As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, brave experts on Islam like Robert Spencer warn about the persistent danger that Muslim concepts of jihad pose-and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has placed him on its enemies list of 10 activists who are waging a "jihad against Islam."
You might ask why an organization ostensibly devoted to fighting poverty in the south is siding with Islamists-but, bizarrely, that's what the SPLC does these days. Last year it put out a list of neo-Nazi, racial skinhead, white nationalist, and black separatist organizations, including groups like Aryan Nations, National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and Nation of Islam. It bizarrely included on the list a thoughtful critic of politicized homosexuality, the Family Research Council.
That's silly enough, but University of Toronto pop sociologist Richard Florida went further: He took the SPLC list and tracked hate group locations against patterns of Obama/McCain voting, religious adherence, incidence of gay and lesbian households, and so forth. Florida's conclusion in The Atlantic: "Hate groups were positively associated with McCain votes. . . . Hate groups are positively associated with states where individuals report that religion plays an important role in their everyday lives."
Hmm. What if we include groups that emphasize class hatred like the Communist Party USA, the Socialist Workers Party, and others on the left? What if we list abortionist organizations as hate groups because they target an entire class of people, the pre-born? (Planned Parenthood, of course, has a racist past and still disproportionately kills black babies.)
What about militant environmentalists who fight loggers, animal rights advocates who attack medical testing labs, and liberal professors who harass Christians? I suspect if we included them along with Marxists and abortionists, we could correlate "hate" with states containing higher percentages of Obama voters and non-Christians-but that would also be mining the data for political advantage.