Archive for the ‘Mark Potok’ Category

Left-wing smear group scorched as ‘enemy of free speech’ – WND.com

Theres been asurge in recent months of violence andthreats on university campuses from left-wing activistswhointend to silence opposing viewpoints.

It happened when conservative commentator Ann Coulter was scheduled to speak at the University of Californiaat Berkeley. Activiststhreatened violence and school officials closed down the scheduled event.

So on Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, held a hearing to take testimony about how school officialscan protect freedom of speech as well as their students.

The committee took comments from Richard Cohen of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Thats thegroup cited by Floyd Corkins as his source of informationwhen he attempted to commit mass murder at the evangelicalFamily Research Council office in Washington, D.C.

Get the Whistleblower Magazines revelations about SPLC in its The Hate Racket issue, which shows how the group fools government into equating Christians and conservatives with Klansmen and Nazis and rakes in millions in the process.

Its also the group that was liked on social media by James Hodgkinson, the man who tried to kill Republican members of Congress last week at a baseball practice.

Hodgkinson was merely swimming in the pond created by the SPLC and other groups like it, said Lt. Gen. William Boykin, FRCs executive vice president.

Boykinwrote a letter to the committee on the occasion of the SPLC testimony, warning members of the groups true agenda.

I have provided this background information in order to disabuse the committee of any notion it may have that the SPLC cares about the preservation of free speech rights on college campuses for those with whom they disagree on key issues, he explained.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The hearing, titled Free Speech 101: The Assault on the First Amendment on College Campuses, took testimony from students, college officials and others.

It is extremely ironic that one of your witnesses is actually an enemy of free speech, wrote Boykin. I write here of Richard Cohen of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The retired officertold senators SPLC has refined a method of defaming its political opponents that is extremely effective when combined with the massive war chest it can rely upon an amount that totals over $319 million as of late 2016.

He said the organization targets victims with hate and extremist labels.

The SPLC bullies and dehumanizes many ordinary Americans by calling them names and portraying them grotesquely in terrible photographs and sketches, he wrote.

The group does not want open debate,said Boykin.

One of the targets of SPLCs hate label in 2016 was then-presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson.

Boykin pointed out that in2007, SPLCs Mark Potok gave an address in which he made this observation about SPLCs modus operandi: Sometimes the press will describe us as monitoring hate crimes and so on . I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups, to completely destroy them.

Boykinsaid SPLC has no interest in an exchange of ideas, even with peaceful, mainstream groups like Alliance Defending Freedom, the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM), the Family Research Council (FRC), and the Pacific Justice Institute whose views may differ greatly from theirs.

He cited the Corkins case that linked SPLC to domestic terror.

Corkins came to the FRC building with the intention of using a semi-automatic pistol to kill everyone there and then place Chick-fil-A sandwiches by 15 of those bodies. In a chilling interrogation video released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and played in court, Corkins said he picked his targets by relying on the SPLC websites Hate Map.

Boykin said it was not surprising then that Hodgkinson had liked SPLC on Facebook.

Boykin chargedthe depth to which the SPLC will sink knows almost no bottom, citing an SPLC attack on human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who opposes a darker, violent side of Islam.

Ali suffered female genital mutilation as a child and wrote about it in her book Infidel.

SPLCs characterization was that she says she sufferedFGM.

Boykin said: It is mind-boggling that a progressive organization like the SPLC would cast doubt on her claims in a personal matter like this.

In his comments, Cohen claimed presidential politics and growing white nationalist activity are making campuses increasingly polarized.

WND reportedHodgkinson, who was killed by police when he shot at members of Congress, apparently was a fan of SPLC.

Hodgkinson also liked many anti-Republican, far-left Facebook pages, including Dump Trump, Liar, Liar, Republican campaign on fire, Republicans ARE the problem, Berniecrats United to Resist Trump and Fire the Republican Government.

Overtly anti-Republican groups were not the only things he liked on Facebook. His liked TV shows favored by the left-wing such as Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO, The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on Comedy Central.

Get the Whistleblower Magazines revelations about the SPLC, in its March 2015 edition of The Hate Racket, the complete story of how one group fools government into equating Christians and conservatives with Klansmen and Nazis and rakes in millions doing it.

The legal team at Liberty Counsel, criticizing SPLC for falsely and recklessly labeling Christian ministries as hate groups,’ noted SPLC is responsible for the first conviction of a man who intended to commit mass murder targeted against a policy organization in Washington, D.C.

On August 15, 2012, Floyd Corkins went to the Family Research Council with a gun and a bag filled with ammunition and Chick-fil-A sandwiches. His stated purpose was to kill as many employees of the Family Research Council as possible and then to smear Chick-fil-A sandwiches in their faces (because the founder of the food chain said he believed in marriage as a man and a woman). Fortunately, Mr. Corkins was stopped by the security guard, who was shot in the process. Corkins is now serving time in prison. Mr. Corkins admitted to the court that he learned of the Family Research Council by reading the SPLCs hate map.

WND reported a video showed Corkins entering the FRC offices and confronting Leo Johnson.

Corkins later was sentenced to prison for domestic terrorism. It was during an interview with FBI officers that Corkins named SPLC as his source of information.

Central to the case, according to the governments document, was that Corkins had identified the FRC as an anti-gay organization on the Southern Poverty Law Center website.

FRC officials repeatedly have explained that they adhere to a biblical perspective on homosexuality but are not anti-gay.

SPLC also exhibited behavior so egregious that it was reprimanded by the far-left administration of Barack Obama.

Judicial Watch, citing a letter to Michael M. Hethmon, senior counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, and others, said the DOJ reprimand came in 2016 but was kept quiet at the agencys request.

[It] involves the SPLCs atrocious behavior during immigration court proceedings. Two groups that oppose illegal immigration, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), were the target of personal, baseless and below-the-belt attacks from SPLC attorneys during official immigration court proceedings. The SPLC filed a motion attacking and defaming the two respected nonprofits by describing them as white supremacist, eugenicist, anti-Semitic, and anti-Catholic. In its reprimand the DOJ says it is troubled by the conduct of SPLC lawyer Christopher Strawn and that his conduct overstepped the bounds of zealous advocacy and was unprofessional. Furthermore, SPLC made uncivil comments that disparaged FAIR and its staff, the rebuke states, adding that the language constitutes frivolous behavior and doesnt aid in the administration of justice, Judicial Watch explained.

The Obama administration kept the reprimand confidential and asked FAIR and IRLI to keep it under wraps. In the meantime, SPLC continues to publicly trash the groups and escalate attacks against them by putting them on the official hate list. The executive director and general counsel of IRLI, Dale Wilcox, says his nonprofit and FAIR will keep fighting for immigration policies that put America first. The SPLCs latest tactic in its never-ending witch-hunt and the federal governments resulting reprimand should send the following message to the mainstream media, Wilcox said: Stop using the SPLC as a legitimate hate-watch source in your news coverage. That a cabal of biased list-keepers can play such an important role in distorting the immigration debate in this country is testament to the utter failure of much of the mainstream media which frequently publishes their inflammatory commentary and refuses to question their baseless methods or financial motivations,’ Judicial Watch said.

The letter explained the DOJ stopped short of formal disciplinary proceeding[s], instead opting for the rebuke in the letter.

We take this opportunity to remind the attorney practitioners involved in this misconduct that practitioners before EOIR should be striving to be civil and professional in their interactions with each other, the public, the board and immigration courts. Attorneys owe a duty of professionalism to their clients, opposing parties and their counsel, the courts, and the public as a whole.

To really understand the war zone America is becoming, read the June issue of WNDs acclaimed monthly Whistleblower magazine, RAGE AND VIOLENCE: Why the Left has gone insane in the Age of Trump.

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Left-wing smear group scorched as ‘enemy of free speech’ – WND.com

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June 25, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

DC Shooter a Fan of the Southern Poverty Law Center – Canada Free Press

The Southern Poverty Law Center not only promotes hate but its reckless and false labeling provides the motivation for extremists to commit acts of terrorism against innocent people

ALEXANDRIA, VA The D.C. shooter was a Facebook fan of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a reckless organization that falsely labels people and organizations as haters or hate groups. The SPLC has now admitted James Hodgkinson liked the SPLC on Facebook. The SPLC continues to ignore warnings about its dangerous and false labeling, even though two separate mass murder attempts have been perpetrated by followers of the SPLC. Yesterday was the most recent attempted mass murder by someone who followed the SPLC. The first mass murder attempt was in 2012, when Floyd Corkins confessed he was motivated by the SPLC Hate Map.

Yesterday, James Hodgkinson gunned down Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), Zach Barth, a staff member for Congressman Roger Williams, former Congressional staff member Matt Mika and two U.S. Capitol Police officers yesterday at a practice for a charity baseball game for members of Congress.

In 2015, the SPLC wrote an article promoting the idea that Rep. Scalise promoted white supremacy and supported a hate group founded by former KKK member David Duke. The SPLC article clearly tries to infer that Rep. Scalise is a so-called hater and supporter of a hate group.

The SPLC is also linked to the attempted mass murder in the 2012 shooting at the Washington, D.C. office of the Family Research Council (FRC). Floyd Corkins II was stopped by the FRC security guard, who was shot in the process. Corkins confessed to the FBI that he intended to commit mass murder and was motivated by the so-called Hate Map on the SPLC website that listed FRC as a hate group.

The SPLC”s caustic and false rhetoric is dangerous because it creates a Hate Map listing so-called hate groups. Mark Potock, with the SPLC admitted in an interview: Our criteria for a hate group, first of all, have nothing to do with criminality, or violence, or any kind of guess we”re making about this group could be dangerous. It”s strictly ideological. Mark Potok is on video in a public meeting stating: Sometimes the press will describe us as monitoring hate crimes and so on. I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups, to completely destroy them

The Philanthropy Roundtable recently published an article about the SPLC pointing out the false labeling. The SPLC even labeled famed surgeon Dr. Ben Carson as a hater. The SPLC rakes in millions of dollars each year and has huge financial reserves, causing some to wonder what nonprofit work the SPLC does.

The Southern Poverty Law Center not only promotes hate but its reckless and false labeling provides the motivation for extremists to commit acts of terrorism against innocent people, said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. To falsely label people with whom you disagree as haters or hate groups is irresponsible, dangerous and deadly. The Southern Poverty Law Center is intent on destroying pro-family organizations. This dangerous action by the SPLC must cease. How many attempted mass murders and violent crimes will it take for the SPLC to stop this dangerous labeling? The SPLC must cease and desist, said Staver.

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.

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DC Shooter a Fan of the Southern Poverty Law Center – Canada Free Press

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June 19, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

Charity slams Christians with help of far leftists – WND.com

A public charity that purports to be neutral and provide online nonprofit information to a broad audience at no cost to those users has begun slamming Christian and other conservative organizations based on the recommendation ofthe Southern Poverty Law Center, which itself has been linked to domestic terror and once putBen Carson on its list of haters.

For certain organizations,Guidestar has begun posting at the top of itsreports a box with a logo and link toSPLC stating: This organization was flagged as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Among the organizations targeted by Guidestar arethe American Family Association and the Family Research Council, both highly respected and prominent Christian organizations that SPLC considers hate groupsbecause they support traditional marriage.

Other groups appear to be in the bulls-eye because they dont subscribe to an open-borders agenda.

Get the Whistleblower Magazines revelations about the SPLC, in its March 2015 edition of The Hate Racket, the complete story of how one group fools government into equating Christians and conservatives with Klansmen and Nazis and rakes in millions doing it.

AFA, whose mission statement is to promote the biblical ethic of decency in American society, couldnt be reached on Friday for comment.

FRCs executive vice president, Lt. Gen (Ret.) William G. Jerry Boykin, told WND that Guidestar already had been informed of the problem.

We have presented them with what we think are key points they need to consider the key I think for them is they are taking data from an organization that was connected in federal court to domestic terrorism.

He said the group is discriminating based on unconfirmed third-party information and they have no legitimate authority to do [that].

He said its nothing more than an opinion from SPLC, and that group is an arm of the extreme left.

Now as a result of using their data, this so-called neutral organization has become a part of the political arm of the left, he said.

The FRC previously has commented on the SPLCs hate agenda.

Logically, a hate group should be defined as one whose members 1) actually say that they hate a particular group of people; and/or 2) engage in or condone violence or other illegal activity toward such a group, the group previously explained.

FRC continued: The SPLC, however, uses much broader criteria for defining hate groups, and criteria which can vary depending on which of 14 categories of hate groups you are looking at ranging from Neo-Nazi to Black Separatist to Radical Traditional Catholicism. These criteria are entirely subjective and largely ideological.

FRC explained SPLC tars everyone with which it disagrees ideologically with the same label.

The SPLC claims that the number of hate groups in American increased by a staggering 66 percent from 2000 to 2010. Yet this is only as a result of their own expanding definition of what constitutes a hate group. Actual hate crimes as measured by the FBI, fell nearly 25 percent between 1996 and 2009, the group explained. The SPLCs Mark Potok has publicly confessed that there is an element of hypocrisy in the SPLC attacking conservative groups while remaining silent about liberal groups that use exactly the same kind of tactics.’

