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

Dobbs Fudges Numbers, Facts in Attack on SPLC

By Mark Potok on March 2, 2009 - 7:22 pm, Posted in Media Extremism

Our old friend Lou Dobbs is at it again.

Last Thursday, after stories about our latest hate group count ran around the nation, Dobbs offered CNN’s viewers his own peculiar take. He started by sneering at the scores of “media organizations” that he said were “just lapping it up,” and then told his viewers that the Southern Poverty Law Center report — documenting an increase in hate groups in 2008 — “could be an outright distortion.”

That’s about the place where Dobbs, assisted by reporter Kitty Pilgrim, started his own series of distortions. (A little background for the uninitiated: Dobbs has been angry at SPLC, calling us “fascists” and all kinds of other cruel and unusual names, ever since we began to criticize his falsehoods about immigrants several years back. After a long exegesis of our battle with the host of CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” New York Times financial columnist David Leonhardt concluded in print that Dobbs “has a somewhat flexible relationship with reality.” Dobbs had insisted on defending a false claim about immigrants and leprosy and was widely mocked as a result. Leonhardt continued: “The problem with Mr. Dobbs is that he mixes opinion and untruths. He is the heir to the nativist tradition that has long used fiction and conspiracy theories as a weapon against the Irish, the Italians, the Chinese, the Jews and, now, the Mexicans.”)

First, Pilgrim promoted me to “the director of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” a career leap also “reported” by Dobbs, who made me “the head” of SPLC — much, I assume, to the chagrin of my apparently former boss, Richard Cohen.

Then Pilgrim launched into a bizarre “report” in which she said the FBI has no definition of a “hate group” and, moreover, does not “monitor individuals or groups of individuals based on what they think or say.” Although both Pilgrim and Dobbs wore shocked expressions at that revelation — they apparently felt that if the FBI wasn’t “monitoring” the groups, then neither should the SPLC — anyone with a minimum of knowledge about federal law enforcement knows that agencies are prohibited from monitoring groups based on their political ideas. Only when evidence of a crime or planned crime is found can the agencies begin investigations of any kind. If the FBI indeed investigated groups without evidence of criminality, we would be the first to object. The COINTELPRO scandal of the 1970s showed what can happen when agencies like the FBI are allowed to “monitor” groups simply because of their ideas.

Pilgrim went on to accuse the SPLC of having an “utterly fuzzy” definition of a hate group because it relied on the group’s ideology, as Dobbs vigorously nodded his agreement. But neither suggested any groups that had been wrongly listed because of that definition or suggested an alternative definition. Was it the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan that should have been excluded? The National Socialist Movement? The Aryan Nations? Sons of Adolf Hitler, perhaps? We don’t know, because neither Pilgrim nor Dobbs would say.

Next, Dobbs and Pilgrim hauled out the FBI’s national hate crime statistics — presumably to show that the number of hate groups could not be going up if hate crimes were going down (although it’s well known that more than 95% of hate crimes are carried out by people who do not belong to hate groups). Those statistics run from 1992 to 2007, the latest available. But for some peculiar reason, Dobbs and Pilgrim chose to highlight the total number of incidents from just two years — 1995 and 2007. They then pointed out that hate crimes had actually decreased by about 4% in that period (they also bolstered their case a bit by falsely claiming that the 1995 number was 7,974 when it was actually 7,947). Why did they choose 1995 for their early number? Well, if they chose 1994, the number of hate crimes would have been 5,987 — and that wouldn’t have worked too well for their propaganda, seeing as how that would mean a 28.5% increase by 2007. In fact, every year before 1995 — 1994, 1993 and 1992 — would have produced increases when compared to 2007 instead of decreases. Go figure!

Also unmentioned by the intrepid “Lou Dobbs Tonight” team was the fact that virtually all scholars of hate crimes have long known that the numbers reported by the FBI are artificially low for a number of reasons. In fact, the Department of Justice published an important study in 2005 showing that the real level of hate crime in America was more than 190,000 incidents per year. So whether they are going up or down, the hate crime numbers are very high by any standard.

