Here’s the disturbing tale:
Proclaiming Justice to The Nations (PJTN), a Tennessee-based non-profit evangelical Christian organization committed towards standing with Israel and fighting antisemitism, has been removed from the AmazonSmile program, which enables Amazon customers to donate a percentage of their purchase to their favorite charity.
PJTN President Laurie Cardoza-Moore told JNS that “all of a sudden, we began being inundated with e-mails from supporters whose AmazonSmile donations to Proclaiming Justice to the Nations had been repeatedly rejected. They were being instructed to choose another charity, despite wanting to support PJTN.” After reaching out to Amazon for an explanation—assuming it was a technical glitch—the retail giant informed PJTN that customers would no longer be able to donate towards the organization using the AmazonSmile platform, following the listing of PJTN as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
The SPLC, whose website says that part of its mission is to monitor domestic hate groups in the United States, has PJTN listed on its “hate map” as being one of 36 Tennessee-based hate groups. SPLC specifically accuses PJTN of being “anti-Muslim.”
Amazon employs 566,000 people worldwide. The company clearly does not lack for personnel to study non-profit groups and to advise Amazon as to which ones qualify for its customers to use the AmazonSmile platform, which allows them to donate part of their purchase to a favorite charity.
But Amazon chose not to do that work itself. Instead, it handed over the decision making as to which groups are to be considered “hate groups” to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has a grand total of 254 employees. That means that for every employee of the SPLC, Amazon has more than 2,000 of its own. Is the SPLC so very good at its job that mighty Amazon, with its 566,000 employees, is right to rely on the 254 employees of that outside group? For years, the SPLC presented itself as beyond reproach, an organization of selfless do-gooders at a non-profit. But in recent years, defectors from the group have painted a grim picture of an organization run by scam artists – its head a “flimflam man” — who have arranged colossal salaries for themselves, in some cases have been guilty of sexual harassment of fellow employees, have exhibited racist attitudes, and have been thoroughly unmasked for these and other offenses in numerous damning reports.
Here is some of what Jessica Prol Smith, of the Alliance Defending Freedom, discovered about the SPLC:
For years, former employees revealed, local journalists reported and commentators have lamented: The Southern Poverty Law Center is not what it claims to be. Not a pure-hearted, clear-headed legal advocate for the vulnerable, but rather an obscenely wealthy marketing scheme. For years, the left-wing interest group has used its “hate group” list to promote the fiction that violent neo-Nazis and Christian nonprofits peacefully promoting orthodox beliefs about marriage and sex are indistinguishable. Sometimes, it has apologized to public figures it has smeared, and it recently paid out millions to settle a threatened defamation lawsuit.
These shameful secrets are no longer hidden in shadows. The New York Times, Politico, NPR and a host of other mainstream publications are reporting on the corruption and widening credibility gap. The SPLC dismissed its co-founder in March, and its president has resigned amidst numerous claims of sexual harassment, gender discrimination and racism within the organization — a parade of disgraces that vividly force the conclusion: The SPLC is hollow, rotten and failing at the very virtues it pretends to celebrate.
Morris Dees, co-founder of SPLC, was dismissed for many reasons. A multimillionaire from his work as a direct-mail marketer before founding SPLC, Dees was reportedly more concerned with fund-raising than with litigating; he had not tried a case in more than a decade, and other than raising money for himself and others, took little part in the SPLC’s day-to-day operations. During his tenure, there were accusations of gender discrimination and racism in hiring and promotions, as well as sexual harassment. The SPLC’s president, Richard Cohen, apparently resigned for much the same reasons — charges of race and gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and other, unspecified offenses. Both Cohen and Dees had been receiving very large salaries, way out of whack with non-profits of similar size.
The criticism comes from many corners. There’s the Current Affairs editor who seems sympathetic to the center’s progressive mission but decries its “hate group” list as an “outright fraud” and a “willful deception designed to scare older liberals into writing checks to the SPLC.”
There’s the retired investigative journalist who helped research and write an eight-part series on the center’s “litany of problems and questionable practices” in the mid-1990s. His Washington Post opinion piece reads with a thinly veiled message: We nearly got a Pulitzer Prize for TELLING YOU SO.
But perhaps most damning of all are the indictments leveled by former employee Bob Moser in The New Yorker. He remembers being welcomed to the “Poverty Palace” and recounts the heart-sinking reality of it all — being “pawns” in a “highly profitable scam.”
Stephen Bright, a Yale law professor and former director of the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, has long questioned what he calls the center’s “fraudulent” fundraising.
“The chickens have had a very long trip, but they finally came home to roost,” Bright said.
“Morris is a flimflam man and he’s managed to flimflam his way along for many years raising money by telling people about the Ku Klux Klan and hate groups,” he said. “He sort of goes to whatever will sell and has, of course, brought in millions and millions and millions of dollars.”
While the SPLC funded some good work, Bright said, he had long heard complaints about race discrimination and sexual harassment from the center’s former attorneys and interns.
The SPLC has been thoroughly discredited during this last year, yet Bezos has not said a word. Could it be he still doesn’t know about the scandalous goings-on at SPLC, or is that he doesn’t care? Perhaps he’s been busy, swallowing up yet another industry, but he really ought to give Amazon’s reliance on SPLC for deciding which are the “hate groups” to be banned from AmazonSmile more of his attention. And then he might decide to cut the cord.
