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 Prince and the Pea: Oklahoma Mass Murderer’s Tummy Aches

By Alexander Zaitchik on August 11, 2010 - 2:47 pm, Posted in Antigovernment, Extremist Crime

Talk about delusional. Terry Nichols continues to believe that he is a princess in a high castle, and not a Supermax prisoner serving multiple life sentences for his role in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people, including 19 children.

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Prime Islam-Basher Pam Geller Outdone by Colleague

By Larry Keller on August 10, 2010 - 2:36 pm, Posted in Anti-Muslim

As head of New York-based Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), “Atlas Shrugs” blogger Pamela Geller has certainly gotten her share of publicity, thanks to her inflammatory rhetoric and stunts like wearing a bathing suit four years ago to make a videotaped harangue about Palestinian terrorists.

Geller is a leader in the opposition to the Islamic center and mosque proposed for a site near that of the 9/11 attack in New York.  She has said — without any evidence at all to back her up — that funding of the center could be “tied to jihad or terror” and added that building it would be “repugnant,” a “kick in the head” to Americans and equivalent to “stab[bing] Americans in the eye.” In May, she spent $10,000 for anti-Islam ads to be placed for a month on 40 New York City buses. Among other things, the ads directed Muslims to a website urging them to leave the “falsity of Islam.” Not surprisingly, many Muslims were offended.

Nobody on the far right, it seems, has been able to surpass Geller for anti-Obama epithets with a Muslim-bashing twist. She has called the president  “a third worlder and a coward” who is anxious to “appease his Islamic overlords.” On another occasion, she wrote that Obama “wants jihad to win.” But now a founding board member of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) — a group founded by Geller, apparently to act as an umbrella for the SIOA she co-founded — is doing his best to be even more vitriolic than her. His rants, coupled with his apparently close relationship to Geller, cast new doubt on Geller’s already extremely doubtful claim to be a reasonable critic of Muslims and Islam generally.

According to the Daily Kos, AFDI board member John Joseph Jay recently has posted a series of truly vicious anti-Muslim rants — apparently without the benefit of a capital letter function on his computer.  “if islam kills non-believers as a matter of religious doctrine, then why should muslims expect to be free of retribution in the name of those islam kills?” he wrote. “why should muslims get a free pass? if it is right for muslims to kill non-believers, then why is it no less right for the rest of us to kill muslims?”

In another screed, the Daily Kos said Jay wrote: “there are, friends, no ‘innocent’ muslims. they obey. and they obey the dictates of the koran on jihad. and, they obey the commands of local clerics. in this, they have no choice. because, friends, there is no ‘free will’ in islam, one obeys  the dictates of allah.” ( continue to full post… )

Religious Right Reacts With Fury to Prop 8 Knockdown

By Mark Potok on August 5, 2010 - 12:19 pm, Posted in Anti-LGBT

In the hours since a federal judge struck down California’s ban on same-sex marriage yesterday, religious-right organizations have sent up an angry howl of protest, accusing the judge of doing everything from overruling the Constitution to laying the groundwork for a contemporary version of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Tim Wildmon, leader of the American Family Association, called the decision “tyrannical, abusive and utterly unconstitutional” and said it “cavalierly trashed” the votes of some 7 million Californians who voted to approve Proposition 8 in 2008. “It’s also extremely problematic that Judge [Vaughn] Walker is a practicing homosexual himself. … His situation is no different than a judge who owns a porn studio being asked to rule on an anti-pornography statute.” Wildmon went on to demand that the U.S. House of Representatives impeach Walker.

Randy Thomasson, president of, which worked to support the proposition during the 2008 campaign, sounded a similar theme, saying that the ruling dealt a “terrible blow” to the country and that the “biased, homosexual judge” had “imposed his own homosexual agenda.” Bishop Harry Jackson, leader of Stand4MarriageDC, called the judge’s ruling a “slur” against those who had voted for Prop 8. And former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich said the judge’s “notorious decision” showed “outrageous disrespect for the Constitution.”

In fact, Walker found that Proposition 8 merely asserted “the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples” without any rational basis. “The Constitution cannot control private biases, but neither can it tolerate them.”

But that’s not the way most religious-right organizations and activists saw the decision. On the contrary, they seemed to believe that it was them who were being discriminated against. Maggie Gallagher, the president of the National Organization for Marriage, for example, said that the decision would lead the government, “almost Soviet-style,” to reeducate American children. Andy Pugno, general counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund that represented supporters of the proposition, said the judge had “literally accused the majority of California voters of having ill and discriminatory intent” in voting for it. Robert George of the American Principles Project said his decision was a “usurpation of democratic authority” and described same-sex marriage supporters as having a “revolutionary sexual ideology.” Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council blamed “the far Left” for pushing judges to such decisions, and said that “this dangerous decision” had to be appealed. And David E. Smith, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute, said that “radical forces” and “tyrants who threaten to destroy this country” were to blame. ( continue to full post… )

A Kinder, Gentler Lou Dobbs?

By Larry Keller on August 5, 2010 - 9:17 am, Posted in Anti-Immigrant

Ever since he was bounced from his high-profile gig at CNN nearly nine months ago, we have seen a kinder, gentler Lou Dobbs than the commentator who became synonymous with vilifying undocumented immigrants.

The latest from Dobbs came this week, when he told Megyn Kelly at Fox News and George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that he disagreed with the growing number of Republican senators calling for amending or repealing the 14th Amendment, which grants citizenship to babies born in America. Critics complain that illegal immigrants take advantage of the amendment to come to the United States to have “anchor babies” who are eligible for welfare benefits and who are used to eventually get citizenship for their parents. (The key words in the amendment are these: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.” Congress adopted the 14th Amendment after the Civil War, in part, to guarantee the citizenship of freed slaves and their descendants.)

“The idea that anchor babies somehow require changing the 14th Amendment, I part ways with the senators on that because I believe the 14th Amendment, particularly in its due process and equal protection clauses, is so important,” Dobbs said on Fox. “It lays the foundation for the entire Bill of Rights being applied to the states.” On ABC, Dobbs said, “It is not in the interest of the American people, in my judgment at least, to roll back the laws … because the result may be inconvenient to some and their political views.”

This is the same Dobbs who often made spurious claims about undocumented immigrants on his CNN program — that there was a surge of leprosy cases likely due to immigrants, that immigrants filled one-third of American prison cells, and so on. Last year, the Southern Poverty Law Center and others called for Dobbs’ firing after the CNN host suggested that the president had not proved he was born in the United States. In November, Dobbs left the network at a reported cost to CNN of $8 million to buy out his contract. ( continue to full post… )

Religious Freedom at Stake in Ground Zero Controversy

By Mark Potok on August 4, 2010 - 10:39 am, Posted in Anti-Muslim

Nine days after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, President George W. Bush addressed the nation to say, in part, that while the murder of nearly 3,000 people came at the hands of radical Muslims, Islam was not to blame.

“We respect your faith,” Bush told Muslims. “It’s practiced freely by many millions of Americans, and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends. It is a radical network of terrorists.”

Despite that important speech, in the weeks and months after the tragedy, there was a hateful backlash against people perceived to be Muslim or Arab. At least three people were killed, and hundreds were assaulted. Still, it seems clear that the toll would likely have gone much higher had the president not called for religious tolerance. Bush’s speech, and his collegial appearance around the same time with a leading Muslim cleric at the National Cathedral, were high points in his presidency.

How times have changed.

In the last two weeks or so, the siting of a major Islamic center about two blocks from Ground Zero in New York City has exploded into an ugly national debate freighted with tones of intolerance. Many Americans, especially those on the political right, have condemned the plans for a 13-story, $100 million building with the mission of promoting “interfaith tolerance and respect.” The project’s chairman, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, has criticized Islamic extremism but is still being attacked for not denouncing Hamas, the militant Muslim organization in Palestine, and for not identifying his source of funding.

One-time vice presidential contender Sarah Palin described the plans as a “stab … in the heart” and called on Muslims to “refudiate” them. The National Republican Trust Political Action Committee said in television ads that the “monstrous” building was intended “to celebrate [the] murder of 3,000 Americans.” And then there was the comment from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who said, “There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.” ( continue to full post… )

‘Burn a Koran Day’ Fan Page Stays Up, Grows, Despite Rules

By Alexander Zaitchik on August 4, 2010 - 7:40 am, Posted in Anti-Muslim

On July 22, Hatewatch reported the announcement of a provocative spectacle planned for Sept. 11 by Dove World Outreach Center, a twisted little ministry based in Gainesville, Fla. Just about everything you need to know about the event is contained in its title, “Burn a Koran Day”; everything else, including the back story to Dove World, can be found here.

At the time of our original post, the event’s Facebook page had several hundred fans. Now, nearly two weeks later, the page has more than 3,000 and is growing. Many of these — largely drawn from the United States and Poland — have added more than 2,000 images of graphic violence (committed both by and against Muslims) as well as crudely designed anti-Arab and anti-Muslim Photoshop jobs (including multiple versions of posters urging the nuking of Mecca).

Supporters of “Burn a Koran Day” are not the only participants on the site, however. Increasingly, opponents of the event are “trolling” the page and challenging the views on display. Some of these virtual protesters issue their challenge directly, such as those who post simply, “I LOVE BEING MUSLIM.” Others, however, have taken a more absurdist approach to mocking the event and those supporting it. Rebecca Bass, for example, has been a frequent visitor to the site, regularly posting trivia-like non-sequiturs such as, “Tiger Woods is the highest paid athlete. He makes around $80 million per year (or $219,000 per day).”

According to its own rules, however, this “debate,” such as it is, is not one Facebook should be continuing to host. According to the social networking site’s own “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities,” Article III, Section VII: “You will not post content that: is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.” “Burn a Koran Day” easily meets more than one of these triggers for removal.

As the page continues to gain worldwide support for an event designed to breed and fuel hate, the question presents itself: Is anyone at Facebook at the controls?

Alleged Serial Killer was Member of Neo-Nazi National Alliance

By Heidi Beirich on August 3, 2010 - 5:24 pm, Posted in Extremist Crime, Neo-Nazi

William Dathan Holbert, who was arrested last week in Nicaragua along with his girlfriend, Laura Michelle Reese, has reportedly confessed to killing five Americans so he could take over their businesses and other properties in a Panamanian resort area. Holbert, a native North Carolinian, has so far been charged with a total of nine murders that took place in the Panamanian resort of Bocas del Toro.

A Panamanian official quoted Holbert, who was deported to Panama to face murder charges, as saying he established friendships with two of his victims by posing as a potential investor, then shot each in the head, buried them and took over their money and other property. The National Police in Panama said they found nine bodies on the property of Holbert and Reese, which included a hotel.

Holbert and his girlfriend had been on the run for more than two years, since they fled after being pulled over on Feb. 5, 2006, in Sheridan County, Wyo., for speeding in a stolen car.

Some of Holbert’s white supremacist history has been made public in news reports, including the fact that he has a swastika tattoo on his upper back and “Aryan Pride” on his arm. But a key piece of that history has not. In August 2002, Holbert joined the neo-Nazi National Alliance (NA), which at one time was the most important hate group in America. At the time, the Alliance was suffering from a leadership crisis caused by the death a month earlier of the group’s longtime leader, William Pierce. Under the leadership of Erich Gliebe, who followed Pierce, the NA would eventually fall apart, leaving only a few weak and scattered remnants. ( continue to full post… )

Black-on-Latino Hate Crimes Broil Staten Island

By Alexander Zaitchik on August 3, 2010 - 2:23 pm, Posted in Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Latino

It has been an agonizing summer for Latino residents of Staten Island. Since April, there have been 11 known instances of racially motivated violence against Latinos in the New York City borough, most of it taking place in the economically depressed Mexican-immigrant neighborhood of Port Richmond. This past Saturday, an 18-year-old Mexican immigrant named Christian Vazquez became the latest victim when he was attacked and beaten by three young African-American assailants who yelled anti-Mexican slurs and accused him of belonging to a Mexican gang. (In fact, Vazquez is active in a local group working against bias crime and gang activity, called Eye Openers: Youth Against Violence.) Currently one of the assailants, a 15-year-old Liberian immigrant, is in police custody and facing hate-crime charges of assault, robbery and aggravated harassment.

The most recent attack follows a rising pattern of black-on-Latino bias crime in the borough. In another representative case, on April 25, 46-year-old Rogerio Vazquez (no relation to Christian) suffered lacerations to his head during a slur-laden assault and robbery at the hands of a 19-year-old Asian woman and 21-year-old African-American man.

The rash of attacks in the area has led to the construction of a “police skywatch tower” to better monitor the streets, as well as the involvement of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Mexican Consulate, which have participated in a growing number of community forums on the problem.

But some local community leaders say that much more is needed.

“While the City has dramatically increased police presence in Port Richmond, where many of these attacks have occurred, this surge in police presence fails to address the root causes of this violence,” said Ana Maria Archila, spokeswoman for Make the Road New York, a Latino advocacy group. “We can’t continue to wish discrimination and bias away. New York City must take concrete steps to promote tolerance and expand opportunities for young people.”

The steps proposed by Archila’s and allied groups include more public town halls and hearings; public awareness campaigns about hate crimes and how to anonymously report them; and educational programs for teenagers, who make up a large proportion of the perpetrators.

Though violence between black and Latino populations is generally associated with gang activity in Los Angeles and high school conflicts there and elsewhere in California, the recent events on Staten Island illustrate that the problem is national in scope, especially when the communities border each other and are in direct competition for scarce local jobs. Attacks on Latinos have risen in recent years, as anti-immigrant rhetoric ratcheted up across the country. According to the FBI, anti-Latino violence shot up 40% between 2003 and 2007, dropping back slightly in 2008. The FBI has yet to release hate crime statistics for 2009.