Archive for the ‘Mark Potok’ Category

The new dynamics of protecting a president: Most threats against Obama issued online

(c) 2014, The Washington Post.

WASHINGTON More than 60 percent of the threats against President Barack Obama are made online, according to the Secret Service, posing a new set of challenges for an agency under fire for a series of critical security lapses.

Lawmakers and private security officials question whether the Secret Service has sufficiently adapted to a new social-media landscape in which it must sort through a blizzard of online references to the president, investigate those that raise flags and then reconcile them with the intelligence they are gathering on the ground.

“I don’t know if they’ve adapted to these new threats,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on national security. “The attacks are going to come, no matter what. Are there new and creative ways of detecting them? I’m not convinced they’ve tied those loops.”

Chaffetz noted that he was “pleasantly surprised” that in 2011 agents were able to pick up right away a tweet a D.C. woman had posted about a man shooting at the White House. But he questioned why that piece of evidence was not used to corroborate suspicions among several officers that shots had been fired. Instead, the agency forwarded the report to the U.S. Park Police for further investigation, and it would be four days before it was discovered that bullets had hit the White House.

“Why didn’t that show up in the system?” he asked about the tweet.

During Obama’s first run for the presidency, the issue of clearest concern was his race, which made him a magnet for threats from people who thought being African-American disqualified him from the office.

After nearly six years in the White House, the number of overtly racist threats have subsided, but the threats in general continue. Today, the dominant theme of grievance in threats against the president is government overreach, according to current and former Secret Service officials, as critics suggest Obama is abusing his power and trampling the Constitution.

Brian Leary, a spokesman for the Secret Service, said the agency has adjusted to the fact that 60 percent of threats now made against the president occur online. “The capability is there, and we have to evolve with technology as well,” he said, adding that the number of threats against Obama “did spike a few months after the election, but they declined back to a level that is consistent with his predecessors, and they still are.”

Other sources, who because of the sensitivity of the matter asked to not be identified, said the president still receives more threats than previous presidents, although the number is lower than in the immediate aftermath of his first election.

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The new dynamics of protecting a president: Most threats against Obama issued online

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October 9, 2014   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

Duo wage "comedy jihad" on controversial MTA ads

Dozens of anti-Islam ads are plastered across two high-traffic New York City subway stations and 100 buses, but Muslim comedians Negin Farsad and Dean Obeidallah are confident they’ll have the last laugh in the battle over Islam’s public image.

Comedians Negin Farsad (left) and Dean Obeidallah (right) use laughs as an offensive against anti-Islam rhetoric.

CBS News

“When we heard about these hateful ads, we were outraged and decided to do something about it, an ad campaign of our own,” Farsad told CBS News. Her on-and-off comedy partner Obeidallah added: “We want to make people look at the issue a little bit differently.”

In the 13 years since the 9/11 attacks, activists have been frustrated by numerous public attempts – Terry Jones’ Quran burning in 2010, legislative efforts in numerous states to ban Sharia law – to conflate Islam with atrocities committed by terrorist groups like al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. These new subway ads are no different, say Farsad and Obeidallah.

“If there was a fun and funny counter-message every time you saw something violent about Muslims, I think people wouldn’t be connecting Muslim Americans and terrorism,” said Farsad. “We want to keep creating a counter-narrative and meeting people so that we can change this.”

“We called the MTA, and apparently the minimum ad buy is $11,000, so that became our campaign goal.”

The pair launched a fundraising campaign using social media and their website “The Muslims Are Coming,” which is also the name of their docu-comedy that just came out on Netflix. It follows their Islam-themed stand-up tour across the South and Midwest, during which they hosted free shows and outreach events to inform communities about the variety of “normal” Muslims.

They say that their poster idea seemed a natural next step in their “comedy jihad.”

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Duo wage "comedy jihad" on controversial MTA ads

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October 4, 2014   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

White separatist group's card ends up in Greenville Co. man's mailbox

GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) –

A Greenville County man, who did not want to be identified, said he’s upset about a business card for a white separatist group that landed in his mailbox.

The card, from a group by the name of Northwest Front, said, “If white people had a country of our own, this wouldn’t be happening.”

The message has the Greenville County man wishing he could send it back. He said the card was in an envelope without a return address.

“It’s borderline disturbing knowing that there are people out there like that,” said the man.

The people behind the business card follow something called Northwest Front.

“The central part of our message is that white people are a group under threat. We are facing the genocide of our race,” said Harold Covington, Northwest Front spokesman.

Covington said he’s a white separatist who wants all white people to migrate to the Northwest Pacific to create a “white nation.”

