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Stop Fanning the Flames of Left-Wing Violence

Crime
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 15: Local and federal investigators work to gather evidence after a security guard was shot in the arm at the headquarters of the Family Research Council August 15, 2012 in Washington, DC. The shooter is in FBI custody and has not yet been charged, authorities said. The Family Research Council is a conservative organization that is against abortion and euthanasia and considers homosexuality to be a sin. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Southern Poverty Law Center and other hard-left groups are becoming everything they presume to expose.

On Wednesday, LGBTQ activist Floyd Corkins entered the Washington-based Family Research Council (FRC) armed with a gun and a backpack full of ammunition. He also had 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches (FRC recently defended the food chain’s COO Dan Cathy for pro-traditional marriage statements).

The only thing standing between Corkins and mass murder was FRC facilities manager and security specialist Leo Johnson. As Corkins shouted disapproval for FRC’s “politics,” he shot Johnson who, despite a severely wounded arm, managed to tackle Corkins and disarm him.

Of Johnson’s actions, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said, “The security guard here is a hero, as far as I’m concerned.”

I agree.

Upon hearing of Leo’s selfless act of heroism, I was reminded of John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

But according to the SPLC, Leo’s heart is, instead, full of hate. In fact, everyone at FRC is hateful. After all, in 2010 the SPLC, with much fanfare, “officially certified” FRC as a “hate group” for its orthodox Christian positions on marriage and family.

Alongside violence-charged photos of actual hate groups like the Aryan Brotherhood and the KKK, the SPLC lists on its website the decidedly mainstream and always peaceful FRC.

It’s a clever strategy, dishonest and reprehensible though it may be. By juxtaposing FRC and other Christian organizations with violent extremist groups, SPLC has engaged in intellectual sloth at its worst (the organization has repeatedly declined to debate FRC President Tony Perkins over its “hate group” smear).

Rather than debating – on the merits – mainstream Christian groups with which it has ideological disagreement, SPLC has chosen, instead, the coward’s way out: demonization and marginalization through false guilt by association.

It’s a scheme not only slimy, but extremely dangerous.

Back in November 2011, I predicted that the SPLC’s actions toward FRC could lead to violence. If ever there were a time I’d prefer not to have been right, now is that time.

With a column headlined, “Liberal violence rising,” I wrote, “The SPLC’s dangerous and irresponsible (‘hate group’) disinformation campaign can embolden and give license to like-minded, though less stable, left-wing extremists, creating a climate of true hate. Such a climate is ripe for violence.”

That was before the fact. After the fact– one day after the shooting– Tony Perkins addressed exactly that which I forecast:

“Let me be clear that Floyd Corkins was responsible for firing the shot yesterday,” he told Washington reporters. “But Corkins was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center that have been reckless in labeling organizations hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy.”

The SPLC “should be held accountable for their reckless use of terminology that is leading to the intimidation and what the FBI here has categorized as an act of domestic terrorism.”

Regrettably, Mr. Perkins finds himself in a uniquely credible position to make this charge.

Still, although there remains a vast ideological divide between the SPLC and the tens of millions of Christian-Americans represented by the Family Research Council, the Southern Poverty Law Center now finds itself with a brief window of opportunity to both do the right thing and rehabilitate its badly damaged reputation.

The SPLC can end their cynical efforts to dehumanize Christians and equate biblical truth to “hate.” It’s now within their power to restore some sense of peace and security to the rattled folks at FRC.

I appeal to the SPLC’s sense of goodwill. This is not a game. Lives are at stake.

There are good employees at the SPLC (I’ve met some) who believe they’re doing the right thing; so, please, validate that belief. It’s time to remove your metaphorical “hate group” label from mainstream Christian organizations before another Floyd Perkins spills blood.

This may also be a time for LGBTQ activists and other liberal groups, along with conservative and Christian organizations, to rise above the fray. We may have public policy differences, but let’s come together and end the name-calling. Publicly encourage SPLC to lift this veil of fear.

Matt Barber (@jmattbarber on Twitter) is an attorney concentrating in constitutional law. He serves as Vice President of Liberty Counsel Action. (This information is provided for identification purposes only.)  

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