How The SPLC Is Using Tech To Fight Hate

Posted: Aug 15 2017, 3:14pm CDT | by , in News | Technology News

 
How the SPLC Is Using Tech to Fight Hate
Image: SPLC

If you want to know how you can fight back against hate groups, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is using technology to track the actions and locations of groups like the KKK.

Bigotry and prejudice are issues this country has been dealing with for decades, but have come screaming to the forefront this week. For those who are interested in making it more difficult for people to commit acts of hate, it can be hard to know where to start.

Today there are nearly 1,000 racially prejudiced groups operating inside the United States. While free speech protects some of their ability to proselytize, recent events have very clearly gone too far. If you want to know how you can fight back, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is using technology to track the actions and locations of groups like the KKK.

A Brief History of the SPLC

It can be easy to dismiss acts of injustice as something distant and unrelated to your community. The truth is, prejudiced groups are probably operating much closer to you than you think.

The Center was founded in 1971 by two lawyers — Morris Dees and Joseph Levin — who offered legal aid free-of-charge to cases intended to bring down institutions that fund the KKK. In the early days of its existence, the two attorneys represented victims of hate crimes pro bono. They clearly got the attention of white supremacists, who firebombed their building in 1981.

Shortly after their initial base of operations was burned down, the SPLC established Klanwatch, their first tracking operation. Klanwatch attempted to identify Klan organizations all around the country. As the effort broadened in scope, it grew into what we know today as Hatewatch.

Tracking Hate

The group continues to battle the Klan and other bigotry-promoting organizations in court. Today, with the help of the internet, the SPLC broadcasts an interactive map of the 900-plus hate organizations currently active across the United States. Every year the SPLC publishes information about extremist right-wing operations in a publicly available report.

A track record that includes multiple wins in court, amounting to tens of millions in settlements for racial justice, has helped establish the SPLC as a truly progressive organization. And they have taken their brand of progressive thinking to the community level, where they continue to do their good works on behalf of the voiceless. Many of their efforts in places like Atlanta, Louisiana and Alabama have been documented in their own short videos, which are available on the Southern Poverty Law Center YouTube channel.

While the KKK remains a huge part of the group’s focus, a look at the hate map makes it clear that the number of new extremist groups is staggering. No state is left untouched by at least one organization, and some — like the Nazi-affiliated Daily Stormer and the misleadingly-named ACT for America, an anti-Muslim group — are spread out nationwide.

Taking the Message to Our Schools

Young minds are some of the best resources we have against hate. That’s why the SPLC has created and on-campus program to educate about the right way to stop bigotry. The on-campus program focuses on encouraging people to vote, speak out against hateful acts and encourage a dialog with their peers.

It has been said that racism is a generational illness. If that’s true, the best way to make sure the SPLC’s efforts to take back a country riven by hatred is to win the hearts and minds of today's youth. It's a cause they have devoted their full resources to.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/56" rel="author">Scott Huntington</a>
Scott Huntington is a writer and journalist from Harrisburg PA who covered movies, tech, cars, and more. Check out his blog Off The Throttle or follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington.

 

 

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