Toward the end, Dobbs went after me personally (full disclosure: it was hardly the first time), saying that it was “pretty pitiful” that I could say that conditions “favor the growth of hate groups” but not offer proof of increasing recruitment. His idea seems to be that if SPLC cannot “prove” recruiting gains, then we must be lying about the growth in the number of hate groups and conditions affecting future growth.

And then it was time for one final swipe at his media colleagues. “And I know a lot of news organizations are picking up and going with this,” Dobbs said with a disgusted look, “because they think it’s a ratings grabber.” Not like you, Lou.

  • augusto

    (…)The researchers, who released their findings in the current issue of Criminology, indicated that studies on black violent crime — a crime that involves force or the threat of force — often fail to account for the rise in the number of Hispanics in the U.S. Since there is no Hispanic category in the UCR and approximately 93 percent of Hispanics identify themselves, or are identified by law enforcement officers, as white, most arrests of Hispanics are added to white violent crime rates.(…)

    this table it appears that in 2005 – 36% (or 37.460) of the rapes were committed against white women by black while the number of blacks raped by whites was zero!
    -statistic worth noting that the Justice Department is confusing because couples fights and rapes are not added separately!

  • Louis Calabro

    Geno: I think that you are assuming that all hate crimes are reported to the police as hate crimes.

    Hundreds of thousands of violent felony crimes are committed between blacks and whites and whites are victims in nearly 85% of the cases.

    You do not have to agree–but many believe that many of those crimes are committed against whites is because they were white.

    Have you ever heard of the Nation of Islam “Zebra Murders”in San Francisco during the 70’s??

  • Carter

    Our Country was built on immigration. Some of the oldest immigrants (albeit against their will) are Africans Americans. Immigration is a positive thing as it brings in new ideas, culture, etc. Much of this is positive and contributory. There is no need to fear an immigrant.
    What many people incorrectly believe is that cultures have domination in productivity [or lack there of].
    This is an expression of individual actions & not an expression of a “group think” mentality.There is a “night & day” difference between those who legally immigrate & those who do not. Those who want to be here are often the MOST productive Americans.Those who are here illegally live in fear & often have a very simplistic economic motivation, limiting their scope of social interaction. It is the simplistic view of making money -by working & living in a country, that essentially diminishes the contributions made. As opposed to those who WANT to be a MEMBER of the host country.
    That being said, often those who illegally stay in this country do so to make money to send to very needy family member, back in the country of origin. They are the highest targets of exploitation. This is a loose / loose agenda. The discussion of illegal immigration should be the impact on both the individual & the host country.
    If we are to look at this situation objectively, the agenda should be to address what benefits of all parties concerned & NOT what superficially appeals to voting blocks & professional political maneuvering.
    However, we have seen in Africa itself, that simply giving hand-outs to people in need will not solve a problem. In many of the impoverished states in Africa, this reaction to compassion (or guilt) by deliveries of food, medicine, etc has not done the job & created a situation where many individuals believe they are almost at the mercy of the UN or other international emergency care-givers. The original American Peace-Core volunteers were mandated to deliver the MEANS for people to help themselves. This was very tough work; & unfortunately we moved from that to simple hand-outs that had negative impact on self-esteem & general productivity. What’s more it also had created a criminal group(s) of those who would commandeer those supplies (example: Somalia).
    The issues of discussion should be the impact of illegality; not the complexion of the American mainstream. The focus should be the METHODS used to raise an American family from poverty. The ethnicity of that family is completely irrelevant.
    The “Teach a Man to Fish” concept should be the highest priority in addressing of poverty in this nation. Especially in times of economic crisis..
    The mistakes made in Africa should not be forgotten. Anyone who has been there would testify to the intensity of that.

  • Amanda

    This all depends on your definition of “hate group”. According to the liberal agenda, anyone that does not support illegal immigration is a hate mongering xenophobe. That is simply not true.

  • GENO

    “I admit that the crime stats issued by US Department of Justice is difficult to read and locate.”

