Whether one accepts or agrees with the designation of hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) or not, the possibility and potential for the existence and proliferation of such organizations are of concern to all.    

For 2021, SPLC identified 733 such groups across the nation with 20 located or active in Virginia down from 39 reported in 2019.  A closer examination of these designations reveals several of the Virginia designations were of questionable viability such as the League of the South chapter which was dissolved in 2010.  While flyers from the Loyal White Knights of the KKK were reported to have appeared sporadically in Virginia communities in 2020, its Commonwealth activity is minimal.  Others such as Voice for Men (Roanoke) oppose misandry (dislike or disfavor of males) which, while hinting of male supremacy, cannot be firmly said to be engaged in hate.

The difficulty, of course, is in the definition of hate.  SPLC’s scope of hate identification of organizations itself appears at times to be extreme.  One designation is Beasst Productions (Roanoke) which touts itself as a source of “alternate” music much of which promotes Nazism and anti-communist themes.  

Several organizations appear to have made it onto SPLC’s top 20 in Virginia based upon no more than a vague attachment to national organizations.  Among those cited is Wolves of Vinland (Lynchburg), described on the internet as a neo-pagan, Norse worshipping club.  It is difficult to ascribe hate to paganism.

Publicly available internet information sometimes leads to other questionable assertions.  SPLC lists the Public Advocate of the United States (Merrifield) which claims on its website that

Since its founding in 1981, Public Advocate has grown into a dedicated group of young conservatives in Washington, D.C., with a network of volunteers and supporters nationwide.

It may be that SPLC is possessed of undisclosed information about this organization leaving a reader to rely solely upon its assignment as a hate organization.  In this case, however, assuming its public claim to be accurate, the mission seems benign.

The American Immigration Control group (a/k/a Americans for Immigration Control) located in Monterey since 1983 received $1.3 million in contributions in 2019.  Its mission according to its website is to stem the “destructive flooding” of immigration.  That’s all immigration not merely that crossing the southern border.  While this group is clearly opposed to immigration, characterizing it as a hate entity may be overstating the proposition.

The American Renaissance/New Foundation Century (Oakton) has for many years been a prominent actor in white supremacy, now characterizing itself as devoted to white identitarianism.  This group along with the American Immigration Control received initial funding support from the (now defunct) NYC Pioneer Fund which supported and promoted eugenics commencing in the late 1930s.  

Many of the listees are groups focused on culture war issues, e.g. LGBTQ, and same-sex marriage.  Located in Vienna and founded in 2003, the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation promotes the preservation of western culture and Christianity largely through the publication and distribution of books devoted to those topics.  

On balance, the hate group listings by SPLC have become a public standard and surely promote its own fundraising but, under examination, of little practical use for the public.  The purpose may remain a valuable information source and service but requires a more detailed and useful definitional approach such as a rating system based upon a set of factors.  It would be helpful to know the income of such organizations; membership size if applicable; website and geographical address; statement of purpose.  SPLC characterized three of the Virginia-located organizations as “general hate” and one a purveyor of hate music.  Two others received the appellation of “anti-LGBQ” entities.  Similarly, “neo-Confederate” and “male supremacy” may translate as hate for some but are not as threatening as white supremacists.

SPLC needs to up its game in this arena to continue to sustain credibility and respect as the present map appears tired and in need of improvement.

(1) comment

MolonLabe76

SPLC has about as much validity as the KKK...

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