Leon Lemmer: Hoe om haat in ‘n finansiële bate te omskep

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As ‘n mens die Amerikaanse politieke literatuur lees, kom jy spoedig verwysings na die Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) teë. Die benaming wek die indruk van ‘n armoedige instansie wat hom vir reg en geregtigheid beywer. Die SPLC is in 1971 in Montgomery, Atlanta, gestig. Hierdie instansie gee voor dat hy ‘n akkurate beeld van rassebetrekkinge in die Amerikaanse suide aan bv liberaliste in die noorde en multikulturaliste in die weste uitdra. Van hierdie elemente word fondse vir sy bedrywighede bekom. Die SPLC is ‘n linkse instansie wat teen rasse- en geslagsdiskriminasie asook wit heerskappy gekant is. Daar word gepoog om die belange van onwettige immigrante te beskerm en om verdraagsaamheid in skole te bevorder.

Die SPLC was aanvanklik hoogs suksesvol met hofsake ten gunste van burgerregte vir swartes, veral gemik teen die Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Deur keer op keer eise om skadevergoeding teen die KKK in te stel, is baie van sy afdelings in bankrotskap gedompel en verplig om te sluit. Nadat die KKK afgeskaal is tot ‘n instansie met ‘n klein ledetal en geringe invloed, het die SPLC sy bedrywighede van 1990 af op ‘n oordrewe manier om die vae begrip haat geherorganiseer. Dit is waarom veral blankes in Suid-Afrika deesdae met sogenaamde haatspraak gekonfronteer word. Terme soos xenofobie of vreemdelingehaat word plaaslik vryelik gebruik terwyl dit meesal bloot gaan om die ongewenste teenwoordigheid van ‘n massa ongeskoolde inkommers in ‘n land waar groot werkloosheid heers. Maar hierdie onverkwiklike terminologie gee ‘n aanduiding van die invloedrykheid van die SPLC.

Dit is natuurlik nie net die begrip haat wat uit Amerika hiernatoe oorgespoel het nie. Dit geld ook vir bv reënboognasie, wat verkeerdelik as ‘n uitvindsel van Desmond Tutu beskou word. Verder word daar plaaslik van bv “die Cradock Vier” gepraat. Dit is ‘n spreekwyse wat in Amerika ontstaan en plaaslik nagevolg is. Dit gaan om swart misdadigers wat in linkse geledere vereer word. Die SPLC het dit as sy plig geag om bv “the Tarboro Three” (1973) in die hof te verdedig, naamlik “three young black men accused of raping a white woman” (624). “While the three men were never completely vindicated, they were released after spending more than a year in prison” (630). Daar was ook “the Dawson Five, five black youths charged with murder … in 1976” (829).

Tyler O’Neil

In die Wikipedia is daar ‘n verdienstelike artikel oor die SPLC, hoewel daar nie na die volgende boek verwys word nie: Tyler O’Neil se Making hate pay: The corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center (New York: Post Hill Press, 2020, 242p; Amazon Kindle $11,49). Die outeur is ‘n joernalis wat bv onlangs (17.08.2020) ‘n artikel (beskikbaar op die internet) geskryf het oor die verwoesting wat die Black Lives Matter-oproer in Minneapolis ná die dood van George Floyd aangerig het. Meer as 700 geboue is beskadig, waarvan 12 heeltemal verwoes is. Kamala Harris, Joe Biden se kandidaat vir die vise-presidentskap, het geld geskenk sodat hierdie misdadigers borgtog kon bekostig. Hieroor lees ‘n mens nie in Media24-publikasies nie. Pleks daarvan verskyn daar ‘n hoofartikel in Die Burger (17.08.2020) vol lof vir “die vars dimensie” wat Harris in daardie verkiesingstryd bring. Vir O’Neil is vryheid van uitdrukking van deurslaggewende belang. Hy beskryf homself as “a conservative Christian” (Kindle 88). In wat volg, onderskei ek nie altyd duidelik tussen die menings van O’Neil en diegene waarna hy verwys of aanhaal nie.

