The Southern Poverty Law Center is a Montgomery, Ala.-based nonprofit that according to its website was founded in 1971 “to ensure that the promise of the civil rights movement became a reality for all.”
Before reaching that first paragraph on the group’s site, however, comes the SPLC’s self-identification as “a catalyst for racial justice in the South and beyond, working in partnership with communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements and advance the human rights of all people.”
SPLC is often quoted in news articles as an authority on whether an entity is a hate group, and as critics, including 100 Orthodox rabbis at one point, have noted, the law center often deems mainstream groups with traditional religious values as hateful on the basis of those values.
In its report “Year in Hate and Extremism,” which SPLC released earlier this month, the group listed the nonprofit Moms for Liberty, and other parental-rights organizations, alongside the KKK and neo-Nazi groups.
“Moms for Liberty is a far-right organization that engages in anti-student inclusion activities and self-identifies as part of the modern parental rights movement,” per the SPLC.
Bethany Mandel, a mother, conservative columnist and co-author with Karol Markowicz of the recently published Stolen Youth: How Radicals Are Erasing Innocence and Indoctrinating a Generation, has worked with Moms for Liberty; delivered speeches to its chapters; and befriended many of its members. She plans to go to the group’s summit in Philadelphia, which is taking place from June 29 to July 2.
“It is a group of passionate women who in no way resemble extremists or a hate group. The SPLC are beclowning themselves and exposing nothing but their own bias,” Mandel told JNS.
“It’s unfortunate that the SPLC has made clear that Jewish families don’t have a reliable source for this kind of content,” she added. “They just have another left-wing group, which falsely uses antisemitism as a cudgel against its political enemies.”
‘Obvious anti-Jewish bias’
The Coalition for Jewish Values, which represents Orthodox rabbis, has stated that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Southern Poverty Law Center—both of which were listed as partnering organizations in the new White House national strategy on antisemitism—have demonstrated “obvious anti-Jewish bias.”
Rabbi Yaakov Menken, managing director of the Coalition for Jewish Values, told JNS that the SPLC turns a blind eye against antisemitism perpetrated by radical Islamic groups, which he said have killed more people than far-right groups on the SPLC list combined. That includes four Israelis killed on June 20 in a terrorist attack in Samaria.
“SPLC does not even list the Council on American-Islamic Relations on their hate map, despite its history of antisemitism,” Menken said. He said SPLC was demonizing an ally for Orthodox Jews in America by listing Moms for Liberty as a hate group.
“By this standard, we would like to be recognized as a hate group, too,” he said.
“Moms for Liberty supports parental rights at a time when New York is encroaching on yeshivah education,” said Menken. He predicted that the law center would list Orthodox Jewish families, which support gender-segregated synagogues and swimming hours, as hate groups as well.
‘Stop labeling concerned moms’
Former school-board members Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich founded Moms for Liberty in January 2021. The nonprofit “is dedicated to fighting for the survival of America by unifying, educating and empowering parents to defend their parental rights at all levels of government,” says its site.
The nonprofit has 120,000 members in 285 chapters across 45 states, per its Twitter handle.
The law center should try to dismantle “groups that promote reprehensible ideas, like teaching children about sex and hijacking their education for the pleasure of adults,” Alison Centofante, a mother and longtime pro-life activist, told JNS. “They should also stop labeling concerned moms who value parental rights and their children’s innocence.”
Centofante added that the SPLC designation is “reckless” and puts members of parental-rights groups in danger. A shooter used the SPLC “hate map” to find and target people at the Family Research Council in 2012, she noted.
“SPLC’s labels have led to violence and they should be held accountable,” she said.
Lyndsey Fifield, a mother and digital consultant who has worked at several Conservative organizations, told JNS that she knows the staff at SPLC, having lived in Alabama.
“As a Christian with Jewish friends, it is scary to see this coming from people who claim to be fighting for racial and social justice,” she said.
According to Fifield, SPLC uses its designations of hate groups as an intimidation tactic, to silence mainstream Conservative voices. She told JNS that “it is chilling to see how the SPLC is weaponizing their hate map against what was considered mainstream only 10 years ago.”