The group continued: A liberal writer in The Humanist said, The SPLC campaigns for laws that will effectively deny free speech and freedom of association to certain groups of Americans on the basis of their beliefs. Then, with no discernible irony, it goes on to justify its Big Brother methods in the name of tolerance.’

Guidestar use ofSPLCs bias against Christianity to flag beneficial charities was revealed in an Associated Press report.

Michael Kunzelman wrote, A website that touts itself as the worlds largest course of information about charities has added a new feature: a warning label on tax-exempt nonprofits accused of spreading hate.

The report quoted GuideStar spokesman Jacob Harold saying the move reflects a broader shift in how we imagine our role in the field.

He said the move came as a response to the recent rise in hateful rhetoric in the U.S., AP said.

GuideStar declined multiple requests from WND for an interview.

A spokesman for the Center for Immigration Studies, which also was being targeted by Guidestar, told AP: This is defamation. GuideStar is an accomplice to this defamation now.

Harold told AP his group didnt do any evaluation; it just repeats SPLCs bias.

We feel thats quite defensible, he told AP.

SPLCs past targeting of FRCwas cited in court as the impetus for an attack on the Christian organizations Washington, D.C., headquarters.

The legal team at Liberty Counsel, criticizing SPLC for falsely and recklessly labeling Christian ministries as hate groups,’ noted SPLC is responsible for the first conviction of a man who intended to commit mass murder targeted against a policy organization in Washington, D.C.

On August 15, 2012, Floyd Corkins went to the Family Research Council with a gun and a bag filled with ammunition and Chick-fil-A sandwiches. His stated purpose was to kill as many employees of the Family Research Council as possible and then to smear Chick-fil-A sandwiches in their faces (because the founder of the food chain said he believed in marriage as a man and a woman). Fortunately, Mr. Corkins was stopped by the security guard, who was shot in the process. Corkins is now serving time in prison. Mr. Corkins admitted to the court that he learned of the Family Research Council by reading the SPLCs hate map.

WND reported a video showed Corkins entering the FRC offices and confronting Leo Johnson.

Corkins later was sentenced to prison for domestic terrorism. It was during an interview with FBI officers thatCorkins named SPLC as his source of information.

Get the Whistleblower Magazines revelations about the SPLC, in its March 2015 edition of The Hate Racket, the complete story of how one group fools government into equating Christians and conservatives with Klansmen and Nazis and rakes in millions doing it.

Central to the case, according to the governments document, was that Corkins had identified the FRC as an anti-gay organization on the Southern Poverty Law Center website.

FRC officials repeatedly have explained that they adhere to a biblical perspective on homosexuality but are not anti-gay.

SPLC also exhibited behavior so egregious that it was reprimanded by the far-left administration of Barack Obama.

Judicial Watch, citinga letter to Michael M. Hethmon, senior counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, and others,said theDOJ reprimand came in 2016 but was kept quiet at the agencys request.

[It] involves the SPLCs atrocious behavior during immigration court proceedings. Two groups that oppose illegal immigration, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), were the target of personal, baseless and below-the-belt attacks from SPLC attorneys during official immigration court proceedings. The SPLC filed a motion attacking and defaming the two respected nonprofits by describing them as white supremacist, eugenicist, anti-Semitic, and anti-Catholic. In its reprimand the DOJ says it is troubled by the conduct of SPLC lawyer Christopher Strawn and that his conduct overstepped the bounds of zealous advocacy and was unprofessional. Furthermore, SPLC made uncivil comments that disparaged FAIR and its staff, the rebuke states, adding that the language constitutes frivolous behavior and doesnt aid in the administration of justice, Judicial Watch explained.

The Obama administration kept the reprimand confidential and asked FAIR and IRLI to keep it under wraps. In the meantime, SPLC continues to publicly trash the groups and escalate attacks against them by putting them on the official hate list. The executive director and general counsel of IRLI, Dale Wilcox, says his nonprofit and FAIR will keep fighting for immigration policies that put America first. The SPLCs latest tactic in its never-ending witch-hunt and the federal governments resulting reprimand should send the following message to the mainstream media, Wilcox said: Stop using the SPLC as a legitimate hate-watch source in your news coverage. That a cabal of biased list-keepers can play such an important role in distorting the immigration debate in this country is testament to the utter failure of much of the mainstream media which frequently publishes their inflammatory commentary and refuses to question their baseless methods or financial motivations,’ Judicial Watch said.

The letter explained the DOJ stopped short of formal disciplinary proceeding[s], instead opting for the rebuke in the letter.

We take this opportunity to remind the attorney practitioners involved in this misconduct that practitioners before EOIR should be striving to be civil and professional in their interactions with each other, the public, the board and immigration courts. Attorneys owe a duty of professionalism to their clients, opposing parties and their counsel, the courts, and the public as a whole.

SPLC recently was listed among the top 10 enemiesthat have attacked WND over the years. WND and WND Books were put on SPLCslatest list of extremists.

Reason magazine, the libertarian publication, noting SPLC was counting extremists again, pointed out the list includes WND and WND Books and asked: What on earth could justify that?

Further, SPLCs definition of haters and extremists has been at variance with the mainstream. The organization, for example, labeled Ben Carson, now President Trumps HUD secretary, an extremist. After a nationwide backlash last year, the organization apologized and removed the post.

But the SPLC website still has a negative file on Carson that insists he has said things that most people would conclude are extreme, such as his belief that marriage is the union of one man and onewoman.

Get the Whistleblower Magazines revelations about the SPLC, in its March 2015 edition of The Hate Racket, the complete story of how one group fools government into equating Christians and conservatives with Klansmen and Nazis and rakes in millions doing it.

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Charity slams Christians with help of far leftists – WND.com

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June 13, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

Alt-Right, White Nationalist, Free Speech: The Far Right’s Language Explained – WPSU

Alt-right. White nationalist. Free speech. Hate speech.

A number of labels involving the far right have been tossed about once again after a white supremacist allegedly stabbed three people who tried to keep him from shouting at two teenage girls, one wearing a hijab, on the Portland metro.

Fearing trouble because emotions are running high, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler asked the federal government to revoke a permit for a “Trump Free Speech Rally” on Sunday, describing the organizers as “alt-right.” But a rally organizer rejected that characterization, insisting he didn’t even know precisely what the phrase meant. Left-wing groups also are planning rallies this weekend.

Here’s a look at some of the phrases being used to describe the people involved, and what’s behind them:

Alt-Right/White Nationalist

White supremacist Jeremy Christian, who has been charged with two counts of aggravated murder, attempted murder and intimidation in the second degree, began his courtroom appearance last week shouting about free speech. “Free speech or die, Portland. You call it terrorism I call it patriotism,” Christian shouted. “If you don’t like free speech get the f*** out of my country.”

So what exactly was Christian ranting about? Was it nonsensical ravings or something more an exclamation of his political ideology? Was he saying he allegedly stabbed the three men, two of them fatally, because he believed they were interfering with his right to speak to the young women?

Understanding the language of the far right is a good place to start. There’s plenty of disagreement and debate about what language to use to describe far right politics and the groups that operate there.

These days, the labels white nationalist and alt-right have become ubiquitous. Radical right and ultra-right are older terms from the 1950s and 60s, and other terms include paleo-conservative, the militia movement, identity movement, American fascists, national socialists, neo-Nazis. But according to Mark Potok, a leader at the Southern Poverty Law Center for the last two decades, essentially these groups can be broken down into two main categories those who focus primarily on issues of race and those who focus primarily on conspiracy theories. One idea that courses through nearly all of them is the belief that healthy societies are dependent on racial, ethnic and cultural purity that for the white race, diversity is the path to political and cultural extinction.

The thinking is that each racial/ethnic group should get their own country, but the USA (and Europe) is for white, European, Christian culture. It’s why language like Christian’s “get out of my country” is prevalent among the far right.

This supremacist vision is what separates alternative right/white nationalists from others on the political spectrum. It’s an enormous leap ideologically from mainstream conservatism and the main reason why alt-right membership remains relatively low. Where does the term alt-right come from? Paleo-conservative philosopher Paul Grottfried first used the phrase in 2008 but white nationalist Richard Spencer ran with it and helped make alt-right ubiquitous.

Spencer is a new face of the extreme right movement. Well educated at the Universities of Virginia, Chicago and Duke, he is a world away from old images of the Ku Klux Klan. According to Pete Simi, professor of Sociology at Chapman University ant the co-author of the book American Swastika: Inside the White Power Movement’s Hidden Spaces of Hate, the term alt-right was a successful attempt by Spencer to rebrand himself and his followers as something fresh, young and smart for a new generation.

Among its allies, the alt-right embraces President Trump advisor and former Breitbart editor Steve Bannon. Bannon has called the site a “platform for the alt-right.”

Free Speech or Hate Speech?

Free Speech has grown into a major issue for both mainstream conservatives and the alt-right. For mainstream conservatives, the belief that the left is more intolerant of dissent than the right is evidenced by the protests against right-wing speakers on college campuses.

White nationalists believe their First Amendment rights go further: that they should have the freedom to say whatever they like and not suffer consequences for example, getting fired from their job for posting something hateful on Facebook.

The alt-right has developed its own language and symbols on the Internet. Parentheses around a person’s name means they are Jewish. “Cuckservative” is a particularly ugly racist and derogatory term describing establishment Republicans who aren’t considered conservative enough.

Professor Simi says a key feature of white nationalist belief is seeing themselves as victims. “We’re not the haters, we’re the victims of white genocide,” Simi says, describing the alt-right mindset. Marginalized, oppressed, and fighting an uphill battle against the powers that be, they view themselves as noble, courageous, even heroic warriors.

“Patriot” or Terrorist?

A second category of the extreme right in the American militia movement, which can be characterized by its belief in conspiracy theories. On his Facebook page, Christian praised Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, “May all the Gods Bless Timothy McVeigh a TRUE PATRIOT!!!”

Former SPLC director Potok said the movement’s fundamental idea is that the federal government is involved in a conspiracy against its people’s liberties. The imposition of martial law will be followed by the forced confiscation of guns and Potok explains that in the end, the U.S. government will be forced into a one world government, the so-called “New World Order” that will be run to serve the global elite. Elements of these conspiracy theories recently made a prominent appearance in Texas in 2015 during an armed forces military exercise, which stoked fear among some worried Texans that President Obama was about to use Special Forces soldiers to confiscate guns and round up resisters. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott responded by ordering the Texas State Guard to monitor the Special Forces soldiers while they trained in Texas.

Martin Kaste contributed to this story.

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Alt-Right, White Nationalist, Free Speech: The Far Right’s Language Explained – WPSU

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June 6, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

Three Days And Dozens of Tweets Later, Trump Finally Condemns Portland Killings – Jezebel

Donald Trump, back on U.S. soil after nine days of disgusting leaders across the Middle East and Europe, finally showed up on Twitter this morning to halfheartedly denounce the brutal slaying of two men in Portland on Friday. He used the Presidential Twitter account, so you know he doesnt really give a shit.

Why does he bother? Im legitimately curiousdoes anyone involved actually feel better because the president took a 15 second break from shrieking at the TV to bang out a couple of faux-conciliatory sentences, probably because his aides made him? Do you know how many tweets he wrote about the fake media yesterday? FIVE. And thats not even counting the additional tweets congratulating himself on his successful trip abroad, which was successful only in the sense that the worlds NATO leaders resisted the urge to pin him down and smother him with a pillow.

The country has seen a startling spike in hate crimes since Trump took office, with the Southern Poverty Law Center tracking more than 900 hate and bias incidents in the immediate aftermath of the election. The reason for this is clear: Hate and bigotry have taken up residence in the White House, emboldening extremists to vocalize and, in some cases, act on their beliefs in the form of violence. As Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the SPLC and editor of its quarterly Intelligence Report, told The Independent:

Trumps run for office electrified the radical right, which saw in him a champion of the idea that America is fundamentally a white mans country, said Mr Potok, citing as part of the problem the appointment to senior posts of retired general Mike Flynn, who has described Islam as a malignant cancer and tweeted that [f]ear of Muslims is RATIONAL, and Mike Pompeo who is close to some of the countrys most rabid anti-Muslim extremists.

Even if Trump isnt personally to blame for the surge in hate crimes, his silence on Portland speaks volumes about just how concerned he is about curbing similar acts in the future. And why forcefully denounce white supremacy when a tepid call for prayer will do? After all, those white supremacists make up an important part of his base. It would be a pity to piss them off.

But not everyone agrees that these faint overtures of sympathy are a disingenuous waste of time. On Sunday, former CBS News anchor Dan Rather took to Facebook to implore Trump to acknowledge the slaying of Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and Ricky John Best, the two men who were stabbed to death while attempting to stop Jeremy Joseph Christian from berating two Muslim women. Rather wrote:

I do not blame you directly for this incident. Nor do I think other people should. But what a President says, who he has around him, and the tone he sets can set the tone for the nation at large.