    Then you just admitted that you’re a retard. I have a younger cousin at just 13 years of age who already knows how to look up the hatecrime statistical reports on the DOJ”s website for me on his own.
    You do not need to be a genius to look this up and recognize the facts stated therin. You simply, however, must have some level of reading comprehensional abilities to do so. But observing that you could not do so, tells me you are ignorant in these areas. It would be inane to believe your numbers if you harbor no analytical researching skills. In other words, you merely repeat the disingenuous dogmas of other white supremacists regarding Blacks and nonwhites. Basically, you have no solid basis to your argument, just reiterated mantras of a certain time on a specific crime.

  • Irv

    Lou Dobbs is responsible for the tremendous decrease in donatons to anti-hate groups, especially the SPLC.

    That’s not right really. He can disagree in principle with the opinions expressed, but I don’t think his actions should be extended to include a call for non-support, especially during this economic collapse which has caused the big money donors to pull back into their protective bunkers. He also has a whisper campaign that has been fruitful for him, I’m told.

    As I mentioned in my last message, the stock market is collapsing, and I’m beginning to think this stimulus package is going to cause us to go bankrupt. If that happens we wont have a forum to express our views anymore.

    We haven’t hit bottom yet, so we’ve probably got until the end of this year or so to try to compensate for a situation where many of our organizations will be cut back to mere skeleton crews.

    If you like expressing your views here, I would suggest writing out a check to SPLC for a couple of hundred or so this year and the following year too which will be worse.

    People are reluctant to part with their brass, but it’s the only way to keep things going during severe downtimes like this.

  • Carter

    Dear Cheryl :

    Are you really saying that a conservative = a bigot? While I would agree that the essence of “stuck in the mud” mentality is NOT a progressive (small “p”) way of thinking, I would disagree that Progressive or Leftist individuals have an inherent egalitarian, all inclusive way of dealing with their fellows. Such a generalization is in essence, bigoted. Not ALL of ANY group, behave in any particular way.

    Now, we don’t know each other, we don’t know the way each of us votes or thinks but I believe that generalizations about groups are the very essence of divisiveness. The thing that makes may countries progress is to invite all points of view to be heard and to use intellect & logic to reason perspectives to become productive.
    Imagine if we all thought the same politically or socially? We would never entertain new ideas or methods of dealing with situations new to the Group.

    With our new President, we now have some very new and wonderful feelings in this country. We are beginning to become a nation where people of color can do the same things as the majority. That’s wonderful news to many of us who were born during a period that such things were unheard of.
    It’s also a challenge. To many of us who had ideas ingrained that they had little hope of rising to higher levels of interaction within the governing body, the election of Obama lets us know that if we work within the system that we have a chance to become greater than our fathers & grandfathers.

    I have lived in both California & Arizona. I have seen a Hell of a lot of racism in both States. But in ratio and proportion (which I think is one of your points), I have seen a hell of a lot of “closet racism” in those wonderful people that say some wonderfully egalitarian things but would never dream of allowing a person of color the same levels of respect (socially, intellectually, vocationally, etc) that they would one “of their own”.

    Remember Jesse Jackson’s quote about being “followed by a man” and being relieved to see he was white? That mid-set is NOT limited to the Rush Limbaughs of this world. The term “Limousine Liberal” is not necessarily an economic class distinction descriptive phrase. Hypocrisy is still alive: that’s hardly debatable.

  • Dark Man

    “Notice how 90% of blacks in some areas voted for a black man for President. Are they racist too?”

    Why is that “racist”? Unlike Palin’s people, did they shout–
    “Off with his head!”?

    Did the Black voters ever threaten John McCain or that wacky wonder from Wasillah–Sarah Palin?

    However, your puny argument is quite baseless to begin with. Because in case you do not fully understand politics which you probably don’t. 95% of African-American voters are largely Democrats. Lets say–what if Hillary Clinton won the Demacratic bid for the Presidency and 90% of Blacks voted for her, are you gonna cry that Blacks are being “racist” then???

  • GENO

    Frontpage Mag is grostequely biased and hideously racist. With ill gotten writers/pundits like David “the fake indian” Yeagley.
    Extremely right-wing nonsense and a pathetic excuse for citing statistics based on race. That’s like looking to Stormfront for Jewish truths and answers.