“Our main message in South Carolina… and anywhere else that it’s spread, is that they need to come here,” Covington said.

Northwest Front claims there’s no hate behind its ideas, but the Southern Poverty Law Center said it has spent the last 30 years tracking hate groups, and names Northwest Front as one of 10 active “Hate Groups” in Washington State.

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October 4, 2014   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

Far-right birthers secret funders: Look whos backing Islamophobe Frank Gaffney

Frank Gaffney has emerged as one of the DC-beltways most outspoken critics of American Muslims, purveying conspiracy theories about the infiltration of the Muslim Brotherhood into the highest levels of the U.S. government and birther accusations about Barack Obamas eligibility to serve as president. But even while drawing criticism from civil rights organizations, Gaffney, who served as acting Assistant Secretary of Defense in 1987, has continued to find sources of funding for his organization, the Center for Security Policy, managing a budget of over $3.5 million in 2013.

Salon acquired a copy of the Center for Security Policys donor rolls, listing the organizations biggest donors. And while far from providing the lions share of funding, six of the U.S. biggest aerospace and defense contractors are supporters of Gaffneys organization.

The document, which details contributions to the Center for Security Policy during the 2013 tax year, includes donations from: Boeing ($25,000); General Dynamics ($15,000); Lockheed Martin ($15,000); Northrup Grumman ($5,000); Raytheon ($20,000); and General Electric ($5,000).

A number of institutional donors with a history of supporting Islamophobia, including the Lynde & Harry Bradley Foundation and the Sarah Scaife Foundation, are also contributors, but the aerospace industrys decision to support Gaffneys highly controversial work is unusual due to his reputation as a member of the fringe, anti-Muslim far-right.

Gaffney, who serves as president of the Center for Security Policy, emerged as one of the most high-profile propagators of conspiracy theories about Obamas country of birth and his alleged agenda to undermine the U.S. government. In a 2008 Washington Times column, titled: The Jihadist Vote, Gaffney questioned whether Mr. Obama is a natural born citizen of the United States, a prerequisite pursuant to the U.S. Constitution and postulated that there is evidence he was born in Kenya rather than, as he claims, Hawaii.

And Gaffneys assertions become even more extreme when he discusses the influence of a subversive Muslim agenda within the U.S. In a 2010 column for Breitbart.com, Gaffney argued that the Missile Defense Agency logo appears ominously to reflect a morphing of the Islamic crescent and star with the Obama campaign logo and is part of a worrying pattern of official U.S. submission to Islam.

Gaffney has even gone as far as to suggest that a House committee, based on Sen. Joseph McCarthys House Committee on Un-American Activities, should be formed to investigate the Muslim Brotherhoods alleged infiltration of the U.S. government. So pervasive now is the MBs [Muslim Brotherhoods] civilization jihad within the U.S. government and civil institutions that a serious, sustained and rigorous investigation of the phenomenon by the legislative branch is in order, wrote Gaffney in 2011.To that end, we need to establish a new and improved counterpart to the Cold War-eras HUAC [House Un-American Activities Committee] and charge it with examining and rooting out anti-American and anti-constitutional activities that constitute an even more insidious peril than those pursued by communist Fifth Columnists fifty years ago.

Since 2011, Gaffney has repeatedly claimed that Huma Abedin an aide to Hillary Clinton during her tenure as Secretary of State was a Muslim Brotherhood operative, a charge so outlandish that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) all condemned it. These comments and others led civil rights organizations to denounce Gaffneys demonization of American Muslims.

Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center toldSalon, I cannot imagine why any legitimate business would fund a man like Frank Gaffney. The man is a propagandist and a defamer of perfectly innocent people. Its shocking that any business would give this man money.

And the Anti-Defamation League characterizes the Center for Security Policy as a neo-conservative think tank that has pioneered the anti-Shariah hysteria by publishing materials regarding the threat of an Islamic takeover of the U.S.

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Far-right birthers secret funders: Look whos backing Islamophobe Frank Gaffney

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Mark Potok | Watching the Watchdogs

Recently, we discovered an extensive interview on the Internet Archive with the Southern Poverty Law Centers public relations chief, Mark Potok, in which he discusses the origins of the SPLC, its mission and its tactics. You can find the audio files to the interview here.

Wed like to highlight some of Mr. Potoks more interesting comments, but, as always, we remind the reader to not simply take our word for it. Any time you select excerpts from a larger work you run the risk of cherry-picking, or taking things out of context, and were certainly not professional transcriptionists here at Watching the Watchdogs. Listen to the interview and come to your own conclusions.