Die SPLC het met skynbaar gesaghebbende uitsprake veral linksgesinde instansies en persone in so ‘n mate mislei dat hy reeds dekades lank in staat is om (feitlik) enige instansie of individu te ruïneer deur hulle op sy swartlys te plaas. Dat alles nie pluis by die SPLC is nie, het in 2019 duidelik geword toe die blanke Morris Dees (gebore in 1936), ‘n medestigter en die hooffondsinsamelaar van SPLC, ontslaan is. Van die aanklagte teen hom sluit rassediskriminasie en seksuele teistering in. Laasgenoemde aanklagte was ‘n groot verleentheid in die era van die #MeToo-beweging, wat teen (blanke) mans gemik is. Dees het vyf keer geskei – dus meer as ons eie André P Brink se vier keer. Een van Dees se ondersteuners het hom soos volg verdedig: “Morris is a man who strongly believes in marriage – he’s done it six times” (805). Die president van SPLC sedert 2003, Richard Cohen, het ‘n week ná Dees bedank, asook die direkteur van regsaangeleenthede, Rhonda Brownstein. Binne SPLC was daar nie die sosiale geregtigheid wat die SPLC na buite predik nie. As ‘n instansie wat amptelik sonder winsbejag is, is die SPLC uitermate op finansiële gewin ingestel. In hierdie verband is gesê: “Until justice rolls down like dollars” (250).

Dit blyk dat die SPLC nie voldoen het aan die siek maar gewilde Amerikaanse waardes wat hy na buite predik nie. Met verwysing na slawerny was daar kritiek “[that] compared the SPLC to a plantation” (1074). “It’s sort of like the pot calling the kettle black” (1080). “You can’t go out and preach racial sensitivity and racial tolerance … without practising all these types of things you are preaching about” (1086). “A fair number of what was then about a hundred* employers were African-American, but almost all of them were administrative and support staff – ‘the help’ … The ‘professional staff’ – the lawyers, researchers, educators, public relations officers, and fund-raisers – were almost exclusively white. Just two staffers … were openly gay” (269). “Where’s the diversity?” (274). “Only one black man had ever been among the top five wage-earners, and he was one of only two black staff attorneys in the SPLC’s history” (1066). Later word verwys na “two black lawyers and three black advocates within a staff of about 100 across five states” (1092). “Two of the six members of the board of directors were black” (1080). “In 1994, only one of the department heads was black, and she oversaw the mail operations” (1086).

[* In die Wikipedia word die getal werknemers in 2011 op 254 gestel.]

Sommige ander besware teen die SPLC was “the unchecked power of the lavishly compensated white men at the top of the organization” (280). In 1985 “its three executives … each made more than $100 000 annually” (1136). In 1987 “its top three executives were paid a total of $350 000” (956). “In 2017, the SPLC paid then President Richard Cohen $364 799, with another $42 742 in ‘other compensation from the organization and related organizations'” (1112). “That year, it also paid Morris Dees $375 181, with $41 767 in other compensation” (1122).

Kritici van die SPLC verwag polities byderwets dat diversiteit op alle vlakke van hierdie organisasie belangriker as meriete geag moet word. Dit herinner aan die nuwe Stellenbosch University wat reeds baie meer vroue as mans in diens het maar voortgaan om by aanstelling en bevordering teen blanke mans te diskrimineer. Of dink aan die plaaslike staatsdiens waar die swartes reeds lankal die demografies verlangde 80% oorskry, maar hierdie rassistiese voorkeur vir swartes gewetenloos en grootliks kritiekloos voortgesit word.

