The Southern Poverty Law Center is doubling down on its labeling of mainstream conservative Christian groups as “hate groups” equivalent to the Ku Klux Klan. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank deserves great credit for saying what should be obvious:
This shooting should remind us all of an important truth: that while much of the political anger in America today lies on the right, there are unbalanced and potentially violent people of all political persuasions. The rest of us need to be careful about hurling accusations that can stir up the crazies.
Human Rights Campaign isn’t responsible for the shooting. Neither should the organization that deemed the FRC a “hate group,” the Southern Poverty Law Center, be blamed for a madman’s act. But both are reckless in labeling as a “hate group” a policy shop that advocates for a full range of conservative Christian positions, on issues from stem cells to euthanasia.
He goes on: “I disagree with the Family Research Council’s views on gays and lesbians. But it’s absurd to put the group, as the law center does, in the same category as Aryan Nations, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Stormfront, and the Westboro Baptist Church. The center says the FRC ‘often makes false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science.’ Exhibit A in its dossier is a quote by an FRC official from 1999 (!) saying that ‘gaining access to children has been a long-term goal of the homosexual movement.’ Offensive, certainly. But in the same category as the KKK?”
The National Organization for Marriage, which opposes gay marriage, is right to say that the attack “is the clearest sign we’ve seen that labeling pro-marriage groups as ‘hateful’ must end. . . .
Late Thursday, the law center fired back at [FRC president Tony] Perkins, defending its categorization of the FRC as a hate group because it “has knowingly spread false and denigrating propaganda about LGBT people.” The center said that Perkins should stop putting out “claims that are provably false” about gay people.
Yes, Perkins should stop doing that. But even if he doesn’t, the Southern Poverty Law Center should stop listing a mainstream Christian advocacy group alongside neo-Nazis and Klansmen.