Perhaps Portland, Oregon is off your radar. It is, after all, a rather liberal place. Its even a sanctuary city. But it is still an American city. And you are its President. Two Americans have died leaving family and friends behind. They are mourned by millions more who are also deeply worried about what might come next.

I hope you can find it worthy of your time to take notice.

And indeed, Trump decried the killings, sort of. He made his tweet; he performed his presidential duty. Is Rather satisfied? Probably not. Because what Rather is really asking for isnt a mere acknowledgement of the victims and their families. Hes asking Trump to renounce who he is, to mutate his entire personhood into someone genuinely intent on snuffing out hatred.

This culture of violence, this radical intolerance which every day seems to gain strength, isnt possible to absolve with a tweet. Its an ethos embodied not just by Trump, but everyone with whom hes surrounded himself. How can Trump, even for a tweet, pretend to condemn Christians actions when he exudes intolerance every day? For every jejune call for unity and peace, Trump lets rip a dozen angry outbursts; fiery recriminations condemning everyone from Muslims to Mexicans to the Fake Media.

Trump doesnt find the incident in Portland unacceptable. The truth is, he doesnt care. What good does it to do pretend that he does? While the victims families and the nation mourn another two lives lost to hatred, the best thing for Trump to do now, just this once, is stay quiet.

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Three Days And Dozens of Tweets Later, Trump Finally Condemns Portland Killings – Jezebel

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June 1, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

The Portland stabbing is the latest in a wave of racist attacks across America – Vox

Three strangers saved her and her friends life and two of them died in doing so.

On Friday, 16-year-old Destinee Mangum and her 17-year-old Muslim friend, who was wearing a hijab, were on a Portland, Oregon, light-rail train when a man now identified as 35-year-old Jeremy Joseph Christian yelled what police described as hate speech toward a variety of ethnicities and religions. Mangum and her friend moved away from the man, fearing for their lives.

Strangers intervened, telling the man he couldnt disrespect the girls like that. What started as an argument suddenly turned violent, however, as Christian allegedly began stabbing people.

Ricky John Best, a 53-year-old military veteran, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, a 23-year-old who graduated from Reed College last year, died as a result of their wounds. Micah Fletcher, 21, is being treated at a hospital after he was seriously injured, according to CNN.

In an interview with local news station Fox 12, Mangums mother, Dyjuana Hudson, thanked the people who protected her daughter. I want to say thank you so much, she said. I couldnt imagine what youre going through right now as far as losing someone.

Christian, meanwhile, was caught after several people chased after him and called 911, directing police to him. Hes charged with two counts of aggravated murder and one count of attempted murder.

Its unclear if Christian will be charged with a hate crime, but he has a history of racist actions. Police said he went on a racist tirade on a train the day before the attack, but nothing was done about that incident. On his Facebook page, he appeared to support Nazis and Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, according to CBS News.

The attack is particularly awful as it comes during the beginning of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month.

More broadly, its just the latest act in what seems like a wave of hate crimes following President Donald Trumps election in November. Trump condemned the Portland attack on Twitter, but his racist, Islamophobic, and anti-immigrant rhetoric on the campaign trail has been widely criticized as a reason for a potential uptick in such bigoted acts.

Earlier in May, Sean Urbanski, whos white, stabbed and killed Richard Collins, whos black, at the University of Maryland. And before that, there were reports of mosques being burned, violent attacks against Indians, and a drive-by shooting at the Tulsa, Oklahoma, headquarters for the LGBTQ organization Oklahomans for Equality. Not all of these attacks have been verified as acts motivated by bigotry or directly linked to Trump, but theyre certainly a cause for alarm.

So is America experiencing a rise in hateful attacks? The unsettling truth is we just dont know in large part because the US does such a bad job tracking hate crimes nationally that its hard to find any good statistics to compare the current figures to. But the numbers we do have suggest that certain groups, particularly Muslims, have faced more hate in the past several years.

The latest report from the FBI found that there was a 7 percent rise in reported hate crimes in 2015, driven in large part by a 67 percent rise in reported hate crimes against Muslims. That certainly seems to suggest that there has been an increase.

But the FBI data isnt very good. For one, the FBI relies on voluntary reports from police departments. So police departments might not report their data on hate crimes which manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, gender and gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity to the FBI. (A 2016 Associated Press investigation found this is common.) Worse, police departments themselves may not track hate crimes at all, or victims may not report the crimes to the police, leaving departments in the dark.

You cannot tell if hate crimes are going up year over year from the FBI reports, Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the civil rights group Southern Poverty Law Center, previously told me. It is not possible.

Consider one statistic: Over the past two decades, the FBI reported between 6,000 and 10,000 hate crime incidents each year in the US. But when the US Bureau of Justice Statistics surveyed a large segment of the population between 2007 and 2011 to try to gauge what the real number of hate crimes is, it concluded that there are nearly 260,000 annually. This means that the FBI is potentially undercounting hate crimes by a magnitude of more than 40 times.

If there are 10,000 hate crimes a year, thats a lot, but perhaps its not a major social problem in a country of 320 million people, Potok said. If on the other hand there are a quarter million or even 300,000 hate crimes a year, it begins to look different. It begins to look like maybe we need to take this seriously as a society and put serious resources toward it.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics also found that only 35 percent of hate crimes are ultimately reported to the police, meaning that cops are unaware of roughly two-thirds of hate crimes in their communities.

There are some problems with the BJS data. For one, it relies solely on victims reports of offenses against them, so the reports arent fully verified. It also only counts nonfatal hate crimes, since victims of fatalities obviously cant report a crime. So its likely overestimating some hate crimes and underestimating others.

But the BJS also doesnt do its hate crime report every year leaving it solely to the FBI to find out and report whats happening on an annual basis.

Potok said its probably possible to draw some inferences from within the FBI data. For example, since the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes rose by so much in proportion to all hate crimes, there probably is something going on there. But its hard to say what the exact depth of the problem is without more accurate figures.

This, obviously, presents a big hurdle to preventing hate crimes. The first thing you need to know to fix a problem is what, exactly, the problem is. We dont even know for sure, at least on a yearly basis, how many hate crimes there are in America. But we also dont know where the attacks are happening or whos targeted.

At the very least, it seems like getting the Bureau of Justice Statistics to conduct its report on hate crimes annually, much like it does for crime overall, would be a good start. But it also seems like this is something police departments should take more seriously, in terms of both seeking out and preventing potential hate crimes in their communities and reporting what they find to the FBI.

Even when a victim does report a hate crime, it can be fairly difficult for police and prosecutors to prove the charges.

The first big question is whether your state actually has a hate crime law. The federal government has a hate crime law that bans crimes based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, but some places dont have such laws at the state level. That presents a major challenge: While the federal government will take on some of these cases, it doesnt have the resources to enforce its law against all hate crimes nationwide so a gap in state laws means some hate crimes will go unpunished.

If a state does have a hate crime law or federal law enforcement gets involved in a case, the important thing here is that someone must commit an actual crime to be charged with a hate crime. That crime can then be elevated to a hate crime if theres enough evidence to suggest that the motive for the act was hate. But if no crime was committed in the course of someone doing something hateful, its a hateful act, but not a hate crime.

It could be an act of trespassing or vandalism. It could be a violent crime, like rape or murder, Jack Levin, an expert on hate crimes at Northeastern University, previously told me. But when the motive involves targeting someone because of a difference, then it becomes a hate crime.

An example: A man walks into a lesbian bar and attacks one of the women there. This attack would be considered assault and battery, maybe even attempted murder, under the law.

But would it be a hate crime? For a prosecutor and police officers, there would be several factors to consider before going after the perpetrator on hate crime charges: Did the attacker yell anti-gay or sexist slurs, or otherwise say anything explicitly anti-gay or sexist? Does the attacker have a history, perhaps on social media or in other writings, of homophobia or sexism? Did the attacker purposely target a lesbian bar, or was the location irrelevant to his actions?

Investigators would piece all of this together, building up evidence to decide if theres enough to meet standards of proof for a hate crime charge and conviction. Theres no hard rule here, and whether something is deemed a hate crime can vary from officer to officer, prosecutor to prosecutor, judge to judge, or jury to jury. But generally, once theres a certain threshold of evidence that the attack was motivated by hate, an otherwise run-of-the-mill crime can become a hate crime.

Now, if a man walked by a lesbian bar and simply yelled anti-gay slurs but didnt attack anyone, that wouldnt qualify as a hate crime. His speech, as reprehensible as it may be, would be protected by the Constitution. Until he commits an actual crime, his act cant be additionally prosecuted as a hate crime.

The idea, essentially, is to take extraordinary steps against crimes that can go much further than harming individual victims. If someone assaults me because they want my money, its going to affect me, its going to affect my wife, its going to affect my family, Toni Bisconti, a University of Akron professor who studies hate crimes, previously told me. But if someone assaults me because they know Im gay, then all of a sudden its going to affect people that dont even know me. They have no idea who I am. Im just the conduit to gay people [in that situation].

The focus on motives in these cases can get into some legally and philosophically murky territory: Does focusing so much on whats in a criminals mind allow the government to regulate a persons free speech and expression?

Bisconti acknowledged that such a concern has some merit. Although she said she probably comes down in support of hate crime laws, she acknowledged, Im not sure its right to legislate someones brain.

Jeannine Bell, a scholar on hate crimes at Indiana Universitys Maurer School of Law, took a different view, arguing that its not really about a persons speech or ideas but the persons actions. Its not just that you dislike people of my background. Youre entirely free to dislike people of my background. Its not that you tell me that you dont like me. Again, entirely free to do that, Bell said. Its that you selected me for some sort of criminal action because of my background.

Whatever ones view on this debate, the central focus of hate crimes what elevates them above other crimes is the criminals motive.

But do hate crime laws actually deter hateful acts?

Every hate crime expert I spoke to agreed that hate crime laws probably dont deter any crimes. And they said theres no good research settling this question one way or the other.

I dont think that perpetrators think about whether theyre going to commit a hate crime, look to see whether theres a law that can be punished, and then dont commit the hate crime when they learn it could be punished, Bell said. That doesnt make sense to me.

But to my surprise, experts said it doesnt matter if hate crime laws actually deter crime.

For one, hate crime laws do more than just enhance criminal penalties for committing otherwise typical criminal acts. They often devote funds to police departments so they can, for example, set up an LGBTQ liaison who works closely with the community to ensure people feel safe. They also label these acts as a very specific kind of vile crime, encouraging law enforcement to take the issue more seriously.

By making it a hate crime, you call attention to it in the minds of police [and] in the minds of prosecutors, Bell said. She said, for instance, that most hate crimes are low-level the kinds of crimes that police and prosecutors may not pay attention to. But once these low-level acts are defined as hate crimes, then they get attention.

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Bisconti agreed: Hate crime legislation allowed groups that dont feel safe with police officers to come forward, and for police officers to understand that this really is a group thats targeted.

More broadly, hate crime laws also send societal signals against hate. Hate crimes are, experts said, message crimes against certain groups of people. Hate crime laws act as a countermessage to that bigotry.

Hate crime laws have important symbolic meaning, Levin said. Hate crimes are message crimes that is, they send a message not only to the primary victim but to every member of this group. He added, Thats the kind of message that has to be counteracted. And I think hate crime laws do that. They send a message to two groups: They send it to the perpetrator, informing him that our community will not tolerate his intolerance. And then at the same time, they send a message to potential victims that they are welcome in our community.

To the extent that hate crime laws increase prison sentences, some of the experts I spoke to didnt see much of the value in the enhanced penalties.

Levin, for one, cited the empirical evidence against expanding prison sentences. The research suggests that severity of punishment doesnt do much to prevent crime. As the National Institute of Justice concluded in 2016, Research shows clearly that the chance of being caught is a vastly more effective deterrent than even draconian punishment. Research has found evidence that prison can exacerbate, not reduce, recidivism. Prisons themselves may be schools for learning to commit crimes.

In other words, more certainty of punishment can deter crime, while more severity through longer prison sentences can actually make crime worse.

Generally, though, experts said that hate crimes serve a purpose even if they dont do much to actually deter crime by giving marginalized communities resources to fight back and sending a message to criminals that bigotry isnt accepted.

Following the Portland attack and Trumps election, some communities are finding those protections, however limited, more necessary.

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The Portland stabbing is the latest in a wave of racist attacks across America – Vox

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June 1, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

Home [markpotok.net]

No one understands or has more experience in the rise of domestic hate groups in America than Mark. He gave this under reported and critical issue the public scrutiny it so richly deserved.

Joseph J. Levin, Jr., Co-Founder, Southern Poverty Law Center

Mark Potok is one of the most powerful speakers in the country on the dangers of hate.When Mark speaks, the audience is riveted.If knowledge is power, Mark Potok’s speeches provide a jolt of it, giving people a deep understanding of what were up against as hate groups thrive in these perilous times.