Given all this, here’s what Jeff Bezos ought to do to spare himself further embarrassment. He ought to read what Tim Moser, the former employee of SPLC, wrote about the organization in The New Yorker. He should read the eight-part series by an investigative journalist on the “problems and questionable practices” at SPLC. He ought to find out what The New York Times, Politico, and NPR have reported about SPLC, which has led many to conclude, with Ms. Smith, that the SPLC “is hollow, rotten, and failing at the very virtues it pretends to celebrate.” And he ought to interview Yale Law Professor Stephen Bright, to find out why he calls Morris Dees a “flimflam man.”
What were the charges, not specified at the time, that forced SPLC co-founder Morris Dees to resign in disgrace? What were the charges that led President Richard Cohen to quit the SPLC? What have close observers of the SPLC discovered about how it has been run, to their dismay and horror?
Jeff Bezos should take a day or two out of his busy schedule of insensate empire-building in order to learn more about the SPLC, on which he has chosen to rely for the identification of “hate groups.” He needs to do more than read what Moser, Bright, and a dozen others who have either worked for SPLC or been close observers of the organization, have written. He needs to talk directly with them, so that he will realize the full extent of the SPLC’s transgressions, can ask them probing questions, and learn more about those “flimflam men” at the top, who have lately been exposed as being guilty of gender and race discrimination, among many other sins.
Bezos should also investigate SPLC’s readiness to label as “anti-Muslim hate groups” those who do not preach hate of any sort, but are simply islamocritics. The SPLC long ago consigned Jihad Watch to the outer darkness. When it included Maajid Nawaz, the founder of the Quilliam Foundation, on a 2016 list of “anti-Muslim extremists,” the SPLC was sued by Nawaz, who won a $3.4 million dollar judgment against the group. That has not stopped the SPLC from continuing to describe Jihad Watch, AFDI, and similar websites as being “hate groups.” SPLC describes, with its wonted tone of hysteria, Robert Spencer as that “notorious Muslim-basher and pretend expert on Islam.”
An email request by JNS [Jewish News Service] to SPLC asking for an explanation about their listing of PJTN went unanswered as of press time.
When asked by JNS what would cause the SPLC to label her organization as being anti-Muslim, Cardoza-Moore responded, “Proclaiming Justice to the Nations exists to fight the oldest hate on earth: antisemitism. We were given no explanation as to why we were blacklisted. If our work highlighting antisemites like [Reps.] Ilhan Omar [D-Minn.] and Rashida Tlaib [D-Mich.] got us on the list, we’ll wear it as a badge of honor. Despite the financial penalties that we are facing with AmazonSmile, will not be silenced for fulfilling our biblical responsibility to defend the State of Israel and Jewish people in the face of growing global antisemitism.”
She added that “sadly, the SPLC lost its way long ago, becoming a tool to shame any organization that doesn’t share their extremist agenda.”
Cardoza-Moore said that initially, she thought it was a joke that PJTN had been placed on the SPLC list of hate groups alongside the KKK. However, she said that “I have now learned that this political witch hunt against those who don’t share SPLC’s extremist liberal views has been adopted as a religious doctrine by Amazon. This could dramatically affect our ability to raise funds and function as a nonprofit organization.”
She added that it appears that Amazon “has become the nation’s new moral compass powered by the subversive Southern Poverty Law Center. Charities should not be persecuted in this way; this has to stop.
An Amazon spokesperson confirmed to JNS via email that PJTN had been dropped, saying in a general statement that according to their policy, “organizations that engage in, support, encourage or promote intolerance, hate, terrorism, violence, money laundering or other illegal activities are not eligible.”
Just as a matter of interest, perhaps Amazon would care to tell us if CAIR is eligible to receive donations through AmazonSmile. If it does, would Bezos be willing to consider the evidence that CAIR just might be an organization that “encourages or promotes intolerance, hate, terrorism, violence”? And while we’re at it, have any of the many pro-BDS groups that many of us believe encourage “intolerance, hate, terrorism, violence” been banned from participating in the AmazonSmile program?
The statement [from Amazon] mentioned that since 2013, Amazon has relied on the SPLC along with the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (of the US Department of the Treasury) to make its determination on which organizations are eligible for the AmazonSmile program.
Cardoza-Moore says that as a result of being dropped, she is calling on her donors to bypass Amazon in order to help support Israel and combat antisemitism.
“We have asked our donors to continue supporting PJTN directly instead of through AmazonSmile. Nobody will silence us, even when we stand up against giants like Amazon; we know that we have truth and justice on our side,” she said.
“Our answer to this hateful blacklisting will be to continue building more PJTN chapters across the United States and beyond. We will continue to fight antisemitism and defend the State of Israel, wherever and whenever necessary,” she continued. “We will endeavor to reach more people than ever because our message is needed now, more than ever.”
A statement from PJTN said that in recent months, the organization has led the struggle against the BDS movement in the United States with a wave of state resolutions, and has exposed textbooks used in public schools that it says are indoctrinating children with inaccurate historical information and bias that do not reflect American values.
In 2016, JNS reported that PJTN drafted the state of Tennessee’s anti-BDS resolution, which passed in the General Assembly, making it one of the first states to pass such state-level legislation against BDS.
So PJTN, unbowed, continues to be active in its campaign against the BDS movement. And its donors will now simply find other, more direct ways to support it, now that PJTN has been banned, so absurdly, from the AmazonSmile program. Many people, as they find out more about Amazon, and its continuing reliance on the discredited SPLC for its determination of which groups promote “hatred” and “intolerance,” may want to express their own displeasure with that malevolent and powerful Amazon, and take their custom elsewhere.
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EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.