Prior to November's secular-socialism rollback, America's ever-shrill "progressive" machine contorted in a desperate effort to paint the Tea Party movement as a horde of hateful, inbred racists. Judging by the results, it was an epic failure.
Instead, and thanks at least in part to the left's overreaching smear campaign, the grass-roots Tea Party groundswell - representing every facet of traditional American values - grew to become a political force of nature.
Now the frays of the fanatical fringe have done it again. These so-called "progressives," led by the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center SPLC, have gifted the American mainstream with yet another teachable moment. The SPLC is a small, hard-left political activist outfit known for promoting a panoply of radical liberal causes. The center holds itself out as an objective monitor of potentially violent or subversive hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, skinheads and other white supremacists.
But in recent years - and with increasing abandon - the SPLC has leveraged (abused, really) its rapidly decreasing political capital and waning credibility to target and undermine organizations that, rather than dealing in the business of genuine "hate," instead pose a direct threat to the advancement of postmodern secular-socialism generally - and to the Democratic Party specifically. This is what we in "the biz" call "political hackery."
In sum, the SPLC has become an extremist wolf in "watchdog" clothing.
Mark Potok, a columnist with the liberal Huffington Post, doubles as SPLC director. When he's able to find time away from long walks on the beach, reading poetry and maligning Grandma Ann, Uncle Dan and other Tea Party patriots as "right-wing extremists - shot through with rich veins of radical ideas, conspiracy theories and racism" - Mr. Potok can usually be found, like a yappy little pug, chasing after some of the largest and most reputable conservative and Christian "mail trucks" in the country.
Apparently having become frustrated with the relative ineffectiveness of the SPLC's more subtle "guilt by false association" scheme, Mr. Potok evidently has decided to gather his last remaining credibility chips and go "all in."
Following to the letter Saul Alinsky's admonition to "pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it," the SPLC, in its most recent Intelligence Report, has "officially" labeled a number of highly influential mainstream conservative and Christian organizations as "hate groups."
Most notably, the SPLC has placed alongside the Klan and other neo-Nazi organizations, the Washington, D.C., based Family Research Council (FRC) and the Mississippi-based American Family Association (AFA). Their crime? "Anti-gay ... propagation of known falsehoods" (read: recognition of stubborn, politically incorrect scientific and theological facts that are beyond serious debate). I say "most notably" because these two groups alone contain membership rolls in the millions.
Moreover, the FRC and AFA play host to presidential candidates, lawmakers and top conservative leaders from around the world at Washington's annual Values Voters Summit - one of the largest conservative political gatherings of the year.
OK, so the yappy little pug finally has latched onto the bumper. What now, champ? I guess this means nobody will come next year? Can't be caught consorting with an "official hate group" now that the SPLC has picked, frozen, personalized and polarized the opposition target.
So, center-right America: If you happen to believe in the sanctity of natural marriage and that, as a culture, we're best served by honoring the Judeo-Christian sexual ethic of our forefathers, you're now an official "hater."
Of course, the tired goal of this silly meme is to associate in the public mind's eye mainstream conservative social values with racism, white supremacy and neo-Nazism. The ironic result, however, is that, as typically occurs with such ad hominem and hyperbolic attacks, the attacker ends up marginalizing himself and galvanizing his intended target (I'm rubber, you're glue and all that).
Hence, beyond a self-aggrandizing liberal echo chamber, the SPLC - and by extension the greater "progressive" movement - has become largely, as it stews in its own radicalism, just another punch line.
It's often said that the first to call the other a Nazi has lost the argument.
Congratulations, conservative America: They're calling you Nazis. Carry on.
Editor’s Note: This article was published in the Washington Times on November 26, 2010.
Copyright ©2010 J. Matt Barber