Patrice O’Neill, Founder/Executive Producer, Not In Our Town

There is no one more knowledgeable about hate and extremist groups in the United States than Mr. Potok, who has spent the last 20 years investigating organized groups that promote andperpetrate acts of domestic terrorism and hate crimes, and propagate ideologies that fuel these horrific acts.Mr. Potoks speech powerfully engaged an auditorium of 500 people, reminding us of the fierce urgency to address these challenges in our own time.

Christine M. Robinson, Ph.D., Professor of Justice Studies, James Madison University

An advocacy journalist with a martini-dry disposition, [Potok] moves with the disciplined focus of a detective and never passes an opportunity to reveal uncomfortable truths about societys well-armed underbelly.His passionate acceptance speech [for the Utne Readers selection of the Intelligence Report as best investigative magazine in America], vigilantly steeped in mission, was the evenings highlight.

David Schimke, Editors Note, Editor in Chief, Utne Reader

Mark Potok is a dynamic, well-informed, engaging and energetic speaker. I still vividly recall Marks keynote speech. The audience was captivated by the drama of the stories he related from his rich personal experience and the work of the Southern Poverty Law Center. The crowd was riveted, fully attentive, eager to catch every word. Mark also received outstanding reviews from U.S. Department of State international visitors from Russia to Rwanda to Saudi Arabia to France, Ukraine, India, Indonesia, Turkey, and many more.

Luba Cehelska, former Executive Director, International Services Council of Huntsville/Madison County, Ala.

Mark Potok is one of the nations leading experts on the radical right and has a long record of handling public appearances and live TV interviews like a pro. He clearly and concisely explains the history, philosophies, and connections between various extremist groups and their leaders in a way thats easily understandable and frightening as well.

Bill Morlin, an award-winning journalist known nationally for his more than 40 years of reporting on radical right in the Pacific Northwest

“[Mark Potok] transformed the publication [Intelligence Report] into America’s definitive periodical on hate and extremism. … [He has a] reputation as the preeminent editorial commentator who follows the American radical right.”

Dominic Pulera,White Males in Multicultural America(2004)

Mark Potok has never failed to impress the international audience with his broad knowledge of hate groups, his analytical skills and his captivating speaking style. With his more than 20-year experience in monitoring, analyzing, writing and speaking on hate groups, hate crimes, radical ideology, bigotry, right-wing terrorism, or conspiracy theories, Mark Potok is the best speaker you can find anywhere in this field.

Professor Thomas Grumke, Professor of Political Science and Sociology, University of Applied Sciences for Public Administration of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

As an SPLC staff member and a member of our transatlantic expert network, Mark joined our annual workshop meetings in Europe and the U.S. and contributed to public events in Warsaw, Budapest, and Washington,D.C., hosted by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung [Foundation]. Mark is an excellent speaker and panelist and without any doubt one of the leading international experts on the radical right with a wide knowledge of hate groups, right-wing terrorism, conspiracy theories, and the American radical right in particular.

Ralf Melzer, Head, Project on Combating Right-Wing Extremism, Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Berlin, Germany

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May 15, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

Anti-Semitism and the myth of misbehaving teenagers – St. Louis … – St. Louis Jewish Light

The vandalism at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City in February took place just a mile from our home. And yet, it seemed so distant, both in time and place.

The destruction of Jewish headstones and gravestones evoked thoughts of the Eastern Europe that my ancestors fled many generations ago; not present-day St. Louis.Being Jewish and observing Jewish holidays and traditions, I understand the disease of anti-Semitism that has followed and pursued the Jewish people across generations and geographies.But this understanding was always from a historical perspective, rather than from a first-hand experience.

To my knowledge, I never experienced anti-Semitism, first-hand.I never felt targeted or mistreated for being Jewish.Among my friends and community members, being Jewish was a part of my identity, but it was not a foundation for fear.This was the United States after all: a melting-pot of religious, ethnic and racial diversity.

In other words, the spate of recent attacks and threats against Jewish institutions is something that I have not seen in my lifetime.And I do not seem alone.Other community members, reflecting on decades of history, cannot recall a similar outbreak of anti-Semitic threats and vandalism.

Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, echoed these sentiments, stating that he had not seen anything like this in his more than 20 years at the organization.

After the vandalism at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia and Rochester were targeted. After the vandalism at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, 31 bomb threats were called into various Jewish community centers around the country, although a 19-year old Israeli-American is suspected of being behind the bulk of the threats.

The Anti-Defamation League recently reported that anti-Semitic incidents in the United States rose by more than one-third in 2016. The organizations annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, released in late April, reported a total of 1,266 incidents (including assaults, vandalism and harassment) during 2016. Almost a third of those occurred in November and December.

All of this is, quite obviously, deeply troubling and upsetting. But the ease with which a few individuals, using various technologies, can anonymously telephone and target institutions makes these threats at least comprehensible. There will always be the intolerant and hateful. They have always lived among us and always will. This is unfortunate, but it is, all the same, understandable.

What I cannot understand, however, is the utter reluctance of some when repeatedly confronted with such acts of intolerance and hate to dismiss and downplay these acts. After each cemetery was vandalized, the skeptics arose, calling for patience, calling for deliberation. This may not be anti-Semitism. This may not be a hate crime. This could just be teenagers.This could just be youthful indiscretion and intoxication. This could even be a false-flag attack.

In the face of three, successive cemetery attacks and dozens of bomb threats, these arguments are specious at best. But more troubling than the merits of these arguments is the message that it sends to the Jewish community. The message being one of disinterest and abandonment. Absent an arrest, we dont believe you. Call us when there is a confession.

This is not community. Faced with a rash of burglaries, a neighbor does not tell a victimized homeowner that, just maybe, movers emptied the wrong house. Or accuse the homeowner of insurance fraud. The burden of brotherhood should not be so heavy.

These crimes are difficult to solve and, at last glance, investigators had nothing new to report. It is possible, then, that the individuals behind these crimes may never be discovered or caught. But that does not erase what happened. And in the absence of any arrest or confession, it is that much more important to destroy the myth of some misbehaving adolescent. This is all the more so because vandalism against Jewish cemeteries has long been one of the principal arrows in the anti-Semitic quiver. Barring an arrest in the case, those who cling to the notion of innocent unruliness are themselves guilty of perpetuating a dangerous myth.

Charles N. Insler is an attorney and resident of University City.

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Anti-Semitism and the myth of misbehaving teenagers – St. Louis … – St. Louis Jewish Light

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May 12, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

Attacks on LGBT Texans are everywhere. Here’s what you can do. – Houston Chronicle

Photo: Rogelio V. Solis, STF

Two dozen anti-gay bills have been filed thus far, seeking to discriminate against LGBT Texans in every sphere, from health care to public accommodation to employment.

Two dozen anti-gay bills have been filed thus far, seeking to…

The message that greeted travelers last week at the bus stop near Montrose and Westheimer was blunt and brutal: “FOLLOW YOUR FELLOW FAGGOTS.”

The homemade poster plastered on the wall of the shelter also featured an image of a lynched man hanging by his neck from a noose, a rainbow butterfly emblazoned on his chest, with his feet dangling below him.

Underneath the incendiary headline, the poster listed several statistics on LGBT suicide rates, which trend significantly higher than those for heterosexuals. The poster contained a logo at the bottom, branding it as the work of “Fascist Solutions.”

A Metro rider told OutSmart Magazine he spotted this anti-gay flier affixed toabusshelter at Westheimerand Stanford in Montrose.

A Metro rider told OutSmart Magazine he spotted this anti-gay flier…

It could only be interpreted as an exhortation for LGBT people to take their own lives.

And as shocking as the image and language might be, they are entirely consistent with the wave of homophobic legislation surging through the current session of the Texas legislature.

TWO DOZEN anti-gay bills have been filed thus far, seeking to discriminate against LGBT Texans in every sphere, from health care to public accommodation to employment.

To read this article in one of Houston’s most-spoken languages, click on the button below.

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The most infamous, Senate Bill 6, seeks to police the restrooms that transgender Texans use, effectively barring them from public spaces. Senate Republicans have been relentless in their pursuit of this legislation, despite the fact that it is vigorously opposed by the Texas Association of Business, the state’s leading business lobby, and that it could cost the state $3 billion in tourism revenues.

When questioned by a fellow legislator about the number of public safety incidents involving transgender individuals, the bill’s champion, State Senator Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), was forced to admit that there were none.

The Lone Star State’s child welfare system is in crisis, and it desperately needs more foster parents to care for the 22,000 children in the system. Yet HB 3859 would allow faith-based service providers to discriminate against loving LGBT families, preventing them from serving as foster parents. (The bill would also permit providers to refuse to provide services to LGBT foster children.)

And Senate Bill 522 would empower county clerks to refuse to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a clear violation of the equal protection clause.

The lege is lurching toward the home stretch. Because they have been unable to pass standalone bills, lawmakers have been begun to hijack unrelated legislation by loading it down with “religious refusal” amendments. These legislative last gasps provide a dubious fig leaf to cover discrimination, premised on the misguided concept that “religious liberty” allows individuals to pick and choose which laws that they will obey.

AND IN this pitched cultural war being played out on streets of Montrose and in the Texas legislature, transgender Texans have emerged as special targets for vilification.

At a public hearing on Senate Bill 6, the first dozen speakers invited by legislators to testify in support included two organizations classified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center: Concerned Women for America and the Family Research Council. The testimony of those speaking in favor of the bill attacked and demeaned the humanity of transgender Texans.

“Listening to elected officials and others tell trans folks that we are less than and that we don’t deserve the same equality as our peers, as our community members, takes a devastating toll on trans Texans,” observes transgender activist Lou Weaver of Houston.

“Listening to elected officials and others tell trans folks that we are less than and that we don’t deserve the same equality as our peers, as our community members, takes a devastating toll on trans Texans,” says activistLou Weaver.

“Listening to elected officials and others tell trans folks that we…

“When our trans students hear that they are not the same as their peers, that their peers should be afraid of them, that they should not be allowed in the same spaces, that takes a psychological toll on them. That affects how they do in school, and that affects their future.”

“When they call us men in dresses, when they accuse us of being predators, molesters or rapists, and they are not stopped, it hurts,” observes Meghan Stabler, a transgender leader in Austin who serves on the national board of The Human Rights Campaign.

“We know who we are, and why. Unless you are trans, you cannot know the journey or struggle. We just ask that others use civility to see us, and not chide us, or bully us, or kill us.”

Such rhetoric can also lead directly to violence and death. In February, Chyna Doll Dupree Gibson, a popular Houston performer in Montrose clubs, was shot 10 times and left to die in the parking lot of a strip mall in New Orleans. Eight transgender Americans have been murdered this year. Last year was the deadliest on record, with 27 transgender American being murdered, the majority of whom were people of color.

An ominous wind is blowing through the Lone Star State, and it doesn’t disquiet only the LGBT community.

AT THE end of April, the Anti-Defamation League released a report showing that hate incidents have jumped 50 percent this year in the southern part of Texas. They cited a “disturbing trend” that included swastikas, Nazi salutes and bomb threats. Nationwide, the ADL has tracked an 86 percent increase in hate incidents in 2017.

In the 34 days following the presidential election, the SPLC tracked 1,094 hate incidents. The largest number of incidents occurred the day after the election, and 37 percent of them directly referenced Trump, his campaign slogans or his infamous remarks about sexual assault.

“The campaign language of the man who would become president sparks hate violence, both before and after the election,” observed SPLC senior fellow Mark Potok.

With his vilification of Mexican immigrants as drug dealers and rapists, his denigration of women and their appearances, his retweets of white supremacist messages (including one that falsely claimed that black people were responsible for 80 percent of the murders of whites), his promises to block Muslims from entering the country and his encouragement of his supporters in beating up black protesters at his rallies, Trump provided an extraordinary platform for this type of hate speech.

As the standard bearer of a major political party who received wall-to-wall media coverage, he normalized this vicious rhetoric, emboldening extremists to come forward with the kind of hate speech seen on the poster at the Montrose bus stop.

In the Age of Trump, there are still some elected officials who provide inspiration with their examples of courage, integrity and leadership. Prior to the beginning of this legislative session, State Senator Sylvia Garcia vowed to “fight like hell” to keep anti-transgender legislation from passing. She’s lived up to her word, displaying a gutsiness and tenacity that would have made Ann Richard proud.

WHEN FACING the current tsunami of discriminatory legislation and hate speech, LGBT Texans and people of conscience everywhere must take heart from the example of leaders like Senator Garcia.

We must step boldly forward and make the time to do the following:

1) Call your member of the Texas House of Representatives and encourage him or her to vote against HB 2899, the house’s version of the anti-transgender bill, which would also remove protections for the elderly and veterans; and HB3859, which would allow discrimination in child welfare services.

2) Educate yourself at the website of the advocacy group Equality Texas. Sign their pledge to work for a Texas in which all people are treated with dignity and respect and receive legislative alerts when anti-LGBT legislation is coming up for a vote.

3) Join the Texas Freedom Network, a stalwart grassroots organization that has been indefatigable in shining a powerful spotlight on the pernicious effects of legislation discriminating against the LGBT community. They have also assembled a coalition of faith leaders from across the state who have powerfully testified that the concept of religious liberty cannot be perverted to serve as a cover for discrimination against queer Texans.

