Alabama-based legal advocacy group pushes back after GOP condemnation

Published 1:24 pm Monday, August 24, 2020

Republican National Committee delegates approved a resolution condemning the Southern Poverty Law Center, calling the legal advocacy group dedicated to fighting extremism “a far-left organization with an obvious bias.”

The resolution was approved over the weekend ahead of the start of the Republican National Convention on Monday in Charlotte and escalates a long-held battle between conservative groups and the SPLC.

“The SPLC is a radical organization, and that the federal government should not view this organization as a legitimate foundation equipped to provide actionable information to DHS or any other government agency,” said the resolution, which challenged the legitimacy of the organization to identify hate groups.

The resolution claimed that it “puts conservative groups or voices at risk of attack.”

The SPLC, which conducts investigations and engages in civil rights litigation, said in a statement Monday that the resolution gave “comfort to hate groups” and accused the RNC of being selective in its condemnation.

Margaret Huang, the president and chief executive of the group, said the resolution was designed to “excuse the Trump administration’s history of working with individuals and organizations that malign entire groups of people — including Black Lives Matter advocates, immigrants, Muslims and the L.G.B.T.Q. community — with dehumanizing rhetoric.”

The resolution was the latest clash between the SPLC and conservative groups over the Alabama-based organization’s Hatewatch list, which tracks radical and extremist groups. Conservatives accuse the SPLC of pursuing a partisan agenda and sweeping up groups with a conservative agenda with explicitly racist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan.

The civil rights group, championed by many on the left, has denied that assertion, saying that groups with “beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics” make their list. The RNC resolution cited the presence of the anti-abortion Family Research Council (FRC) on the list, accusing the SPLC of leading to a 2012 shooting at the FRC.

The RNC also approved resolutions defending the federal celebration of the Christopher Columbus holiday; condemning “cancel culture” and reaffirming its support for President Donald Trump.