The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

The Last Word: Hatewatch’s 1st Annual Smackdown Awards

By Mark Potok on December 21, 2007 - 4:02 pm, Posted in Year-End

It’s been a heck of a year in the world of hate. As usual, white supremacists and sundry others on the radical right have shot, bludgeoned and maimed their way into police blotters and newspapers across the land. They’ve cursed, defamed and insulted the usual laundry list of their enemies. But for Hatewatch aficionados, that’s all par for the course. After all, just about anyone can do something really ugly or violent if they set their mind to it. That’s why the Hatewatch 1st Annual Year-End Smackdown Awards Committee had such a very tough time. Sifting through huge piles of ne’er-do-well candidates, intrepid committee members sought to go beyond the merely quotidian and reach for the truly extraordinary. Here, with apologies to Keith Olbermann, is our Hatewatch countdown for the very worst of 2007:

10. Grossest Pervert Award
The hands-down winner here is Kevin Alfred Strom, the founder of the neo-Nazi National Vanguard group based in Virginia who saw charges of enticing a 10-year-old girl for sex dropped, only to have the judge announce to the world that there was “overwhelming evidence that [Strom] was sexually drawn to this child.” That, along with Strom’s wife’s testimony about finding her man naked and aroused in front of a computer screen peopled by young girls, isn’t a very hopeful prelude to Strom’s second trial, coming up in February, on possession of child porn charges. Top gross-out moment so far: The revelation that Strom had written a sonnet about marrying the 10-year-old, to be sung to the tune of “Here We Come A-Wassailing.”

The competition in this category, it should be pointed out, was fierce. Warren Jeffs, the polygamous leader of a racist Mormon offshoot sect, was convicted on two counts of rape as an accomplice for forcing a 14-year-old girl to marry her 19-year-old cousin. Tony Alamo, leader of an anti-Catholic and anti-gay cult, was accused of taking child brides. And David Lane, 69, a white supremacist movement icon in prison for his role in a 1984 assassination, had this to say about the blonde, 14-year-old Gaede girls who make up the neo-Nazi Prussian Blue singing duo: “When the girls were little, they were like daughters or something. Now that they are grown women, and being a natural male, it’s… well, you know what I’m trying to say.” Yes, sadly, we do.

9. Most Gullible Broadcaster Award
Who can forget Bill O’Reilly, host of Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor,” and his June 21 segment, “Violent Lesbian Gangs a Growing Problem”? In this piece of addled fiction, O’Reilly and “Fox News crime analyst” Rod Wheeler contended that “a national underground network” of lesbian gangs, armed with pink pistols, was “terrorizing America,” in part by raping middle school girls with sex toys purchased on the Internet. As it turned out, the report was entirely false, as the Intelligence Report revealed. The next day, Wheeler issued a statement saying that he had only “inadvertently stated” that the lesbians carried pink pistols, that he hadn’t meant to say there were 150 lesbian gangs in the Washington, D.C., area, that he hadn’t meant to say there was a “national epidemic” of lesbian gangs, and that he hadn’t meant to defame the Pink Pistols, a lesbian gun-rights group. Glad we got that straight!

8. Most Obnoxious Extremist Award
Although there was considerable support for the candidacy of Fred Phelps, the website proprietor who likes to picket the funerals of soldiers, Virginia neo-Nazi Bill White won in a squeaker. The former left-wing anarchist and one-time correspondent for the Russian Communist Party’s Pravda newspaper spent the year issuing racist insults, not-so-veiled threats and attacks on reporters. He posted the home addresses of a long list of his enemies — from a Miami Herald columnist to journalists from his hometown newspaper to the editor of this blog — but also defamed large numbers of fellow racists. The rabid dog in White may have come out most clearly in his call to white supremacists to crash the wedding of the niece of a newspaper official to “annoy this Jew-loving piece of shit.”

7. Weirdest Political Alliance Award
The honors here go to Kirkpatrick Sale, director of the New York-based Middlebury Institute, dedicated to secessionism. Known for decades as a left-wing intellectual, Sale last year buddied up to the white supremacist League of the South (LOS) — a group that opposes racial intermarriage, defends segregation, and calls for a return to “European cultural hegemony” in the South — to the point of actually co-sponsoring the Oct. 3-4 Second North American Secessionist Convention in Tennessee with the LOS. Now, the left-right love affair promoted by Sale has turned positively torrid, with a “North-South Secession Summit” planned for January. Attending will be top officials of the Middlebury Institute, LOS, the Southern National Congress, and the Second Vermont Republic, to seek “the peaceful dissolution” of the United States.

