RNC Resolution On Hate Groups Has Nothing To Do With 'Rejecting Hate Groups'
One might think that given the past four years, given Charlottesville, given the increase in far-right hate groups not seen since before the Oklahoma City bombing, hate crimes hitting a 16-year-high, that — simply for the sake of keeping up appearances — any RNC resolution having to do with hate groups would be something along the lines of "hate groups are bad."
But we're not living in dogwhistle times. Those days are over. There is no reason to keep up appearances or to do the plausible deniability shuffle, because they know they can get elected without them.
So rather than denouncing hate groups, the resolution approved by the RNC is about opposing the Southern Poverty Law Center's identification of hate groups, due to SPLC's insistence upon designating right-wing hate groups as hate groups.
WHEREAS, The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is a far-left organization with an obvious bias;
WHEREAS, The SPLC makes a practice of incorrectly labeling persons and organizations as "hate groups";
WHEREAS, The actions of the SPLC have served to mobilize persons to act in hate and violence towards those on its "hate group" list;
WHEREAS, The Family Research Council suffered a violent attack due to its support of the traditional family, which the SPLC has deemed as hateful;
WHEREAS, The Obama Administration legitimized the SPLC and acted upon their request that the federal government formally identify individuals and organizations as "hate groups;";
WHEREAS, The SPLC was further legitimized when the Obama-Biden Administration gave them the ability to provide input to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); and
WHEREAS, Legitimizing the SPLC puts conservative groups or voices at risk of attack; therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the SPLC is a radical organization, and that the federal government should not view this organization as a legitimate foundation equipped to provide actionable information to DHS or any other government agency.
Let's unpack this, shall we?
Not to excuse the actions of Floyd Corkins — which perhaps could have been prevented with stricter gun control laws — but no one really needed the Southern Poverty Law Center to tell them the Family Research Council was an anti-gay hate group. Surely, the fact that they have spent decades saying horrible things about LGBTQ people all of the time and opposing equal rights for LGBTQ people would have tipped someone off. They weren't even officially designated as an anti-gay hate group by the SPLC until 2012, well after they were widely known as an organization opposing rights for LGBTQ people.
If one goes to the Family Research Center page on the Southern Poverty Law Center site, one does not see an explanation along the lines of "because we say so." One will simply see a variety of quotes from FRC President Tony Perkins and other members of the organization, in which they insist LGBTQ people are evil pedophiles who want to take their religion away, take their marriages away and also ruin the United States military. You will see a collection of hateful statements.
"One of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the 'prophets' of a new sexual order." — FRC publication, "Homosexual Behavior and Pedophilia," Robert Knight and Frank York, 1999
"[W]elcoming open homosexuality in the military would clearly damage the readiness and effectiveness of the force – in part because it would increase the already serious problem of homosexual assault in the military." — Peter Sprigg, "Homosexual Assault in the Military," 2010
"Those who understand the homosexual community — the activists — they're very aggressive, they're — everything they accuse us of they are in triplicate. They're intolerant, they're hateful, vile, they're spiteful. .... To me, that is the height of hatred, to be silent when we know there are individuals that are engaged in activity, behavior, and an agenda that will destroy them and our nation." — Tony Perkins, speaking to the Oak Initiative Summit, April 2011
Oh yeah, who could possibly have figured out that this is a group that hates gay people without the help of the Southern Poverty Law Center!
Describing "calling gay people pedophiles" as "supporting the traditional family" is quite a stretch. Surely, one can go and have a "traditional family" without needing to go and do that.
It is also quite a stretch to use one casualty-free incident in the entire 50-year history of the Southern Poverty Law Center to attempt to link the SPLC to extremism and terrorism or claim that it is a "radical organization." We would be here all day were I to start listing the number of acts of terrorism linked to mainstream right-wing ideology. Acts of terrorism that did, in fact, result in people dying.
That the "The SPLC is illegitimate because it is biased against conservatives" talking point made it into an RNC resolution is not particularly surprising. It's become pervasive over the last few years, most recently culminating in outrage over Chick-fil-A having donated to the organization.
If true, @ChickfilA has badly lost its way. Millions of Christians have been proud of ChickFilA’s courageous stands… https://t.co/jxL37vw0kB— Ted Cruz (@Ted Cruz) 1574907994.0
If you'll notice, they've done the same thing with Snopes. It doesn't matter what the actual facts are, but they will repeatedly say "The SPLC is illegitimate" or "Snopes is illegitimate," pretty much until people give up and stop using them as resources.
The SPLC has issued a statement responding to the resolution, noting that its obvious purpose was to protect Trump and other Republicans from being criticized for hanging out with hate groups.
This Republican National Committee's resolution is an attack on the SPLC's definition of hate groups in order to excuse the Trump administration's history of working with individuals and organizations that malign entire groups of people — such as Black Lives Matter advocates, immigrants, Muslims and the LGBTQ community — with dehumanizing rhetoric.
While the Republican Party approved this resolution, notably, it did not denounce organizations that promote antisemitism, Islamophobia, neo-Nazis, anti-LGBT sentiment or racism. It only criticized the SPLC for challenging hate groups that have found a place in the Republican Party.
But again, it's not like people would not notice that Trump and Republicans were hanging out with bigots if the SPLC did not officially designate them as bigots. That's not how anything works.
From the moment that Donald Trump ran for president, he welcomed the support of hate groups like the Family Research Council and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Once in office, Trump actively hired and consulted alumni and allies from FAIR, an anti-immigrant hate group that has ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists. They include Julie Kirchner, Kris Kobach, Jeff Sessions, and most notably Stephen Miller.
This is not a chicken-and-the-egg situation. These people and groups were hateful before being designated as such by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and they would be hateful without such a designation. The problem isn't that they've been "designated" as hateful, but that they are, in fact, hateful.
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse