“White Lives Matter,” the antithesis of everything Black Lives Matter stands for, is being designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). You may have heard about White Lives’ protest outside the NAACP headquarters in Houston last week. They were small in numbers, but they were armed and considered to be hostile, with a couple of 14-word signs visible, which refers to white supremacy.
The reason SPLC designated White Lives as a hate group is because they promote the idea of superiority as opposed to equality. It is not a few rogue “members” or extremists within their group that put forward that ideology; it is the leader, which means the idea is flowing from top-down. But how has the SPLC earned the authority to define, “hate group?”
what is the southern poverty law center?
Founded in 1971, the SPLC is a non-profit organization which promotes civil rights and equality. It also functions as a law firm which fights discrimination lawsuits. It has earned a number of legal victories in this regard over the years, perhaps most famously for its successful argument holding the United Klans of America responsible for the murder of a black man carried out by two of its members. Michael Brown’s lynching was a gruesome and horrifying reminder that in the 1980s there were still those out there who wanted to kill a person just because of the color of their skin.
The SPLC has not been without controversy, as many have tried to paint them as liberally biased. This particular accusation was brought to the forefront when they designated the Family Research Council as a hate group. Many religious figures painted this move as anti-Christian, but the words of the Council’s leaders tell quite a different story. Their hate towards the LGBT community is the reason for their inclusion on the map, which the SPLC continually updates, and tracks the location of all designated hate groups within the country.
how does the splc define hate group?
The SPLC says that hate groups, “have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.” So if a group actively discriminates against a person for something they did not choose – their skin color, their sexual orientation or their race – then they are designated as a hate group. Once they are recognized as such, they are added to the hate map.
Since they started keeping track of hate groups in 1999, there has been a 150 percent increase in the sheer number of hate groups in the country. Peaking in 2011 at 1,018 groups, it dropped to 784 in 2014, only to rise back up to 892 by the end of 2015. Their map update for 2016 will be released in February, and it will be interesting to see where that number settles. But one thing is clear; the racial rhetoric that has plagued this election season has brought out the worst in many people.
*Featured image from Ardfern, via Wiki Commons