That’s the conclusion of a writer for Current Affairs magazine, a magazine that leans decidedly to the left. According to author Nathan J. Robinson, the SPLC’s leadership problem, which became news over the past few weeks, is just the tip of the iceberg. The bigger problem is that so much of what the group produces with its massive endowment is junk. In particular, the hate map seems designed to raise money not give people an accurate sense of how many serious hate groups are out there:

The biggest problem with the hate map, though, is that it’s an outright fraud. I don’t use that term casually. I mean, the whole thing is a willful deception designed to scare older liberals into writing checks to the SPLC. The SPLC reported this year that the number of hate groups in the country is at a “record high,” that it is the “fourth straight year” of hate group growth, and that this growth coincides with Donald Trump’s rise to power. There are now a whopping 1,020 hate groups around the country. America is teeming with hate.

Let’s dig into this number a bit. The first thing you should note is that it’s meaningless. The SPLC consistently declines to identify how many members these hate groups have. It just notes the number of groups. Without knowing how large they are, what does it mean that they exist? Are they one person? 1000?…

In fact, when you actually look at the hate map, you find something interesting: Many of these “groups” barely seem to exist at all. A “Holocaust denial” group in Kerrville, Texas called “carolynyeager.net” appears to just be a woman called Carolyn Yeager. A “male supremacy” group called Return of Kings is apparently just a blog published by pick-up artist Roosh V and a couple of his friends, and the most recent post is an announcement from six months ago that the project was on indefinite hiatus. Tony Alamo, the abusive cult leader of “Tony Alamo Christian Ministries,” died in prison in 2017. (Though his ministry’s website still promotes “Tony Alamo’s Unreleased Beatles Album.”) A “black nationalist” group in Atlanta called “Luxor Couture” appears to be an African fashion boutique. “Sharkhunters International” is one guy who really likes U-boats and takes small groups of sad Nazis on tours to see ruins and relics. And good luck finding out much about the “Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology,” which—if it is currently operative at all—is a tiny anti-Catholic cult based in Shawano, Wisconsin.

Even when the groups are functional, they’re mostly pitiful. A Portland group called the Hell Shaking Street Preachers tried showing up to the local pride parade and simply got laughed at and glitter-bombed. The websites mostly look like they haven’t been updated since the Geocities days.

Robinson points to the case of a man who was singled out as a dangerous bigot but was in fact just one guy running a Confederate memorabilia shop in Georgia. Was he a bigot? It seemed so. Was he a threat to anyone? Probably not. Robinson concludes:

This whole SPLC set-up strikes me as fraudulent in the extreme. I don’t know how else to describe it. They have a team of people investigating these groups. They have to know that they’re inflating the danger. They know that when they report “over 1,000” hate groups in America, they’ve deliberately excluded membership numbers in order to sound as scary as possible. They’re perpetrating a deception, because they don’t want you to know that groups like the “Asatru Folk Assembly” are no political threat. The SPLC has continuously sent out terrifying lies to make old people part with their money. They’ve become fantastically wealthy from telling people that individual kooks in Kennesaw are “hate groups” on the march. And they’ve done far less with the money they receive than any other comparable civil rights group will do. To me, this is a scam bordering on criminal mail fraud.

What’s really frustrating about this is that conservatives have been saying something like this for years, especially with regard to the group’s hate map. Robinson acknowledges that in passing but then goes on to write as if he’s breaking new ground by revealing all of this. This is something I see happening pretty often with the left. They have sealed themselves in such a bubble that any complaints from the outside can be ignored for years or even decades. It’s only when someone inside the bubble comes to the same conclusion based on the same evidence that they suddenly decide to ponder the new (to them) information. We’ve seen this with the reconsideration of Bill Clinton and Jeffrey Epstein. We’ve seen it this week with the collapse of the collusion narrative.

Robinson’s take on the SPLC seems exactly right but honestly, this was all apparent to people on the right years ago. It’s frustrating that no one on the left wanted to listen.