FLORIDA: Leaders of Local Organizations Criticize Inclusion SPLC List of Hate Groups

What a baseless crock of lies by the socialist/communist Southern Poverty Leadership Center which go unquestioned by leftist Gary White and the far left Lakeland Ledger. To feature anything the SPLC would say or stand for as credible is to lie. The SPLC is a shill for the left and has no credibility. Non-profit my a*s — they have shifted millions in donations to off shore accounts making their leaders rich.

See the factual article below about the SPLC corruption which White, as usual, fails to mention in his left slanted “reporting.”

Whenever the SPLC accuses a group(s) of being a “hate group” you can bet the group(s) mentioned are Truthful, Godly, Conservative, middle class supporting, law-abiding, Constitution following and/or whose actions are in the best interests of our country.

Both the Citizens Defending Freedom (CDF) and Florida Moms for America are both such groups who are obviously “over the target” of these socialists in order to be mentioned at all.

NOTE: The SPLC reports lists 114 organizations in Florida.

Leaders of two Polk County organizations reject their inclusion in a list of extremist groups.

Gary White


The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit organization with a leftward orientation, recently released its annual Year in Hate and Extremism Report. The online document includes a “hate map,” listing entities from each state deemed either hate groups or anti-government groups. Citizens Defending Freedom, a conservative nonprofit based in Polk County, appears on the list, as does Florida Moms for America, identified as based in Winter Haven. The SPLC labels each in the category “general antigovernment.”

The SPLC, an organization founded in 1971 and headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama, describes anti-government groups as “part of the antidemocratic hard-right movement.”

“They believe the federal government is tyrannical, and they traffic in conspiracy theories about an illegitimate government of leftist elites seeking a ‘New World Order,’” the report says. The SPLC says the category includes “sovereign citizens, militias, overt conspiracy propagandists and constitutional sheriff groups.”

Robert Goodman, executive director of Citizens Defending Freedom, dismissed the label. “I find it absurd that Citizens Defending Freedom (CDF) would be categorized as anti-government,” Goodman said by email. “CDF’s mission is based on preserving the principles in our government’s founding documents. The United States government is the first in the world ‘of the people, by the people, for the people,’ and our mission is to preserve that for our generation and all generations to come.”

CDF arose in Polk County in 2021 and has since formed chapters in other Florida counties and in Georgia, Texas and Michigan, with chapters coming soon in Virginia and Pennsylvania, according to its website. The nonprofit promotes a brand of conservatism tied to evangelical Christianity.

It is the second consecutive year that the group has appeared on the SPLC’s “hate map.”

Report lists 114 in Florida.

The report applies the “hate” or “anti- government” labels to 114 organizations in Florida, though many are county chapters of a single group, such as CDF and Moms for Liberty. The map includes the Polk County chapter of Moms for Liberty, a conservative group known for seeking the removal of certain books from school libraries.

Since its founding, CDF members have attended meetings of the Polk County School Board to criticize mask requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic and to advocate for the withdrawal of certain school books, some of which they deem pornographic.

CDF filed a lawsuit against Polk County Public Schools in March, alleging that the district had violated state law and its own policies in handling challenges to library books. The suit is still pending.

Citizens Defending Freedom has promoted advocates who share conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election, among them Michael Flynn, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general and former security adviser to former President Donald Trump who resigned amid reports that he had lied about having conversations a Russian ambassador to the United States. Flynn pled guilty to a charge of lying to the FBI but was later pardoned by Trump.

Flynn, who has promoted QAnon conspiracy theories and claimed that the COVID-19 pandemic was fabricated for political reasons, is listed as a guest speaker at CDF’s August gala in Dallas along with Charlie Kirk, the controversial founder of Turning Point USA, a student-oriented conservative group.

Moms for America is a national nonprofit founded in Ohio in 2004 to combat a “dramatic cultural shift in America led by radical feminists,” according to its website. The organization opposes the teaching of Critical Race Theory, saying that public schools are teaching children to hate America and indoctrinating students on theories of sexuality or gender orientation.

Moms for America’s website posts videos featuring such conservative figures as Tucker Carlson, Erik Prince and Sebastian Gorka. The group has a political component, Moms for America Action, that issues candidate endorsements.

Rebekah Ricks of Winter Haven is the former president of Moms for America’s Florida chapter. She is also running for the Polk County School Board, challenging incumbent Sara Beth Wyatt. Ricks said that she was aware of the SPLC’s inclusion of Moms for America on its “hate map” for several years.

“I don’t think that’s an accurate description,” Ricks said after hearing the SPLC’s summary of anti-government groups. “I personally believe in working on legislation to change the things we don’t like and policies that we don’t like. So that is what my main goal is. And as far as running for the School Board, also, if there are things in the county you don’t like, you want to make sure that there’s change.”

Ricks said that her role with Moms for America largely consists of tracking proposed state legislation related to education and trying to influence lawmakers.

“I guess they can say whatever they want,” Ricks said of the SPLC. “It’s free speech, right? I mean, that’s their opinion. I just think it becomes rather dangerous rhetoric to start saying anyone who doesn’t agree with you is anti-government. I think that’s a bad precedent.”

How the list is compiled

Maya Henson Carey, a research analyst with the SPLC, said that both CDF and Moms for America fall under an “anti- student inclusion” subgroup in the anti- government category. Such groups “attack public education” and “push this narrative that public schools are trying to indoctrinate and sexualize children through this radical Marxist agenda, and their tactics for doing that is book banning, the anti CRT operation, the attacks on the LGBTQ-plus community and some really even call for abolishing the Department of Education.”

Carey noted that PEN America, a nonprofit that promotes literature and free expression, listed CDF among three national advocacy groups that are “particularly prominent in pushing for book bans.”

Conservative groups and their allies, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, deny that efforts to remove certain titles from school libraries equate to book banning.

Carey said the SPLC gathers information from various sources, including local tips, to decide which groups belong on its “hate map.” Analysts monitor websites, social media and podcasts to see what messages the groups are promoting.

Though the SPLC did not place Citizens Defending Freedom and Moms for America in the “hate” category, they appear on a list of Florida groups that includes United Skinhead Nation and Stormfront, a white nationalist outfit.

Conservative groups regularly denounce the SPLC, an organization that arose from the civil rights moment in the South. Alliance Defending Freedom calls the SPLC “a far-left organization that only targets the right” and alleges that the “hate map” was created as a fundraising tactic.

The SPLC has faced lawsuits over its labeling of such figures as Ben Carson and has sometimes revised its lists after challenges.

Carey emphasized that the SPLC is a nonprofit that cannot engage in political advocacy. She said the definitions of hate groups and anti-government groups do not mention political parties.

Gary White can be reached at gary. white@theledger.com or 863-8027518. Follow on X @garywhite13.

©2024. Royal A. Brown III. All rights reserved.

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