SPLC: Usefulness Outlived?

George Yancey

A few days ago it was brought to my attention that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) had been removed from the resource links at the FBI website. This is a coincidence to the publishing of my critical review of SPLC in Academic Questions (vol. 27, no.1; spring 2014). In that review I argue that the SPLC is not a fair evaluator of hate groups. The same criteria it uses to condemn conservative Christian groups would apply to groups that clearly have antipathy towards those conservative Christians. Given my assessment of SPLC it is fair at this point to ask how I feel about the recent change on the FBI website.

To be honest I have mixed feelings about it. I know that the SPLC has played an important role in the movement in this country to greatly reduce overt racism. Yet, as Max Weber has noted, bureaucracies often outlive their usefulness. When they do they often fail to perform the services that once were vital. I cannot help but think that the SPLC has outlived its usefulness since the degree of racial hatred is nowhere near the levels it was when this organization first formed. The removal of SPLC from the FBI resource list may be an important marker of the transition of this organization as one seen as a mainstream organization dedicated to fighting for Civil Rights to one labeled as simply another progressive interest group – much like Media Matters or Daily Kos.

Whether this is just a bump on the road for SPLC or an important marker whereby they no longer have the legitimacy of mainstream American organization will be seen in the coming years. Either way I remain convinced that what is needed is a truly neutral organization that monitors hate speech from the left and the right. Such an organization can greatly improve rational discourse in our society by sanctioning irresponsible speech no matter where it comes from. Unfortunately the SPLC has forfeited its right to be that organization with its unwillingness to criticize progressive hateful speech. If the FBI has realized this forfeiture and as a result no longer includes them as a resource then the FBI has made the right decision.

Image: Southern Policy Law Center

  • Share

Most Commented

December 7, 2022


New Study Tracks Rise of DEI in STEM Departments, Associations, Grants, and Literature

A new study published today by the National Association of Scholars, Ideological Intensification, offers an in-depth quantitative analysis of just how far DEI has advanced into STEM fields....

January 9, 2023


NAS Celebrates the Nomination of Reform-Minded Trustees to the New College of Florida Board

The National Association of Scholars is delighted with Governor Ron DeSantis’ nomination of six education reformers to the Board of Trustees of the New College of Florida....

October 20, 2022


NAS Statement on Nomination of Ben Sasse for University of Florida President

We believe that Senator Sasse would make an excellent president of the University of Florida, and we urge the Board of Trustees to follow the search committee’s recommendation....

Most Read

May 15, 2015


Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

October 12, 2010


Ask a Scholar: What is the True Definition of Latino?

What does it mean to be Latino? Are only Latin American people Latino, or does the term apply to anyone whose language derived from Latin?...

January 5, 2023


NAS Condemns the Attacks against Jordan Peterson

The National Association of Scholars condemns the unrelenting illiberal attacks being levied against Dr. Peterson and against anyone who dares push back against the enemies of intellectual f......