Calling Them Out By Name

With the Tea Party and the Christian Right rapidly losing ground in public opinion, Republican Politicians have a fine line to walk in motivating an important element of their base without alienating the middle.  But when prominent politicians, for political purposes, lend their support to a summit backed by entities whose lies and language foster hate crimes against a segment of our citizenry, it is time to call them out.  By their stature and mere presence, these politicians have given sanction to bigotry and assistance to persecution thus betraying their duty in governance.  And for what purpose? Look no further than the cause of the anger fueling the Occupy Wall Street movement.  It is time we stop the manipulation of bigotry and fear for financial and political gain.

Republican politicians catering to the Tea Party and the Religious Right, intersecting entities, have a fine line to walk.  With research showing that Tea Party supporters tended to be highly partisan Republicans well before there ever was a Tea Party (ref), this group represents an important part the Republican base, a base that Republican politicians need to keep energized and motivated.  However, on the other side of the coin, the Tea Party is rapidly losing ground in the world of public opinion (ref).   Polling this past summer showed that over a 14 month period public opposition to the Tea Party more than doubled from 18% to 40%.  Additionally, research on national political attitudes showed that out of 24 groups and individuals, the Tea Party finished dead last (24th) with Sarah Palin, the outspoken Tea Party advocate, finishing right behind at 23rd (ref).  The Tea Party finished lower in public opinion than much maligned groups such as Muslims (20th) and Gays (17th).  Additionally, as the above cited research also showed that (other being a Republican) the strongest predictor of becoming a Tea Party supporter was a desire to see greater involvement of religion in politics, it is not surprising that the Christian Right also scored well down in public opinion (21st).

So, there lies the dilemma for Republican politicians; how to energize an important part of their base without alienating/offending the middle (what they need to win elections).  And, as just occurred this weekend, some of this activity is kept a bit under the radar.

This weekend an event took place in Washington, D.C. called the Values Voter Summit (ref).  Unless one follows civil rights matters, one would know little of the groups that sponsored the event: the Family Research Council (FRC) and the American Family Association (AFA).  The event was attended by the ‘who’s who’ of the Republican Party (list of political participants will follow).

Both groups have been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as Hate Groups, not because of religious beliefs but because of their continuing use of hate language, discredited research, and malicious falsehoods that demonize the LGBT community.  Claims made by these groups include such things as gay rights advocates want to “recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets’ of a new sexual order”; that gays orchestrated the Holocaust and were responsible for the killing of 6 million Jews; and that homosexuality is an illness that can be cured.  Should you wish to see the nature of information issued by these groups I provide the link to an advertisement placed by SPLC in the Washington Post that provides both statements and references (ref).  Should one wish to review the top 10 Anti-Gay Myths and how they have been debunked, you can find them at this link (ref).

The problem with the language and falsehoods these groups issue is that it reinforces bigotry and hatred thus contributing to hate crimes.  Analysis of FBI data has shown that homosexuals are far more likely than any other minority group in the United States to be victimized by violent hate crimes (ref).

The LGBT community are citizens of the United States and are thus entitled to protection against bigotry, hatred, bullying that leads to suicide of our youth, and assault.  As cited in a previous article (ref), our first president issued the following words, “…the government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance…” (ref).   Regrettably, the prominent politicians who participated in this event, by their stature and mere presence, have given sanction to bigotry and assistance to persecution for their own political purpose.  And what purpose?  One need look no further than the cause of the anger behind Occupy Wall Street movement to understand that.  So the time has come to stop this manipulation of bigotry and hatred for political and financial gain.  Until we call this out, that Party will continue to manipulate this part of its base to carry out its agenda.

It is time to bring these prominent politicians ‘out of the closet’ so to speak.  The intent of the Washington Post ad placed by SPLC was to get public officials to think twice before lending their names to groups like FRC and AHA again.  However, the ad failed to mention these politicians by name; they were essentially given a bye with the public.  I will provide those names here as well as the link that identifies all confirmed participants (ref).  My belief is that these individuals need to explain to the other 70% of America their participation in a summit backed by groups whose language fosters violent crimes against a segment of our citizenry.