Sign up for their daily email alerts on recent developments and the latest news articles about hot civil liberties topics.

Andrew Edmonson has served as chair of the Houston Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and on the board of the American Marketing Association’s Houston chapter.

Bookmark Gray Matters. It would have made Ann Richards proud.

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Attacks on LGBT Texans are everywhere. Here’s what you can do. – Houston Chronicle

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May 9, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

Left-wing smear group scorched as ‘enemy of free speech’ – WND.com

Theres been asurge in recent months of violence andthreats on university campuses from left-wing activistswhointend to silence opposing viewpoints. It happened when conservative commentator Ann Coulter was scheduled to speak at the University of Californiaat Berkeley. Activiststhreatened violence and school officials closed down the scheduled event. So on Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, held a hearing to take testimony about how school officialscan protect freedom of speech as well as their students. The committee took comments from Richard Cohen of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Thats thegroup cited by Floyd Corkins as his source of informationwhen he attempted to commit mass murder at the evangelicalFamily Research Council office in Washington, D.C. Get the Whistleblower Magazines revelations about SPLC in its The Hate Racket issue, which shows how the group fools government into equating Christians and conservatives with Klansmen and Nazis and rakes in millions in the process. Its also the group that was liked on social media by James Hodgkinson, the man who tried to kill Republican members of Congress last week at a baseball practice. Hodgkinson was merely swimming in the pond created by the SPLC and other groups like it, said Lt. Gen. William Boykin, FRCs executive vice president. Boykinwrote a letter to the committee on the occasion of the SPLC testimony, warning members of the groups true agenda. I have provided this background information in order to disabuse the committee of any notion it may have that the SPLC cares about the preservation of free speech rights on college campuses for those with whom they disagree on key issues, he explained. Nothing could be further from the truth. The hearing, titled Free Speech 101: The Assault on the First Amendment on College Campuses, took testimony from students, college officials and others. It is extremely ironic that one of your witnesses is actually an enemy of free speech, wrote Boykin. I write here of Richard Cohen of the Southern Poverty Law Center. The retired officertold senators SPLC has refined a method of defaming its political opponents that is extremely effective when combined with the massive war chest it can rely upon an amount that totals over $319 million as of late 2016. He said the organization targets victims with hate and extremist labels. The SPLC bullies and dehumanizes many ordinary Americans by calling them names and portraying them grotesquely in terrible photographs and sketches, he wrote. The group does not want open debate,said Boykin. One of the targets of SPLCs hate label in 2016 was then-presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson. Boykin pointed out that in2007, SPLCs Mark Potok gave an address in which he made this observation about SPLCs modus operandi: Sometimes the press will describe us as monitoring hate crimes and so on . I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups, to completely destroy them. Boykinsaid SPLC has no interest in an exchange of ideas, even with peaceful, mainstream groups like Alliance Defending Freedom, the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM), the Family Research Council (FRC), and the Pacific Justice Institute whose views may differ greatly from theirs. He cited the Corkins case that linked SPLC to domestic terror. Corkins came to the FRC building with the intention of using a semi-automatic pistol to kill everyone there and then place Chick-fil-A sandwiches by 15 of those bodies. In a chilling interrogation video released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and played in court, Corkins said he picked his targets by relying on the SPLC websites Hate Map. Boykin said it was not surprising then that Hodgkinson had liked SPLC on Facebook. Boykin chargedthe depth to which the SPLC will sink knows almost no bottom, citing an SPLC attack on human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who opposes a darker, violent side of Islam. Ali suffered female genital mutilation as a child and wrote about it in her book Infidel. SPLCs characterization was that she says she sufferedFGM. Boykin said: It is mind-boggling that a progressive organization like the SPLC would cast doubt on her claims in a personal matter like this. In his comments, Cohen claimed presidential politics and growing white nationalist activity are making campuses increasingly polarized. WND reportedHodgkinson, who was killed by police when he shot at members of Congress, apparently was a fan of SPLC. Hodgkinson also liked many anti-Republican, far-left Facebook pages, including Dump Trump, Liar, Liar, Republican campaign on fire, Republicans ARE the problem, Berniecrats United to Resist Trump and Fire the Republican Government. Overtly anti-Republican groups were not the only things he liked on Facebook. His liked TV shows favored by the left-wing such as Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO, The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on Comedy Central. Get the Whistleblower Magazines revelations about the SPLC, in its March 2015 edition of The Hate Racket, the complete story of how one group fools government into equating Christians and conservatives with Klansmen and Nazis and rakes in millions doing it. The legal team at Liberty Counsel, criticizing SPLC for falsely and recklessly labeling Christian ministries as hate groups,’ noted SPLC is responsible for the first conviction of a man who intended to commit mass murder targeted against a policy organization in Washington, D.C. On August 15, 2012, Floyd Corkins went to the Family Research Council with a gun and a bag filled with ammunition and Chick-fil-A sandwiches. His stated purpose was to kill as many employees of the Family Research Council as possible and then to smear Chick-fil-A sandwiches in their faces (because the founder of the food chain said he believed in marriage as a man and a woman). Fortunately, Mr. Corkins was stopped by the security guard, who was shot in the process. Corkins is now serving time in prison. Mr. Corkins admitted to the court that he learned of the Family Research Council by reading the SPLCs hate map. WND reported a video showed Corkins entering the FRC offices and confronting Leo Johnson. Corkins later was sentenced to prison for domestic terrorism. It was during an interview with FBI officers that Corkins named SPLC as his source of information. Central to the case, according to the governments document, was that Corkins had identified the FRC as an anti-gay organization on the Southern Poverty Law Center website. FRC officials repeatedly have explained that they adhere to a biblical perspective on homosexuality but are not anti-gay. SPLC also exhibited behavior so egregious that it was reprimanded by the far-left administration of Barack Obama. Judicial Watch, citing a letter to Michael M. Hethmon, senior counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, and others, said the DOJ reprimand came in 2016 but was kept quiet at the agencys request. [It] involves the SPLCs atrocious behavior during immigration court proceedings. Two groups that oppose illegal immigration, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), were the target of personal, baseless and below-the-belt attacks from SPLC attorneys during official immigration court proceedings. The SPLC filed a motion attacking and defaming the two respected nonprofits by describing them as white supremacist, eugenicist, anti-Semitic, and anti-Catholic. In its reprimand the DOJ says it is troubled by the conduct of SPLC lawyer Christopher Strawn and that his conduct overstepped the bounds of zealous advocacy and was unprofessional. Furthermore, SPLC made uncivil comments that disparaged FAIR and its staff, the rebuke states, adding that the language constitutes frivolous behavior and doesnt aid in the administration of justice, Judicial Watch explained. The Obama administration kept the reprimand confidential and asked FAIR and IRLI to keep it under wraps. In the meantime, SPLC continues to publicly trash the groups and escalate attacks against them by putting them on the official hate list. The executive director and general counsel of IRLI, Dale Wilcox, says his nonprofit and FAIR will keep fighting for immigration policies that put America first. The SPLCs latest tactic in its never-ending witch-hunt and the federal governments resulting reprimand should send the following message to the mainstream media, Wilcox said: Stop using the SPLC as a legitimate hate-watch source in your news coverage. That a cabal of biased list-keepers can play such an important role in distorting the immigration debate in this country is testament to the utter failure of much of the mainstream media which frequently publishes their inflammatory commentary and refuses to question their baseless methods or financial motivations,’ Judicial Watch said. The letter explained the DOJ stopped short of formal disciplinary proceeding[s], instead opting for the rebuke in the letter. We take this opportunity to remind the attorney practitioners involved in this misconduct that practitioners before EOIR should be striving to be civil and professional in their interactions with each other, the public, the board and immigration courts. Attorneys owe a duty of professionalism to their clients, opposing parties and their counsel, the courts, and the public as a whole. To really understand the war zone America is becoming, read the June issue of WNDs acclaimed monthly Whistleblower magazine, RAGE AND VIOLENCE: Why the Left has gone insane in the Age of Trump.

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June 25, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

DC Shooter a Fan of the Southern Poverty Law Center – Canada Free Press

The Southern Poverty Law Center not only promotes hate but its reckless and false labeling provides the motivation for extremists to commit acts of terrorism against innocent people ALEXANDRIA, VA The D.C. shooter was a Facebook fan of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a reckless organization that falsely labels people and organizations as haters or hate groups. The SPLC has now admitted James Hodgkinson liked the SPLC on Facebook. The SPLC continues to ignore warnings about its dangerous and false labeling, even though two separate mass murder attempts have been perpetrated by followers of the SPLC. Yesterday was the most recent attempted mass murder by someone who followed the SPLC. The first mass murder attempt was in 2012, when Floyd Corkins confessed he was motivated by the SPLC Hate Map. Yesterday, James Hodgkinson gunned down Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), Zach Barth, a staff member for Congressman Roger Williams, former Congressional staff member Matt Mika and two U.S. Capitol Police officers yesterday at a practice for a charity baseball game for members of Congress. In 2015, the SPLC wrote an article promoting the idea that Rep. Scalise promoted white supremacy and supported a hate group founded by former KKK member David Duke. The SPLC article clearly tries to infer that Rep. Scalise is a so-called hater and supporter of a hate group. The SPLC is also linked to the attempted mass murder in the 2012 shooting at the Washington, D.C. office of the Family Research Council (FRC). Floyd Corkins II was stopped by the FRC security guard, who was shot in the process. Corkins confessed to the FBI that he intended to commit mass murder and was motivated by the so-called Hate Map on the SPLC website that listed FRC as a hate group. The SPLC”s caustic and false rhetoric is dangerous because it creates a Hate Map listing so-called hate groups. Mark Potock, with the SPLC admitted in an interview: Our criteria for a hate group, first of all, have nothing to do with criminality, or violence, or any kind of guess we”re making about this group could be dangerous. It”s strictly ideological. Mark Potok is on video in a public meeting stating: Sometimes the press will describe us as monitoring hate crimes and so on. I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups, to completely destroy them The Philanthropy Roundtable recently published an article about the SPLC pointing out the false labeling. The SPLC even labeled famed surgeon Dr. Ben Carson as a hater. The SPLC rakes in millions of dollars each year and has huge financial reserves, causing some to wonder what nonprofit work the SPLC does. The Southern Poverty Law Center not only promotes hate but its reckless and false labeling provides the motivation for extremists to commit acts of terrorism against innocent people, said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. To falsely label people with whom you disagree as haters or hate groups is irresponsible, dangerous and deadly. The Southern Poverty Law Center is intent on destroying pro-family organizations. This dangerous action by the SPLC must cease. How many attempted mass murders and violent crimes will it take for the SPLC to stop this dangerous labeling? The SPLC must cease and desist, said Staver. Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics. Please adhere to our commenting policy to avoid being banned. As a privately owned website, we reserve the right to remove any comment and ban any user at any time. Comments that contain spam, advertising, vulgarity, threats of violence, racism, anti-Semitism, or personal or abusive attacks on other users may be removed and result in a ban. — Follow these instructions on registering:

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June 19, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

