The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) once played a pivotal role in fighting for the rights of African-Americans in America, but has now fallen on hard times; or rather, flush with cash and needing to cry wolf, they’ve shifted focus to more questionable activities. They’ve engaged in sleazy behavior, like funneling millions of their dollars to offshore accounts (legal but probably unethical), and then extended their accusations to people whom the SPLC should have defended.
I refer in particular to the SPLC’s one-time “field guide to anti-Muslim extremists”, which was a “Islamophobe list”, put up in December, 2016, along the lines of Joe McCarthy’s “Communist list” (for my posts on the SPLC and this list, go here).
I wasn’t familiar with most of the names on that list, but I did know of two: Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Nawaz is a liberal Muslim, Ali a Muslim apostate, but both are engaged in liberalizing and reforming Islam. I can’t speak for the others once listed, but the activity of making such lists is questionable, and I am absolutely opposed to the inclusion of Nawaz and Hirsi Ali on any such list. The SPLC’s “field guide” page (you can find my post about it here) demonized 14 people as Islamophobes in this way:
Fueling this hatred [against Muslims] has been the propaganda, the vast majority of it completely baseless, produced and popularized by a network of anti-Muslim extremists and their enablers. These men and women have shamelessly exploited terrorist attacks and the Syrian refugee crisis, among other things, to demonize the entire Islamic faith.
Well, Nawaz is a Muslim, and Hirsi Ali’s latest book is a description of five ways Islam should reform to become more progressive (e.g., stop taking the Qur’an literally, etc.).
Both Hirsi Ali and Nawaz objected vehemently to their inclusion on this list; she wrote a NYT op-ed, “Why is the Southern Poverty Law Center Targeting Liberals?“, and Nawaz took the more direct action of threatening to sue the SPLC. In addition, a petition on Change.org, which I and probably many readers signed, got over 14,000 people urging the SPLC to remove these two from their “little list.”
Well, I doubt that the petition did much—these things rarely do—but in America the threat of legal action speaks loudly. And so, according to the National Review (try finding this information in the left-wing media!), the SPLC has quietly removed the entire page from its site. When you go to the old SPLC page, you get this:
The list still exists in pdf form, however; it’s here (along with the indictments of both Hirsi Ali and Nawaz). I don’t know how long it will be up, though someone will surely archive it. At any rate, the National Review reports this:
Nawaz, who founded the anti-extremist think tank Quilliam, said during a Wednesday night appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience, a popular podcast hosted by comedian Joe Rogan, that the report was removed from the SPLC website under legal threat sometime in the last two days.
“We have retained Clare Locke, they are writing to the Southern Poverty Law Center as we speak. I think they’ve got wind of it — the Southern Poverty Law Center — and as of yesterday, or the day before, they’ve removed the entire list that’s been up there for two years,” Nawaz said on the podcast.
Of course the SPLC didn’t announce the deep-sixing; they just quietly put the list in the bin. They could have removed just Nawaz, or Nawaz and Hirsi Ali, but the entire page is gone.
In my view, they owe not only those two, but everyone else on the list, as well as the SPLC’s supporters, an explanation for why they acted as they did. But the SPLC being not only sleazy but pusillanimous, I doubt we’ll see one. After all, they’d have to say, “Well, folks, maybe we overstepped, and we retreated in the face of legal threats.”
I would like to see some non-conservative sites reporting this, and if you find any, by all means let us know in the comments.