not embrace the viewpoints of LGBTQ activists.

“If you are not backing their agenda, you’re considered a hate group,” Dr. Field told The Washington Times.

The SPLC did not respond to a request for an interview.

California’s hate groups include Vinland Clothing, which the SPLC designated as “racist skinhead,” and the Pacific Justice Institute, a nonprofit legal defense organization specializing in religious freedom, parental rights and civil liberties that was labeled as “Anti-LGBTQ.” 

Pacific Justice attorneys declined to comment on their SPLC hate designation. 

The hate list includes groups advocating for reduced immigration and strengthened border security, including the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, which the SPLC labeled “Anti-Immigrant.”

The Hate Map continues to list the Family Research Council in Washington, labeling it anti-LGBTQ, a decade after a gunman stormed its headquarters in a quest to commit mass murder, severely injuring the building manager.

The shooter, Floyd Lee Corkins, who received a 25-year sentence, told investigators he targeted the FRC based on the hate group list published by the SPLC that year.

“While the list undoubtedly contains many bad actors, there is a second category that amounts to groups that are SPLC’s ideological enemies,” Chris Gacek of the Family Research Council said in a statement. “Thus, the list has evolved into a political document that furthers its far-Left political narratives. The SPLC routinely targets an increasing number of policy groups with whom it merely has deep policy disagreements.”

One religious organization on the list, James Kennedy Ministries, sued the SPLC for defamation over the hate-group label, which resulted in Amazon dropping it as a designation for charitable donations. 

A U.S. district court dismissed the case but the Fort Lauderdale-based ministry is asking the Supreme Court to review the case.

The SPLC also is the subject of claims by former staffers that the organization expanded and exaggerated the hate group list to raise money, while co-founder Morris Dees was ousted in 2019 over harassment allegations.

• Susan Ferrechio can be reached at sferrechio@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.