McCarthy-like tactics and techniques are being used to discredit and silence average citizens and public officials who lobby on behalf of tighter borders and vigorous law enforcement, Dan Stein, president for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) has charged in response to a report targeting his organization.
Although press coverage is still weighted against the proponents of immigration reform fewer reporters are willing to help peddle incendiary and inaccurate allegations leveled individuals and groups who have expressed concern over America's porous borders, Stein said in an interview.
Under the guise of "tolerance" The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) saw fit to label FAIR as a "hate group" in one of its most recent "Intelligence Reports."
This quarterly magazine provides law enforcement officials and the public at large with updated information on "extremist activity," according to the organization's web site.
A "furious nativist tide" fueled in large part by white supremacists and racists linked in with FAIR were largely responsible for the defeat of bipartisan immigration legislation last year, the SPLC contends.
FAIR is accused of promoting "racist conspiracy theories" pertaining to America's Southwest and of accepting financial contributions from sources with racist overtones in the report.
The objective here is to control and re-frame the debate over immigration policy by way of a compliant media Stein said in an interview. The "hate group" designation does not have any factual standing and was created "out of thin air" in an effort to derail reform efforts that enjoy widespread public support, he argued.
The SPLC, based in Montgomery, Ala., is a non-profit legal organization founded in 1971 for the stated purpose of turning the nation's constitutional ideals into reality. To this end the SPLC pursues legal action against "hate groups" with a particularly strong emphasis on white supremacists. It also provides K-12 teachers with "anti-bias resources."
But the organization has lost clout and credibility in recent years as a result of questionable fundraising practices and dubious tactics, Stein claims. The SPLC has helped foster a new "hate group industry" that stirs fear and anxiety among donors based on largely fictional accounts, Stein observed in a recent editorial.
"The "Intelligence Report" is now seen as nothing more than a cultivation mailing used to inflame fear among its gullible donors that intolerance and hatred is breaking out all over the country," he wrote. "Despite the media's willingness to dutifully report periodic reports claiming a "skyrocketing increase in hate crimes," few reporters look to the Intelligence Report as a real source of "intelligence," Stein continued.
But with the cause of immigration now gaining momentum there is now attempt underway to obscure legitimate policy differences with incendiary labels unattached to reality, Stein suggested.
"The SPLC is an extremely dangerous organization because it hides behind the mask of promoting tolerance when in fact it represents nothing but intolerance for political points of view it disagrees with," he said. "What started out as organization that many felt had a worthy goal has metastasized into this demon to justify the accumulation of vast resources. This means it has to create enemies."
FAIR has responded to the SPLC report on its web site (http://www.ilw.com/articles/2008,0211-stein.shtm). With so many American citizens volunteering their time to help make a difference on behalf of an important issue with national ramifications FAIR felt it necessary to offer up a rejoinder, Stein explained.
"Remaining silent in the face of such bald-faced intimidation tactics is what permitted Senator Joseph McCarthy to obtain such unchecked power in the 1950s and it must be checked now," he wrote in his editorial.
The debate over immigration policy is "complex, controversial and deeply emotional, Stein acknowledged in his recent commentary. Meaningful reform will not be advanced in the absence of a constructive dialogue that proceeds from mutual respect for competing views, he suggested.
"Organizations that resort to inflammatory rhetoric and name-calling an effort to stifle debate do not advance the public's need for a robust, free and healthy exchange," Stein wrote. These tactics are contrary to the best American traditions of public service and inconsistent with our needs as a nation today."
"In the end, Senator McCarthy was shamed into silence. Someday soon, I hope to see the same thing happen to those responsible for turning what should be a constructive voice in this society - the SPLC - into a slander machine cynically using fabrications and false hysteria to make a handful of people rich," he concluded.