Former SPLC Employee: “We Were Part of the Con, and We Knew It”, by Bob Moser, via Steve Sailer.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) are the source of most of the lists that the tech giants use to say who is forbidden, who is hate specking, who gets banned. Left? And then some.
In the days since the stunning dismissal of Morris Dees, the co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, on March 14th, I’ve been thinking about the jokes my S.P.L.C. colleagues and I used to tell to keep ourselves sane. Walking to lunch past the center’s Maya Lin–designed memorial to civil-rights martyrs, we’d cast a glance at the inscription from Martin Luther King, Jr., etched into the black marble—“Until justice rolls down like waters”—and intone, in our deepest voices, “Until justice rolls down like dollars.”
SPLC HQ in Montgomery Alabama
The Law Center had a way of turning idealists into cynics; like most liberals, our view of the S.P.L.C. before we arrived had been shaped by its oft-cited listings of U.S. hate groups, its reputation for winning cases against the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nations, and its stream of direct-mail pleas for money to keep the good work going. The mailers, in particular, painted a vivid picture of a scrappy band of intrepid attorneys and hate-group monitors, working under constant threat of death to fight hatred and injustice in the deepest heart of Dixie. When the S.P.L.C. hired me as a writer, in 2001, I figured I knew what to expect: long hours working with humble resources and a highly diverse bunch of super-dedicated colleagues. I felt self-righteous about the work before I’d even begun it. …
But nothing was more uncomfortable than the racial dynamic that quickly became apparent: a fair number of what was then about a hundred employees were African-American, but almost all of them were administrative and support staff — “the help,” one of my black colleagues said pointedly. The “professional staff” — the lawyers, researchers, educators, public-relations officers, and fund-raisers — were almost exclusively white. Just two staffers, including me, were openly gay. …
In the decade or so before I’d arrived, the center’s reputation as a beacon of justice had taken some hits from reporters who’d peered behind the façade. … In Harper’s, Ken Silverstein had revealed that the center had accumulated an endowment topping a hundred and twenty million dollars while paying lavish salaries to its highest-ranking staffers and spending far less than most nonprofit groups on the work that it claimed to do. The great Southern journalist John Egerton, writing for The Progressive, had painted a damning portrait of Dees, the center’s longtime mastermind, as a “super-salesman and master fundraiser” who viewed civil-rights work mainly as a marketing tool for bilking gullible Northern liberals. “We just run our business like a business,” Dees told Egerton. “Whether you’re selling cakes or causes, it’s all the same.” …
The staffers wrote that Dees’s firing was welcome but insufficient …
The controversy erupted at a moment when the S.P.L.C. had never been more prominent, or more profitable. Donald Trump’s Presidency opened up a gusher of donations; after raising fifty million dollars in 2016, the center took in a hundred and thirty-two million dollars in 2017, much of it coming after the violent spectacle that unfolded at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that August. George and Amal Clooney’s justice foundation donated a million, as did Apple, which also added a donation button for the S.P.L.C. to its iTunes store. JPMorgan chipped in five hundred thousand dollars. The new money pushed the center’s endowment past four hundred and fifty million dollars
Can you imagine how much Morris could have reaped for the SPLC off of New Zealand if he hadn’t been fired the day before?
The stunning conclusion comes from Moser:
For those of us who’ve worked in the Poverty Palace, putting it all into perspective isn’t easy, even to ourselves. We were working with a group of dedicated and talented people, fighting all kinds of good fights, making life miserable for the bad guys. And yet, all the time, dark shadows hung over everything: the racial and gender disparities, the whispers about sexual harassment, the abuses that stemmed from the top-down management, and the guilt you couldn’t help feeling about the legions of donors who believed that their money was being used, faithfully and well, to do the Lord’s work in the heart of Dixie. We were part of the con, and we knew it.
Outside of work, we spent a lot of time drinking and dishing in Montgomery bars and restaurants about the oppressive security regime, the hyperbolic fund-raising appeals, and the fact that, though the center claimed to be effective in fighting extremism, “hate” always continued to be on the rise, more dangerous than ever, with each year’s report on hate groups. “The S.P.L.C.—making hate pay,” we’d say.
Joanne and I have learned from the climate debate that it is difficult to overestimate how cynical and unscrupulous the modern left are. Always you are left wondering: are they stupid or are they evil?