Civil Rights Leaders Slam Colorado GOP For “Bizarre” SPLC Attack

SUNDAY UPDATE: Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette:

A coalition of civil rights groups and left-leaning organizations on Friday demanded an apology from the Colorado Republican Party for “viciously attacking” the Southern Poverty Law Center on Twitter, but the state GOP’s chairman called the request ridiculous and doubled down on the party’s criticism of the watchdog group.

The dispute centers around what the civil rights groups term “a bizarre outburst on Twitter” by the state GOP’s official account — a series of tweets and retweets questioning the SPLC’s credibility as an arbiter of hate groups and extremists…

Citing articles critical of the SPLC “from across the political spectrum” and a letter written this week by prominent conservatives that calls the SPLC a “discredited, left-wing political activist organization that seeks to silence its political opponents with a ‘hate group’ label of its own invention,” Hays told Colorado Politics he has no intention of apologizing.

“The notion that the Colorado Republican Party should apologize for joining this broad chorus of critics is ridiculous,” Hays said in a statement. “Our tweet was correct to suggest the SPLC is an unreliable source of information, and stories that cite it uncritically ought not to be trusted.”


A late-arriving press release today from several local civil rights leaders including the Denver Ministerial Alliance and LGBT rights group One Colorado calls for an apology from the Colorado Republican Party–who in the last couple of days has engaged in a series of off-message attacks on the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the nation’s leading anti-discrimination organizations:

Following a bizarre outburst from the official Twitter account for the Colorado Republican Party viciously attacking one of the nation’s foremost civil rights defense and anti-hate group organizations, Colorado civil rights leaders called on the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party to publicly apologize and hold the staffer responsible for these tweets accountable.

“Today’s conservative movement under President Donald Trump is empowering and mobilizing the forces of hatred in America, threatening America’s most fundamental values,” said Superintendent Patrick L. Demmer of the Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance. “The Southern Poverty Law Center’s job since 1971 has been to fight back against organized hatred, and they’ve done that job brilliantly. Less than one month since Charlottesville, the solution to the growing epidemic of hate in America is not to vilify the messenger.”

“It is outrageous to witness the Colorado Republican Party attacking an organization that has fought for civil rights and equality for over 45 years,” said Demmer. “With racist hatred and violence on the rise across America since Trump took office, the Southern Poverty Law Center is sounding the alarm that something very bad is happening. Instead of smearing the SPLC, Colorado Republicans should be reading Hatewatch—and making sure that hate is not being legitimized within the Republican Party, in Colorado or any other state.”

“The Southern Poverty Law Center’s has a long history of tracking and documenting the individuals, organizations, and funders of anti-LGBTQ extremism in this country,” said One Colorado Executive Director Daniel Ramos. “It is indeed possible that being marked as a hate group makes it harder for groups to retain their legitimacy and they may lose support from the public. That’s how it should be. Over the last two decades, we have made enormous progress in putting the days of anti-LGBTQ hate and discrimination behind us. SPLC’s ongoing work to expose hate in America is crucial to that progress.”

“Instead of denying the problem and attacking the messenger, every American should ask themselves: what am I doing to help put a stop to hatred in our country?” said Felicia Griffin, Executive Director of FRESC, Good Jobs, Strong Communities. “Sen. Cory Gardner, the top Republican elected official in this state, has repeatedly disavowed the racism that manifested in Charlottesville last month. If those words were more than platitudes, Gardner must demand that the Colorado Republican Party apologize for smearing one of the nation’s foremost civil rights organizations.”

In the aftermath of the racist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia last month–but really since the beginning of President Donald Trump’s administration, and even before as the GOP sought to accommodate and exploit the rise of the so-called “alt-right”–there’s been what seems to be a concerted push to de-legitimize the SPLC, as well as its mission to identify and hold hate groups accountable. Where SPLC has called out organizations that promote bigotry against LGBT Americans, they’ve been on what you might call a “civil rights frontier.” As a result, SPLC’s equation of bias against LGBT people with racial prejudice makes people who still think it’s okay to be biased against LGBT people…well, uncomfortable.

The commonality between “traditional” racial hatred and prejudice against LGBT people is not a new concept, and has been increasingly recognized in civil rights law–but there are some people out there who still don’t want to acknowledge that they are equally unacceptable in a just society. That includes, apparently, the Colorado Republican Party in its official capacity. Despite the fact that the party has on many occasions tried to soften its image on LGBT rights. And hopefully, the benefit of the doubt we’re affording them on the matter of straight-up racism is justified.