Die SPLC het finansieel welvarend geword toe hy met sy hofsake teen die KKK baie publisiteit met sy Klanwatch gesoek en ontvang het en donasies ingestroom het. Die SPLC het ook die einde van die White Patriot Party (1980-1987) bewerkstellig (937, 1257). “Dees devised a fundraising strategy that focused mainly on liberal donors outside the South” (664). Klanwatch het geblyk “a highly profitable scam” te wees (286) omdat die oorheersende politieke atmosfeer ten gunste van burgerregte en teen die tradisionele leefwyse in die suide gelaai was. “Beating the Klan in court was ‘sort of like shooting fish in a barrel'” (988). Die SPLC is beskou as ‘n instansie “do[ing] the Lord’s work in the heart of Dixie”* (297). “People in the North and West have this thing that black people are so bad off. And if they think there is a group doing anything to help it, then they’re likely to send money” (976). Die SPLC spog: “We developed a whole new donor base, anchored by wealthy Jewish contributors on the East and West coasts, and they give big bucks” (1034).

[* Die naam Dixie word vir die suidelike en Yankee vir die noordelike state gebruik.]

“By 1988, Dees acknowledged that ‘the Klan thing is winding down’. So, the SPLC would turn to the more nebulous campaign against ‘hate'” (1172). Klanwatch is tot Hatewatch omvorm. Nadat die SPLC genoeg geld uit sy veldtog teen die KKK geput het, het hy op ‘n vindingryke manier die begrip haat vir sy nuwe inisiatiewe ingespan. ‘n Lys van instansies (en by implikasie persone) wat hulle na bewering aan haat skuldig maak, is sedert 1990 jaarliks gepubliseer. Daar is gepoog om die lys elke jaar langer te maak (hoewel daar nie altyd hierin geslaag is nie) sodat daar stukrag gegee kon word aan die SPLC se beweerde “rising tide of hate” in Amerika (297). In 2000 is 602 instansies gelys, wat teen 2018 tot 1 020 vermeerder het. Donasies het ingestroom om die SPLC in staat te stel om haat in die samelewing te bestry. “The SPLC has raked in … cash by warning of a rising tide of hate and by presenting itself as a David figure fighting the powerful Goliath of menacing hate groups” (1122). Dit is ‘n geval van “making hate pay” (308), soos gestel in die titel van hierdie boek. “The market is still wide open for the product, which is black pain and white guilt” (1122). Hierdie haatlyste word “a cynical fundraising scam” genoem (308).

Die SPLC is amptelik “a nonprofit organization” (675), maar het baie meer geld as wat hy vir sy uitgawes nodig het. “The SPLC never spent more than 31 percent of its revenue on programs, and it had spent as little as 18 persent on them” (1105). “They’ve done far less with the money they receive than any other comparable civil rights group will do” (1432). “[The SPLC] launched itself on a trajectory to a half-a-billion-dollar endowment, $92 million in overseas equity funds, and millions in Cayman Islands accounts” (682; ook 1112). Volgens Dees: “The people who will give big money through the mail are either on the far right or the far left. They’re true believers” (691). Uiteraard melk die SPLC sy donasies by uitstek uit linkse geledere. Dees is al beskryf as “the televangelist of the civil rights movement” (817), ‘n sinspeling op “the notorious televangelist Jim Bakker” (860).

Die SPLC klop homself op die skouer deur hom met die destydse sogenaamde Underground Railroad te vergelyk, “which helped slaves in the antebellum South escape to freedom” (315). In hierdie verband die SPLC “slammed the Trump administration for ‘racism and misogyny’ after a delay in publishing a version of the twenty-dollar bill featuring abolitionist hero Harriet Tubman [1822-1913], well-known for running the Underground Railroad” (322). Dit toon hoe die SPLC enige insident aangryp om publisiteit vir homself te soek en gevolglik sy finansies met donasies aan te vul.

O’Neil skryf: “While it is true that Trump had opposed putting Tubman on the twenty-dollar bill in 2016, it seems particularly rich for an organization coming off a racism and sexism scandal to compare itself to the Underground Railroad” (327). Maar die eintlike punt behoort te wees dat Tubman per slot van sake ‘n misdadiger was omdat sy slawe gehelp het om te ontsnap. Misdadigers behoort nie vereer te word nie. In hierdie opsig kan die nuwe Suid-Afrika egter nie ‘n vinger na Amerika wys nie omdat die verering van misdadigers, soms ikone genoem, plaaslik omtrent epidemiese afmetings aanneem.