As to the origins of the interview, it was recorded and posted on the Internet Archive by Bill Holiday, a high school teacher from Vermont. A number of students, and at least one other teacher, are asking Mr. Potok questions about his work. The interview apparently takes place at the SPLCs Montgomery headquarters, and several references in the conversation seem to date it to the first half of 2008.

In Track One, Mr. Potok explains the origins of the name of the organization:

In the 70s poverty law was actually the phrase it was a phrase used that just applied to essentially civil rights law to kind of human rights legal actions.

I know a couple years ago there was a big discussion internally [at the SPLC], Should we change our name to something else? People think, you know, that its all about, sort of, defending poor people, and thats not really, exactly what our mission is. By that time, people knew the name so well that, you know, we made, I think, the obviously right decision not to change the name.

People think, you know, that its all about, sort of, defending poor people, and thats not really, exactly what our mission is. Interesting. One wonders how many donors are under the impression that a poverty law center might actually be in the business of defending poor people, no? Why change the name just because the mission changed? You dont just toss out a multimillion dollar brand name for the sake of accuracy. More on this to follow.

Track Two includes an astonishingly candid assessment of how some critics view the SPLC:

I think a lot of people feel, Oh, groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, they find, you know, the two hundred Nazis running around the country, they build them up into great big groups, they make a big deal about it and then ask for your money, right? In other words, its kind of a scam. You hype up this little tiny threat into something scary, uh, and then go and try to make money off of it.

Well, Mr. Potok, you took the words right out of our mouth. Since 2009, Watching the Watchdogs has been documenting exactly this kind of behavior by the SPLC, and you have summed things up nicely. We have reported numerous times on the fact that there is no legal definition of hate group, and that you pretty much make them up as you go along.

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Mark Potok | Watching the Watchdogs

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Doris Kearns Goodwin, Karl Rove Among Authors Leading Discussions

CT Teacher Doubles as Children’s Book Author

Kristin Callinan , Mommy Minute

Column | Jun 12, 2014 | 4:51 AM

Her students made her dreams of becoming an author come true! Sheila Murphy Adams is a 5th grade teacher at Pawcatuck Middle School.”I have always loved to write,” she says”when I became a teacher, Iused a lot of my rhyming skills toteach…

By John Adamian

Story | Nov 26, 2013 | 8:35 AM

Terry Teachout lives in New York City, but spends a chunk of every year in Connecticut, as he told the Advocate during a recent phone interview from Washington DC, where Teachout was doing press for his new book and preparing to review some of the fall…

By Alison Geisler

Story | Feb 7, 2014 | 11:02 AM

You’d be hard pressed to find a someone unfamiliar with some aspect of Henry Winkler’s career, be it his legendary time as the Fonz on “Happy Days” or as inept attorney Barry Zuckerkorn on “Arrested Development.” He’s since added children’s book author to…

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September 12, 2014   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

W. Golf. Gamecock Golf Announces Agreement with The Members Club at Woodcreek & WildeWood

Sept. 10, 2014

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina men’s and women’s golf programs have reached a long-term agreement with The Members Club at Woodcreek & WildeWood to make it a home course of the Gamecocks, South Carolina and The Members Club announced Wednesday.

The Members Club at Woodcreek & WildeWood joins Cobblestone Park as the official home courses for the Gamecock golf programs. The agreement gives South Carolina’s golfers and coaches full practice and playing privileges, allowing the teams to use both the Woodcreek and WildeWood golf courses, practice facilities and use of a portion of the pro shop as a meeting room and player lounge.

With the addition of The Members Club at Woodcreek & WildeWood, the South Carolina golf programs now call two of the premier clubs in South Carolina home. The Members Club was named the 2012 Club of the Year by the South Carolina Golf Association, while Cobblestone Park was recently named one of the 30 best courses you can play in South Carolina by the South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel.

The Members Club at Woodcreek & WildeWood – Woodcreek Course has a spacious 10-acre practice range with dual tees and a 6,000 square foot practice putting green. Currently, plans are being reviewed for an additional two-acre scoring game facility. The Woodcreek course was designed by world renowned golf course designer Tom Fazio and features a par-72, 7,022-yard layout from the back tees. The WildeWood course was designed by Russell Breeden and plays at par-72, 6,751 yards from the back tees.

What They Are Saying About The Members Club at Woodcreek & WildeWood South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner “The addition of the prestigious Members Club at Woodcreek & WildeWood is another major step in providing our student-athletes with the finest facilities in the country. The two outstanding layouts, impressive practice facilities and enthusiastic membership greatly enhance our quest to be the very best. Many thanks to Members Club officials Charley Potok, Bill McDougall, Mark Black and many others who made this possible.”

