Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) brought cancel culture to the Senate on Tuesday. She cited the scandal-plagued far-left smear factory the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to demonize a national security and terrorism witness invited by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) during a hearing on peaceful protest and antifa. The expert responded by noting that her cancel culture demonization echoed antifa’s tactics of branding as “fascist” anyone who disagrees with its political goals.
“You obviously can invite whoever you want to this hearing, but I would like to record my concern regarding the presence of the Center for Security Policy at this hearing,” Hirono said. “The Center for Security Policy (CSP) is an organization that has been spreading anti-Muslim conspiracy theories.”
Hirono referenced an SPLC attack on CSP Founder Frank Gaffney, whom she referred to as “Frank Gaffrey,” that he spread the “conspiracy theory” that former President Barack Obama was a Muslim. This claim comes from a 2009 Washington Examiner op-ed in which Gaffney half-mockingly dubbed Obama “America’s first Muslim president” in the same way some called Bill Clinton “America’s first black president.”
In addition to this smear, twisted out of context, Hirono cited the SPLC’s accusation that CSP is a “hate group” and noted that the Anti-Defamation League has “criticized” CSP.
Kyle Shideler, the CSP senior analyst for homeland security and counterterrorism Cruz invited to testify, pushed back on Hirono’s attacks.
“The Center for Security Policy is a national security think tank that has been in operation since 1988. We do a wide variety of work on national security topics, including nuclear deterrents, missile defense, biodefense, geopolitical challenges, including Russia and China. And that’s in addition to work on terrorism, terrorist ideologies, and homeland security,” Shideler said.
“We are particularly proud of our work in trying to understand the ideologies behind jihadist terrorism,” he added. “We’re proud of the work that we have done with American Muslims, including those who are senior fellows at our organization who seek to oppose jihadist elements in their communities.”
Yes, this “anti-Muslim hate group” has Muslim senior fellows. M. Zuhdi Jasser, for example, is a Navy veteran, a doctor, and the founder and president of the American-Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD). Dalia al-Aqidi, an award-winning journalist and commentator, is also a Muslim and a CSP senior fellow.
“So we reject these claims from organizations that are engaging in behavior which is essentially the same that antifa engages in, which is to say that anyone that offers an analysis that disagrees with them must ipso facto be a member of an unacceptable organization or a hate group or what have you,” Shideler added.
“It’s divisive. It ruins the ability to engage in analysis that is useful to the country,” he concluded.
Hirono also might not want to rely on the SPLC. As I reported both here at PJ Media and in my book Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the SPLC fired its co-founder, Morris Dees, amid a decades-long sexual harassment and racial discrimination scandal last year. After Dees was fired, former employees came forward, admitting their complicity in the “con.”
The SPLC’s “hate group” list not only exaggerates the number of “hate groups” by listing defunct or essentially non-existent groups along with the KKK, but it also tars the reputations of law-abiding mainstream conservative and Christian organizations like the Family Research Council (FRC), Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), ACT for America., and CSP.
The SPLC silences conservative groups using “guilt by association,” equating mainstream conservative and Christian groups with true hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan. In January, the SPLC testified before Congress that its number of “hate groups” is a statistically significant measure of the increasing threat of white supremacist terrorism, and used that number as an argument for Big Tech censorship.
The “hate group” accusation inspired an attempted terrorist attack at FRC. Even left-leaning activists like former ACLU President Nadine Strossen have condemned the accusation against ADF, and the SPLC continues to pad its “hate group” numbers by listing dozens of ACT for America chapters that no longer exist. In 2018, the SPLC paid $3.375 million to settle a defamation lawsuit from Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz, whom the SPLC defamed as an “anti-Islamic extremist.”
Jasser, the Muslim reformer who works with CSP, had harsh words for the SPLC. “In the name of fighting hate, they have poisoned the atmosphere of public discourse against the ideologies of jihad to the point where partisan and identity politics have completely stifled free speech and respectable journalism,” he wrote in his endorsement for Making Hate Pay.
America is reckoning with the destructive and stifling orthodoxy of cancel culture — an orthodoxy propelled by the SPLC and weaponized by antifa. Not only did Mazie Hirono refuse to condemn antifa in the hearing but she also engaged in antifa-style demonization using the SPLC.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.