Friday, March 16, 2007

Southern Poverty Law Center's Diminishing Relevance

When its hunting for racists and it goes after a University Campus' conservative group with a very flimsy rationale for labeling it racist and white-supremacist, you know they're stretching and playing to more ideological concerns by going after a right-leaning student group than truly ferreting out racist groups.

MSU student group on hate list
YAF is 'white supremacist,' according to legal center

By Matthew Miller - Lansing State Journal

When the Southern Poverty Law Center releases its annual list of hate groups next month, the Michigan State University chapter of the Young Americans for Freedom will be on it.

The MSU group is "white supremacist," "have a lot of anti-gay beliefs" and "a
lot of anti-immigrant sentiment," said Heidi Beirich, with the SPLC.

Last year, the MSU chapter of the conservative student organization drew national attention, much of it negative, for its plans to sponsor a "Catch an
Illegal Immigrant Day" on campus.


However, Beirich, deputy director of the SPLC's Intelligence Project, said it
was several proposals put forward by the YAF's MSU chapter, among them that MSU
should defund minority student organizations and that there should be a white
student council on MSU's student government, that earned the group a place on
the list. "Our interest in determining a hate group is, 'Do they have an ideology that denigrates an entire class of people for their inherent traits?' " she said.

Kyle Bristow, chairman of the group, called the SPLC's characterization of his
chapter "ridiculous."

"We're a center-right group, politically," he said. "We've done nothing hateful. We've advocated for beliefs that most Americans believe: the sanctity of marriage, border security."

He added that he believes the proposal for a white student council was misconstrued by the SPLC. Because MSU's student government gives unelected seats to other racial and ethnic groups, Bristow said, he proposed that "every single group should be recognized."

The majority of MSU's student government seats are held by whites.

'Character defamation'
Bristow said he's considering filing a lawsuit against the SPLC because "what they're doing is character defamation."

William Allen, a professor of political science who serves as the group's adviser, said in an e-mail sent Wednesday that, "It is evident to any fair observer that YAF, whether nationally or in this chapter, does not deserve to be on this list."

Thankfully MSU is showing some common sense and not paying attention to this laughable SPLC labelling:

Terry Denbow, MSU's vice president for university relations, said that
registered student groups are required to adhere to the university's
nondiscrimination policy and that, to his knowledge, the YAF had not violated
that stipulation. He also said the hate group designation would not change the
group's status.
"An institution must be allowed to set forth its own values-based criteria for
student organizations and not to assume or impose criteria - agreed with or not
- of external affairs groups," Denbow said, "because there will be many, many
groups willing to tell us what the criteria should be."

In addition, one wonders why the various Arab and anarchist student groups at Berkley that disrupted pro-Israel speakers there with anti-Israel and anti-semitic rhetoric and violent demonstrations did not make the list - they must not fit the SPLC's notion of what a racist or hate group is.

In the past, the SPLC did yeoman work in fighting real racists: neo-nazis, klansmen, and the like. Now, to list a college student group that opposes illegal immigration and affirmative action as racists seems to be an overreach for relevance once all the true dragons are slain or forced back under the rocks they crawled out from.

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