[HCCN] comment to the Southern Poverty Law Center

Dick Atlee atlee at umd.edu
Mon Dec 8 20:31:35 EST 2014


(Note: the SPLC considers both people in the 9/11 Truth movement and 
anyone who is opposed to increasing government intrusion/control as 
right-wing extremists. In their article on opposition to the Common 
Core, they blamed it all on right-wing extremists. When I wrote to point 
out that a lot of educators with years of experience working with kids 
view the Common Core as a dangerous giveaway to money-grubbing 
corporations, the respondent didn't disagree, but said their focus is on 
right-wing extremists (WTF). Their training of police is making me 
increasingly worried about just what they're about. So, somewhat 
unhinged by House Resolution 707 passed on 12/4, I wrote them a note in 
response to their latest email newsletter. Some of you may disagree with 
me on this. So be it.)

Southern Poverty Law Center wrote, On 12/8/14 4:20 PM:
> ...SPLC President Richard Cohen contributed his expertise on civil and 
> human rights at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe 
> conference on anti-Semitism in November.

> SPLC President Richard Cohen contributed his expertise on civil and 
> human rights at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe 
> conference on anti-Semitism. The consensus at the annual conference in 
> Berlin was that anti-Semitism in Europe has grown more virulent in the 
> last decade. Richard, along with other US delegation members, called on 
> European countries to adopt many of the SPLC’s strategies — including 
> tracking hate activity and implementing anti-bias education programs — 
> to combat anti-Semitism....

I'm a long time member, and just received your latest missive on rising 
anti-Semitism. This has become a complicated issue for me, because of 
the increasing tendency of both people and governments to equate 
objections to Israel's activities and method of governance with 
"anti-Semitism." This can only be true if one conflates religion and 
on-the-ground politics, which the present Israeli government definitely 
does, and so, increasingly, do others.

I have frequently encountered comments by U.S. government elected 
officials accusing questioners of Israel as being "anti-Semites." I 
could write this off as typical blindness, but when the House passed 
House Resolution 707 last week, it became more dangerous.

Just as the Patriot Act was nominally about stopping terrorism, but has 
been used more to suppress dissent with implied and explicit threats of 
dire legal action (where even organic farmers have been labeled 
terrorists), the potential for the ultimate criminalization of 
"anti-Semitism" is likely to chill discussion of Israeli wrong-doing.

The SPLC does great work on many fronts. But it is beginning to appear 
more and more the arm of government repression. I don't doubt that you 
feel you're operating on the best of intentions and principles, but the 
results you may reap may be a contribution to the suppression of our 
democracy, such as it is, and it saddens me.




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