Over ten years ago one of our sons almost lost his life during a vicious after-hours assault near his college campus.  The assailants were sent to prison.  One of the assailants during the criminal trial claimed he wasn’t directly involved.  The district attorney issued the following statement: “If you run with the pack, you are responsible for the kill”.

Confirmed Speakers (Politicians)

John Boehner (R-OH) – House Speaker

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) – House Majority Leader

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) – Presidential Candidate

Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY)

Herman Cain – Presidential Candidate

Newt Gingrich – Former Speaker of the House and Presidential Candidate

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO)

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA)

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH)

Rep. Steve King (R-IA)

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) – Presidential Candidate

Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) and Presidential Candidate

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS)

Mitt Romney – Former MA Governor and Presidential Candidate

Rick Santorum (R-PA) – Former US Senator

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL)

Former Rep Linda Smith (R-WA)

7 comments

  1. “Both groups have been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as Hate Groups, not because of religious beliefs but because of their continuing use of hate language, discredited research, and malicious falsehoods that demonize the LGBT community”

    The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have stated publicly for decades that “gay men lack the “moral values” required to be Scout Leaders,” and refuses to hire openly gay men as such.

    That sounds like a malicious falsehood.

    Despite the fact that the BSA recives public funding AND that it’s core mission is to mold the minds and shape the characters of millions of American boys, it doesn’t seem to meet the SPLC’s srupulous “anti-gay hate group” threshold. You won’t find a word about it on the SPLC web site.

    In the same statement, the BSA also claims that “duty to God is not a mere ideal for those choosing to associate with the Boy Scouts of America; it is an obligation.”

    So, when is a conservative Christian “hate group” NOT a conservative Christian “hate group”?

    The answer is simple. Many of the SPLC’s mostly elderly donors were Scouts, or the proud parents/grandparents of Scouts, and linking the almighty donors to a “hate group” is bad for business.

    Fighting “hate” is all well and good until it cuts into the bottom line.

    http://wp.me/pCLYZ-8u

    Some “experts”

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    • Many times I don’t address comments, but in this case I will.  My belief is that the leadership of BSA would be quite offended by the analogy you draw between their organization and FRC/AFA.  First, regarding BSA as a conservative Christian organization, BSA admitted Buddhist members and units since 1920 and also accepts members of various pantheistic faiths. In addition to Buddhists, their Religious Emblems Programs provide awards for the following faiths; Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism.  What is important is subscription to the BSA Declaration of Religious Principle.

      I will get to hatred in a moment, but the legal issues with BSA and homosexuality involved claims of membership discrimination.  This was eventually settled by SCOTUS in BSA v Dale where the court ruled that as a private ‘expressive association’ the BSA could set its own membership standards consistent with the Constitutional right of Freedom of Association.  Although I do not agree with all beliefs of private associations, best I know the BSA keeps these beliefs within the context of their organization and does not engage in public demonization of homosexuals.

      That is a far cry from the activities of FRC and AFA that would support legal sanctions against homosexual behavior as well as legislation that would restrict civil rights to that minority group; and they take to the airwaves with their message of known falsehoods and lies about the LGBT community.

      Regarding ‘conservative Christianity’, when did it become fashionable to bear false witness against thy neighbor including such known falsehoods that gays are sexual predators with children, that they are vicious individuals which is why Hitler recruited them, that these vicious individuals were responsible for the Holocaust and the killing of 6 million Jews, and that homosexuality is an illness that can be cured (both the American Psychiatric Association and American Psychological Association take exception to the practice ‘reparative’ therapy).

      When did it become fashionable in ‘conservative Christianity’ to hold up signs at anti-Gay rallies that read: “God Hates Fags”; “U R Going to Hell”; “Thank God for AIDS”; and quoting Christian scripture in support of Gay Rights being AIDS and Hell as well as “Sodomites are Vile, Unnatural, Unhealthy and Worthy of Death”.  I have devoutly Christian friends who are appalled and offended at this language, behavior and use of scripture saying that it is of no resemblance to the faith they practice.