South Carolina Director of Golf Development/Facilities and Associate Head Women’s Golf Coach Puggy Blackmon “We are ecstatic about The Members Club at Woodcreek & WildeWood joining Cobblestone as dual home clubs of the Gamecocks. The two Tom Fazio and Russell Breeden layouts plus their impressive practice facilities provide our teams with a wide array of opportunities to become the very best.”

South Carolina Men’s Golf Coach Bill McDonald “The addition of The Members Club at Woodcreek & WildeWood to our home facilities will most certainly help elevate our golf programs. The relationship we have developed over the past couple of years has already paid dividends, and our players enjoy the opportunity to play and practice at Woodcreek & WildeWood. Having The Members Club at Woodcreek & WildeWood as a home facility goes a long way toward helping us achieve our goals, both with our current teams and our recruits.”

South Carolina Women’s Golf Coach Kalen Harris “Adding The Members Club as a home facility of Gamecock golf is an incredible opportunity. Our student-athletes have access to developing their skills at a premier private facility. From a recruiting perspective, our partnership is already proving to be beneficial. I am extremely excited for our student-athletes and coaching staff as well as appreciative of this opportunity provided by The Members Club and Gamecock athletics.”

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W. Golf. Gamecock Golf Announces Agreement with The Members Club at Woodcreek & WildeWood

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Hate groups prompt push for Burlco commission

A white segregationist group that calls itself the Advanced White Society lists its national headquarters as Birmingham, N.J., a woodsy, little-known hamlet on the edge of Pemberton Township.

The Burlington County community had 33 residents, including one African American and one Latino, in 2010, according to a U.S. Census report. It has its own post office and is also home to a chemical plant and a cabinetmaking business. The Fort Dix military base is several miles down the road.

The Advanced White Society is one of five active hate groups in Burlington County, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama group that monitors such organizations nationwide. Quietly established two years ago by former neo-Nazi Jason Hiecke, it drew public attention when it distributed thousands of hate-literature fliers to homes in Lumberton, Medford, Mount Holly, Bordentown, and a few other communities in the fall. The antiblack, anti-Semitic, and antigay literature sparked an outcry among local and county officials.

Previously a top-ranking officer in the National Socialist Movement, the country’s largest neo-Nazi group, Hiecke said in an interview last week he planned to resume delivering fliers to houses soon. “A two-person crew can do 2,500 fliers in about two hours, but you have to be organized,” he said. He also plans a “meet and greet” barbecue at his house Sunday to welcome “whites only” who favor separation of the races.

In recent months, Burlington County Freeholder Joanne Schwartz has pushed for the establishment of a human relations commission to learn more about Hiecke’s group and other hate groups in the area. “The commission can do a whole investigation and bring to light that this guy is around here. Now it’s operating under the cloak of secrecy. . . . If he’s a threat, we need to know that and what we can do,” she said.

The Burlington County prosecutor’s spokesman said hate-group activities were monitored “as necessary.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center ranks New Jersey fourth in the nation in the number of active hate groups, trailing only California, Florida, and Georgia. There are 44 groups, including the Atlantic City Skins, a skinhead group mostly rooted in the Shore area, but more recently spreading to suburbs such as Marlton and Browns Mills.

Mark Potok, editor of the law center’s Intelligence Report, said little was known about the Advanced White Society, the newest hate group in South Jersey, other than what was reported on its website and in media accounts. Its first hate-mail distribution was held in 2012 in an African American neighborhood in Sicklerville, Camden County, Potok said.

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Hate groups prompt push for Burlco commission

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Is Polar Bear on ice as alleged fellow skinheads face prosecution in 1998 slayings?

Lori Cain / Sun File Photo

John Butler reacts as the prosecution makes its opening statement in his penalty hearing at the Clark County Courthouse on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2001. Butler was convicted of murdering Daniel Shersty, 20, and Lin Newborn, 25, on July 4,1998.

By Bethany Barnes (contact)

Published Thursday, May 15, 2014 | 2 a.m.

Updated Thursday, May 15, 2014 | 9:35 a.m.

The public is quietly being kept in the dark about the whereabouts of the neo-Nazi skinhead convicted of the 1998 execution-style slaying of two Las Vegas residents who fought racism.

John Polar Bear Butler, ordered to serve multiple life sentences for killing Lin Spit Newborn, 24, and Daniel Shersty, 20, is no longer in state custody, according to an inmate search of the Nevada Department of Corrections website Wednesday.

The killings, which took place in the early hours of Independence Day, drew national attention.

