For many years, the Southern Poverty Law Center has been both a respected and trusted voice against bigotry, racism, and discrimination. It once enjoyed unhesitating respect of American political and intellectual culture and its list of “hate groups” was frequently invoked as the authoritative determination of intolerance. But that is beginning to change. Now that hate has become a synonym for disagreement, we face a new and threatening kind of police who will enforce only the current ideological orthodoxy and will not tolerate anyone who disagrees.
The SPLC’s hyper-partisanship has always been notable and it has been hard to determine whether they led liberalism or liberalism led them. Perhaps they have finally gone too far. While they have always been quick to condemn the offenders local to their own Bible belt address, it seems that they have now decided to defend Muslim extremism from other Muslims more moderate. In other words,, they have become the arbiter not only of what is Christian but what is Islam. In both cases, they seem to delight in accusing those who disagree with their seemingly enlightened judgment when, in reality, they have become the bully in the school yard.
Literally thousands of traditional Christian, Jewish, and Muslim organizations,
and untold millions of religious believers, who hold what might be described as "conservative
positions on sex and marriage" are the targets of the SPLC and its charge of being hate groups. The intolerance of the tolerant is clear. There is but one authority to be acknowledged and one cause to be promoted and that is the party line of the liberal fringe of culture, religion, and politics. While I am sure that no one from the SPLC would ever presume to defend a traditional voice in the realm of marriage, family, and culture, these are the voices that need a defender today. Why liberals find it so easy to defend Islamic intolerance while charging Christian groups with intolerance is remarkable. Most of the extremist Islamic people and places that the SPLC would defend would not tolerate the SPLC.
We do not need thought police nor do we need a false version of tolerance which in reality promotes its own agenda. What we need are referees to promote a public conversation of the very issues that the SPLC and other such groups find as settled truth. What we need are those who will defend what is unpopular precisely because that is the nature of freedom. No one is suggesting that any one or any group which advocates violence should be tolerated or condoned. All most of us are asking for is a slower trigger finger when trotting out that most heinous of charges -- you are a hate group because you do not agree with me.