In Morris Dees’ America, night is always falling. It is a nation of ceaseless cross-burnings and lynchings, where minorities cower endlessly in fear, waiting helplessly for the next assault from the Klan, skinheads, the League of the South, Thomas Fleming, Samuel Francis and Chronicles, Peter Brimelow and VDare.com, David Horowitz and the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, the American Enterprise Institute . . . The American Enterprise Institute? Surely there must be some mistake. Not at all…
Clearly, by 1994, even the SPLC realized there was no longer much to fear from the KKK, that tiny band of bedraggled and government-infiltrated losers. Even so, according to the SPLC’s most recent The Year in Hate, “Buoyed by rising numbers of Skinhead and Klan groups, the American radical right staged something of a comeback last year, following a tumultuous period that saw the destruction or hobbling of some of the nation’s leading hate groups.”
So what is the connection between AEI and some of the nation’s leading hate groups? Well, you see, AEI “in recent years has sponsored scholars whose views are seen by many as bigoted or even racist.” You have to love that passive verb, seen. For example? “For example, Dinesh D’Souza.” He holds a fellowship there and also holds heterodox opinions on the civil-rights movement. (You might think that D’Souza shopping Samuel Francis to save his own skin and getting him fired from the Washington Times would score him points with the SPLC, but apparently not.) More “controversial” still is AEI fellow Charles Murray, who wrote The Bell Curve, which cites research funded by the “racist” Pioneer Fund. Why is the Pioneer Fund “racist”? Because it endorses the idea of racial differences. It is a commonplace today for those that believe in the very idea of race to be condemned as “racist,” although it is hard to understand how such a thing as “racism” could exist in the absence of races…
The technique it uses to ferret out those “seen” as “racists” is one well known to aficionados of conspiracy theory: “consanguinity.” As the old song put it, “I danced with a man who danced with a girl who danced with the Prince of Wales.” Or as Thomas Fleming put it, “If Congressman Tom Tancredo or [American Conservative executive editor] Scott McConnell has ever met anyone who met anyone who took money from the Pioneer Fund, they must be bigots.” By this measure, every person and organization to the right of the Southern Poverty Law Center is beyond the pale—which is precisely the point. Consanguinity is self-evidently a shoddy logical tool. Not so long ago, those on the right who employed it were accused of “McCarthyism.” Police departments and schools, however, make use of Dees’ smears and “Teaching Tolerance” materials. In 2001, Dees was the recipient of the National Education Association’s highest honor, the Friend of Education Award. And whenever any credulous member of the media wants the lowdown on “hate,” he gives the SPLC a call.
Other SPLC bête noires include “neo-Confederates”; Pat Buchanan; the Bradley, Olin, and Scaife Foundations; the Free Congress Foundation; the Council of Conservative Citizens; the Ludwig von Mises Institute; and the New Century Foundation, publisher of American Renaissance.
Those added to the SPLC’s enemies list are inclined to consider it a rather higher honor than any NEA gong. David Horowitz, however, was mortified. Horowitz was added for his opposition to reparations for slavery. Two howls of protest were published on Horowitz’s website, FrontPageMag.com. His own cri de coeur was an open letter to Morris Dees, which begged him not to lump him in with the real bad guys:
“You’ve made yourself a national reputation as a fighter against hate groups. Recently, however, you released a report called “Into the Mainstream” by a leftwing conspiracy theorist named Chip Berlet, which purports to show how “right wing foundations and think tanks support efforts to make bigoted and discredited ideas respectable.” This report is so tendentious, so filled with transparent misrepresentations and smears that if you continue to post the report you will create for your Southern Poverty Law Center a well-earned reputation as a hate group itself.”
Where has Horowitz been? It is an old story: First, they came for the Pioneer Fund, and I did not speak out because I was not a eugenicist . . .
Movie buffs will recall that a TV movie was made about Dees. “Line of Fire: The Morris Dees Story” was released in 1991. In a delicious irony, this hagiography starred Corbin Bernsen, best remembered as the slimy lawyer Arnie Becker from L.A. Law. [More…]
Kevin Michael Grace lives in Victoria, British Columbia. He runs the website TheAmbler.com
We live in an age when guilt-by-association is considered the highest form of reasoning.
By the way, for a benign example of consanguinist thinking, the wonderful journalist Alistair Cooke, who died recently at 95, made it a habit in recent years, according to Peter Robinson, to tell people who had just shook his hand for the first time: “You have just shaken the hand of a man who shook the hand of a man who shook hands with Lincoln.”
The intermediary between Cooke and Lincoln was the famous Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (1841-1935). Damn, I wish my sons had had a chance to shake Cooke’s hand. They could have carried this chain with just two intermediaries into the third century after Lincoln’s death.