Instead of (metaphorically) shooting the messenger, maybe it’s time to consider what SPLC is saying.

19 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

    We renewed our ACLU and SPLC memberships and our AmazonSmile donations go to SPLC. If they're making the righty-tightys crazy, that's good enough for us.cheeky

  2. ElliotFladenElliotFladen says:

    I know Pols can be a huge echo chamber but you all might want to read up on the arbitrariness of SPLC designations.  Try to understand where the other side is coming from. 

    • FrankUnderwood says:

      Try to understand where the other side is coming from

      Charlottesville, I'm told

    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      What are you talking about, Elliot? Which organizations do you think are being unfairly targeted by the SPLC?

      I personally have no problem with them designating your buddy Gordon Klingenschmitt's  Pray in Jesus' Name as a hate group.

      Or the KKK, or Proudboys, or any of the white supremacist organizations. If it marches at night holding a torch and yelling Nazi slogans, it's a hate group. SPLC's Hatewatch usually gets it right.

      However, Jeff Hays, the new Chair of the CO Republican party, seems quite willing to cater to the lowest anti-gay prejudice, and was reluctant to condemn white supremacist groups at the latest RNC national meeting.

      Perhaps, he, too, hopes to "fire up" those Trump voters by appealing to their prejudices?

      All the moderate Republicans and Libertarians, such as yourself, are repelled by Trump and what this administration has been promoting and apologizing for. Yet Rs need those fired up Trumpers “energy” and “enthusiasm”. nbsp; What better way to get Trumpkin ballots turned in than to claim that Trump voters fave groups are being victimized by the mean old SPLC and those libtards?

      • ParkHill says:

        Right on Mama.

        One thing, though. Libertarians are all in for Trump, if mainly out of opportunism. Also there is a very strong racist tradition with Libertarians. Evidence: Ron Paul. 

        Libertarianism is primarily about power, privilege, private property, and funding the police to enforce existing ownership and power structures. These cornerstones of Libertarian ideology (or religion) might not speak literally of racism, but the racist consequences are inherent and unavoidable – by definition, slaves had no property, and White supremacy of the post-civil war century systematically prevented "those people" from economic and political opportunities. 

        Bigotry is different from racism. Although it often goes hand-in-hand with bigotry, Racism isn't about hating on black people, it is about maintaining White privilege. And maintaining privilege is what Libertarianism is all about.

        • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

          I suspect that Libertarians exist on a spectrum of bigotry from zero to Klan, like everyone else. But you're talking, I think, about institutional racism enforced by policies that tend to protect "haves from " have nots".

          In this country, that tends to concentrate privilege in those lacking skin pigment. Other countries, the Libertarian "me first – protect my stuff" ideology may be more obviously about class than race. But darker-complected folk are a handy target for hatred and fear to rationalize upholding policies.

          Concrete example:  The rescindment of DACA used racist stereotypes about Latinos as fuel. But the end goal is maintaining political power. Newsweek: Trump DACA Decision Aimed at Fear of a Brown Electorate

    • ParkHill says:

      Is the Republican Party a hate group?

      Why are racist appeals used so often by Party leaders, and condemnations of racism so weak?

      The Republican Party has no choice; or rather it has already chosen:  White identity politics is the base and extent of the Republican Party's appeal and power.

      As Ta-Nahesi Coates writes, the Republican Party is the Party of White identity politics. Trump won because he dominated the White vote especially the White male vote. Certain parts of the country have a very high White population, which results in the Republican Party being very dominant in certain regions.

      Trump's White vote was notably stronger in three demographics: White Men, White's without college degrees, and Upper middle-class Whites (i.e. $50,000 – $100,00).

      According to Edison Research, Trump won whites making less than $50,000 by 20 points, whites making $50,000 to $99,999 by 28 points, and whites making $100,000 or more by 14 points. This shows that Trump assembled a broad white coalition that ran the gamut from Joe the Dishwasher to Joe the Plumber to Joe the Banker. So when white pundits cast the elevation of Trump as the handiwork of an inscrutable white working class, they are being too modest, declining to claim credit for their own economic class. Trump’s dominance among whites across class lines is of a piece with his larger dominance across nearly every white demographic. Trump won white women (+9) and white men (+31). He won white people with college degrees (+3) and white people without them (+37).

      In other words, Trump's strongest voter base isn't so much working class Whites, rather upper middle class men without college degrees.

      I'm kind of curious and a little ignorant on this point; what job categories give you an income of $50-100,000 without a college degree? Sales, Real Estate investment, Franchises, like insurance, restaurant, Car dealers, small Construction companies. I'm thinking business owners, in particular privileged business ownership, the kind that you can inherit – and the kind where maybe there is some anxiety about losing privilege. 

