An Open Letter to the Southern Poverty Law Center

By Dan Cadman on February 24, 2017

To the SPLC:

I've recently read accounts of your organization's claim that the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) is a "hate" group.

Reading these, I was reminded of the infamous remarks of former Obama administration official Ben Rhodes, who bragged about using the media as an "echo chamber" to mold public opinion without regard to truth or accuracy. You seem to have stolen a chapter from Rhodes' playbook. I suppose it's easy enough, when you encounter journalists who are already philosophical soul mates or are too lazy to examine the trustworthiness of the assertions.

Let me tell you something about myself. I'm the son of a soldier, a lifer whose service lasted from the latter days of World War II through the Indochinese conflicts. As a military family, we accompanied or followed my father from post to post when we could, stayed behind and worried when we couldn't. My three siblings and I were all born in different areas of the country. My education was at schools on or just outside army installations, and were fully integrated while many other schools in the United States were still very much de facto segregated. Many of the children I grew up with had a foreign mother and spoke two languages at home; some were of mixed race. We collectively took all of this as normal in our army family world although I have come to realize that perhaps it was unusual for American society at large at that time.

I also spent many of my formative years outside the United States in Europe and Asia. In the places we lived, I learned the languages at least well enough to understand and be understood. During those years, I learned to respect, and yes, to love, other peoples and their customs, cultures, traditions, and languages. I also learned the importance of abiding by the laws of those countries; failure would have risked being declared persona non grata, resulting in expulsion of the family and serious harm to my father's career. It was not a theoretical; I knew it to happen from time to time. Children growing up abroad didn't have the same constraints on them that they did here, and some reacted badly without boundaries.

I suppose it's no surprise that I found my way into a career as an immigration officer; it seems in retrospect like a seamless continuation of my early years. During my nearly 30 years of government service, I, too, was posted around the United States, had children born in different places, and also traveled and lived abroad. I still love and respect other cultures. I have never seen a conflict between that and expecting our own immigration laws, as well as our customs and way of life, to be respected by the foreigners who visit or live here.

Since joining CIS post-retirement, I've had a chance to get to know most of my colleagues: like me, they tend to be broad-minded about other peoples and cultures. Not by a long stretch could I call any of them "haters"; but, like me, they also expect our laws and ways to be respected.

Therein, I suspect, lies the problem. Our views are unalterably irreconcilable with yours, which in your mind gives you the right to engage in what I can only describe as progressive McCarthyism, launching ad hominem attacks in an attempt to discredit us without actually having to engage in civil discourse.

In the end your smear won't work because it's untrue.