“The eventual ‘hate group’ list essentially manufactured hate, listing defunct organizations that … didn’t exist” (1181). “A lot of them were vanishingly small or didn’t exist, or could even be an invention of the SPLC” (1376). “The … lists had no addresses so it’s very difficult to actually check them out” (1369). “The SPLC never identifies how many members these ‘hate groups’ have” (1387). Soveel moontlik instansies word gelys sodat dit moet lyk asof haat jaarliks toeneem, wat ‘n publisiteitsfoefie is. Die instansies op die lys word bv op die volgende manier vermeerder: “It … list[s] multiple chapters of one group as separate ‘hate groups'” (1857). O’Neil bereken dat daar hoogstens 354 identifiseerbare werklike instansies op die lys is en nie 1 020 nie (1864). “It finds as much ‘hate’ as possible in order to make as much money as possible” (1437). “They have to know that they’re inflating the danger” (1426). Daar is tereg gevra: “Are there more hate crimes or does increased citizen awareness mean there is more reporting of hate crimes?” (1195).

Die SPLC is geneig om instansies as haatgroepe te etiketteer bloot omdat hulle konserwatief of christelik is. Hierteen kan opgewerp word: “When embracing traditional Christian values is equated to hatred, we are approaching the stage where wrong is called right and right is called wrong” (1845). Radikaal linkse organisasies word nie gelys nie, maar wel blanke nasionalistiese groepe, wat soms ook as gewelddadig geëtiketteer word. “They were sensationalizing racial conflict issues, and when their reports on ‘extremist’ groups began appearing it was obviously a bogus fundraising scheme that was into demonizing and blacklisting” (1275). “The SPLC took its idea from anti-Communist blacklisting in the 1950s and 1960s” (1269) – die Joe McCarthy-era.

‘n Gelyste instansie of persoon word op hierdie manier uit ordentlike geselskap verban. “Listing them along with the KKK [is] a clear attempt to cut them off from polite society” (1579). “The SPLC’s ‘hate group’ accusation is a financial and reputational death sentence, effectively equating organizations to the KKK … The SPLC’s ‘hate group’ accusation is incredibly effective at shaming organizations and causing them to be shunned by donors … and others” (1518). Volgens die SPLC “our aim is to destroy these groups … You can sometimes so mortally embarrass these groups that they will be destroyed” (1524). Dit kom neer op ‘n heksejag en karaktermoord. “Guilt by association” word ook deur die SPLC misbruik om sy doel te bereik (1555). “This whole SPLC set-up strikes me as fraudulent in the extreme … They’re perpetrating a deception because they don’t want you to know that groups like the ‘Asatru Folk Assembly’ are no political threat” (1426). Daar word selfs verder gegaan: “The SPLC ‘plants’ apparently racist protesters at civil rights events” (1437). [“The SPLC], to raise money, stages scenes to give the impression that hatred and racism are widespread” (1455).

“As with many liberal groups at the time, gay and lesbian issues became one of the SPLC’s primary focuses” (1324). Wat in die mode en links genoeg is, word vir publisiteitsdoeleindes en dus geldelike bevoordeling deur die SPLC aangegryp. LGBT-aktiviste word al hoe meer militant en aggressief. Hulle aktiwiteite ontvang baie publisiteit en die SPLC ontvang op sy beurt publisiteit vir die ondersteuning wat hy aan hulle bied. Uit O’Neil se oogpunt “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life” (1680).

Anti-immigrant- en anti-Moslem-groepe word insgelyks sonder meer deur die SPLC as haatgroepe geklassifiseer. Ander linkse organisasies “used the SPLC’s ‘anti-Muslim hate group’ accusations in a pressure campaign, an attempt to blackmail mainstream charities and philanthropic groups into blacklisting ‘hate groups'” (1761). Maar linkse groepe wat haat saai word nie deur die SPLC gelys nie. “If the SPLC were to be objective and not politically biased, it should include Antifa [ie Antifascist] and Black Lives Matter [BLM] on the ‘hate group’ list” (1785). “Rather than monitoring hate groups, [the SPLC] has become one” (1828).