6. Stupidest Conspiracy Theory Award
You know it can’t be good when the John Birch Society, the rabidly anti-Communist group that called President Eisenhower a commie, teams up with Jerome Corsi, the man who orchestrated the Swift-boating of John Kerry. Corsi and the JBS are the prime promoters of a nativist conspiracy theory that claims Mexico, Canada and the United States are secretly planning a merger that would result in something called the “North American Union” (NAU). They insist that a 2005 tri-national agreement called the Security and Prosperity Partnership — a series of working groups to study cooperation in transportation, energy, aviation and the environment — is the leading edge of the conspiracy that may, in Corsi’s words, end in “an executive branch coup d’etat.” This would be merely an exercise in the ridiculous were it not for the fact that public figures from CNN anchor Lou Dobbs to U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) to nativist leader Jim Gilchrist keep plugging it. Thanks to them and their ilk, the houses of representatives of 18 states have now passed resolutions opposing the much-feared NAU — an entity that does not exist and has never been planned.

5. Most Annoying Snot-Nosed College Kid Award
Kyle Bristow was irritating enough way back in 2006, when the soon-to-be leader of Young Americans for Freedom at Michigan State University posted his 13-point agenda, including elimination from student government of virtually every non-white, non-heterosexual and non-Christian group. He ratcheted it up with a “Straight Power” demonstration featuring “End Faggotry” and “Go Back in the Closet” signs. From there, Bristow and his MSU-YAF degenerated into “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day” contests, a “Koran Desecration” competition, and even, last September, an attack on a new Latino studies doctoral program under this headline: “MSU Offers Doctorate in Savagery.” Bristow went on to invite such speakers to MSU as Nick Griffin, head of the racist British National Party and a long-time Holocaust denier. All of this was bad enough on its own. Truly appalling, however, were the accolades Bristow received from mainstream politicians including Michigan GOP boss Saul Anuzis, who, shortly after the Southern Poverty Law Center named MSU-YAF a hate group, had this to say: “This [Bristow] is exactly the kind of young kid we want out there.” Good call, Saul!

4. Unlikeliest White Supremacist Award
Our old nemesis, H.K. Edgerton, was in our hometown of Montgomery, Ala., back in November, and it reminded all of us just how nutty he really is. Edgerton, faithful readers of the Intelligence Report will remember, is a lonely black man in the overwhelmingly white — and white supremacist — neo-Confederate movement. As he made clear in an interview with Hatewatch, H.K. hasn’t dropped any of his strange ideas about slavery, the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan and related topics. A sampling: Before the slaves were freed, “Black folks and white folks were family. …White people and slaves saw each other on the streets and they tipped their hats to each other.” Slaves “were given a new pair of pants and a new pair of shoes every day” and “had the same medical facilities that the white man had.” The Klan was “just protecting the people — all the people, black and white.” If you really believe that, H.K., we suggest you skip straight down this list to award No. 1 and join up.

3. Weakest Relationship With Reality Award

The Southern Poverty Law Center last year engaged in a sort of epic battle with Lou Dobbs, the CNN host who has probably done more to defame immigrants than any other public figure in contemporary America. The struggle was epitomized by a debate over Dobbs’ claim that the United States had experienced a surge of 7,000 new cases of leprosy in a recent three-year period, due at least in part to immigrants. In a seemingly endless series of debates, interviews and on his own show, Dobbs stuck to his guns, despite crystal-clear government statistics that pegged the number of new cases for the years in question at 398. The whole sorry affair was dramatized best in a comment Dobbs made to Lesley Stahl of CBS’ “60 Minutes,” which first pointed out Dobbs’ error in a profile of the broadcaster that aired last May. Said Dobbs: “If we reported it, it’s a fact.” Stahl asked how Dobbs could guarantee that. “Because I’m the managing editor, and that’s how we do business.” Ah, NOW we understand.

2. Creepiest Psychotherapist Award
Richard Cohen won this one by acclamation, but it didn’t become official until we convinced our own CEO — Richard Cohen — that we weren’t talking about him. The Cohen in question describes himself as “ex-gay” and conducts controversial “healing touch” therapy that involves men striving to rid themselves of their homosexuality cradling and rocking other men in their arms. This technique was demonstrated by the licensed psychotherapist on Paula Zahn’s CNN show, an appearance that also included Cohen’s excited demonstration of “bioenergetics,” which involves beating on chairs with tennis rackets while shouting, “Mom, why did you do this to me?” The CNN appearance was almost universally described as a disaster, and Cohen’s name promptly disappeared from several “ex-gay” websites.