      Now, onto hatred.  Although the link you provided claims that there is no legal definition for ‘hate group’, ‘hate crime’ is legally defined not only here but internationally.  Unless one wishes to argue that there is no consequence to language, it is difficult to deny that the fear mongering and falsehoods issued by FRC and AFA do not create/reinforce/fuel social intolerance and bigotry, thus contributing to an environment conducive to the commission of hate crimes.  Homosexuals are more likely to be the victims of violent crime than any other American minority and, if I may, this includes such things as a baseball bat being shoved up a man’s rectum, a man being severely beaten and tied to a fence left to die, and young men being bullied to the extent that they commit suicide.  I listened to Mark Potok in Montgomery this past April and I agree with his statement that words do matter.  I personally take no exception to the use of the term ‘hate group’ understanding that the consequence of the language is fostering fear, hatred, intolerance, and thus an environment conducive to the commission of violent acts.

      Now, regarding the politicians who attended the summit, my belief is that as lawmakers they have a greater obligation to our diverse citizenry than vying for votes.  Having been in ranking executive positions myself, I have declined invitation in the past, and my belief is that these politicians should have done the same.  Something along the lines of the following would have sufficed: “Although I personally disagree with homosexual behavior, or perhaps fail to understand it, I find that as a lawmaker I must decline participation in your summit due to the nature of the language  that has been issued by sponsors of the event that is damaging to a segment of our citizenry”.

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      • I’m not defending any group. All I’m saying is that the “experts” at the SPLC are rather selective when designating “anti-gay hate groups.”

        In 2008, the SPLC’s public relations chief, Mark Potok, recieved a Media Award from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, (GLAAD), for his reporting on LGBT issues.

        In January, 2009, one of the first controversies facing President Obama was an impassioned plea by GLAAD and several other major LGBT groups that he not accecpt the honorary presidency of the BSA, as had every other US president going back to 1912, precisely because of this anti-gay discrimination.

        Certainly Mr. Potok must be aware of this blatant discrimination. Why does he say nothing about it?

        What exactly do you think the BSA meant when they stated that:

        “The BSA reaffirmed its view that an avowed homosexual cannot serve as a role
        model for the traditional moral values espoused in the Scout Oath and Law and
        that these values cannot be subject to local option choices.”

        http://preview.tinyurl.com/3qs6akq (This is a rather slow link to the original document on the Internet Archive)

        Is the BSA afraid that openly gay men are going to pilfer money from the Cub Scout popcorn fundraisers? That they will auction off Merit Badges on Ebay to the highest bidder?

        No. The implication is that the BSA believes that gay scout leaders will molest the scouts. So how is this any different from anything that idiot Phelps preaches or statements from the FRC?

        All I’m saying is if Mr. Potok is going to target anti-gay lies from one group he needs to target them from EVERY group. You can’t pick and choose just to mollify the donors.

        As for the BSA taking their case to the Supreme Court, I’ll just say that Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson were SCOTUS decisions too and the Court upheld the rights of neo-Nazis to march through Jewish neighborhoods in Skokie… twice, but that didn’t make it any less hateful.

        Frankly, I disagree with your contention that it’s okay for the BSA to discriminate against anyone, as long as they keep their lies within the context of their private organization.

        Hate is hate, regardless of the uniform.

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      • Ah, I see where you’re coming from.  Of course, SPLC would have to be the one to weigh in on this, but I do not necessarily see an organization that engages in discriminatory behavior being the same as a hate organization.  Are the two interchangeable or are they a matter of degree.  The terms seem to be being used interchangeably a bit in the discussion.  For example, in SPLC’s requirements they do not hold religious beliefs alone sufficient to assign the term hate group.  Make no mistake about this,  I do not agree with the scouts regarding their ‘beliefs’ about homosexuality.  I oppose discrimination in its many forms; we face discrimination almost every day in some way.  The issue here is whether its actions rise to the level of being labelled a hate group. Is it openly engaged in a campaign that fosters hate towards gays, or as a private association is it acting on its beliefs that are religious driven (and that is central to BSA – they also do not accept agnostics and atheists into leadership positions from the reviews I’ve read)?  So I think we need to be careful about language where they are keeping their ‘lies’ within their organization.  Again, it would have to be SPLC to weigh in on that matter.  But in having met the leadership of SPLC this year, I do not believe they are pandering to elderly donors who were once scouts.  And I’m not just blindly trying to defend them.  Why don’t you write and ask them.
        Regarding the cases you cite where neo-Nazi’s were permitted to march through Jewish neighborhoods, yes the actions of those groups were hateful – and SPLC has had no reservation in assigning hate group status to neo-Nazi organizations despite the court rulings.  I really appreciate what you have done here.  You got dialog going.

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      • And I would like to thank you for the opportunity to have this conversation. Sadly, civil discourse seems to be becoming a dying art, so it is always refreshing to have a open exchange of ideas, such as this.

        To that end, let me just say that the very term “hate group” is generally misused by the SPLC. There is no legal definition of the term and the SPLC’s definition is intentionally broad and vague.

        “All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an
        entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”

        http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/hate-map

        The SPLC uses this deliberately vague term because it allows them to denigrate those with whom they disagree without accusing them of any actual crimes.

        As I read it, the BSA’s statement that “all gay men lack the moral values to be scout leaders” meets the SPLC’s own spurious definition completely. So why do they give the BSA a free pass?

        If not because of the donor connection I mentioned earlier, another logical possibility is that, unlike the gap-toothed hillbillies the SPLC traditionally targets, the BSA has access to competent lawyers and extensive cash reserves. Plus, the negative publicity would damage their credibility with their traditional donor base. Again, it all comes down to money.

        Speaking of money, and your suggestion that I contact the leadership of the SPLC, it turns out that two weeks ago we had the opportunity to ask Mr. Potok a very serious question, in person, and we have his reponse on video.

        The link I posted above leads to the SPLC’s primary fund-raising tool, their so-called “Hate Map,” where they purport to identify “hate groups” (by their own definition) across the country. The most recent version of the “Hate Map” claims there are now 1,002 “hate groups” in the US as of last year, but if you actually click on the state maps, you’ll find that every state has “groups” that Mr. Potok cannot affiliate with any particular town or city.

        Check out your own state and the neighboring states. In some cases, the percentage of phantom “groups” runs as high as 80% to 100%.

        It turns out that there are 262 of these homeless “hate groups,” or 26% of the total. When we asked Mr. Potok about this glaring discrepency, he replied that his “Hate Map” was “an imperfect process” and “a very rough estimate.” Unfortunately, that’s not how Mr. Potok portrays his numbers in the media or in SPLC fund-raising literature.

        His response is here:  http://wp.me/pCLYZ-bc

        Google the term “1,002 hate groups” and see how often this meaningless number is repeated around the world. This deliberately dishonest claim is the keystone of the SPLC’s continuing fear campaign that brought more than $31 million donor-dollars into their coffers last year alone.

        In fact, while Mr. Potok bumped up the number of alleged “hate groups” by 70 last year, the number of homeless “hate groups” jumped by 100. Does that sound logical?

        Unfortunately, we didn’t get to ask Mr. Potok about the BSA. After fumbling around for an answer to the “Hate Map” question, he wisely moved on to other folks in the audience.

        The more I read about the SPLC, and 99% of what I read comes directly from the SPLC web site or media statements released by Mr. Potok, the more convinced I am that the primary mission of the SPLC is to amass as much tax-free income as possible. I’m not alone in this belief, as numerous articles in such sources as the SPLC’s hometown paper, the Montgomery Advertiser, Harper’s Magazine (hardly a bastion of Conservatism) and even the Progressive magazine have all raised this question over the past two decades.

        As you might imagine, my findings are not always popular with those whose entire knowledge of the SPLC comes solely through Mr. Potok’s public relations department, so I created a blog to document my findings and I cite every source diligently. I invite anyone to examine my findings and to dispute anything they find in error. I’m only responding to the evidence I see and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m wrong and retract every claim.

        Mr. Potok knows of my blog and neither he, nor any other member of the SPLC, have ever bothered to refute my claims. As the video shows, even Mr. Potok has to admit that my charges are legitimate.

        Thank you again for the opportunity to have this conversation.

        Richard

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      • Thanks, I reviewed the information you sent and here is where I am.