      Maybe also good union jobs, skilled trades, police.

      Notably, this excludes some female dominated job categories like office worker, school teachers, (college degree, rarely above $50k)

      • notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

        Actually Park Hill, there are many such jobs. My wife is a senior software engineer and she never finished university She was "kidnapped" out of her junior year by one of her instructors who was starting a software consulting firm with his brother. Much of her education has been experience. Granted, that was 35 years ago, before the "qualification inflation" that has companies demanding an undergrad degree for data entry drones, but it's still possible.

    • The realistThe realist says:

      Elliot, it's difficult to understand your statement unless you provide some specifics. The SPLC is a well-respected civil rights organization fighting hate and hate groups in the US. It plays an important role that few others take on. 

      And please, tell us what you mean by "try to understand where the other side is coming from." What is the "other side," if not support of hate and bigotry?

    • Charles Buchanan says:

      I don't think anyone—even SPLC—would deny that they occasionally make a mistake, but neither would the ADL or any other comparable organization.

      That isn't what is happening here, though, Elliot. This is the official account of the State GOP making a claim that anything SPLC writes is categorically false. It is a slander. 

      I feel like I understand where the "other side is coming from" because my job is monitoring the other side on a daily basis. These attacks are born out of the reality that many of the groups the SPLC is designating and calling out are key constituencies in the neo-GOP and specifically of President Trump. Therefore they must be attacked. No amount of "understanding" where they come from will change the reality that they have gone off the rails into cultish worship and idolatry. I think you know this because I see you fighting the good fight every day—taking on Hays support for the Arpaio pardon, for instance.

    • DaftPunkDaftPunk says:

      What do you call a commenter who insinuates something without actually making a point (not so much as a link,) stirs up a whole bunch of replies, and then disappears from the thread?

      Hint: Rhymes with "hole."

  3. The realistThe realist says:

    And don't overlook the FoxNews article the Colo #GOP links to — clearly illustrates that the party of white supremacy is working to discredit organizations who strive to protect the civil rights of all of us who are not white men.


  4. taterheaptom says:

    Fladen finds friendlier fascists

    preferable, perhaps palatable? 

  5. taterheaptom says:

    And it was just terrible how the spirit of antifa that permeates the air these days made that nice man with the fashy coiffure stab himself. 

  6. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    Follow the money: hate groups wish to keep their tax-exempt status, and keep on slurping at the taxpayer trough. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, when the SPLC brands these watch-listed groups as  "hate groups", their donations dwindle, and their non-profit status could be revoked for

    Distorting facts, providing only unsupported opinions, or using inflammatory or disparaging terms based on emotions rather than facts may influence the IRS determination.

    In the minds of those bashing the SPLC, the free marketplace of ideas is for lesser mortals, not for 501C3s that advocate for suppressing gays, racial minorities, and women.  They have a holy mission, and American taxpayers had by God better subsidize it.

    IRS enforcement is of course, underfunded, and Trump has not appointed a new IRS Commissioner, leaving John Koskinen in place and resisting GOP  calls to censure or fire the IRS chief. Perhaps Mr. Koskinen  has some leverage over Trump? Those 18 years of missing tax returns?

    So these right wing groups probably have little to fear from the IRS. Taxpayers will continue to subsidize their hate speech by allowing their donors to deduct donations.

    Nevertheless, small donations have dwindled, although I speculate that larger ones from mega-churches and Koch-size "nonprofits" have made up for the deficit. It would be interesting to investigate to see if that's true.

    The IRS grants tax-exempt status to organizations that exist for purposes that are most commonly educational, charitable, or religious. Essentially, a tax-exempt organization is considered educational if it produces materials that are factually supported and which allow people to make up their mind about a particular viewpoint.

    In the early 1980s, the IRS decided that a Denver feminist newspaper, Big Mama Rag,(which I wrote for), was

     too "doctrinaire," the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the agency’s definition of educational activities was too vague. So the IRS issued a new guideline that remains the standard today

    So, ironically, our anti-patriarchal, anti-corporate editorials in Big Mama Rag paved the way for VDare, the Ruth Institute, Jihad Watch, and dozens more of the groups SPLC lists as those who should lose their non-profit status.

    I wonder if they'll ever thank us.

    As for Elliot, I think he trolls this forum mainly to get traffic to one of his marathon Facebook discussions which are always interesting and usually civil arguments between folks at opposite ends of the political spectrum.

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