Prosecutors argued Butler, described in court records as an “influential member of a white supremacist gang called the Independent Nazi Skinheads,” killed out of hate.

Newborn, who was black, and Shersty, an Air Force airman who was white, were friends and members of the Anti-Racist Action Group, which is also known as the Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice.

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The new dynamics of protecting a president: Most threats against Obama issued online

(c) 2014, The Washington Post. WASHINGTON More than 60 percent of the threats against President Barack Obama are made online, according to the Secret Service, posing a new set of challenges for an agency under fire for a series of critical security lapses. Lawmakers and private security officials question whether the Secret Service has sufficiently adapted to a new social-media landscape in which it must sort through a blizzard of online references to the president, investigate those that raise flags and then reconcile them with the intelligence they are gathering on the ground. “I don’t know if they’ve adapted to these new threats,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on national security. “The attacks are going to come, no matter what. Are there new and creative ways of detecting them? I’m not convinced they’ve tied those loops.” Chaffetz noted that he was “pleasantly surprised” that in 2011 agents were able to pick up right away a tweet a D.C. woman had posted about a man shooting at the White House. But he questioned why that piece of evidence was not used to corroborate suspicions among several officers that shots had been fired. Instead, the agency forwarded the report to the U.S. Park Police for further investigation, and it would be four days before it was discovered that bullets had hit the White House. “Why didn’t that show up in the system?” he asked about the tweet. During Obama’s first run for the presidency, the issue of clearest concern was his race, which made him a magnet for threats from people who thought being African-American disqualified him from the office. After nearly six years in the White House, the number of overtly racist threats have subsided, but the threats in general continue. Today, the dominant theme of grievance in threats against the president is government overreach, according to current and former Secret Service officials, as critics suggest Obama is abusing his power and trampling the Constitution. Brian Leary, a spokesman for the Secret Service, said the agency has adjusted to the fact that 60 percent of threats now made against the president occur online. “The capability is there, and we have to evolve with technology as well,” he said, adding that the number of threats against Obama “did spike a few months after the election, but they declined back to a level that is consistent with his predecessors, and they still are.” Other sources, who because of the sensitivity of the matter asked to not be identified, said the president still receives more threats than previous presidents, although the number is lower than in the immediate aftermath of his first election.

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Duo wage "comedy jihad" on controversial MTA ads

Dozens of anti-Islam ads are plastered across two high-traffic New York City subway stations and 100 buses, but Muslim comedians Negin Farsad and Dean Obeidallah are confident they’ll have the last laugh in the battle over Islam’s public image. Comedians Negin Farsad (left) and Dean Obeidallah (right) use laughs as an offensive against anti-Islam rhetoric. CBS News “When we heard about these hateful ads, we were outraged and decided to do something about it, an ad campaign of our own,” Farsad told CBS News. Her on-and-off comedy partner Obeidallah added: “We want to make people look at the issue a little bit differently.” In the 13 years since the 9/11 attacks, activists have been frustrated by numerous public attempts – Terry Jones’ Quran burning in 2010, legislative efforts in numerous states to ban Sharia law – to conflate Islam with atrocities committed by terrorist groups like al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. These new subway ads are no different, say Farsad and Obeidallah. “If there was a fun and funny counter-message every time you saw something violent about Muslims, I think people wouldn’t be connecting Muslim Americans and terrorism,” said Farsad. “We want to keep creating a counter-narrative and meeting people so that we can change this.” “We called the MTA, and apparently the minimum ad buy is $11,000, so that became our campaign goal.” The pair launched a fundraising campaign using social media and their website “The Muslims Are Coming,” which is also the name of their docu-comedy that just came out on Netflix. It follows their Islam-themed stand-up tour across the South and Midwest, during which they hosted free shows and outreach events to inform communities about the variety of “normal” Muslims. They say that their poster idea seemed a natural next step in their “comedy jihad.”

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White separatist group's card ends up in Greenville Co. man's mailbox

GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) – A Greenville County man, who did not want to be identified, said he’s upset about a business card for a white separatist group that landed in his mailbox. The card, from a group by the name of Northwest Front, said, “If white people had a country of our own, this wouldn’t be happening.” The message has the Greenville County man wishing he could send it back. He said the card was in an envelope without a return address. “It’s borderline disturbing knowing that there are people out there like that,” said the man. The people behind the business card follow something called Northwest Front. “The central part of our message is that white people are a group under threat. We are facing the genocide of our race,” said Harold Covington, Northwest Front spokesman. Covington said he’s a white separatist who wants all white people to migrate to the Northwest Pacific to create a “white nation.” “Our main message in South Carolina… and anywhere else that it’s spread, is that they need to come here,” Covington said. Northwest Front claims there’s no hate behind its ideas, but the Southern Poverty Law Center said it has spent the last 30 years tracking hate groups, and names Northwest Front as one of 10 active “Hate Groups” in Washington State.

