A Hate Group By Any Other Name: Assessing The FRC Shootings

Let's be clear: Yesterday's shooting of a security guard at the Family Research Council's offices in Washington, D.C., evidently motivated by the shooter's anger over the FRC's ongoing campaign against the LGBT community, was an atrocity that

Let's be clear: Yesterday's shooting of a security guard at the Family Research Council's offices in Washington, D.C., evidently motivated by the shooter's anger over the FRC's ongoing campaign against the LGBT community, was an atrocity that harmed the cause the shooter espoused. After all, the chief reason groups are called out as "hate groups" is that the rhetoric they purvey is so toxic that often it justifies and inspires acts of violence against vulnerable minorities. To respond to that with an equally insane act of violence is a betrayal.

Moreover, if the motives as reported so far are accurate, it was clearly an act of domestic terrorism, one of an increasingly small species of such acts: left-wing domestic terrorism. It may be helpful here to remember that since 2008, there have been more than fifty incidents of domestic terrorism committed by right wing-extremists and directed at "liberal" targets.

The horrified finger pointing that has erupted among right-wingers, however, is nothing if not obscene, particularly when it involves hatemongers like Michelle Malkin and Bryan Fischer. Malkin's hypocrisy in particular would be hilarious were it not so noxious: Only a few weeks ago, she was reiterating her longtime claim that the Holocaust Museum shooter wasn't a right-wing extremist, along with a dozen other incidents involving similar extremists.

Indeed, right-wingers (particularly those at Fox News and the Malkin contingent) have long been eager to whitewash away the political orientation of right-wing terrorists and deny any culpability for their acts, even when -- as in the case of the Malkin fan who terrorized abortion clinics with fake anthrax attacks, or the rampaging shooter who claimed inspiration from Fox News figures -- those connections are painfully obvious.

Yesterday, Malkin's "Twitchy" site was eagerly blaming the Southern Poverty Law Center for the FRC shooting.

And she wasn't alone. As The Hill reports, there were lots of people -- including Fischer, a noted hatemonger himself -- blaming the SPLC, because it dares to call out hate groups for what they are:

The shooting of a security guard Wednesday at the Family Research Council (FRC) has spurred a torrent of heated accusations from both sides of the gay rights debate about claims that the conservative organization is a “hate group.”

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), one of the nation’s leading opponents of same-sex marriage, told The Hill the shooting was a direct result of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s decision in 2010 to place the FRC on its list of hate groups for its rhetoric on gays.

Brian Brown, the president of NOM, pointed to a recent blog post by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), one of the largest gay-rights groups in the country. The post, “Paul Ryan Speaking at Hate Group’s Annual Conference,” called attention to the vice presidential candidate’s scheduled appearance at the FRC’s national summit next month.

“Today’s attack is the clearest sign we’ve seen that labeling pro-marriage groups as ‘hateful’ must end,” Brown said in a statement issued following the shooting.

“For too long national gay rights groups have intentionally marginalized and ostracized pro-marriage groups and individuals by labeling them as ‘hateful’ and ‘bigoted.’”

Neither the FBI nor the D.C. police have released any information about what motivated the shooter, who they placed in custody shortly after 11 a.m. near the FRC’s headquarters after he wounded a security guard in the arm.

The HRC’s vice president for communications and marketing, Fred Sainz, called the accusations “irresponsible” and “spurious” and said NOM is trying to capitalize on an atrocious attack to further its agenda of blocking gay rights.

“That’s about as irresponsible as anything I’ve ever heard in Washington,” Sainz said in an interview. “They have zero facts to go on. They have no idea who this individual is, what his motivation is, or where he’s coming from ideologically.”

“The National Organization for Marriage will stop at absolutely nothing in order to try and win a war that they are losing. The have beyond zero ethical boundaries,” Sainz said. “They are the lowest of the bottom fishers.”

It's important to understand, first of all, that the SPLC does not hand out the designation "hate group" willy-nilly; the organization has always been clear that such a designation is only handed out to select organizations who meet exacting criteria.

It's also important to understand why the the SPLC designated the Family Research Council a "hate group" in the first place -- namely, because their vicious demonization of gays and lesbians is the kind of rhetoric that regularly and frequently inspires all kinds of violence directed at those folks, particularly in the form of hate crimes:

The Family Research Council (FRC) bills itself as “the leading voice for the family in our nation’s halls of power,” but its real specialty is defaming gays and lesbians. The FRC often makes false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science. The intention is to denigrate LGBT people in its battles against same-sex marriage, hate crimes laws, anti-bullying programs and the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

To make the case that the LGBT community is a threat to American society, the FRC employs a number of “policy experts” whose “research” has allowed the FRC to be extremely active politically in shaping public debate. Its research fellows and leaders often testify before Congress and appear in the mainstream media. It also works at the grassroots level, conducting outreach to pastors in an effort to “transform the culture.”

In Its Own Words

“Gaining access to children has been a long-term goal of the homosexual movement.”
— Robert Knight, FRC director of cultural studies, and Frank York, 1999

“[Homosexuality] … embodies a deep-seated hatred against true religion.”
— Steven Schwalm, FRC senior writer and analyst, in “Desecrating Corpus Christi,” 1999

“One of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets' of a new sexual order.”
-1999 FRC pamphlet, Homosexual Activists Work to Normalize Sex with Boys.

“[T]he evidence indicates that disproportionate numbers of gay men seek adolescent males or boys as sexual partners.”
— Timothy Dailey, senior research fellow, “Homosexuality and Child Sexual Abuse,” 2002

“While activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two. … It is a homosexual problem.”
— FRC President Tony Perkins, FRC website, 2010

And it's important to remember that the FRC's chief, Tony Perkins, has a long history of playing footsie with racists and other right-wing extremists:

In 1996, while managing the U.S. Senate campaign of Woody Jenkins against Mary Landrieu, Perkins paid $82,500 to use the mailing list of former Klan chieftain David Duke. The campaign was fined $3,000 (reduced from $82,500) after Perkins and Jenkins filed false disclosure forms in a bid to hide their link to Duke. Five years later, on May 17, 2001, Perkins gave a speech to the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), a white supremacist group that has described black people as a “retrograde species of humanity.” Perkins claimed not to know the group’s ideology at the time, but it had been widely publicized in Louisiana and the nation, because in 1999 — two years before Perkins’ speech to the CCC — Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott had been embroiled in a national scandal over his ties to the group. GOP chairman Jim Nicholson then urged Republicans to avoid the CCC because of its “racist views.”

The Duke incident surfaced again in the local press in 2002, when Perkins ran for the Republican nomination for the Senate, dooming his campaign to a fourth-place finish in the primaries.

It's important to remember that calling out organizations and people for their hatemongering is not itself hatemongering. It is its antithesis. And yesterday's horror notwithstanding, it must remain that way.

About David Neiwert

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