The Pentagon has officially severed all ties to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) after previously relying on the group’s training materials on extremism.
Brian J. Field, assistant U.S. attorney from the Civil Division, stated that the Department of Defense (DOD) Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity removed any and all references to the SPLC in training materials used by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI), in an email obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation from the Department of Justice.
The DEOMI is a DOD school founded to fight segregation and inequality that teaches courses in racial, gender and religious equality, among other subject areas like equal opportunity and pluralism. The courses are available to DOD civilians and service members.
As part of a response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from the Immigration Reform Law Institute, Field wrote in the email sent in late September:
Additionally, the DEOMI office informed me that, based on a previous FOIA request, DEOMI records concerning, regarding, or related to the preparation and presentation of training materials on hate groups or hate crimes were forwarded … That 133-page document did reference the SPLC; however, based upon guidance from the Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity, all references to the SPLC have been removed from any current training.
Interestingly, DEOMI still makes use of materials on “Hate Symbols” from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a group similar to the SPLC. Students at DEOMI use the Hate Symbols reference on the ADL site to “learn more about gang colors or clothing; hate group tattoos and body markings associated with such gangs.”
As a matter of policy, the DOD does not have an official list of hate groups.
In early 2014, the Pentagon told CNS News that while it would remove information on hate groups provided by the SPLC, it would continue to rely on SPLC data in “non-federal reference material” for DEOMI. It appears that the DOD’s DEOMI has now decided to sever ties with the SPLC, as DEOMI is the only sub-branch of the Pentagon with any records of SPLC materials.
The Pentagon’s decision to terminate its relationship with the SPLC comes at a time when the group has under major fire from conservative organizations, particularly in the form of lawsuits. D. James Kennedy Ministries, a Christian ministry from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., recently sued the SPLC after being labeled a hate group. The SPLC has also faced criticism from liberals. In late August, anti-Muslim extremism activist and feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali argued in The New York Times that “the S.P.L.C. is an organization that has lost its way, smearing people who are fighting for liberty and turning a blind eye to an ideology and political movement that has much in common with Nazism.”
For Ali, corporations and donors in Hollywood “need to find more trustworthy and deserving partners to work with than the SPLC.”
Notably, the Pentagon is not the only federal agency to drop the SPLC.
In February, The Daily Caller News Foundation published an exclusive piece indicating that the FBI, which formerly used the SPLC as a “hate crimes resource,” has also been distancing itself from the group.
The SPLC did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation by press time.
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