    Nice try….

    “We should look at all of the crime in America, those classified as racial/ethnic hate crimes”

    Why don’t you look into the DOJ and the FBI’s hatecrime statistics report?

  • http://deleted Louis Calabro

    “notice why AZ has officially never elected a Black official in office. ”

    Notice how more than 90% of blacks in some areas voted for a black man for President. Are they too racists?

  • http://deleted Louis Calabro

    daemonesslisa, to the best of my knowledge the statistics documented in those reports are a true reflection of the facts.

    I admit that the crime stats reports issued by the US Department of Justice are difficult to read and locate.

    The Annual Crime Victimization Survey, by the US Department of Justice is a source that ALSO reflects crime victims that failed to report the crime and is consider more reliable. The Color of Crime report did, as I understand it, rely on that report for some of their statistics.

  • daemonesslisa

    Front Page Mag? Color Of Crime? You’re gonna have to do a lot better than those! How about sites that aren’t right-wing propaganda fronts?

  • Dark Man

    I concur with Cheryl’s statements. The only minor difference is that current Republican Gov. of Cali is not really a hard winger as some percieve him to be. He gets attacked from both sides of the aisle. In fact, some hardcore Republiloons are starting to question whether Arnold Swarzenegger is actually a Republican or not. But you can’t really juxtapose Cali with Arizona. AZ exemplify that “stuck in the mud mentality” where its political time frame is frozen, like you’re still in 1980. The political atmosphere here in central AZ(the infamous Maricopa County) harbours that perfect example in that context. Despite the fact that we had a Democrat Gov.(Janet Napolitano), the state was still largely controlled by Republicans, which is why the political map still indicates AZ as a red state(Cali a blue state). As a matter of fact, Arnold makes our Napster look somewhat Conservative. Whereas CA’s politics continues to change along with their growing Hispanic and nonwhite populations and foreigners.

    Noticed how long it took for AZ to adopt the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday? If that isn’t enough, notice why AZ has officially never elected a Black official in office. One interesting example of this, was last fall’s competition between Gerald Richards and Nelson both Democrats running for the County Attorney office. Gerald Richards(Black official) expertise, credentials was a bona fide front runner and seemed perfect to the next C.A. compared to that of Nelson. Gerald Richard has a long experience in law and law enforcement that should easily get him elected but instead the masses of racist white sandbillies opted for Nelson to beat Andrew Thomas. And in the end, Andrew Thomas was re-elected(and he is the 2nd half of arpaio’s terror squad).

    AZ has a lot of catching up to do to “fit with the times.”

  • http://deleted Louis Calabro

    Geno said: “If you wanna get “realistic”, I suggest you look at the numbers of *hatecrimes* committed by racist white extremists.”

    I agree.

    We should look at all of crime in America, those classified as racial/ethnic hate crimes as well as those that are strikingly hateful, like shooting robbery victims in the face when the victim and perp are of a different race, and yet they are not classified as racially motivated hate crimes.

    Racially motivated hate crimes are miniscule in number as compared to the extreme number of serious and violent interracial felonies of black on white crimes.

  • http://deleted Louis Calabro

    Correction: For Rapes please see:

    The Truth of Interracial Rape in the United States
    By Lawrence Auster | Thursday, May 03, 2007

  • Louis Calabro

    For a statistical report on black on white crime please see:

    If you wish, the author of the study will speak with you about the report.

    For black on white rapes of women please see:

  • GENO

    The numbers Louis cites is pure hyperbole, basically. I heard those numbers before and I’m not sure why white supremacists love to cite the exaggerated claims in “Blacks rape White women” in greater numbers. Evidently, those numbers are nothing but hogwash. Most relationships experts and criminalogists point out that White women are more likely to get raped by someone they know. Are you telling me that White women are race mixing with Blacks at an alarming rates? Randon rapes like that one Louis cites is a white supremacists fantasy in terms of argument. Its basically old and falsified.

    “Lets get realistic.”

    If you wanna get “realistic”, I suggest you look at the numbers of *hatecrimes* committed by racist white extremists.