Charity slams Christians with help of far leftists – WND.com

A public charity that purports to be neutral and provide online nonprofit information to a broad audience at no cost to those users has begun slamming Christian and other conservative organizations based on the recommendation ofthe Southern Poverty Law Center, which itself has been linked to domestic terror and once putBen Carson on its list of haters. For certain organizations,Guidestar has begun posting at the top of itsreports a box with a logo and link toSPLC stating: This organization was flagged as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Among the organizations targeted by Guidestar arethe American Family Association and the Family Research Council, both highly respected and prominent Christian organizations that SPLC considers hate groupsbecause they support traditional marriage. Other groups appear to be in the bulls-eye because they dont subscribe to an open-borders agenda. Get the Whistleblower Magazines revelations about the SPLC, in its March 2015 edition of The Hate Racket, the complete story of how one group fools government into equating Christians and conservatives with Klansmen and Nazis and rakes in millions doing it. AFA, whose mission statement is to promote the biblical ethic of decency in American society, couldnt be reached on Friday for comment. FRCs executive vice president, Lt. Gen (Ret.) William G. Jerry Boykin, told WND that Guidestar already had been informed of the problem. We have presented them with what we think are key points they need to consider the key I think for them is they are taking data from an organization that was connected in federal court to domestic terrorism. He said the group is discriminating based on unconfirmed third-party information and they have no legitimate authority to do [that]. He said its nothing more than an opinion from SPLC, and that group is an arm of the extreme left. Now as a result of using their data, this so-called neutral organization has become a part of the political arm of the left, he said. The FRC previously has commented on the SPLCs hate agenda. Logically, a hate group should be defined as one whose members 1) actually say that they hate a particular group of people; and/or 2) engage in or condone violence or other illegal activity toward such a group, the group previously explained. FRC continued: The SPLC, however, uses much broader criteria for defining hate groups, and criteria which can vary depending on which of 14 categories of hate groups you are looking at ranging from Neo-Nazi to Black Separatist to Radical Traditional Catholicism. These criteria are entirely subjective and largely ideological. FRC explained SPLC tars everyone with which it disagrees ideologically with the same label. The SPLC claims that the number of hate groups in American increased by a staggering 66 percent from 2000 to 2010. Yet this is only as a result of their own expanding definition of what constitutes a hate group. Actual hate crimes as measured by the FBI, fell nearly 25 percent between 1996 and 2009, the group explained. The SPLCs Mark Potok has publicly confessed that there is an element of hypocrisy in the SPLC attacking conservative groups while remaining silent about liberal groups that use exactly the same kind of tactics.’ The group continued: A liberal writer in The Humanist said, The SPLC campaigns for laws that will effectively deny free speech and freedom of association to certain groups of Americans on the basis of their beliefs. Then, with no discernible irony, it goes on to justify its Big Brother methods in the name of tolerance.’ Guidestar use ofSPLCs bias against Christianity to flag beneficial charities was revealed in an Associated Press report. Michael Kunzelman wrote, A website that touts itself as the worlds largest course of information about charities has added a new feature: a warning label on tax-exempt nonprofits accused of spreading hate. The report quoted GuideStar spokesman Jacob Harold saying the move reflects a broader shift in how we imagine our role in the field. He said the move came as a response to the recent rise in hateful rhetoric in the U.S., AP said. GuideStar declined multiple requests from WND for an interview. A spokesman for the Center for Immigration Studies, which also was being targeted by Guidestar, told AP: This is defamation. GuideStar is an accomplice to this defamation now. Harold told AP his group didnt do any evaluation; it just repeats SPLCs bias. We feel thats quite defensible, he told AP. SPLCs past targeting of FRCwas cited in court as the impetus for an attack on the Christian organizations Washington, D.C., headquarters. The legal team at Liberty Counsel, criticizing SPLC for falsely and recklessly labeling Christian ministries as hate groups,’ noted SPLC is responsible for the first conviction of a man who intended to commit mass murder targeted against a policy organization in Washington, D.C. On August 15, 2012, Floyd Corkins went to the Family Research Council with a gun and a bag filled with ammunition and Chick-fil-A sandwiches. His stated purpose was to kill as many employees of the Family Research Council as possible and then to smear Chick-fil-A sandwiches in their faces (because the founder of the food chain said he believed in marriage as a man and a woman). Fortunately, Mr. Corkins was stopped by the security guard, who was shot in the process. Corkins is now serving time in prison. Mr. Corkins admitted to the court that he learned of the Family Research Council by reading the SPLCs hate map. WND reported a video showed Corkins entering the FRC offices and confronting Leo Johnson. Corkins later was sentenced to prison for domestic terrorism. It was during an interview with FBI officers thatCorkins named SPLC as his source of information. Get the Whistleblower Magazines revelations about the SPLC, in its March 2015 edition of The Hate Racket, the complete story of how one group fools government into equating Christians and conservatives with Klansmen and Nazis and rakes in millions doing it. Central to the case, according to the governments document, was that Corkins had identified the FRC as an anti-gay organization on the Southern Poverty Law Center website. FRC officials repeatedly have explained that they adhere to a biblical perspective on homosexuality but are not anti-gay. SPLC also exhibited behavior so egregious that it was reprimanded by the far-left administration of Barack Obama. Judicial Watch, citinga letter to Michael M. Hethmon, senior counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, and others,said theDOJ reprimand came in 2016 but was kept quiet at the agencys request. [It] involves the SPLCs atrocious behavior during immigration court proceedings. Two groups that oppose illegal immigration, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), were the target of personal, baseless and below-the-belt attacks from SPLC attorneys during official immigration court proceedings. The SPLC filed a motion attacking and defaming the two respected nonprofits by describing them as white supremacist, eugenicist, anti-Semitic, and anti-Catholic. In its reprimand the DOJ says it is troubled by the conduct of SPLC lawyer Christopher Strawn and that his conduct overstepped the bounds of zealous advocacy and was unprofessional. Furthermore, SPLC made uncivil comments that disparaged FAIR and its staff, the rebuke states, adding that the language constitutes frivolous behavior and doesnt aid in the administration of justice, Judicial Watch explained. The Obama administration kept the reprimand confidential and asked FAIR and IRLI to keep it under wraps. In the meantime, SPLC continues to publicly trash the groups and escalate attacks against them by putting them on the official hate list. The executive director and general counsel of IRLI, Dale Wilcox, says his nonprofit and FAIR will keep fighting for immigration policies that put America first. The SPLCs latest tactic in its never-ending witch-hunt and the federal governments resulting reprimand should send the following message to the mainstream media, Wilcox said: Stop using the SPLC as a legitimate hate-watch source in your news coverage. That a cabal of biased list-keepers can play such an important role in distorting the immigration debate in this country is testament to the utter failure of much of the mainstream media which frequently publishes their inflammatory commentary and refuses to question their baseless methods or financial motivations,’ Judicial Watch said. The letter explained the DOJ stopped short of formal disciplinary proceeding[s], instead opting for the rebuke in the letter. We take this opportunity to remind the attorney practitioners involved in this misconduct that practitioners before EOIR should be striving to be civil and professional in their interactions with each other, the public, the board and immigration courts. Attorneys owe a duty of professionalism to their clients, opposing parties and their counsel, the courts, and the public as a whole. SPLC recently was listed among the top 10 enemiesthat have attacked WND over the years. WND and WND Books were put on SPLCslatest list of extremists. Reason magazine, the libertarian publication, noting SPLC was counting extremists again, pointed out the list includes WND and WND Books and asked: What on earth could justify that? Further, SPLCs definition of haters and extremists has been at variance with the mainstream. The organization, for example, labeled Ben Carson, now President Trumps HUD secretary, an extremist. After a nationwide backlash last year, the organization apologized and removed the post. But the SPLC website still has a negative file on Carson that insists he has said things that most people would conclude are extreme, such as his belief that marriage is the union of one man and onewoman. Get the Whistleblower Magazines revelations about the SPLC, in its March 2015 edition of The Hate Racket, the complete story of how one group fools government into equating Christians and conservatives with Klansmen and Nazis and rakes in millions doing it.

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June 13, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

Alt-Right, White Nationalist, Free Speech: The Far Right’s Language Explained – WPSU

Alt-right. White nationalist. Free speech. Hate speech. A number of labels involving the far right have been tossed about once again after a white supremacist allegedly stabbed three people who tried to keep him from shouting at two teenage girls, one wearing a hijab, on the Portland metro. Fearing trouble because emotions are running high, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler asked the federal government to revoke a permit for a “Trump Free Speech Rally” on Sunday, describing the organizers as “alt-right.” But a rally organizer rejected that characterization, insisting he didn’t even know precisely what the phrase meant. Left-wing groups also are planning rallies this weekend. Here’s a look at some of the phrases being used to describe the people involved, and what’s behind them: Alt-Right/White Nationalist White supremacist Jeremy Christian, who has been charged with two counts of aggravated murder, attempted murder and intimidation in the second degree, began his courtroom appearance last week shouting about free speech. “Free speech or die, Portland. You call it terrorism I call it patriotism,” Christian shouted. “If you don’t like free speech get the f*** out of my country.” So what exactly was Christian ranting about? Was it nonsensical ravings or something more an exclamation of his political ideology? Was he saying he allegedly stabbed the three men, two of them fatally, because he believed they were interfering with his right to speak to the young women? Understanding the language of the far right is a good place to start. There’s plenty of disagreement and debate about what language to use to describe far right politics and the groups that operate there. These days, the labels white nationalist and alt-right have become ubiquitous. Radical right and ultra-right are older terms from the 1950s and 60s, and other terms include paleo-conservative, the militia movement, identity movement, American fascists, national socialists, neo-Nazis. But according to Mark Potok, a leader at the Southern Poverty Law Center for the last two decades, essentially these groups can be broken down into two main categories those who focus primarily on issues of race and those who focus primarily on conspiracy theories. One idea that courses through nearly all of them is the belief that healthy societies are dependent on racial, ethnic and cultural purity that for the white race, diversity is the path to political and cultural extinction. The thinking is that each racial/ethnic group should get their own country, but the USA (and Europe) is for white, European, Christian culture. It’s why language like Christian’s “get out of my country” is prevalent among the far right. This supremacist vision is what separates alternative right/white nationalists from others on the political spectrum. It’s an enormous leap ideologically from mainstream conservatism and the main reason why alt-right membership remains relatively low. Where does the term alt-right come from? Paleo-conservative philosopher Paul Grottfried first used the phrase in 2008 but white nationalist Richard Spencer ran with it and helped make alt-right ubiquitous. Spencer is a new face of the extreme right movement. Well educated at the Universities of Virginia, Chicago and Duke, he is a world away from old images of the Ku Klux Klan. According to Pete Simi, professor of Sociology at Chapman University ant the co-author of the book American Swastika: Inside the White Power Movement’s Hidden Spaces of Hate, the term alt-right was a successful attempt by Spencer to rebrand himself and his followers as something fresh, young and smart for a new generation. Among its allies, the alt-right embraces President Trump advisor and former Breitbart editor Steve Bannon. Bannon has called the site a “platform for the alt-right.” Free Speech or Hate Speech? Free Speech has grown into a major issue for both mainstream conservatives and the alt-right. For mainstream conservatives, the belief that the left is more intolerant of dissent than the right is evidenced by the protests against right-wing speakers on college campuses. White nationalists believe their First Amendment rights go further: that they should have the freedom to say whatever they like and not suffer consequences for example, getting fired from their job for posting something hateful on Facebook. The alt-right has developed its own language and symbols on the Internet. Parentheses around a person’s name means they are Jewish. “Cuckservative” is a particularly ugly racist and derogatory term describing establishment Republicans who aren’t considered conservative enough. Professor Simi says a key feature of white nationalist belief is seeing themselves as victims. “We’re not the haters, we’re the victims of white genocide,” Simi says, describing the alt-right mindset. Marginalized, oppressed, and fighting an uphill battle against the powers that be, they view themselves as noble, courageous, even heroic warriors. “Patriot” or Terrorist? A second category of the extreme right in the American militia movement, which can be characterized by its belief in conspiracy theories. On his Facebook page, Christian praised Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, “May all the Gods Bless Timothy McVeigh a TRUE PATRIOT!!!” Former SPLC director Potok said the movement’s fundamental idea is that the federal government is involved in a conspiracy against its people’s liberties. The imposition of martial law will be followed by the forced confiscation of guns and Potok explains that in the end, the U.S. government will be forced into a one world government, the so-called “New World Order” that will be run to serve the global elite. Elements of these conspiracy theories recently made a prominent appearance in Texas in 2015 during an armed forces military exercise, which stoked fear among some worried Texans that President Obama was about to use Special Forces soldiers to confiscate guns and round up resisters. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott responded by ordering the Texas State Guard to monitor the Special Forces soldiers while they trained in Texas. Martin Kaste contributed to this story.

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June 6, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

Three Days And Dozens of Tweets Later, Trump Finally Condemns Portland Killings – Jezebel

Donald Trump, back on U.S. soil after nine days of disgusting leaders across the Middle East and Europe, finally showed up on Twitter this morning to halfheartedly denounce the brutal slaying of two men in Portland on Friday. He used the Presidential Twitter account, so you know he doesnt really give a shit. Why does he bother? Im legitimately curiousdoes anyone involved actually feel better because the president took a 15 second break from shrieking at the TV to bang out a couple of faux-conciliatory sentences, probably because his aides made him? Do you know how many tweets he wrote about the fake media yesterday? FIVE. And thats not even counting the additional tweets congratulating himself on his successful trip abroad, which was successful only in the sense that the worlds NATO leaders resisted the urge to pin him down and smother him with a pillow. The country has seen a startling spike in hate crimes since Trump took office, with the Southern Poverty Law Center tracking more than 900 hate and bias incidents in the immediate aftermath of the election. The reason for this is clear: Hate and bigotry have taken up residence in the White House, emboldening extremists to vocalize and, in some cases, act on their beliefs in the form of violence. As Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the SPLC and editor of its quarterly Intelligence Report, told The Independent: Trumps run for office electrified the radical right, which saw in him a champion of the idea that America is fundamentally a white mans country, said Mr Potok, citing as part of the problem the appointment to senior posts of retired general Mike Flynn, who has described Islam as a malignant cancer and tweeted that [f]ear of Muslims is RATIONAL, and Mike Pompeo who is close to some of the countrys most rabid anti-Muslim extremists. Even if Trump isnt personally to blame for the surge in hate crimes, his silence on Portland speaks volumes about just how concerned he is about curbing similar acts in the future. And why forcefully denounce white supremacy when a tepid call for prayer will do? After all, those white supremacists make up an important part of his base. It would be a pity to piss them off. But not everyone agrees that these faint overtures of sympathy are a disingenuous waste of time. On Sunday, former CBS News anchor Dan Rather took to Facebook to implore Trump to acknowledge the slaying of Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and Ricky John Best, the two men who were stabbed to death while attempting to stop Jeremy Joseph Christian from berating two Muslim women. Rather wrote: I do not blame you directly for this incident. Nor do I think other people should. But what a President says, who he has around him, and the tone he sets can set the tone for the nation at large. Perhaps Portland, Oregon is off your radar. It is, after all, a rather liberal place. Its even a sanctuary city. But it is still an American city. And you are its President. Two Americans have died leaving family and friends behind. They are mourned by millions more who are also deeply worried about what might come next. I hope you can find it worthy of your time to take notice. And indeed, Trump decried the killings, sort of. He made his tweet; he performed his presidential duty. Is Rather satisfied? Probably not. Because what Rather is really asking for isnt a mere acknowledgement of the victims and their families. Hes asking Trump to renounce who he is, to mutate his entire personhood into someone genuinely intent on snuffing out hatred. This culture of violence, this radical intolerance which every day seems to gain strength, isnt possible to absolve with a tweet. Its an ethos embodied not just by Trump, but everyone with whom hes surrounded himself. How can Trump, even for a tweet, pretend to condemn Christians actions when he exudes intolerance every day? For every jejune call for unity and peace, Trump lets rip a dozen angry outbursts; fiery recriminations condemning everyone from Muslims to Mexicans to the Fake Media. Trump doesnt find the incident in Portland unacceptable. The truth is, he doesnt care. What good does it to do pretend that he does? While the victims families and the nation mourn another two lives lost to hatred, the best thing for Trump to do now, just this once, is stay quiet.