Een van die instansies wat in die SPLC se visier is, is “the Family Research Council (FRC), a Christian nonprofit that advocates against same-sex marriage and for traditional Christian sexuality” (1873). Die SPLC het gemoedere dermate teen die FRC opgesweep dat ‘n swaksinnige persoon die FRC-hoofkantoor in 2012 aangeval en die gebou-opsigter in die arm geskiet het. Dit het hierdie voorspelling bewaarheid: “The ‘hate group’ list itself might inspire hate or terrorism against its targets” (2465). “The SPLC’s reckless labeling has led to devastating consequences” (1897). Een van die dinge waarvoor die SPLC hom beywer, is “destroying pro-family organizations” (3088), wat een van die hoofkenmerke van kulturele marxisme is. Die Amerikaanse Demokratiese Party is een van die SPLC se geesdriftigste ondersteuners. “The Democrats’ strategy also redefines traditional Christian views as hateful, often citing the SPLC” (2489).

In 2017 is ‘n Unite the Right-byeenkoms in Charlottesville, Virginia, gehou. Linkses het ‘n teenbetoging gereël en een van hierdie betogers is deur ‘n wit heerssugtige (“white supremacist”) met sy motor omgery en gedood. “In all of this, the SPLC was perfectly positioned, and the group raked in donations and influence after the tragic events. The ‘Unite the Right’ rally aimed to protect Confederate monuments … The SPLC had been leading the charge on removing these monuments … After Charlottesville, tech companies worked with the SPLC to get white nationalists kicked off the internet” (2023).

‘n Gebeurtenis soos in Charlottesville is manna vir die SPLC. “Just over a week after Charlottesville, JP Morgan Chase announced that it would give $500 000 to the SPLC” (2293). “JP Morgan Chase did not just give a hearty contribution to the SPLC, but it also suspended the accounts of various activists [on the Right]” (2383). “The … Amalgamated Bank launched an effort to cut funding from ‘hate groups’, citing the SPLC” (2471). Druk is op Mastercard uitgeoefen “to stop processing payments for far-right hate groups” (2478). Apple het toe $1 miljoen aan die SPLC geskenk (2299). “In October 2018, Hyatt Hotels announced a new policy – it would not host events sponsored by SPLC-accused ‘hate groups'” (2397).

‘n Geldige afleiding kan gemaak word: Amerika is die oorsprong van die maniere waarop daar deesdae plaaslik verhoed word dat ‘n regsgesinde kunstenaar soos Steve Hofmeyr by sommige openbare byeenkomste optree. “Orwellian attempt[s] to demonize and silence dissent may have emboldened social media companies to target conservatives” (2404). Sommige wit nasionaliste, wit heersugtiges, Alt-Right-gesindes en soortgelyke indiwidue en organisasies “[have been] de-platformed from Facebook and YouTube” (3282). Byvoorbeeld, Prager University (nie ‘n universiteit nie maar ‘n konserwatiewe organisasie), met drie miljoen volgelinge, is ‘n tyd lank van Facebook verwyder (3430). “Twitter also banned PragerU from promoting tweets through advertising” (3445). Amazon het sy dwaasheid geopenbaar deur te verklaar: “We rely on [the SPLC] to determine which charities are in ineligible categories” (2355). Insgelyks Google “considers the SPLC a ‘trusted flagger'” (2411). “Google, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon heavily favored Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections” (3451). Die SPLC is polities byderwets, gevolglik geniet hy wye, onkritiese steun. Sy aktiwiteite is deel van die “cancel culture” (2447). Daarvolgens het net linksheid bestaansreg. Kritiek uit regse oorde word as haat geherdefinieer (2453).