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Far-right birthers secret funders: Look whos backing Islamophobe Frank Gaffney

Frank Gaffney has emerged as one of the DC-beltways most outspoken critics of American Muslims, purveying conspiracy theories about the infiltration of the Muslim Brotherhood into the highest levels of the U.S. government and birther accusations about Barack Obamas eligibility to serve as president. But even while drawing criticism from civil rights organizations, Gaffney, who served as acting Assistant Secretary of Defense in 1987, has continued to find sources of funding for his organization, the Center for Security Policy, managing a budget of over $3.5 million in 2013. Salon acquired a copy of the Center for Security Policys donor rolls, listing the organizations biggest donors. And while far from providing the lions share of funding, six of the U.S. biggest aerospace and defense contractors are supporters of Gaffneys organization. The document, which details contributions to the Center for Security Policy during the 2013 tax year, includes donations from: Boeing ($25,000); General Dynamics ($15,000); Lockheed Martin ($15,000); Northrup Grumman ($5,000); Raytheon ($20,000); and General Electric ($5,000). A number of institutional donors with a history of supporting Islamophobia, including the Lynde & Harry Bradley Foundation and the Sarah Scaife Foundation, are also contributors, but the aerospace industrys decision to support Gaffneys highly controversial work is unusual due to his reputation as a member of the fringe, anti-Muslim far-right. Gaffney, who serves as president of the Center for Security Policy, emerged as one of the most high-profile propagators of conspiracy theories about Obamas country of birth and his alleged agenda to undermine the U.S. government. In a 2008 Washington Times column, titled: The Jihadist Vote, Gaffney questioned whether Mr. Obama is a natural born citizen of the United States, a prerequisite pursuant to the U.S. Constitution and postulated that there is evidence he was born in Kenya rather than, as he claims, Hawaii. And Gaffneys assertions become even more extreme when he discusses the influence of a subversive Muslim agenda within the U.S. In a 2010 column for Breitbart.com, Gaffney argued that the Missile Defense Agency logo appears ominously to reflect a morphing of the Islamic crescent and star with the Obama campaign logo and is part of a worrying pattern of official U.S. submission to Islam. Gaffney has even gone as far as to suggest that a House committee, based on Sen. Joseph McCarthys House Committee on Un-American Activities, should be formed to investigate the Muslim Brotherhoods alleged infiltration of the U.S. government. So pervasive now is the MBs [Muslim Brotherhoods] civilization jihad within the U.S. government and civil institutions that a serious, sustained and rigorous investigation of the phenomenon by the legislative branch is in order, wrote Gaffney in 2011.To that end, we need to establish a new and improved counterpart to the Cold War-eras HUAC [House Un-American Activities Committee] and charge it with examining and rooting out anti-American and anti-constitutional activities that constitute an even more insidious peril than those pursued by communist Fifth Columnists fifty years ago. Since 2011, Gaffney has repeatedly claimed that Huma Abedin an aide to Hillary Clinton during her tenure as Secretary of State was a Muslim Brotherhood operative, a charge so outlandish that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) all condemned it. These comments and others led civil rights organizations to denounce Gaffneys demonization of American Muslims. Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center toldSalon, I cannot imagine why any legitimate business would fund a man like Frank Gaffney. The man is a propagandist and a defamer of perfectly innocent people. Its shocking that any business would give this man money. And the Anti-Defamation League characterizes the Center for Security Policy as a neo-conservative think tank that has pioneered the anti-Shariah hysteria by publishing materials regarding the threat of an Islamic takeover of the U.S.

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October 4, 2014   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

