It looks like the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has finally received their comeuppance. Recently, the leftist organization agreed to pay over $3 million in a settlement to activist and broadcaster Maajid Nawaz after he filed a lawsuit accusing the SPLC of defamation.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has come under increased scrutiny in response to their attempts to use their platform to smear conservatives and others with whom they disagree. While the organization bills itself as a force against bigotry and hate, they have adopted a disturbing tendency to smear individuals and groups with labels they do not deserve.
The SPLC is known for its list of hate groups which includes the Ku Klux Klan, Neo Nazis, Black Liberation Activists, and other organizations that are founded on bigotry. Unfortunately, they have also added regular conservative Christian groups to their list — unfairly accusing them of spreading hate. The organization has also consulted with companies to police speech on certain platforms.
Fortunately, some of their targets have decided to fight back. Maajid is just the latest to win a victory against the group.
Southern Poverty Law Center’s Smear Campaign
In 2016, the SPLC released a list of 15 “anti-Muslim extremists.” This list included Frank Gaffey, Pam Geller, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and others who have spoken out against radical Islam in the Western world. Interestingly enough, Maajid Nawaz was also on their list.
Maajid Nawaz is a British activist who heads the Quilliam Foundation, a counter-terrorism think tank. Nawaz was a former radical Muslim who was imprisoned in Egypt for four years. He later renounced radicalism and now opposes the spread of Islamization in Europe. However, despite the fact that Nawaz is still a Muslim, the SPLC felt it was necessary to classify him as an anti-Muslim extremist.
The SPLC’s conduct is far worse than just simple defamation. They could have placed Nawaz in danger. “They put a target on my head. The kind of work that I do, if you tell the wrong kind of Muslims that I’m an extremist, then that means I’m an target,” he told The Atlantic. “They don’t have to deal with any of this. I don’t have any protection. I don’t have any state protection. These people are putting me on what I believe is a hit list.”
Nawaz filed his lawsuit against the SPLC almost two years after unsuccessfully attempting to get the organization to remove his name. Interestingly enough, the organization deleted his name only days after he filed suit. However, Nawaz did not let up.
In a statement, SPLC president Richard Cohen indicated that the organization had “taken the time to do more research.” He admitted that while the SPLC “may have our differences with some of the positions that Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam have taken, they are most certainly not anti-Muslim extremists.”
This was an expensive mistake for the SPLC. However, their claim that their mishap was due to a failure to perform the proper research comes off as disingenuous when you consider the fact that they routinely label run-of-the-mill Christian organizations as hate groups. These are not organizations that propagate hate and advocate for violence like the white supremacist groups who occupy the same lists on the SPLC’s website. They simply express Christian beliefs and values.
While it’s impossible to fully know the SPLC’s motives, their behavior shows that they will target those who may not be able to fight back. It is similar to the bullying tactics used by many on the left. In this instance, the bully received a $3 million bloody nose for his trouble. Let’s hope that they have learned their lesson.