Die SPLC voer reeds sedert 2015 ‘n veldtog teen die Konfederale monumente in die suidelike state. “In 2016, the group launched a ‘community action guide’ to remove Confederate statues. The guide linked to a full report of every Confederate symbol in America, for a total of 1 503. The report listed everything from statues to street names to schools and military bases named after Confederate generals” (2244). Die SPLC oefen dan druk uit dat hierdie simbole verwyder of verander moet word. “The SPLC … put Stonewall Elementary School in Lexington, Kentucky, on the map of Confederate monuments. This elementary school was not named after Confederate General Thomas Jonathan ‘Stonewall’ Jackson, but – get this – a literal stone wall” (3043). Druk wat uitgeoefen word om die name van openbare plekke te verander én om hulle werklik te verander, is deel van die onverkwiklike werklikheid waarmee ons in die nuwe Suid-Afrika moet saamleef.

Soos verwag kon word, is die SPLC pro-Palestyne-gesind. “The SPLC routinely ignores harassment and threats directed at Jewish and pro-Israel students on college campuses by liberal pro-Palestine activists” (2572).

In skole bied die SPLC ‘n program genaamd “Teaching Tolerance” aan, waar onder die rookskerm van “warnings against ‘bullying'” (2736) “liberal activism” gepredik word (2743). “Teaching Tolerance champions LGBT issues for children, suggesting that disagreement is tantamount to hatred” (2749). “Not only did Teaching Tolerance push a lesson deconstructing gender, it also aimed to turn students into LGBT activists” (2762). Wat die SPLC doen, is “speading transgender activism across America’s schools” (2789). “According to Teaching Tolerance, 500 000 teachers use this politically skewed SPLC program as if it were a neutral anti-bullying resource, rather than a platform for transgender activism” (2802). Die boelieverskynsel in skole was ‘n tyd gelede redelik prominent in Suid-Afrikaanse koerante en tydskrifte. Dit het heel moontlik onder die invloed van die SPLC gebeur.

In die laaste hoofstuk, voor O’Neil se bondige slot, vertel die outeur van instansies en persone wat terugveg teen die SPLC en hofsake aanhangig gemaak het. In een geval is $3 375 skadevergoeding betaal en het die SPLC verskoning gevra (3131). Oor die meeste ander sake is nog nie uitsluitsel gegee nie. In sulke sake argumenteer die SPLC “that the ‘hate group’ accusation is protected by the First Amendment ‘because it [hate group] is essentially meaningless and cannot be proved right or wrong’ … Definitions of the term ‘hate group’ conflicted too much for there to be a clear standard of meaning … The judge adopts wholesale the SPLC’s argument that the term ‘hate group’ means nothing concrete and thus cannot be defamatory” (2181). In die praktyk is so ‘n aanklag egter hoogs skadelik. Hierteenoor beweer die SPLC “the hate group accusation is a non-actionable opinion” (3282).

O’Neil som sy boek soos volg op: “The vast majority of the SPLC’s public presence and its fundraising apparatus is tied up with a deceptive, inflated, and arguably defamatory ‘hate group’ list that uses guilt by association to target conservative and Christian organizations, placing them alongside the Ku Klux Klan. The SPLC also has … an incredibly partisan view of ‘hate'” (3459). Hy voeg by: “America’s polarization seems to be hitting a new fever pitch, with conservatives and liberals mistrusting one another at levels unseen since the Civil War. The SPLC’s work demonizes dissent from the far-left perspective, attempting to cut one half of the political spectrum off from polite society” (3486).

Na aanleiding van die voorafgaande kan ‘n mens staamstem met die bevinding: “The SPLC has become a hate-for-cash machine” (2954). Beter geformuleer: “The SPLC is engaging in a disgusting hate-for-cash smear campaign” (2966). Die SPLC is “a very talented and articulate defamation machine” (3082). Dat die SPLC so ‘n groot deel van die Amerikaanse bevolking op sleeptou neem en sy idees in so ‘n groot mate onkrities aanvaar word, dui op ‘n samelewing wat te midde van sukses en voorspoed in groot mate ideologies verdeeld is.

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