Conservatives sign letter warning media against Southern Poverty Law Center

Conservative leaders plead with media: Stop citing SPLC.

Forty-seven prominent conservatives have signed an open letter warning the mainstream media against using data on hate groups compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

The letter calls the SPLC a “discredited, left-wing political activist organization that seeks to silence its political opponents with a ‘hate group’ label of its own invention.”

Founded in 1971, the SPLC gained fame by successfully prosecuting legal cases against white supremacist organizations, including the Ku Klux Klan. It describes its mission as “fighting hate and bigotry and … seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society.”

Today, the SPLC is best known for tracking hate groups, which the organization defines as having “beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristic.” Currently, the SPLC says 917 hate groups are operating in the United States.

SPLC’s “hate map” gained prominence in the media after last month’s deadly violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. However, critics say the organization has falsely slapped the “hate group” label on non-violent groups who hold traditional beliefs about hot-button issues such as gay marriage and abortion.

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