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Morris Dees' legal firm was founded in 1969 to tackle racial issues in the deep South, and it has since gone on to wage crusades against many of the major racist white supremacist groups in the United States. Such groups as the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nations have been crushed by SPLC's legal war machine.
Nonetheless, I do have a problem with groups that deliberately abuse the legal system as a way of attacking their enemies…even if those enemies are inbred racist morons. The SPLC has been instrumental in setting a precedent of making these groups "responsible" for the actions of their members, whether or not they really were involved in violent racist attacks and murders. Their famous $12 million judgment against Tom Metzger and White Aryan Resistance is a prime example of this: A guy who emigrated to the United States from Africa was beaten to death by two scumbags. The scumbags got what they deserved (prison), and quite frankly they deserved more. But SPLC also managed to use the case to go after W.A.R., claiming that they had inspired the act of murder. And they won.
According to SPLC's own page, the link between the murderer of the Oregon student and W.A.R. was weak and somewhat far-fetched, but evidently it was enough to convince the jury to give that massive payment. (On the other hand, it's hard to say whether using the legal system to deal justice to murderous bastards actually constitutes "abuse.") I have been deucedly uncomfortable with the tactics used by the Southern Poverty Law Center to attack these racist groups with the law, often by the slimmest of threads. It reminds me of the way Scientology attacks its critics with the law.
(Rev. Mutha TarlaStar also comments: "It's also hard to say that crushing racist groups only makes them go deeper underground and makes them more determined….but it's true. The best way to fight racism is with education and integration. When your grandchildren are of mixed ethnicity, you find it much more difficult to hate those groups.")