Editorial: Family Research Council Attacks on SPLC Dishonest
I agree with Mark Potok, the FRC clearly is a hate group - there’s little difference between their hate diatribes against gays and muslims and those of Terry Jones or Fred Phelps. They cannot use the bible to shield them from justifiable criticism for the bile, fear, and libelous hate they propagate.
Editor’s Note: The ongoing religious right attack on the SPLC, originally framed last month to suggest that the SPLC bore responsibility for a shooting at the Family Research Council because it had earlier named the FRC a “hate group,” has continued to expand to the point of absurdity. That was shown again last Friday, when Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel said on a radio show that any media that cited the SPLC’s hate group listings “will also have blood on its hands.” What follows is a response to the original criticism launched by the FRC.
Do words have consequences?
For years, we at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) have argued that they do. When conspiracy-minded Islamophobes claim that Muslims have a secret plan to force America into a medieval-style caliphate, Muslims in the streets get hurt. When angry nativists assert that Mexicans are plotting to “reconquer” the Southwest, some Americans respond by attacking Latinos.
And when the religious right spreads false and defamatory propaganda like the completely baseless notion that gay men molest children at rates far higher than their heterosexual counterparts, LGBT people end up, much more frequently than most people realize, at the wrong end of a baseball bat.
For the last three weeks, the SPLC has been under attack by a number of groups that fit into that last category. After an apparently politically motivated man wounded a guard at the Family Resource Council (FRC) in Washington, these groups launched a coordinated assault on the SPLC, accusing it of responsibility in the attack because it had earlier named the FRC a “hate group.”
At a well-attended press conference the day after the Aug. 15 shooting, FRC President Tony Perkins said that the alleged attacker, Floyd Corkins, “was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center.” He added, “I believe the Southern Poverty Law should be held accountable for their reckless use of terminology.”
A day later, Islam-basher and Obama-hater Jerry Boykin, Perkin’s recently hired deputy at FRC, took his boss’ rhetoric a few steps further. The SPLC, Boykin said, is an “anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, Marxist organization” staffed by “an evil group of people” who are “dangerous.”
The idea seemed to be that the SPLC was hypocritical — that after years of suggesting that organizations that demonize minority groups are ultimately contributing to violence against those groups, the SPLC had been caught doing exactly what it criticized in others. We had “recklessly” labeled the FRC as a hate group merely, as Perkins told Fox News, “because we defend the family and stand for traditional, orthodox Christianity.”
Did Perkins have a point? Was the SPLC’s criticism morally or functionally equivalent to the conduct we criticized, admittedly in harsh terms, coming from the FRC and like groups?