Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center have earned quite a reputation for fighting "hate". Some groups that have been labeled by the SPLC as "hate groups" are indeed just that. However; there are just as many groups that have been labeled as "hate groups" by the SPLC that aren’t. Like the ADL, the SPLC has branched out to include many conservative and Southern heritage groups in the "hate" category. We hope that you the reader will thoroughly utilize the following links to educate yourself about the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Washington Times Editor in Chief, Wesley Pruden Slams the Southern Poverty Law Center on C-Span
LAMB: You’re from Little Rock and you write a lot about that and you write a lot about Arkansas. You can get on the Web – or Google “Washington Times” and find a lot of criticism about – well, I’ll pick one – Southern Poverty Law Center seems to have a time – taking on the “Washington Times.” And they wrote, “The ‘Washington Times’ has a long record of hyped stories, shoddy reporting and failure to correct errors.” And then under the headline, “Defending Dixie,” they talk about the story that was in there. It doesn’t matter. Do you defend the South?
PRUDEN: Of course I defend the South when it needs defending. What the Southern Poverty Law Center – the Southern Poverty Law Center, for the viewers who may not know it, is an organization that specializes in finding offenses that they can raise money around. They have been the subject of exposés and publications as ranging from their own “Montgomery Advertiser,” which did a five-part series on the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Harper’s” Magazine, which is hardly a redoubt of conservatism, has done a very scathing exposé of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Morris Dees, who is the owner of it, if you’d like, I think, is nothing more than a scam artist. The criticism they made of me defending Dixie is – goes back to a speech I made at the Manassas battlefield for the Daughters of the Confederacy, which is a group of women who revere their grandfathers and they decorate graves of the Confederate soldiers – fallen Confederate soldiers. And at the very conclusion of that speech I said, “God bless the memory of the confederacy and God bless America.”
My great grandfather was a Confederate soldier. He never owned a slave. He no doubt would have hated slavery, not for moral reasons necessarily but for economic reasons because he had to compete with slave owners. It is – one of the things that I do write about occasionally is I find it just outrageous that we are trying to rewrite history and that the people who revere their Confederate forbearers (ph) are regarded as defending slavery. And nothing could be farther from the truth. We have a history in this country of slavery. There’s no question about it. George Washington owned slaves. Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. You cannot – in my view, you cannot judge the past by the standards of the present. God knows what our great grandchildren are going to think of us for some of the things that we do.
The reverence that most southern whites hold for their Confederate forbearers (ph) or for the confederacy is these were people who were defending their homes from invaders. This is the way they looked at it. I don’t – one of the great tragedies is that – in my view, is that there was a Confederate general from Arkansas, Patrick Cleburne, who came up with a – he tried to get Jefferson Davis and the Confederate Congress to agree late in the war to grant freedom to slaves who would join the Confederate Army.
I’ve often thought if that had gone through how different history might have been. We might have had two countries for a while. I don’t think we would have ever had two countries for very long. But the notion that revering confederacy and revering our great grandfathers for the courageous fight that they put up, long headed though it may have been, to equate that with slavery I find – it enrages me. And that’s what I write about from time to time.
LAMB: Well, one of the things they bring up in that piece is that you devote – and those of us who live here see it every Saturday – a full page – I’ll hold it up here – to the Civil War.
PRUDEN: You bet.
LAMB: It’s the only newspaper in the country that does it.
PRUDEN: It’s one of our most popular features.
LAMB: And here’s a feature here. This is back in Saturday, May 21st, “Heroic Rebel Steps Up to the Gallows,” and then down here, “Veterans Still at Lincoln Retreat.” Why do you do this?
PRUDEN: We do it because it is popular with our readers. There are more books published on the Civil War than on any other American topic. There is an adage in the book publishing industry that if you really have to show a profit for the year get a Civil War book. And it really – our page – the Civil War page has just as many stories about glorifying the Union as it does the Confederacy. We get approximately equal mail from southerners and from northerners saying, “You’re showing favoritism to the South,” or, “You’re showing favoritism to the North.” You check with the Virginia Tourist Bureau in Richmond and I bet they would tell you that the Virginia battlefields are one of the top tourist attractions in the state of Virginia. The National Park Service spends millions of dollars a year on maintaining battlefields. We’re only doing what our readers are interested in.
That’s – probably that’s our single most popular feature in the “Washington Times,” is that Civil War page. If we would drop it the screams would be loud and long.