Mark Potok | Watching the Watchdogs

Recently, we discovered an extensive interview on the Internet Archive with the Southern Poverty Law Centers public relations chief, Mark Potok, in which he discusses the origins of the SPLC, its mission and its tactics. You can find the audio files to the interview here. Wed like to highlight some of Mr. Potoks more interesting comments, but, as always, we remind the reader to not simply take our word for it. Any time you select excerpts from a larger work you run the risk of cherry-picking, or taking things out of context, and were certainly not professional transcriptionists here at Watching the Watchdogs. Listen to the interview and come to your own conclusions. As to the origins of the interview, it was recorded and posted on the Internet Archive by Bill Holiday, a high school teacher from Vermont. A number of students, and at least one other teacher, are asking Mr. Potok questions about his work. The interview apparently takes place at the SPLCs Montgomery headquarters, and several references in the conversation seem to date it to the first half of 2008. In Track One, Mr. Potok explains the origins of the name of the organization: In the 70s poverty law was actually the phrase it was a phrase used that just applied to essentially civil rights law to kind of human rights legal actions. I know a couple years ago there was a big discussion internally [at the SPLC], Should we change our name to something else? People think, you know, that its all about, sort of, defending poor people, and thats not really, exactly what our mission is. By that time, people knew the name so well that, you know, we made, I think, the obviously right decision not to change the name. People think, you know, that its all about, sort of, defending poor people, and thats not really, exactly what our mission is. Interesting. One wonders how many donors are under the impression that a poverty law center might actually be in the business of defending poor people, no? Why change the name just because the mission changed? You dont just toss out a multimillion dollar brand name for the sake of accuracy. More on this to follow. Track Two includes an astonishingly candid assessment of how some critics view the SPLC: I think a lot of people feel, Oh, groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, they find, you know, the two hundred Nazis running around the country, they build them up into great big groups, they make a big deal about it and then ask for your money, right? In other words, its kind of a scam. You hype up this little tiny threat into something scary, uh, and then go and try to make money off of it. Well, Mr. Potok, you took the words right out of our mouth. Since 2009, Watching the Watchdogs has been documenting exactly this kind of behavior by the SPLC, and you have summed things up nicely. We have reported numerous times on the fact that there is no legal definition of hate group, and that you pretty much make them up as you go along.

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September 21, 2014   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

Doris Kearns Goodwin, Karl Rove Among Authors Leading Discussions

CT Teacher Doubles as Children’s Book Author Kristin Callinan , Mommy Minute Column | Jun 12, 2014 | 4:51 AM Her students made her dreams of becoming an author come true! Sheila Murphy Adams is a 5th grade teacher at Pawcatuck Middle School.”I have always loved to write,” she says”when I became a teacher, Iused a lot of my rhyming skills toteach… By John Adamian Story | Nov 26, 2013 | 8:35 AM Terry Teachout lives in New York City, but spends a chunk of every year in Connecticut, as he told the Advocate during a recent phone interview from Washington DC, where Teachout was doing press for his new book and preparing to review some of the fall… By Alison Geisler Story | Feb 7, 2014 | 11:02 AM You’d be hard pressed to find a someone unfamiliar with some aspect of Henry Winkler’s career, be it his legendary time as the Fonz on “Happy Days” or as inept attorney Barry Zuckerkorn on “Arrested Development.” He’s since added children’s book author to…

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September 12, 2014   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

W. Golf. Gamecock Golf Announces Agreement with The Members Club at Woodcreek & WildeWood

Sept. 10, 2014 Photo Gallery COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina men’s and women’s golf programs have reached a long-term agreement with The Members Club at Woodcreek & WildeWood to make it a home course of the Gamecocks, South Carolina and The Members Club announced Wednesday. The Members Club at Woodcreek & WildeWood joins Cobblestone Park as the official home courses for the Gamecock golf programs. The agreement gives South Carolina’s golfers and coaches full practice and playing privileges, allowing the teams to use both the Woodcreek and WildeWood golf courses, practice facilities and use of a portion of the pro shop as a meeting room and player lounge. With the addition of The Members Club at Woodcreek & WildeWood, the South Carolina golf programs now call two of the premier clubs in South Carolina home. The Members Club was named the 2012 Club of the Year by the South Carolina Golf Association, while Cobblestone Park was recently named one of the 30 best courses you can play in South Carolina by the South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel. The Members Club at Woodcreek & WildeWood – Woodcreek Course has a spacious 10-acre practice range with dual tees and a 6,000 square foot practice putting green. Currently, plans are being reviewed for an additional two-acre scoring game facility. The Woodcreek course was designed by world renowned golf course designer Tom Fazio and features a par-72, 7,022-yard layout from the back tees. The WildeWood course was designed by Russell Breeden and plays at par-72, 6,751 yards from the back tees. What They Are Saying About The Members Club at Woodcreek & WildeWood South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner “The addition of the prestigious Members Club at Woodcreek & WildeWood is another major step in providing our student-athletes with the finest facilities in the country. The two outstanding layouts, impressive practice facilities and enthusiastic membership greatly enhance our quest to be the very best. Many thanks to Members Club officials Charley Potok, Bill McDougall, Mark Black and many others who made this possible.” South Carolina Director of Golf Development/Facilities and Associate Head Women’s Golf Coach Puggy Blackmon “We are ecstatic about The Members Club at Woodcreek & WildeWood joining Cobblestone as dual home clubs of the Gamecocks. The two Tom Fazio and Russell Breeden layouts plus their impressive practice facilities provide our teams with a wide array of opportunities to become the very best.” South Carolina Men’s Golf Coach Bill McDonald “The addition of The Members Club at Woodcreek & WildeWood to our home facilities will most certainly help elevate our golf programs. The relationship we have developed over the past couple of years has already paid dividends, and our players enjoy the opportunity to play and practice at Woodcreek & WildeWood. Having The Members Club at Woodcreek & WildeWood as a home facility goes a long way toward helping us achieve our goals, both with our current teams and our recruits.” South Carolina Women’s Golf Coach Kalen Harris “Adding The Members Club as a home facility of Gamecock golf is an incredible opportunity. Our student-athletes have access to developing their skills at a premier private facility. From a recruiting perspective, our partnership is already proving to be beneficial. I am extremely excited for our student-athletes and coaching staff as well as appreciative of this opportunity provided by The Members Club and Gamecock athletics.”

