The sun is dipping low in the evening sky over the Republican Party as the Other Leading Brand. A mere 21 percent of the adult population identify themselves as Republicans. Senator Arlen Specter sees the writing on the wall. He prefers to make his sixth senatorial run under the ample Democratic banner, rather than get mangled in the tiny shark tank of a Republican primary attended only by people who want to see the country run by Limbaugh and Hannity. With Al Franken certified, Specter crossing the aisle and Joe Biden in reserve, the Democrats can no longer hide behind the excuse of a Republican filibuster. They’ll figure out a way, no doubt, but it could be embarrassing.
It’s also horrible news for people who raise money and make money selling the notion that there’s a right resurgence out there in the hinterland with legions of haters ready to march down Main Street draped in Klan robes, a copy of Mein Kampf tucked under one arm and a Bible under the other, available for sneak photographs from minions of Chip Berlet, a prime promoter of the Christian menace.
What is the archsalesman of hatemongering, Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center, going to do now? Ever since 1971, US Postal Service mailbags have bulged with his fundraising letters, scaring dollars out of the pockets of trembling liberals aghast at his lurid depictions of a hate-sodden America in dire need of legal confrontation by the SPLC. Nine years ago Ken Silverstein wrote a devastating commentary on Dees and the SPLC in Harper’s, dissecting a typical swatch of Dees’s solicitations. At the time, Ken pointed out, the SPLC was “the wealthiest civil rights group in America,” with $120 million in assets.
As of October 2008 the net assets of the SPLC were $170,240,129. The merchant of hate, Mr. Dees, was paid an annual $273,132 as chief trial counsel, and the SPLC’s president and CEO, Richard Cohen, $290,133. Total revenue in 2007 was $44,727,257, and program expenses $20,804,536. In other words, the Southern Poverty Law Center was raising much more than it was spending on its proclaimed mission. Fundraising and administrative expenses accounted for $9 million, leaving more than $14 million to be put in the center’s vast asset portfolio.
But where are the haters? That hardy old standby, the Ku Klux Klan, despite the SPLC’s predictable howls about an uptick in its chapters, is a moth-eaten and depleted troupe, with at least 10 percent of its members on the government payroll as informants for the FBI. As Noel Ignatiev once remarked in his book Race Traitor, there isn’t a public school in any county in the USA that doesn’t represent a menace to blacks a thousand times more potent than that offered by the KKK, just as there probably aren’t many such schools that haven’t been propositioned by Dees to buy one of the SPLC’s “teaching tolerance” programs. What school is going to go on record as rejecting Dees-sponsored tolerance? Rub the kids’ noses in tolerance until they get Dad’s AK out of the closet and go on a rampage. Dees and his hate-seekers scour the landscape for hate like the arms manufacturers inventing new threats, and for the same reason: it’s their staple.