1. Most Surprising ‘Hate’ Group Award
For the better part of 142 years, the Ku Klux Klan has been the most infamous racist group in America, leading a campaign of terror that involved murders, lynchings, rapes, castrations, bombings, church arsons, and any number of other horrors. But now comes the Alabama Christian Klan, “The Voice of the New Civil Rights Era,” with a Web page that currently features an approving photo of Birmingham’s black mayor and a banner announcing an upcoming Klan rally in rather unusual (for the Klan) terms: “Birmingham At a Crossroads: Can We Come Together?” This is followed by the announcement of a “diligent campaign” to get other Klan groups to abandon their racism and shun any “acts of disrespect to any community.” The man behind the group, Trussville, Ala., resident Ken Mier, already has taken credit for the decision by another Klan group to cancel a rally last November, saying in an E-mail to Hatewatch that he considered this “a victory for the Christian residence [sic] of Alabama.” Way to go, Ken!

And with that, we wrap up the year here at Hatewatch. We’ll be taking the next two weeks off, but you can expect to see us again the week of Jan. 7, followed by a whole year of lively posts skewering the American radical right. Stick around long enough, and it’ll be time for the Hatewatch 2nd Annual Year-End Smackdown Awards — an event we’ll soon start storing up goodies for. In the meantime, happy holidays!

Intelligence Report Wins Prestigious Investigative Award

By Mark Potok on December 19, 2007 - 10:17 am, Posted in Intelligence Report

We’re pleased as punch to report that we just learned that the Intelligence Report — the quarterly magazine published by the Southern Poverty Law Center and written by the authors of this blog — has won an important award. The Utne Intelligence ReportReader, which aggregates and reprints selected articles from some 1,300 publications around the country, gave the Report its award for best U.S. periodical in the “In-Depth/Investigative Reporting” category of its 2007 Utne Independent Press Awards. Publications cannot apply for the Utne Awards — Utne’s editors make the selections completely on their own initiative. This was not the first award for the Intelligence Report. The magazine has won two Society of Professional Journalists awards — for Non-Deadline Reporting in 2003, and for Investigative Reporting in 2005. In 1999, shortly after converting to color, it won the Society of Publication Designers’ award for Best Redesign.

Here’s what Utne Reader had to say about us:

In a time when media reflection on the country’s race issues comes down to parsing the latest celebrity gaffe, Intelligence Report reminds us that organized, violent racism — often written-off as a troubling relic of a bygone era — endures. Published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the venerable Montgomery, Alabama-based civil rights organization, the magazine tracks extremist movements and their ideological ripples throughout society. In the Spring 2007 issue, for instance, it was reported that the number of hate groups in the United States has swelled along with the nation’s rising tide of populist anti-immigration sentiments, climbing 40 percent to 844 in a six-year period (2000 to 2006). The Winter 2006 cover story took aim at Latino gangs targeting African Americans in Los Angeles. In Fall 2007, the magazine exposed the “Watchmen on the Walls,” a virulent anti-gay group fomenting hatred among fellow Slavic immigrants in Sacramento. Managing their wide-ranging mission by carrying on the fine but increasingly rare tradition of old-school investigative journalism, the writers and editors weed through mountains of paper, work the phones, hit the pavement, and connect the dots.

Lawsuit Accuses Sheriff’s Office Of Racial Profiling

By Hatewatch Staff on December 18, 2007 - 1:37 pm, Posted in Uncategorized

A Mexican citizen who is legally in the United States has sued the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, claiming its aggressive immigration enforcement has led to racial profiling.

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Harsh Political Climate Subjects All Latinos To Discrimination

By Hatewatch Staff on December 18, 2007 - 1:35 pm, Posted in Uncategorized

Regardless of their immigration status, Hispanics across the United States are feeling anxious and discriminated against amid the intensifying debate over immigration and stepped-up enforcement by authorities, according to a study of the nation’s largest minority group released yesterday.

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Arizona Divided Over Hard Line Anti-Immigration Law

By Hatewatch Staff on December 18, 2007 - 1:33 pm, Posted in Uncategorized

A new Arizona law against employing illegal immigrants has shaken businesses, scared workers, delighted advocates of stricter immigration controls and added to tensions in a state split over who belongs here and who does not. […]

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Huckabee Endorsement Spurs Backlash

By Hatewatch Staff on December 18, 2007 - 1:30 pm, Posted in Uncategorized

Minuteman co-founder James Gilchrist’s endorsement of presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has spurred a backlash among illegal-immigration opponents who say the former Arkansas governor is soft on immigration enforcement.

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Is the CCC a ‘Mainstream’ Group? Just Ask Larry Darby

By Mark Potok on December 17, 2007 - 2:28 pm, Posted in Anti-Immigrant, White Supremacist

Remember the good old days, back in the 1990s, when the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) was still claiming to be a non-racist, if conservative, group? That was when then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) was still trying to defend his ties to the CCC in the aftermath of an SPLC exposé revealing the virulent racism at the core of the group. By 2000, the CCC had relaxed a little, letting its ideological hair down with a Web posting advertising South Carolina’s “whiter beaches” (the state was being subjected to a tourism boycott by the NAACP) and, in a final display of let-them-think-whatever-they-damn-want-to insouciance, an essay calling blacks a “retrograde species of humanity.” But still, CCC officials soldiered on, telling anyone who would listen that theirs was a mainstream group and that those who criticized it were the real haters. Even as the politicians it once influenced fled, the CCC struggled to remain relevant.