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June 1, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

The Portland stabbing is the latest in a wave of racist attacks across America – Vox

Three strangers saved her and her friends life and two of them died in doing so. On Friday, 16-year-old Destinee Mangum and her 17-year-old Muslim friend, who was wearing a hijab, were on a Portland, Oregon, light-rail train when a man now identified as 35-year-old Jeremy Joseph Christian yelled what police described as hate speech toward a variety of ethnicities and religions. Mangum and her friend moved away from the man, fearing for their lives. Strangers intervened, telling the man he couldnt disrespect the girls like that. What started as an argument suddenly turned violent, however, as Christian allegedly began stabbing people. Ricky John Best, a 53-year-old military veteran, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, a 23-year-old who graduated from Reed College last year, died as a result of their wounds. Micah Fletcher, 21, is being treated at a hospital after he was seriously injured, according to CNN. In an interview with local news station Fox 12, Mangums mother, Dyjuana Hudson, thanked the people who protected her daughter. I want to say thank you so much, she said. I couldnt imagine what youre going through right now as far as losing someone. Christian, meanwhile, was caught after several people chased after him and called 911, directing police to him. Hes charged with two counts of aggravated murder and one count of attempted murder. Its unclear if Christian will be charged with a hate crime, but he has a history of racist actions. Police said he went on a racist tirade on a train the day before the attack, but nothing was done about that incident. On his Facebook page, he appeared to support Nazis and Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, according to CBS News. The attack is particularly awful as it comes during the beginning of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month. More broadly, its just the latest act in what seems like a wave of hate crimes following President Donald Trumps election in November. Trump condemned the Portland attack on Twitter, but his racist, Islamophobic, and anti-immigrant rhetoric on the campaign trail has been widely criticized as a reason for a potential uptick in such bigoted acts. Earlier in May, Sean Urbanski, whos white, stabbed and killed Richard Collins, whos black, at the University of Maryland. And before that, there were reports of mosques being burned, violent attacks against Indians, and a drive-by shooting at the Tulsa, Oklahoma, headquarters for the LGBTQ organization Oklahomans for Equality. Not all of these attacks have been verified as acts motivated by bigotry or directly linked to Trump, but theyre certainly a cause for alarm. So is America experiencing a rise in hateful attacks? The unsettling truth is we just dont know in large part because the US does such a bad job tracking hate crimes nationally that its hard to find any good statistics to compare the current figures to. But the numbers we do have suggest that certain groups, particularly Muslims, have faced more hate in the past several years. The latest report from the FBI found that there was a 7 percent rise in reported hate crimes in 2015, driven in large part by a 67 percent rise in reported hate crimes against Muslims. That certainly seems to suggest that there has been an increase. But the FBI data isnt very good. For one, the FBI relies on voluntary reports from police departments. So police departments might not report their data on hate crimes which manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, gender and gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity to the FBI. (A 2016 Associated Press investigation found this is common.) Worse, police departments themselves may not track hate crimes at all, or victims may not report the crimes to the police, leaving departments in the dark. You cannot tell if hate crimes are going up year over year from the FBI reports, Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the civil rights group Southern Poverty Law Center, previously told me. It is not possible. Consider one statistic: Over the past two decades, the FBI reported between 6,000 and 10,000 hate crime incidents each year in the US. But when the US Bureau of Justice Statistics surveyed a large segment of the population between 2007 and 2011 to try to gauge what the real number of hate crimes is, it concluded that there are nearly 260,000 annually. This means that the FBI is potentially undercounting hate crimes by a magnitude of more than 40 times. If there are 10,000 hate crimes a year, thats a lot, but perhaps its not a major social problem in a country of 320 million people, Potok said. If on the other hand there are a quarter million or even 300,000 hate crimes a year, it begins to look different. It begins to look like maybe we need to take this seriously as a society and put serious resources toward it. The Bureau of Justice Statistics also found that only 35 percent of hate crimes are ultimately reported to the police, meaning that cops are unaware of roughly two-thirds of hate crimes in their communities. There are some problems with the BJS data. For one, it relies solely on victims reports of offenses against them, so the reports arent fully verified. It also only counts nonfatal hate crimes, since victims of fatalities obviously cant report a crime. So its likely overestimating some hate crimes and underestimating others. But the BJS also doesnt do its hate crime report every year leaving it solely to the FBI to find out and report whats happening on an annual basis. Potok said its probably possible to draw some inferences from within the FBI data. For example, since the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes rose by so much in proportion to all hate crimes, there probably is something going on there. But its hard to say what the exact depth of the problem is without more accurate figures. This, obviously, presents a big hurdle to preventing hate crimes. The first thing you need to know to fix a problem is what, exactly, the problem is. We dont even know for sure, at least on a yearly basis, how many hate crimes there are in America. But we also dont know where the attacks are happening or whos targeted. At the very least, it seems like getting the Bureau of Justice Statistics to conduct its report on hate crimes annually, much like it does for crime overall, would be a good start. But it also seems like this is something police departments should take more seriously, in terms of both seeking out and preventing potential hate crimes in their communities and reporting what they find to the FBI. Even when a victim does report a hate crime, it can be fairly difficult for police and prosecutors to prove the charges. The first big question is whether your state actually has a hate crime law. The federal government has a hate crime law that bans crimes based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, but some places dont have such laws at the state level. That presents a major challenge: While the federal government will take on some of these cases, it doesnt have the resources to enforce its law against all hate crimes nationwide so a gap in state laws means some hate crimes will go unpunished. If a state does have a hate crime law or federal law enforcement gets involved in a case, the important thing here is that someone must commit an actual crime to be charged with a hate crime. That crime can then be elevated to a hate crime if theres enough evidence to suggest that the motive for the act was hate. But if no crime was committed in the course of someone doing something hateful, its a hateful act, but not a hate crime. It could be an act of trespassing or vandalism. It could be a violent crime, like rape or murder, Jack Levin, an expert on hate crimes at Northeastern University, previously told me. But when the motive involves targeting someone because of a difference, then it becomes a hate crime. An example: A man walks into a lesbian bar and attacks one of the women there. This attack would be considered assault and battery, maybe even attempted murder, under the law. But would it be a hate crime? For a prosecutor and police officers, there would be several factors to consider before going after the perpetrator on hate crime charges: Did the attacker yell anti-gay or sexist slurs, or otherwise say anything explicitly anti-gay or sexist? Does the attacker have a history, perhaps on social media or in other writings, of homophobia or sexism? Did the attacker purposely target a lesbian bar, or was the location irrelevant to his actions? Investigators would piece all of this together, building up evidence to decide if theres enough to meet standards of proof for a hate crime charge and conviction. Theres no hard rule here, and whether something is deemed a hate crime can vary from officer to officer, prosecutor to prosecutor, judge to judge, or jury to jury. But generally, once theres a certain threshold of evidence that the attack was motivated by hate, an otherwise run-of-the-mill crime can become a hate crime. Now, if a man walked by a lesbian bar and simply yelled anti-gay slurs but didnt attack anyone, that wouldnt qualify as a hate crime. His speech, as reprehensible as it may be, would be protected by the Constitution. Until he commits an actual crime, his act cant be additionally prosecuted as a hate crime. The idea, essentially, is to take extraordinary steps against crimes that can go much further than harming individual victims. If someone assaults me because they want my money, its going to affect me, its going to affect my wife, its going to affect my family, Toni Bisconti, a University of Akron professor who studies hate crimes, previously told me. But if someone assaults me because they know Im gay, then all of a sudden its going to affect people that dont even know me. They have no idea who I am. Im just the conduit to gay people [in that situation]. The focus on motives in these cases can get into some legally and philosophically murky territory: Does focusing so much on whats in a criminals mind allow the government to regulate a persons free speech and expression? Bisconti acknowledged that such a concern has some merit. Although she said she probably comes down in support of hate crime laws, she acknowledged, Im not sure its right to legislate someones brain. Jeannine Bell, a scholar on hate crimes at Indiana Universitys Maurer School of Law, took a different view, arguing that its not really about a persons speech or ideas but the persons actions. Its not just that you dislike people of my background. Youre entirely free to dislike people of my background. Its not that you tell me that you dont like me. Again, entirely free to do that, Bell said. Its that you selected me for some sort of criminal action because of my background. Whatever ones view on this debate, the central focus of hate crimes what elevates them above other crimes is the criminals motive. But do hate crime laws actually deter hateful acts? Every hate crime expert I spoke to agreed that hate crime laws probably dont deter any crimes. And they said theres no good research settling this question one way or the other. I dont think that perpetrators think about whether theyre going to commit a hate crime, look to see whether theres a law that can be punished, and then dont commit the hate crime when they learn it could be punished, Bell said. That doesnt make sense to me. But to my surprise, experts said it doesnt matter if hate crime laws actually deter crime. For one, hate crime laws do more than just enhance criminal penalties for committing otherwise typical criminal acts. They often devote funds to police departments so they can, for example, set up an LGBTQ liaison who works closely with the community to ensure people feel safe. They also label these acts as a very specific kind of vile crime, encouraging law enforcement to take the issue more seriously. By making it a hate crime, you call attention to it in the minds of police [and] in the minds of prosecutors, Bell said. She said, for instance, that most hate crimes are low-level the kinds of crimes that police and prosecutors may not pay attention to. But once these low-level acts are defined as hate crimes, then they get attention. Shutterstock Bisconti agreed: Hate crime legislation allowed groups that dont feel safe with police officers to come forward, and for police officers to understand that this really is a group thats targeted. More broadly, hate crime laws also send societal signals against hate. Hate crimes are, experts said, message crimes against certain groups of people. Hate crime laws act as a countermessage to that bigotry. Hate crime laws have important symbolic meaning, Levin said. Hate crimes are message crimes that is, they send a message not only to the primary victim but to every member of this group. He added, Thats the kind of message that has to be counteracted. And I think hate crime laws do that. They send a message to two groups: They send it to the perpetrator, informing him that our community will not tolerate his intolerance. And then at the same time, they send a message to potential victims that they are welcome in our community. To the extent that hate crime laws increase prison sentences, some of the experts I spoke to didnt see much of the value in the enhanced penalties. Levin, for one, cited the empirical evidence against expanding prison sentences. The research suggests that severity of punishment doesnt do much to prevent crime. As the National Institute of Justice concluded in 2016, Research shows clearly that the chance of being caught is a vastly more effective deterrent than even draconian punishment. Research has found evidence that prison can exacerbate, not reduce, recidivism. Prisons themselves may be schools for learning to commit crimes. In other words, more certainty of punishment can deter crime, while more severity through longer prison sentences can actually make crime worse. Generally, though, experts said that hate crimes serve a purpose even if they dont do much to actually deter crime by giving marginalized communities resources to fight back and sending a message to criminals that bigotry isnt accepted. Following the Portland attack and Trumps election, some communities are finding those protections, however limited, more necessary.

