The Southern Poverty Law Center has been viewed with sharp suspicion by conservatives for quite some time, as the purported civil rights organization has displayed a rather overt bias in favor of the ideological left in politically-motivated attacks on the right.
The ideological bias has been revealed through the SPLC’s work as an attack dog for the political left through the labeling of any individual or group that dissents from liberal orthodoxy as members of a “hate group.”
Ironically, considering “racism” is arguably the group’s favorite label to pin on those on the right, the co-founder and former chief litigator for the organization was just fired by his own group, allegedly for a history of racist behavior toward minority employees.
The Montgomery Advertiser first reported on the news that the Alabama-based SPLC had terminated its partnership with 82-year-old Morris Dees, who founded the group in Montgomery in 1971 as a civil rights-focused non-profit organization.
“As a civil rights organization, the SPLC is committed to ensuring that the conduct of our staff reflects the mission of the organization and the values we hope to instill in the world,” SPLC President Richard Cohen said in an emailed statement.
“When one of our own fails to meet those standards, no matter his or her role in the organization, we take it seriously and must take appropriate action.
“Today we announced a number of immediate, concrete next steps we’re taking, including bringing in an outside organization to conduct a comprehensive assessment of our internal climate and workplace practices, to ensure that our talented staff is working in the environment that they deserve — one in which all voices are heard and all staff members are respected,” he added.
The Montgomery Advertiser noted that an SPLC spokesperson had informed the outlet that no additional changes to leadership would be made, and the organization was “in the process of hiring” the outside firm mentioned in the official statement, which would assess and make recommendations on improving the workplace climate at the SPLC.
It was also noted that Dees’ biography as a co-founder of the organization has already been removed from the SPLC’s website.
Though the official statement released by Cohen didn’t provide any specifics on why Dees had been fired, the Montgomery Advertiser looked to its own reporting on the organization over the years to derive any potential clues for the reason.
In 1994, as part of an in-depth series covering the SPLC and the work they did — a series that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize — it had been revealed that Dees had been accused of racially discriminatory behavior of black employees.
The paper reported at that time that SPLC staffers had “accused Morris Dees, the center’s driving force, of being a racist and black employees have ‘felt threatened and banded together.’”
Apparently, those accusations — which were flatly denied by Dees and the organization generally — resulted in no real punishment for Dees at that time, but, considering the possibility that such behavior continued unabated, may very well have prompted this sudden and unexpected termination of his employment.
One thing that can be confirmed, though, were complaints from the ’90s about Dees focusing far too much attention on fundraising instead of actual litigation for the causes the SPLC claimed to uphold. The Advertiser noted that the SPLC has grown immensely over the years — hundreds of employees in offices located in four states — and has accumulated a war chest of more than $450 million as of 2017, quite a large unspent sum for a non-profit.
To be sure, we have no way of knowing if Dees was fired for his alleged racist behavior and there remains the possibility that Dees was fired over potentially false allegations lodged against him.
It’s ironic, if the allegations prove to be accurate, that a man who has ruined the lives and careers of dozens of people by maligning them as racists will be exposed for being just that.
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