Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hatred, Intolerance, Violence and the Southern Poverty Law Center

“Haven’t you heard, it’s a battle of words
the poster bearer cried.
Listen son, said the man with the gun
there’s room for you inside.”
From the Pink Floyd song “Us and Them”

There is a change occurring in the modern world, a fluctuation of ideas. Students of history who look beyond the official sanctioned accounts of the “winners” to a more objective view on all sides of conflict are likely to understand that these fluctuations have been going on for a long time now, perhaps since the beginning of written history. The fluctuations have at times resulted in conflict, sometimes quite violent. They cause a struggle between ideologies that can be labeled in many different ways, big government versus small government, communism or fascism versus free market, tyranny versus freedom, or my favorite, collectivism versus individualism.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) enters the scene under this context. According to their website, it was founded in 1971 by self proclaimed civil rights activists. At the top of their website they have links to pages explaining how they are “Fighting Hate • Teaching Tolerance • Seeking Justice.” They claim to be monitoring hate groups and racial extremists. They claim to be independent and funded only by donations. Perhaps at one time they did good work, but I think maybe it’s time for them to re-evaluate their mission and double check their principles.

They recently released a document entitled “Meet the Patriots.” In it, they list thirty five individuals as leaders of the “patriot” movement and five “enablers.” The suggestion they are making, based on their past zealous crusades and their stated purposes, is that these people are not only somehow racist, extremist, hateful or violent, but most importantly, dangerous. I am familiar with a number of the personalities listed, but not all of them. These are not violent or dangerous people, in my opinion, and for the most part they are calling for using peaceful and lawful methods to effect change. I can’t really address all the accusations that the SPLC has made against all these individuals, but I can use my common sense and reasoning abilities to evaluate the motives and positions held by the SPLC, as perhaps we all should.

So, what exactly are the SPLC’s political positions? Well, I think it’s safe to say that they’re anti-militia. They spent a lot of time and effort demonizing these groups. I would say that they seem awfully anti free association. They certainly don’t seem to want groups of people gathering together to discuss politics, especially if their views differ from the views and opinions of the SPLC leadership. This is particularly true if these people carry guns, for then they must be anti government. Certainly they believe militias are not just preparing in case they might have to depend on themselves in the event of some disaster.

They seem to be anti second amendment, not wanting people to have the means to defend themselves. They seem to take the stance that if you own a gun, it must be because you have some kind of evil planned. They seem to believe that if you are well armed, you must be plotting against the government. Funny how they accuse many of being “conspiracy theorists,” yet then they take a position that any group of people who simply wish to be able to depend on themselves in the event of disaster can only be conspiring against government.

They are pro-big government. For the SPLC, the bigger the government, the better. At least, that’s the impression I get when I read through their literature. They thrive on big government, counting on its force to provide the coercion necessary to validate its findings and back up its threatening stance.

They are pro tax, judging from the derision they project for what they term “anti-tax” protesters. They actually use quotation marks as if being anti-tax was a bad thing. They seem to believe that being against paying taxes somehow makes one dangerous, violent, racist, extremist, hateful, or something else bad. They seem to believe that taxes are good. They seem to believe that forcing someone to give up their money through coercive means is a fine thing to do. I think taxes are extortion or theft. I think many people would agree. But if taxes are such a good thing, why can’t they be voluntary? I have faith that people are basically good and generous and for the most part would willingly give a portion of their money to a good cause.

Of course, being pro-tax goes hand and hand with being pro big government. They are also pro IRS as that gives them a coercive arm to enforce their taxes and provide the means to do what they do. They are also pro Federal Reserve as this organization provides the reason to have an IRS to coercively collect the taxes. It all ties together.

They are anti sovereign citizen, or at least they rail against those who wish to be sovereign citizens and free from coercive government. Does that make them pro slavery? What would they have us be if not sovereign citizens? Slaves to the state? The founders meant for our nation to be a nation of sovereigns. They penned the Bill of Rights from the notions expressed by the Rights of Sovereigns meme. Either we all have the same individual rights, or those who rule have the right to enslave and force us into a type of serfdom where we are subservient and subject to carry out the will of the ruling elite.

