In Galaxy Quest, there’s a scene where Tim Allen’s Captain Kirk–like character, Jason Nesmith, talks to a fan, in the wake of an earlier Shatnerian “get a life” outburst:
Brandon Wheeger: I just wanted to tell you that I thought a lot about what you said.
Jason Nesmith: It’s okay, now listen…
Brandon Wheeger: But I want you to know that I’m not a complete brain case, okay? I understand completely that it’s just a TV show. I know there’s no beryllium sphere . . .
Jason Nesmith: Hold it.
Brandon Wheeger: . . . no digital conveyor, no ship…
Jason Nesmith: Stop for a second, stop. It’s all real.
Brandon Wheeger: Oh my God, I knew it. I knew it! I knew it!
That’s what the folks at the SPLC must have felt like when they first learned that the perpetrator of Sunday’s horrific murders at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin was a white supremacist. They know perfectly well that their song and dance for donors about how the Klan is hiding behind every tree and under every bed is basically manure, but to learn that it’s not all manure must have been exhilarating. Horrifying, sure, they’re not ghouls, but it sent a thrill up their collective leg nonetheless. They’ve gotten ink in all the big papers, face time on all the big shows — the donations must be rolling in. They’ll be dining off this massacre for years.
And if all they did was focus on real threats to public order, and keep an eye on genuine enemies of the Constitution as a force-multiplier for law enforcement, I wouldn’t begrudge them their money. But that’s not what they do. The SPLC has two main objectives: promoting a hard-left political agenda and making huge piles of money while doing so (many liberals argue the second objective is the only real one). Either reason is sufficient to explain its scurrilous efforts to smear the Family Research Council and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (not to mention veterans and tea-party activists) as “hate groups” identical to those the racist, homicidal freak in Wisconsin associated with.
But they end up doing the opposite. The SPLC’s hate-driven (or money-driven) lies are so outlandish that no one outside the New York Times newsroom believes them even when they identify real dangerous criminals. By crying “wolf” on a regular basis, the SPLC makes it less likely that even accurate information they provide will be taken seriously. I was encouraged to hear from a colleague in the know that law enforcement officers find the Anti-Defamation League’s intel on possible violent extremist groups to be more believable and useful than the dren from the SPLC.