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September 11, 2014   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

Hate groups prompt push for Burlco commission

A white segregationist group that calls itself the Advanced White Society lists its national headquarters as Birmingham, N.J., a woodsy, little-known hamlet on the edge of Pemberton Township. The Burlington County community had 33 residents, including one African American and one Latino, in 2010, according to a U.S. Census report. It has its own post office and is also home to a chemical plant and a cabinetmaking business. The Fort Dix military base is several miles down the road. The Advanced White Society is one of five active hate groups in Burlington County, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama group that monitors such organizations nationwide. Quietly established two years ago by former neo-Nazi Jason Hiecke, it drew public attention when it distributed thousands of hate-literature fliers to homes in Lumberton, Medford, Mount Holly, Bordentown, and a few other communities in the fall. The antiblack, anti-Semitic, and antigay literature sparked an outcry among local and county officials. Previously a top-ranking officer in the National Socialist Movement, the country’s largest neo-Nazi group, Hiecke said in an interview last week he planned to resume delivering fliers to houses soon. “A two-person crew can do 2,500 fliers in about two hours, but you have to be organized,” he said. He also plans a “meet and greet” barbecue at his house Sunday to welcome “whites only” who favor separation of the races. In recent months, Burlington County Freeholder Joanne Schwartz has pushed for the establishment of a human relations commission to learn more about Hiecke’s group and other hate groups in the area. “The commission can do a whole investigation and bring to light that this guy is around here. Now it’s operating under the cloak of secrecy. . . . If he’s a threat, we need to know that and what we can do,” she said. The Burlington County prosecutor’s spokesman said hate-group activities were monitored “as necessary.” The Southern Poverty Law Center ranks New Jersey fourth in the nation in the number of active hate groups, trailing only California, Florida, and Georgia. There are 44 groups, including the Atlantic City Skins, a skinhead group mostly rooted in the Shore area, but more recently spreading to suburbs such as Marlton and Browns Mills. Mark Potok, editor of the law center’s Intelligence Report, said little was known about the Advanced White Society, the newest hate group in South Jersey, other than what was reported on its website and in media accounts. Its first hate-mail distribution was held in 2012 in an African American neighborhood in Sicklerville, Camden County, Potok said.

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May 18, 2014   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed

Is Polar Bear on ice as alleged fellow skinheads face prosecution in 1998 slayings?

Lori Cain / Sun File Photo John Butler reacts as the prosecution makes its opening statement in his penalty hearing at the Clark County Courthouse on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2001. Butler was convicted of murdering Daniel Shersty, 20, and Lin Newborn, 25, on July 4,1998. By Bethany Barnes (contact) Published Thursday, May 15, 2014 | 2 a.m. Updated Thursday, May 15, 2014 | 9:35 a.m. The public is quietly being kept in the dark about the whereabouts of the neo-Nazi skinhead convicted of the 1998 execution-style slaying of two Las Vegas residents who fought racism. John Polar Bear Butler, ordered to serve multiple life sentences for killing Lin Spit Newborn, 24, and Daniel Shersty, 20, is no longer in state custody, according to an inmate search of the Nevada Department of Corrections website Wednesday. The killings, which took place in the early hours of Independence Day, drew national attention. Prosecutors argued Butler, described in court records as an “influential member of a white supremacist gang called the Independent Nazi Skinheads,” killed out of hate. Newborn, who was black, and Shersty, an Air Force airman who was white, were friends and members of the Anti-Racist Action Group, which is also known as the Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice.

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May 16, 2014   Posted in: Mark Potok  Comments Closed


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