And another shoe drops: nine days after the Southern Poverty Law Center shockingly fired its founder, Morris Dees, SPLC president Richard Cohen has tendered his resignation. Cohen said, “Whatever problems exist at the SPLC happened on my watch, so I take responsibility for them.” That sounds noble and admirable, unless you understand just how awful those problems are and how long they’ve been going on and how scandalous the cover-up of them has been.
I’ve been talking about the descent of the SPLC from genuine civic rights champion to hypocritical, slanderous fundraising machine for several years now in various media, but the issues actually stretch back decades. The use of hysterical emails to panic donors into sending money to fight a nonexistent rising tide of “hate groups,” the vast amounts of money stockpiled (including in foreign accounts), and the false labeling of innocent, traditional faith-based groups as anti-gay “hate groups” to justify the fundraising are just the parts that were easy to see.
What’s been hidden all this time by the SPLC’s leadership, its compliant staffers and a sycophantic media is the shocking (and ironic) amount of racial discrimination and sexual harassment taking place behind the walls of its expensive, gleaming headquarters, dubbed by insiders as “The Poverty Palace.” The SPLC still refuses to specify the “conduct issues” behind Dees’ firing and Cohen’s resignation, dodging questions they would never allow conservative nonprofits to dodge and issuing fuzzy statements about moving on and “healing.” Sorry, but before you can heal and move on, you need to expose the rotten heels to daylight.
The curtain was finally ripped off this week when The New Yorker (surprisingly) published a mea culpa article by former SPLC employee Bob Moser.
Moser describes how he went to work there, besotted with the PR image of the SPLC, thinking he was joining a group of scrappy liberal underdogs taking on powerful racist groups. Instead, he discovered it was, in his words, “a highly profitable scam,” and a “monarchy” run by Dees and Cohen. The white males at the top were lavishly compensated, young women were warned of Dees’ reputation for hitting on female staffers, and the important positions were held almost exclusively by white people while blacks were only in administrative positions and pointedly referred to themselves as “the help.”
Moser also describes how employees were aware of the hyperbolic fundraising pitches to gullible liberals about the ever-rising tide of hate groups. They would exchange cynical catchphrases such as “Until justice rolls down like dollars” and “The SPLC: Making hate pay.”
We now know that Dees’ ouster followed multiple staffers signing letters protesting Dees’ longstanding mistreatment of minority and female employees, whose complaints had been ignored, covered up and retaliated against.
So now, the shocking truth about the SPLC (or even more of it) is finally out. My question is, why was it not out sooner? Mr. Moser writes that he left the group in 2004. But it took him 15 years to write this article? And what about all the other dozens of employees who witnessed and suffered this greedy, hypocritical, reprehensible behavior over decades and said nothing?
Moser mentions several media outlets that wrote of these problems in the SPLC as far back as 1995. Why didn’t they get wider coverage? When tech giants such as Facebook and Google started using the SPLC’s “hate group” list to ban conservative Christian users, why were they treated as a reliable, respectable source and not given the same scrutiny to which they subjected others?
I am sorry for the people who were mistreated over the decades by this disgraced organization, but by keeping quiet and allowing this behavior to go on for decades while those at the top vastly enriched themselves, both at the expense of deluded liberals who thought they were supporting a noble cause and innocent conservative Christian groups who were defamed, nobody’s hands are clean here. But a good first step would be for the tech giants that have empowered the SLPC as cover for partisan censorship to thoroughly wash their hands of them.