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  • June 23rd, 2011

I Hate Hate Groups

By Joel M. Vance

A double-barreled load of venom today. First to the Supreme Court which used to be derogatorily referred to as the “Nine Old Men” before they inducted some old women.  Doesn’t seem to have done much for their feminist sensibilities, though, because they now have ruled against more than a million women who were suing WalMart, charging gender discrimination.

The court ruled 5-4, with the right wing majority predictably siding with the megacorporation against the workers, whose suit claimed a pattern of discrimination stores-wide in hiring, promotions, pay and the other perks enjoyed by male employees.

In a separate class action lawsuit against WalMart, some 187,000 employees won a $187.6 million verdict alleging that WalMart denied them the paid rest and lunch breaks they were entitled to.  An appeals court agreed, but WalMart vows to continue fighting….no doubt right to their pet Supreme Court.

It has ever been thus.  It’s a man’s world and now it is a man’s corporate world.  Don’t believe it?  Ask a man.  I’ve always found it far more pleasant to work with and for women because too many guys suffer from testosterone poisoning which warps their thinking and tends to nudge them farther and farther to the land of the misogynist.

The thinking of the court doesn’t really matter because the decision seems to have been made on ideological lines—they sent a million women back to the kitchen, presumably barefoot and pregnant.  That WalMart was discriminating doesn’t seem to be much in question.  But that WalMart, the world’s largest superstore can tell the country how and whom to hire and what to pay them does.

These are largely the same judges who elected Little Georgie Bush, arbitrarily ending a recount which probably would have cost the brush-cutting Texan the election.  What’s next for this gang of 19th century throwbacks?  Return to 3/5 human status for black people?  Re-institute Prohibition?  Reverse Brown v School Board?  You probably can count on a reversal of Roe v Wade as soon as they get to it.

Right wing justice Clarence Thomas, who almost didn’t get appointed to the high bench because of his alleged sexist remarks and harassment of a woman, Anita Hill, now is tainted again.   The New York Times, hardly a supermarket scandal rag, reports improper ties between Thomas and influential rightwing funder and activist Harlan Crow.

Crow reportedly once gave Thomas’ wife, Ginni Thomas, $500,000 to exploit the Citizens United decision and start a shadowy, Tea Party-related group called Liberty Central. He gave Thomas a Bible estimated at $15,000 that once belonged to Frederick Douglass, and allegedly provided the Supreme Court Justice with access to his yacht and private jet.

Thomas was one of the votes against women’s rights.  Thomas is the buddy of fellow justice Antonin Scalia who has often been in hot water for doing injudicial things—like going duck hunting with the unlamented Dick Cheney when the Court was considering a case in which Cheney was involved, or endorsing torture, quoting as his role model Jack Bauer, the fictional counter-terror agent in a television series.  Vote No. 2 against women.

Folks get thrown in jail for contempt of court, but hey, you get what you pay for.

The other blogshot is toward the right wing crazies who are hell-bent on killing Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center in 1971.  The SPLC has won multi-million dollar judgments against the Ku Klux Klan, that awful blot on the nation’s racial history.

The SPLC does not charge fees or keep money from judgments.  It relies on donors and that is how I got interested—because of a donation request from former Sen. George McGovern, who ran for president in 1972 and was soundly trounced by Richard Nixon.

McGovern was portrayed as a weak-sister gutless liberal by the right wing who conveniently ignored the fact that the guy was a pilot in World War Two who flew B-24 bombers in 35 combat missions over Italian and German-controlled  territory, winning the Distinguished Flying Cross (on his final combat mission his plane had 110 holes in it from flak and bullets) and the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters.

By contrast, former vice-president Dick Cheney, who got five deferments from service during the Viet Nam war, accused McGovern of wanting to surrender in Iraq—the McGovern way, he called it.  McGovern opposed a stupid war as should anyone with commonsense.  The Cheney way has cost nearly 5,000 young lives and 35,000 or more maimed young people.

Anyway, Mr. McGovern says this: “The number of hate groups now stands at 1,002, a more than 50 percent increase since 2000, and the number of antigovernment ‘patriot’ and militia groups has nearly tripled in the last year alone.  Anger at the government, resentment of a black president, and bitterness over the dismal economy are likely to continue to fuel their growth and violence.”

One need only look at the Tea Party or listen to the hate-filled rants of the right wing commentators to see who is egging the nutgroups along.  When some neo-Nazi skinheads listen to Glenn Beck calling the president a racist, they are empowered to vigilante action.

Beck is the slimeball who said this: “”When I see a 9/11 victim family on television, or whatever, I’m just like, ‘Oh shut up’ I’m so sick of them because they’re always complaining.”  Do you need to know any more about the hateful rhetoric of the right wing commentators?

When Texas governor Rick Parry, the same governor who suggested Texas should secede, rants about “returning to moral values” with the fervor of some backwoods evangelist, he is not offering solutions—he’s whipping up a lynch mob.  One can only hope that the mob chooses the ballot box over the rope, but the motive is the same.   The message is that “we have moral values” and they don’t.

The “they” happens to be me and anyone else who doesn’t agree with mindless anger.  Those who cry for the rope, whether metaphorical or real, are feeding on the anger that surfaces because of the bad economy or the stress of endless warfare or just because it’s hot and the air conditioner isn’t working right.  Discontent feeds on rhetoric.  Well, I’m angry too.  I’m angry at the right wingers who would eliminate Medicare and Social Security so they can give more money to Big Oil.  I had a gallstone busted up a while back and if it hadn’t been for Medicare the meager fruits of 50 year’s work would have vanished.  The bills probably will top $25,000 (they keep coming).  Medicare paid for much of it.