Now comes Larry Darby, the newly appointed chairman of the CCC’s Alabama Capital Region. The man is not an advertisement for the CCC’s alleged moderation.

Larry Darby

For years, Darby was a lonely atheist in hyper-religious Alabama, denouncing religion every time he could get a TV camera pointed his way. He supported the legalization of marijuana. Then, in late 2005, he invited David Irving, the world’s leading Holocaust denier, to central Alabama, billing him as an “expert” on World War II and “free speech.” Running (unsuccessfully) for state attorney general the following year, he said the Nazi Holocaust “never happened,” the Voting Rights Act of 1965 should be repealed, and segregated schools should be reinstated. He suggested that martial law be imposed and troops stationed on interstates to deal with “illegal aliens.” He traveled to a May 13, 2006, rally in New Jersey held by the neo-Nazi group, National Vanguard, to speak alongside other neo-Nazi leaders, including David Duke. A photograph from the rally show a smiling Darby arm in arm with infamous neo-Nazi stage mom April Gaede. ( continue to full post… )

Accused Klan Boss Found Incompetent

By Casey Sanchez on December 14, 2007 - 10:31 am, Posted in Extremist Crime, Hate Groups, Intelligence Report, Klan, White Supremacist

Junior BarefootCharles Barefoot, the leader of a North Carolina Klan group that plotted to blow up the local sheriff’s office in 2001, has been found mentally incompetent to stand trial for orchestrating the murder of a fellow Klansman. After reviewing a psychologist’s evaluation, a Sampson County Superior Court judge ruled that Barefoot, 45, was “not competent to stand trial because he currently does not possess a rational understanding of the proceedings against him.”

The judge ordered that Barefoot be committed indefinitely at Dorothea Dix Hospital in order “to determine whether there is a substantial probability that his competency will be restored in the foreseeable future.”

Barefoot and his KKK splinter faction were examined in last summer’s edition of the Intelligence Report, which detailed how the criminal investigation of Barefoot “opened a rare window into the inner workings of the modern-day Klan in the South, a secret and sordid culture of violence, racism and paranoia, where coon dogs are traded for liquid dynamite, crosses are burned next to the local Waffle House, and a Klan grand dragon presides over meetings in a ramshackle clubhouse on the edge of a swamp.” ( continue to full post… )

Learning the Law: A Lesson for Lou Dobbs

By Mark Potok on December 12, 2007 - 11:15 am, Posted in Anti-Immigrant, Media Extremism

Lou Dobbs was at it again last night, unleashing a foaming-mouth attack on the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which the CNN host variously described as “left wing,” “liberal,” “pitiful,” “an absolute disgrace,” and a “socio-ethnic Lou Dobbscentric special interest” group with an “open borders agenda.” Dobbs was livid because a short, just-released story in the SPLC’s Intelligence Report — about two Border Patrol agents, Ignacio Ramos and José Compean, now serving 11- and 12-year prison terms for shooting an unarmed border crosser and then covering up evidence and filing false official reports — highlighted and criticized Dobbs’ glorification of the pair.

Repeatedly promoting his upcoming segment last night, Dobbs said he’d have a thing or two to say about the SPLC’s “concept of law and justice” and added that the SPLC “doesn’t understand the concept of justice and presumption of innocence.” “[I]n this country,” Dobbs sputtered once he finally got to his segment, “there is a nativist tradition that says people are presumed innocent until proved guilty. What the Southern Poverty Law Center doesn’t seem to understand is that in this country, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution, not the defendants.”

Well, yes. But isn’t that, umm, before conviction?

“Dobbs just doesn’t get it,” said Richard Cohen, president of the SPLC and, unlike Dobbs, an actual lawyer. “The presumption of innocence applies throughout the trial process, but not after a jury has rendered a guilty verdict. Dobbs can presume Ramos and Compean to be innocent all he wants. But in the eyes of the law, they’re guilty because they’ve been tried and convicted.” ( continue to full post… )

Immigration Debate Breeds Anonymous Hate Speech

By Hatewatch Staff on December 11, 2007 - 2:10 pm, Posted in Uncategorized

Enrique Morones, who heads the immigrant-rights group Border Angels, said anti-immigrant sentiment has “never been as bad as it is right now.” Morones can handle the hostile e-mails and phone calls he gets regularly—some of which he shared with CityBeat—but recently his elderly parents became a target (he asked that the details not be disclosed).

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