White Lives Matter Added To Hate Group List, Black Lives Matter Left Off

Published August 31, 2016
Updated September 2, 2016
Published August 31, 2016
Updated September 2, 2016
Black White Lives Matter

LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images; Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images; ATI Composite

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has just released the most recent additions to its official map of American hate groups. White Lives Matter will be included in the list, the organization says. Black Lives Matter will not.

The SPLC — an Alabama-based nonprofit legal advocacy center specializing in civil rights — has long been tracking American extremist organizations and its definition of what is and isn’t a hate group both mirrors federal law and is widely considered official and definitive in the news media.

To SPLC, a hate group is made up of “those that vilify entire groups of people based on immutable characteristics such as race or ethnicity.” According to those parameters, the SPLC says that Black Lives Matter is not a hate group but White Lives Matter is.

“The White Lives Matter website says their movement is dedicated to the preservation of the white race. That tells you all you need to know,” Heidi Beirich, the director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told The New York Times. “This is standard white supremacist stuff.”

In fact, the SPLC’s decision to label White Lives Matter a hate group is largely based on some very by-the-book white supremacist connections. Indeed, Rebecca Barnette, the leader of a White Lives Matter chapter in Nashville, also serves as a major player two neo-Nazi groups: the National Socialist Movement and the Aryan Strikeforce.

But while White Lives Matter has some very explicit white supremacist ties and openly campaigns against integration and immigration, the SPLC also laments how America’s current racial and political climate has allowed the movement’s message to drift further into the mainstream.

“Trump has given these people hope they didn’t have before that they could influence politics or that they would at least be listened to,” Beirich said.

Just last month, in the wake of police deaths at Black Lives Matter protests in Dallas and Baton Rouge, White Lives Matter followers as well as many less extreme conservatives became outraged precisely because they felt they weren’t being heard when it came to the issue of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Both conservative pundits and the thousands of signatories to several Change.org petitions all called for Black Lives Matter to be labeled a hate group. But SPLC President Richard Cohen decisively fired back, stating, “Black Lives Matter is not a hate group.”

Now, the SPLC has doubled down on that assertion by once again keeping Black Lives Matter off its hate group list while adding White Lives Matter.

Given the latter’s racist rhetoric and neo-Nazi connections, their inclusion on the hate group list appears to be a more open-and-shut case. On the other hand, given last month’s outrage, it’s likely that exclusion of Black Lives Matter from the hate group list will continue to elicit anger from some conservatives.

However, as Cohen stated, the leadership of Black Lives Matter has not espoused hate nor violence. Furthermore, Cohen argues that the movement is simply misunderstood:

“Many of its harshest critics claim that Black Lives Matter’s very name is anti-white, hence the oft-repeated rejoinder ‘all lives matter.’ This notion misses the point entirely. Black lives matter because they have been marginalized throughout our country’s history and because white lives have always mattered more in our society. As BLM puts it, the movement stands for ‘the simple proposition that black lives also matter.'”

This kind of misapprehension about the message behind Black Lives Matter is, Cohen suggests, indicative of the current state of race relations in America:

“White people tend to see racism as a zero-sum game, meaning that gains for African Americans come at their expense. Black people see it differently. From their point of view, the rights pie can get bigger for everyone.

“Black Lives Matter is not a hate group. But the perception that it is racist illustrates the problem. Our society as a whole still does not accept that racial injustice remains pervasive. And, unfortunately, the fact that white people tend to see race as a zero-sum game may actually impede progress.”

One can only hope that progress is precisely what the SPLC’s new hate group designations will help foster.

Next, read the unbelievable statement from the cop who instructed people how to run over Black Lives Matter marchers and get away with it. Then, read up on New York’s “Blue Lives Matter” bill, which could make assaulting cops a hate crime.

John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the Managing Editor of All That Is Interesting.