CNN already back to credulously citing SPLC hate group lists

posted at 9:21 pm on March 6, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

The same organization’s lists from which a crazed, politically motivated shooter bent on mass murder picked a peaceable, mainstream, socially conservative non-profit on which to attempt massacre? Yep, same lists.

The number of American “patriot” extremist groups has reached a record level, according to a new study, and experts are warning of a wave of anti-government violence.

A report released Tuesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center counted 1,360 “patriot” extremist groups in 2012 — up by 7% from 2011. The study defines patriot groups as anti-government militias driven by their fear that authorities will strip them of their guns and liberties.

“They believe the Constitution is being raped. With hate groups, things are going to get worse because they feel like they’re in battle,” said David Gletty a former FBI informant who spent time undercover with various militia and extremist groups. “It’s not surprising with their hatred of President (Barack) Obama that there are even more hate groups out there.”

The study said California has the most patriot extremist groups, with 81.

Pardon me if this next paragraph makes me question the methodology:

The SPLC report also offers a bit of good news: The number of “immigrant-bashing” extremist groups — so-called nativism organizations — is way down from 2011, falling by 88%.

So, the total number of “hate” groups is going up 7 percent while nativist organizations are going down a whopping 88 percent? Either the statistics are full of it, there were only six nativist groups to begin with, or we have the most tolerant extremist haters in the world, even though you’d assume the issue of comprehensive immigration reform might stir up such sentiment, not reduce it.

All right, so the report isn’t entirely credulous, even though the lede was. Let’s meet some of the people SPLC classifies as dangerous extremists:

But Jesse Walker, of the Reason Foundation and author of an upcoming book, “The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory,” said counting groups isn’t a good way to measure the threat. “It’s dubious to assume growth in numbers is related to violence.”

Also, the center’s definition of hate groups has changed in the past year, kicking up a controversy. Critics accused the group of unfairly bundling together organizations with vastly different points of view — and painting them all as potentially violent.

For example a North Carolina-based group calling itself “Granny Warriors” appears on the SPLC list of active “patriots.”

But founder Linda Hunnicutt says her organization is harmless.

“I am deadly!” she joked. “I’m 74 years old. I have COPD. I have congestive heart failure. I’m sewing a quilt.

Hunnicutt acknowledges she’s no friend of the federal government, but, she wishes no harm on anyone.

“All these people that want to bomb places and kill children, come on,” she said. “Who would be in sympathy with them?”

Hunnicutt said she and her group just want Uncle Sam to leave them alone. When Granny Warriors showed up on the SPLC list, Hunnicutt said she wasn’t surprised. But it made her wonder, “Is this all they have to do?”

Nonetheless, Hunnicutt’s thankful to be on the list because she said it increases her group’s notoriety.

Watch out for your local chapter of “Granny Warriors.” The SPLC is more than happy, ironically, to create a climate of hate for run-of-the-mill conservatives exercising their right to assembly by lumping them in with other, more dangerous groups. The catch-all category for this practice is “General Hate.”

The report also mentions several incidents involving such groups:

The new statistics come after a string of crimes linked to extremist groups. A year ago, a Michigan militia leader and his son pleaded guilty to federal gun charges. Last August, a 40-year-old ex-soldier-turned singer for a white supremacist rock band shot up a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, killing six people, before taking his own life. A few weeks later, a group of Georgia men was linked to an anti-government militia plot to assassinate Obama.

But I could give you a list of three violent crimes perpetrated by politically motivated actors on the left side of the ideological spectrum. The thing is, those crimes never become a “trend” worthy of CNN’s coverage or a list like the SPLC’s, which might take the actions of, say, Christopher Dorner and associate your average coffee-house clatch of liberal neighborhood moms with them.

The piece also contains a link to a story about Oberlin’s rash of racist incidents, which does not note that the alleged Klansman sighting was probably just a student in a blanket, according to police. It also skips right over the Left’s old favorite go-to for right-wing violence, because that turned out to be untrue, too.

Think back to the fall of 2009: The Yankees were headed toward a win in the World Series, Obamacare was struggling along, and the nascent Tea Party’s brand of anti-government extremism was getting Census workers lynched in Kentucky.

Bill Sparkman, a part-time U.S. Census employee, was found hanged from a tree in Kentucky, naked, with the word “FED” scrawled on his chest in magic marker. The horrible crime was part of a wave of anti-government rhetoric that, it seemed, inspired the dreadful act. Poor Bill Sparkman reaped what the Tea Party sowed.

MSNBC was all over the story: Rachel Maddow covered it heavily Sept. 23rd through the 25th; Ed Schultz mentioned it on the 24th and 28th; and Countdown talked it up on the 25th. NBC News did four profiles on the viciously, brutally murdered part-time Census worker in September—a Nightly News hit on the 24th; a pair of NBC Today stories on the 24th and 25th; and a NBC Saturday Today story on the 26th.

Maddow took the lead, saying on the 25th that “we have brand new details which do not all dampen the worry that Bill Sparkman’s death was what we first worry appeared to be, violence against a federal employee, because he was a federal employee.” The day before, she described the area of Kentucky he was killed in as “dangerous for him to do Census fieldwork door-to-door” and reported that we were “learning more from area residents about what kind of risks Mr. Sparkman might have been exposed to going door-to-door.”

Andrew Sullivan, mortal enemy of those dreadful Tea Party extremists, wrote on the 26th that “the one thing we know for certain now in the case of the Kentucky lynching” was it was “no suicide.” Sullivan continued: “the most worrying possibility—that this is Southern populist terrorism, whipped up by the GOP and its Fox and talk radio cohorts—remains real.”

Now, three-and-a-half years later, Rich Schaprio has revealed the shocking truth in the pages of the Atlantic: It was a suicide all along.

So, the Granny Warriors are a grave threat who indicate a propensity for violence inextricably linked with conservative politics, whereas Chris Dorner was a rogue actor whose ideology could be connected to nothing and no one mainstream, even though mainstream, liberal pundits spent a bunch of time praising him on TV. Because, shut up, extremists.

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