  • Brooke

    Um, Louis, care to tell us your source for this statement?

    “In 2005 blacks raped about 35,000 white women and whites raped less than 10. Let’s get realistic.”

  • Allison


    Your numbers sound incredibly wrong. Name your sources, please.

  • Snorlax

    Mr. Dobbs, your dry cleaners called…Your white sheet with the eyeholes is ready.

  • Cheryl

    Sorry Carter
    The reason for the California hate group explosion is that the state has 20% of the entire population of the US in it-if its the biggest state by population of course it will have more hate groups. And guess what? Those hate groups are concentrated in Conservative areas where the residents have a tendency to be a little paranoid. The extreme Northern part of the state is rural and backwards which=Conservative. The Suburbs of Sacramento and San Fransisco are populated with the wealthy and religious conservatives-where you find this combo hate groups abound. The Central Valley is full of rural towns, foreclosures, unemployment and fear, add some migrant workers and you have hate group heaven. The wealthy of Orange County and San Diego are Conservatives of the most hateful kind. They’ve been extremely vocal about their bigotry for years. So don’t try to feed us the line that conservatives aren’t bigots. Because conservatives look backward instead of learning to adapt, change and progress with the rest of us. It’s that stuck in the mud mentality that creates bigots in the first place. Time only moves forward-that’s why they call it progress. The Progressive train is coming through, you can catch it, or you can stand there and do nothing and find yourself left all alone in the dust.

  • Louis Calabro

    Sure there are “white” hate groups. But the amount of crimes they commit against blacks and hispanics are minimal when you compare the amount of black and hispanic crimes committed against whites.

    It’s ridiculous to dub a crime of spitting on someone while calling them a racial/ethnic name as more severe than shooting someone in the face during a robbery where not a word is said.

    Hundreds of thousands of crimes are committed yearly against whites. In 2005 blacks raped about 35,000 white women and whites raped less than 10. Let’s get realistic.

  • Carter

    Arizona has always been a state of marginal political activity, although quite libertarian (small “L”).
    “You leave me alone; I’ll leave you alone”, “Your business is your business, so long as it doesn’t affect me”, etc, etc
    I think there are many reasons for this phenomenon. One of which is that people enjoy running their own lives, without “Big Brother” telling them how to think or feel..

    That’s been one of the reasons why I take acceptation to the prejudicial statements that conservatives are always bigots. While we see CALIFORNIA with the largest Hate Group population in the nation!

    Arizona’s grown quite a bit in the last 20 years.
    …Mostly from Californians, who want to GET AWAY from the population density problems & who embrace the ideas of “live & let live”.

    IMO – Many of the Californians who move here whether they are Democrat or Republican enjoy the libertarian concept.
    Interestingly, other areas of the State with higher population density (like Pima County) have NO Hate Groups that made the map.
    When we had all sorts of people coming here to “watch the boarder” – most all of them were not from our state!

    One issue that seems to not be addressed is that in this day & age we have several much more effective methods of “advertising” a political concept. The Pamphlet of George Lincoln Rockwell no longer needs a printing press. The power of the internet turns out Mini-Fuhrers every day. If we could separate those that really are a group from those that are a bit grandiose; we may have a more accurate picture on that Hate Map.

  • GENO

    In regards to the hategroups in my area, apparently there are 3 of them identified by the local law enforcement. Several local papers also reported it.

    We have the National Socialist Movement in Apache Junction which is East from here. And then there’s the National Coalition and the Vinlanders Social Club;

    Obviously, there are no known nonwhite hategroup other than the “Black Separatists” which is in the greater Phoenix area.
    I’m sure of it that every major town/metropolitan area has more than 1 hategroup in existence. Most of them white supremacist related.

    Personally, I would like to see Lou Dobbs have a debate with Mark Potok regarding this growing trend. Most Americans are fully aware of this. To try and pretend they are nonexistent is unrealistic. There is absolutely no way that you can possibly hide these existing hategroups, when they are out there having their little rallies and being vocal about nonwhites, primarilty Hispanics/Mexicans. This reports are based on known facts.

    For some, we know that the truth hurts……