They are anti constitution, or at least some of their favorite targets are constitutionalists. What’s wrong with expecting our elected officials to keep their oaths? What’s wrong with expecting them to obey the law of the land? The SPLC literature implies that if you want the Constitution to be obeyed, you must be some sort of hater. You must be a racist, or an extremist, or some other kind of violent, dangerous individual. Point out that the document has been ignored and violated by the government time and again and you are to be labeled a radical. Is it possible that the SPLC doesn’t like the Constitution because it at least attempts to limit the size and scope of the federal government? I suppose that would make sense considering their other positions mentioned above.

The SPLC is anti free speech. They don’t want any ideas getting out there that might be counter to theirs. They don’t want people thinking for themselves as they might be able to spot the hypocrisy and, yes, even the innate evil in what they do. Isn’t it ironic how they “teach” tolerance and yet they are quite intolerant of anyone who expresses an ideology contrary to their own? Isn’t it funny how they claim to be fighting hate and yet they seem so hateful of individualists? They claim to be anti violent and yet they are perfectly willing to bring the violence of the state down upon people who have not harmed others. They claim to be seeking justice and yet they are willing to prosecute others for thought crimes, endorse guilt by association and practice a philosophy of guilty once accused until proven innocent. One wonders whether or not they can see the injustice in their own principles and practices.

Perhaps I’m being a little harsh on the SPLC. Perhaps I should give them a pass because, after all, they do have good intentions. Yet I have trouble getting over that old “road to hell” saying. And I’m not even too sure that this organization does have good intentions anymore. Perhaps at one time they did, but their leadership seems to have been replaced with collectivist idealists who wish to create some kind of utopian society and couldn’t care less about who gets hurt in the process or the amount of brutality needed to achieve it. This has been the goal and philosophy of tyrants through the ages and has led to nothing but misery for mankind. Enough is enough.

When peaceful, freedom loving people such as Chuck Baldwin, Catherine Bleish, Gary Franchi, Luke Rudkowski, Bob Schultz, Michele Bachmann, Andrew Napolitano and Ron Paul are labeled as dangerous, violent, radical or extreme for expressing their views on freedom, warning others that the government has overstepped its bounds and demanding that the law be obeyed by politicians and public servants who pledged to do so, we as a society must question the organization that would do such a thing and seek to discover its motives. When such an organization would demonize groups like the Oath Keepers or the Constitution Party for wishing to preserve liberty and honor the oath they took to America’s founding documents, one must wonder why. What nefarious purpose could be served by trying to slander such honorable goals, organizations and individuals?

I think that maybe the SPLC, like government, has gotten a little out of touch with the common folk of this country. I think that perhaps they are a little more worried with what the political elite want than with what the average individual wants. I think that perhaps they are trying to reign in their loyal followers and keep them from discovering the message of freedom so that they can maintain control over them. I think that they and their government handlers are a little worried that they may be losing their relevancy. They worry that the common folk are wanting a bit more control over their own lives and destinies and that means less power for them.

Perhaps I’m being a little paranoid. Perhaps the SPLC isn’t colluding with the government for nefarious purposes. But then, isn’t the SPLC being a little paranoid for labeling so many dissidents as potentially dangerous and violent? Perhaps I should be more tolerant of the SPLC and their efforts to frighten the masses away from these movements. After all, their individual members have the right to freely express their ideas too. But then, shouldn’t they be a little more tolerant of others efforts to rally the masses to the ideas of freedom? Shouldn’t they honor the rights of others to freely express their ideas? Maybe they should practice what they preach when it comes to tolerance. If I give them a pass because of their good intentions, shouldn’t they give others the same consideration? Maybe the same goals are at work here on both sides and the only argument is how to achieve those goals. But, unlike what the propagandists would have you believe, more often than not the activists are peaceful, it is government that counts on violence, force and coercion for its very existence.

By the SPLC’s own admission, the militia movement is gaining in popularity. Yet the militia movement is just a small outgrowth of the greater freedom movement which is also growing in numbers. Most of these people are tired of the intrusiveness. They just want to be left alone. Most of them just want the government’s nose out of their personal lives and fingers out of their pockets. Most of them want to take personal responsibility for their own lives and take care of themselves. That is what America was originally set up to be, a country where the opportunity to become the best a human could be was not stifled by overbearing and tyrannical government. The system will not allow them to do so. It is up to us, the common folk, if we are to change the system to empower ourselves. It is up to us to reclaim our rights, our dreams, our dignity and to realize the destiny the founding fathers meant for their progeny to have.

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