The right wing philosophy that says if people can’t pay their way the hell with ‘em is right out of Marie Antoinette and her alleged retort to the question about what happens to poor people: “Let them eat cake.” (which she did not say and which probably never was said by anyone….or maybe it was Rush Limbaugh?)  I do think everyone able should be required to work if he or she is physically able, even if it’s a welfare job.  The CCC and WPA were work projects during the Great Depression that kept much of a generation both employed and from starving.

But to concentrate wealth in the hands of the wealthy (as the Supreme Court consistently does by its decisions in favor of Big Business to the detriment of the working class) and to ignore the health and happiness concerns of those who are struggling to stay afloat is to revert to the days of the robber barons.  We need a president like Teddy Roosevelt who busted up the monopolies like they busted up my gallstone, or that other Roosevelt, who gave jobs to people eager to work.

We, unfortunately, don’t seem to have one.

Those who think change is to get rid of the hated black guy and elect one of the sorry lineup of Republican candidates are fooling themselves.  The right wing, under Bush, took a huge surplus and turned it into the biggest deficit in history, started two enormously expensive wars, sicced the banking, health care and speculative investment dogs loose and got us in a hell of a mess.  Electing one of them again would be like turning loose a whole pack of foxes in our chickenhouse.

Finally, don’t rely on the news media to expose the hypocrisy of the right.  They’re largely emasculated, either by fear of their corporate bosses or by sheer incompetence.   All the hate groups want is some twisted validation for their anti-social agenda and they get it through a combination of self-serving commentators who get coverage for their outrageous views.  It’s a vicious cycle—the more extreme the talk the more coverage it gets.

Controversy sells and the mainstream news media today is in the business of business, nevermind the important issues.  Anthony’s weiner is far more interesting to the news anchors and their slack-jawed listeners than is good government as it occasionally is practiced.

No one reads anymore so they hear only what some dolt spouts from a canned news release or from his or her twisted mind.  On Fox, home of the biggest mouths ever to disgrace the broadcast media,  Glenn Beck sailed on until he began to run off sponsors more than he ran off at the mouth.  That would never do.  After all, alleged news is business, right?

I’m giving to the Southern Poverty Law Center and if some right wingnut gets elected President, hey, I could always apply to be a greeter at WalMart…..

-30-

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2 Comments

  1. Richard Keefe

    June 23rd, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Reply

    Just a few facts about the SPLC, which I hope won’t get me branded as a “hater,” etc., but most people are unaware of them.

    1. As Ken Silverstein reported in Harper’s Magazine, the SPLC may have won several multimillion dollar suits against the Klan, but, being toothless hillbillies, the Boys in White don’t have millions of dollars in assets on hand which to tap.

    As a result, the victims get token payments of next to nothing, while the SPLC uses their cases in their fund-raising materials to garner tens of millions of tax-free donor dollars, of which, the victims get nothing.

    http://wp.me/pCLYZ-14

    2. The SPLC claims it knows of 1,002 “hate groups” in America, but it can’t seem to locate 262 of them, or 26% of the alleged total.

    On March 23, 2011, SPLC Public Relations chief Mark Potok finally admitted that the KKK has been pretty much non-existent for years:

    “But Potok said the Klan has disintegrated. “There is no Klan now,” he said, only a collection of squabbling organizations. (www.sanluisobispo.com, March 23, 2011)

    Despite this astonishing claim that “there is NO Klan now,” Potok still included 221 KKK chapters on his “Hate Map.” That’s another 22% of the total off the top.

    Whatever the SPLC’s intent, their numbers are inaccurate.

    3. In 1974, Morris Dees set up the SPLC’s Endowment Fund in hopes of creating a fund large enough so that the organization could cease fund-raising and “live off the interest.”

    Dees predicted that he would stop fund-raising when the fund reached $100 million dollars. It did so in 2002, but the fund-raising letters continued.

    By 2007, the Endowment Fund reached $200 million dollars, and still the fund-raising letters go out, as your article attests.

    Since at least that time, annual Endowment Fund interest has surpassed SPLC annual costs, and if you deduct the 19% of the annual budget they spend on fund-raising, the SPLC could pay all of its yearly bills and still have $5- to $6 million tax-free dollars left over to dump back into the Endowment Fund.

    Last year the SPLC handed out 4-, 5- and even 6-digit raises to its all-white executive board. One can argue that Montgomery is behind the times, but surely even they are in the midst of the Great Recession with the rest of us.

    The upshot of this is that the SPLC doesn’t NEED your donation. More often than not they don’t even spend all of the money they get in donations each year as it is.

    And of the $351 million dollars (yes, that’s a third of a Billion…) the SPLC has amassed since 2003, they only spent 2.6% on actual legal case costs, compared to 40% spent on salaries and 19% on fund-raising.

    http://wp.me/pCLYZ-7m

    Giving is good, but you can do a lot more good with your money closer to home.

    There are a lot of people who passionately support the SPLC who get angry when I raise these numbers, but these numbers come directly from the SPLC’s own financial records which are posted on the SPLC web site.

    I hope this legitimate criticism of SPLC fund-raising practices is accepted in the spirit in which it was intended.

    • joelvance

      June 23rd, 2011 at 5:35 pm

      Reply

      Not at all–you make a good point, but the fact is the SPLC has put the hurt on the Klan, even if not financially. Aside from shooting them, that’s about the only way they can be embarrassed in public.



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