In the under-appreciated film "Bowfinger" one of Eddie Murphy's characters is a paranoid movie-star nitwit who meticulously combs through a proposed script to count the number of times the letter K is used:
Kit: The letter K appears in this script 1,456 times. That's perfectly divisible by 3.
Freddy: So what? So what you saying?
Kit: What am I saying? KKK appears in this script 486 times!
This was my first thought when I read the Southern Poverty Law Center's latest screed attacking my organization, the Center for Immigration Studies. But rather than simply counting the Ks in my name, the SPLC's Inspector Javerts spent what must have been weeks combing through hundreds of weekly CIS roundups of immigration-related commentary from all sides. Then they researched the hundreds of columnists and bloggers whose pieces had been included — investigating their personal lives and statements in other articles — in order to find objectionable material (some of it anti-Semitic), which we are then somehow responsible for. This is proof that we're a "hate group."
Interestingly, the SPLC didn't do a similar background check on all the pro-amnesty, open-borders authors who were also linked. For instance, our most recent email included a New York Times op-ed by a progressive Austin city councilman (I'd love to see what he's said elsewhere), a piece from the New York Daily News by some lefty politicians, and other pieces from Cato, Reason, and The Intercept.
Not that it matters, since the roundup — the opinion counterpart to a roundup of academic journal articles, government reports, and the like — is an educational exercise intended to present the range of commentary on immigration. There's a lot on Vdare.com, for instance that I don't like (inclusion of their links was the first thing the SPLC gumshoes sputtered about), but it publishes on immigration all the time and to exclude them because the Ministry of Truth disapproves would be to offer a false picture to readers.
As an aside, I love the photo of me they used to illustrate my badness; I can almost hear Homer Simpson saying, "Listen to the music! He's evil!"
But there's a serious point here. The SPLC's "hate group" designation is obviously part of a blacklist campaign, as I wrote in the Washington Post a while back. But the frequency of violence directed against the SPLC's targets means it's no longer just a tool of intimidation — it's a literal hit list. And by now the SPLC knows it's a hit list; it might as well be titled, "Will no one rid me of this turbulent immigration restrictionist?" After the armed attack on the Family Research Council, the assaults and attempted assaults against Charles Murray and Heather Mac Donald and Milo what's-his-name, and the recent poisoning of Robert Spencer (of Jihad Watch fame, whom Jeremy Carl wrote about in National Review the other day), the SPLC can no longer claim innocence.
I have always been inclined to agree with National Review Online Editor Charlie Cooke's contention that we shouldn't blame the acts of crazies on the responsible participants in political debate. But the SPLC is no longer a responsible actor. There will, of course, always be the demented and the fanatic who will commit evil to promote their ends, whether on abortion or guns or immigration.
But the left's virtual monopoly of the prestige media, that media's uncritical promotion of the SPLC as legitimate, and leftist foot soldiers' proven record of taking their cues from the SPLC's "hate group" hit list mean that inclusion represents a physical threat to the safety of those listed. As Carl quoted Robert Spencer saying about his poisoning, "[t]he lesson I learned was that media demonization of those who dissent from the leftist line is a direct incitement to violence."
I've received only one death threat so far, but the SPLC issued the hit on CIS only a few months ago. I anticipate more.