A former employee of the Southern Poverty Law Center has written a stinging critique in the New Yorker, confirming that not all was as it seemed at the non-profit that labels organizations at odds with its views on marriage, sexuality, Islam and other issues “hate groups.”
“We were part of the con, and we knew it,” wrote Bob Moser in his article about SPLC.
His comments were triggered by SPLC’s firing of founder Morris Dees.
In January, two SPLC officials, Richard Cohen and Heidi Beirich, were sued in federal court in Washington, D.C., by the Center for Immigration Studies under the nation’s organized crime law for “falsely” designating CIS as a “hate group.”
SPLC also was identified in 2012 by Floyd Lee Corkins II as the source of his information when he launched a violent attack on the Family Research Council that injured an FRC employee before he was stopped.
In an interview with the FBI, Corkins admitted he wanted to kill as many as he could.
Author and pundit John Stossel once called SPLC a hate group itself.
SPLC recently was sued by a lawyer who claims SPLC paid for stolen documents in an attempt to get him fired and destroy his future work prospects.
And a previous case brought against SPLC was settled by a payment of more than $3 million to Maajid Nawaz and his Quilliam Foundation, who sued after SPLC put them on its “hate” list.
As many as six dozen other organizations are considering similar cases against SPLC.
Wrote Moser: “For those of us who’ve worked in the Poverty Palace, putting it all into perspective isn’t easy, even to ourselves. We were working with a group of dedicated and talented people, fighting all kinds of good fights, making life miserable for the bad guys. And yet, all the time, dark shadows hung over everything: the racial and gender disparities, the whispers about sexual harassment, the abuses that stemmed from the top-down management, and the guilt you couldn’t help feeling about the legions of donors who believed that their money was being used, faithfully and well, to do the Lord’s work in the heart of Dixie. We were part of the con, and we knew it.”
He recalled a joke that was common at the organization.
“Walking to lunch past the center’s Maya Lin-designed memorial to civil-rights martyrs, we’d cast a glance at the inscription from Martin Luther King, Jr., etched into the black marble — ‘Until justice rolls down like waters’ — and intone, in our deepest voices, ‘Until justice rolls down like dollars.'”
He cites the overwhelmingly white SPLC staff and allegations that circulated in the organization.
“Incoming female staffers were additionally warned by their new colleagues about Dees’s reputation for hitting on young women,” he explained. “And the unchecked power of the lavishly compensated white men at the top of the organization – Dees and the center’s president, Richard Cohen – made staffers pessimistic that any of these issues would ever be addressed. ‘I expected there’d be a lot of creative bickering, a sort of democratic free-for-all,’ my friend Brian, a journalist who came aboard a year after me, said one day. ‘But everybody is so deferential to Morris and Richard. It’s like a f—— monarchy around here.’ The work could be meaningful and gratifying. But it was hard, for many of us, not to feel like we’d become pawns in what was, in many respects, a highly profitable scam.”
Moser, who worked there from 2001 until 2004, said “the queasy feelings came rushing back” when Dees’ dismissal was announced.
The reason for the dismissal wasn’t disclosed, but Moser said there were hints in the SPLC’s announcement, which said, “We’re committed to ensuring that our workplace embodies the values we espouse—truth, justice, equity, and inclusion.”
He cited reports that the crisis was triggered by the mistreatment of nonwhite and women staffers and followed the resignation of senior attorney Meredith Horton, the highest-ranking African-American woman at the center.
He said employees used to say, “The SPLC – making hate pay.”