        Regarding the article, it was about the Values Voter Summit, the sponsoring groups and the nature of falsehoods they have disseminated about the LGBT community, and the politicians who made the decision to participate.  I stand behind the article and its content.

        Do I think that groups should be labeled as hate groups simply because they have discriminatory policies? I believe a higher bar needs to be set or the term is cheapened.  Regardless of whether or not the term has legal definition I believe that the term is been deservedly applied by a private organization (SPLC) to FRC and AFA based on the toxic nature of information they disseminate and the social consequences of that behavior.

        But what struck me in reading your material is that I believe it has given you away.  It is written in a very slanted fashion and I take the intent to be to discredit both an individual (Mr. Potok) as well as an organization’s work through both speculation as well as painting an entire body of work by some discrepancies.  Let me be specific.

        Regarding Mr. Potok having a higher salary than Heidi Beirich who has a doctoral and a couple of Masters degrees, you issue the statement: “Well, Dr, B., it just goes to prove what they always say…It’s a man’s world”.  Many factors go into compensation and it is not uncommon for individuals with Bachelor’s degrees to be making considerably more in compensation than those with a Doctoral.  Without understanding the compensation practices at SPLC, I thought that to be a low blow.

        Why the interest in Mr. Potok’s educational background and what’s the purpose of the continued digging relative to the work that the organization is pursuing?   I believe the intent here is simply one of trying to find something that would discredit the individual.  He has a long employment history – did the previous media organizations he worked for miss that as well?  The information that is presented is speculative.

        Let’s consider the language used to describe Mr. Potok.  “SPLC’s $147,000-a-year public relations guru”.  That he “delivered a rather predictable, hour-long diatribe on the evilness of evil white/conservative/Christian men in America…”. (Actually what he addresses is a small segment of that population with extremist beliefs and actions, and the work involves more than just that population).   Very slanted language.

        Regarding the Hate Map, your piece is entitled SPLC – The Biggest Lie Keeps Getting Bigger.  What’s said is that the numbers are being padded which is good for fundraising; also the reason SPLC doesn’t assign hate group status to Boy Scouts of America is that it would sit unfavorably with older contributors who were scouts.  What is important to me is not whether we can accurately locate all of these groups but whether or not there has been a rise in such groups in recent years.  And it is more than SPLC that has noted a rise in armed anti-government militias with extremist beliefs since the election of president Obama, same as was noted in the 1990’s.  I would think that if you have uncovered instances of discrepancies, why not pass that along to the organization to help them with their work rather than publicizing it as a lie that keeps getting bigger?  As a note, I would think that assigning an exact location to all these groups would be exceptionally difficult.  For example, a group of individuals living in rural areas who do not have a central location but meet in homes or restaurants.  I would agree with Mr. Potok that detecting activity would be easier than pinning down a location.   Will some errors exist? Sure.  Has the trend been upward for such groups? Yes.

        I left my career several years ago to care for, and support, my wife who was stricken with serious illness. I decided not to go back into the corporate world again, but rather, as a bookend to my career, devote myself to making a civic contribution.  I learned of SPLC through a flier I received at my home and the message struck me.  But I didn’t jump at it right away.  I phoned several well-respected acquaintances of mine who all gave the organization a strong thumbs up.  I additionally researched Mr. Dees background and read his book.  What attracted me to the organization was its three-pronged approach to taking on hatred: tough legal work, intelligence gathering, and education.  What they do is difficult and places them at risk as well.  Regarding financial matters, they fund their own legal actions (not an inexpensive undertaking) and the settlements go to the victims.  And they are successful, for example bankrupting elements of the Klan through the legal system (the Klan has been considered by some scholars as being the first functional fascist organization of the 20th century); taking on the issue of LGBT bullying (a hate action of discrimination); taking on abusive employment practices regarding immigrants; etc.  I believe the work they have done, for example, regarding Sovereign Citizens is quite important having recently met an individual in law enforcement just recently who described just how dangerous that group is.

        My personal belief is that SPLC is performing a much needed public service.  Legal definition or not, I’m glad there is an organization like SPLC that has made the public aware of the type of information being disseminated by groups like FRC and AFA.

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