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June 1, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

Home [markpotok.net]

No one understands or has more experience in the rise of domestic hate groups in America than Mark. He gave this under reported and critical issue the public scrutiny it so richly deserved. Joseph J. Levin, Jr., Co-Founder, Southern Poverty Law Center Mark Potok is one of the most powerful speakers in the country on the dangers of hate.When Mark speaks, the audience is riveted.If knowledge is power, Mark Potok’s speeches provide a jolt of it, giving people a deep understanding of what were up against as hate groups thrive in these perilous times. Patrice O’Neill, Founder/Executive Producer, Not In Our Town There is no one more knowledgeable about hate and extremist groups in the United States than Mr. Potok, who has spent the last 20 years investigating organized groups that promote andperpetrate acts of domestic terrorism and hate crimes, and propagate ideologies that fuel these horrific acts.Mr. Potoks speech powerfully engaged an auditorium of 500 people, reminding us of the fierce urgency to address these challenges in our own time. Christine M. Robinson, Ph.D., Professor of Justice Studies, James Madison University An advocacy journalist with a martini-dry disposition, [Potok] moves with the disciplined focus of a detective and never passes an opportunity to reveal uncomfortable truths about societys well-armed underbelly.His passionate acceptance speech [for the Utne Readers selection of the Intelligence Report as best investigative magazine in America], vigilantly steeped in mission, was the evenings highlight. David Schimke, Editors Note, Editor in Chief, Utne Reader Mark Potok is a dynamic, well-informed, engaging and energetic speaker. I still vividly recall Marks keynote speech. The audience was captivated by the drama of the stories he related from his rich personal experience and the work of the Southern Poverty Law Center. The crowd was riveted, fully attentive, eager to catch every word. Mark also received outstanding reviews from U.S. Department of State international visitors from Russia to Rwanda to Saudi Arabia to France, Ukraine, India, Indonesia, Turkey, and many more. Luba Cehelska, former Executive Director, International Services Council of Huntsville/Madison County, Ala. Mark Potok is one of the nations leading experts on the radical right and has a long record of handling public appearances and live TV interviews like a pro. He clearly and concisely explains the history, philosophies, and connections between various extremist groups and their leaders in a way thats easily understandable and frightening as well. Bill Morlin, an award-winning journalist known nationally for his more than 40 years of reporting on radical right in the Pacific Northwest “[Mark Potok] transformed the publication [Intelligence Report] into America’s definitive periodical on hate and extremism. … [He has a] reputation as the preeminent editorial commentator who follows the American radical right.” Dominic Pulera,White Males in Multicultural America(2004) Mark Potok has never failed to impress the international audience with his broad knowledge of hate groups, his analytical skills and his captivating speaking style. With his more than 20-year experience in monitoring, analyzing, writing and speaking on hate groups, hate crimes, radical ideology, bigotry, right-wing terrorism, or conspiracy theories, Mark Potok is the best speaker you can find anywhere in this field. Professor Thomas Grumke, Professor of Political Science and Sociology, University of Applied Sciences for Public Administration of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany As an SPLC staff member and a member of our transatlantic expert network, Mark joined our annual workshop meetings in Europe and the U.S. and contributed to public events in Warsaw, Budapest, and Washington,D.C., hosted by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung [Foundation]. Mark is an excellent speaker and panelist and without any doubt one of the leading international experts on the radical right with a wide knowledge of hate groups, right-wing terrorism, conspiracy theories, and the American radical right in particular. Ralf Melzer, Head, Project on Combating Right-Wing Extremism, Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Berlin, Germany

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May 15, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

Anti-Semitism and the myth of misbehaving teenagers – St. Louis … – St. Louis Jewish Light

The vandalism at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City in February took place just a mile from our home. And yet, it seemed so distant, both in time and place. The destruction of Jewish headstones and gravestones evoked thoughts of the Eastern Europe that my ancestors fled many generations ago; not present-day St. Louis.Being Jewish and observing Jewish holidays and traditions, I understand the disease of anti-Semitism that has followed and pursued the Jewish people across generations and geographies.But this understanding was always from a historical perspective, rather than from a first-hand experience. To my knowledge, I never experienced anti-Semitism, first-hand.I never felt targeted or mistreated for being Jewish.Among my friends and community members, being Jewish was a part of my identity, but it was not a foundation for fear.This was the United States after all: a melting-pot of religious, ethnic and racial diversity. In other words, the spate of recent attacks and threats against Jewish institutions is something that I have not seen in my lifetime.And I do not seem alone.Other community members, reflecting on decades of history, cannot recall a similar outbreak of anti-Semitic threats and vandalism. Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, echoed these sentiments, stating that he had not seen anything like this in his more than 20 years at the organization. After the vandalism at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia and Rochester were targeted. After the vandalism at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, 31 bomb threats were called into various Jewish community centers around the country, although a 19-year old Israeli-American is suspected of being behind the bulk of the threats. The Anti-Defamation League recently reported that anti-Semitic incidents in the United States rose by more than one-third in 2016. The organizations annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, released in late April, reported a total of 1,266 incidents (including assaults, vandalism and harassment) during 2016. Almost a third of those occurred in November and December. All of this is, quite obviously, deeply troubling and upsetting. But the ease with which a few individuals, using various technologies, can anonymously telephone and target institutions makes these threats at least comprehensible. There will always be the intolerant and hateful. They have always lived among us and always will. This is unfortunate, but it is, all the same, understandable. What I cannot understand, however, is the utter reluctance of some when repeatedly confronted with such acts of intolerance and hate to dismiss and downplay these acts. After each cemetery was vandalized, the skeptics arose, calling for patience, calling for deliberation. This may not be anti-Semitism. This may not be a hate crime. This could just be teenagers.This could just be youthful indiscretion and intoxication. This could even be a false-flag attack. In the face of three, successive cemetery attacks and dozens of bomb threats, these arguments are specious at best. But more troubling than the merits of these arguments is the message that it sends to the Jewish community. The message being one of disinterest and abandonment. Absent an arrest, we dont believe you. Call us when there is a confession. This is not community. Faced with a rash of burglaries, a neighbor does not tell a victimized homeowner that, just maybe, movers emptied the wrong house. Or accuse the homeowner of insurance fraud. The burden of brotherhood should not be so heavy. These crimes are difficult to solve and, at last glance, investigators had nothing new to report. It is possible, then, that the individuals behind these crimes may never be discovered or caught. But that does not erase what happened. And in the absence of any arrest or confession, it is that much more important to destroy the myth of some misbehaving adolescent. This is all the more so because vandalism against Jewish cemeteries has long been one of the principal arrows in the anti-Semitic quiver. Barring an arrest in the case, those who cling to the notion of innocent unruliness are themselves guilty of perpetuating a dangerous myth. Charles N. Insler is an attorney and resident of University City.

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May 12, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

Attacks on LGBT Texans are everywhere. Here’s what you can do. – Houston Chronicle

Photo: Rogelio V. Solis, STF Two dozen anti-gay bills have been filed thus far, seeking to discriminate against LGBT Texans in every sphere, from health care to public accommodation to employment. Two dozen anti-gay bills have been filed thus far, seeking to… The message that greeted travelers last week at the bus stop near Montrose and Westheimer was blunt and brutal: “FOLLOW YOUR FELLOW FAGGOTS.” The homemade poster plastered on the wall of the shelter also featured an image of a lynched man hanging by his neck from a noose, a rainbow butterfly emblazoned on his chest, with his feet dangling below him. Underneath the incendiary headline, the poster listed several statistics on LGBT suicide rates, which trend significantly higher than those for heterosexuals. The poster contained a logo at the bottom, branding it as the work of “Fascist Solutions.” A Metro rider told OutSmart Magazine he spotted this anti-gay flier affixed toabusshelter at Westheimerand Stanford in Montrose. A Metro rider told OutSmart Magazine he spotted this anti-gay flier… It could only be interpreted as an exhortation for LGBT people to take their own lives. And as shocking as the image and language might be, they are entirely consistent with the wave of homophobic legislation surging through the current session of the Texas legislature. TWO DOZEN anti-gay bills have been filed thus far, seeking to discriminate against LGBT Texans in every sphere, from health care to public accommodation to employment. To read this article in one of Houston’s most-spoken languages, click on the button below. Get Gray Matters sent to your inbox. Sign up now! The most infamous, Senate Bill 6, seeks to police the restrooms that transgender Texans use, effectively barring them from public spaces. Senate Republicans have been relentless in their pursuit of this legislation, despite the fact that it is vigorously opposed by the Texas Association of Business, the state’s leading business lobby, and that it could cost the state $3 billion in tourism revenues. When questioned by a fellow legislator about the number of public safety incidents involving transgender individuals, the bill’s champion, State Senator Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), was forced to admit that there were none. The Lone Star State’s child welfare system is in crisis, and it desperately needs more foster parents to care for the 22,000 children in the system. Yet HB 3859 would allow faith-based service providers to discriminate against loving LGBT families, preventing them from serving as foster parents. (The bill would also permit providers to refuse to provide services to LGBT foster children.) And Senate Bill 522 would empower county clerks to refuse to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a clear violation of the equal protection clause. The lege is lurching toward the home stretch. Because they have been unable to pass standalone bills, lawmakers have been begun to hijack unrelated legislation by loading it down with “religious refusal” amendments. These legislative last gasps provide a dubious fig leaf to cover discrimination, premised on the misguided concept that “religious liberty” allows individuals to pick and choose which laws that they will obey. AND IN this pitched cultural war being played out on streets of Montrose and in the Texas legislature, transgender Texans have emerged as special targets for vilification. At a public hearing on Senate Bill 6, the first dozen speakers invited by legislators to testify in support included two organizations classified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center: Concerned Women for America and the Family Research Council. The testimony of those speaking in favor of the bill attacked and demeaned the humanity of transgender Texans. “Listening to elected officials and others tell trans folks that we are less than and that we don’t deserve the same equality as our peers, as our community members, takes a devastating toll on trans Texans,” observes transgender activist Lou Weaver of Houston. “Listening to elected officials and others tell trans folks that we are less than and that we don’t deserve the same equality as our peers, as our community members, takes a devastating toll on trans Texans,” says activistLou Weaver. “Listening to elected officials and others tell trans folks that we… “When our trans students hear that they are not the same as their peers, that their peers should be afraid of them, that they should not be allowed in the same spaces, that takes a psychological toll on them. That affects how they do in school, and that affects their future.” “When they call us men in dresses, when they accuse us of being predators, molesters or rapists, and they are not stopped, it hurts,” observes Meghan Stabler, a transgender leader in Austin who serves on the national board of The Human Rights Campaign. “We know who we are, and why. Unless you are trans, you cannot know the journey or struggle. We just ask that others use civility to see us, and not chide us, or bully us, or kill us.” Such rhetoric can also lead directly to violence and death. In February, Chyna Doll Dupree Gibson, a popular Houston performer in Montrose clubs, was shot 10 times and left to die in the parking lot of a strip mall in New Orleans. Eight transgender Americans have been murdered this year. Last year was the deadliest on record, with 27 transgender American being murdered, the majority of whom were people of color. An ominous wind is blowing through the Lone Star State, and it doesn’t disquiet only the LGBT community. AT THE end of April, the Anti-Defamation League released a report showing that hate incidents have jumped 50 percent this year in the southern part of Texas. They cited a “disturbing trend” that included swastikas, Nazi salutes and bomb threats. Nationwide, the ADL has tracked an 86 percent increase in hate incidents in 2017. In the 34 days following the presidential election, the SPLC tracked 1,094 hate incidents. The largest number of incidents occurred the day after the election, and 37 percent of them directly referenced Trump, his campaign slogans or his infamous remarks about sexual assault. “The campaign language of the man who would become president sparks hate violence, both before and after the election,” observed SPLC senior fellow Mark Potok. With his vilification of Mexican immigrants as drug dealers and rapists, his denigration of women and their appearances, his retweets of white supremacist messages (including one that falsely claimed that black people were responsible for 80 percent of the murders of whites), his promises to block Muslims from entering the country and his encouragement of his supporters in beating up black protesters at his rallies, Trump provided an extraordinary platform for this type of hate speech. As the standard bearer of a major political party who received wall-to-wall media coverage, he normalized this vicious rhetoric, emboldening extremists to come forward with the kind of hate speech seen on the poster at the Montrose bus stop. In the Age of Trump, there are still some elected officials who provide inspiration with their examples of courage, integrity and leadership. Prior to the beginning of this legislative session, State Senator Sylvia Garcia vowed to “fight like hell” to keep anti-transgender legislation from passing. She’s lived up to her word, displaying a gutsiness and tenacity that would have made Ann Richard proud. WHEN FACING the current tsunami of discriminatory legislation and hate speech, LGBT Texans and people of conscience everywhere must take heart from the example of leaders like Senator Garcia. We must step boldly forward and make the time to do the following: 1) Call your member of the Texas House of Representatives and encourage him or her to vote against HB 2899, the house’s version of the anti-transgender bill, which would also remove protections for the elderly and veterans; and HB3859, which would allow discrimination in child welfare services. 2) Educate yourself at the website of the advocacy group Equality Texas. Sign their pledge to work for a Texas in which all people are treated with dignity and respect and receive legislative alerts when anti-LGBT legislation is coming up for a vote. 3) Join the Texas Freedom Network, a stalwart grassroots organization that has been indefatigable in shining a powerful spotlight on the pernicious effects of legislation discriminating against the LGBT community. They have also assembled a coalition of faith leaders from across the state who have powerfully testified that the concept of religious liberty cannot be perverted to serve as a cover for discrimination against queer Texans. Sign up for their daily email alerts on recent developments and the latest news articles about hot civil liberties topics. Andrew Edmonson has served as chair of the Houston Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and on the board of the American Marketing Association’s Houston chapter. Bookmark Gray Matters. It would have made Ann Richards proud.

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May 9, 2017   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed


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