The Daily Caller’s Peter Hasson recently broke the exclusive story that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is “policing content on YouTube as part of YouTube’s ‘Trusted Flaggers’ program.”
Let me tell you why this news is scary as hell — from personal experience.
My name is Trey Radel. I’m a trilingual, well-traveled lover of all cultures and an easygoing kind of guy. I don’t say this to toot my own horn; I say it because underneath my passion for culture — as well as love and fascination with political foreign policy — is apparently something more sinister: I’m a “hater” and “extremist,” in league with murderers.
Here’s some background to illustrate just how much I friggin’ despise anyone different from my white upbringing.
In my twenties, I lived off about 10 bucks a day, backpacking from Colombia to Cambodia to soak up and learn different cultures, customs and languages. By age 30, after living and working in a few different countries, I was trilingual — fluent in Spanish, Italian and English. I’m such an observational nerd that I can tell you the distinct differences between Hispanic cultures and even fluently imitate the Spanish accents country to country throughout South America.
In my thirties, while serving in the United States Congress, the highly influential nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), put me on a list titled, “The Year in Hate and Extremism.” Every year, the group publishes a list identifying racists, terrorists, murderers and hate groups. There’s a common thread, though. Many of the people and groups they identify happen to be Republican or conservative, or as they state, “far right.”
Apparently, I fit right in.
The SPLC put me on the list in 2013; I was in Congress then, a Spanish-speaking Republican, frequently seen in English and Spanish media. At the time, years before the issues were en vogue, I supported immigration reform as well as criminal justice reform, both policies clearly racist AF.
My “hater” ass made that SPLC hate list with some notable figures, including a neo-Nazi gunman “who stormed into a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, murdering six people before killing himself.” Sounds about right. The SPLC also put another member of Congress on the list: Senator Rand Paul. This guy despises minorities so much that, like me, he is a vocal opponent of the War on Drugs, rightly pointing out how it disproportionately harms minorities in our country.
What a racist dick.
How I made the list is almost as unbelievable as getting put on the list in the first place. A blogger published a roughly 15-second sound bite of me saying, “all options should be on the table” when it comes to a president, regardless of party affiliation, overstepping his or her executive boundaries.
Harmless enough, right? Hell, I even thought it had a bipartisan tone.
Well, the blogger translated that and headlined his article using the word “impeachment.” Soon enough, the ridiculous, distorted narrative circulated that I, Republican Representative Trey Radel, wanted to impeach President Obama.
The righteous members of SPLC saw this and without calling me, shooting me an email contacting me on social media, or even sending smoke signals, threw me on their list with a murderer, white supremacists who regularly “gave stiff-arm Nazi salutes,” and others who chanted “white power.”
Oh, and the evil, sinister Sen. Rand Paul.
Even more ironically, the article was released shortly after I had made a concerted effort to sit down and meet with each and every Democrat from my Florida delegation. I met with them face to face to say: “I’m not here to yell at you or call you names. I wanted to meet to see where we could find common ground and solutions to get things done.” I ended up striking up long-term relationships with ultra-liberal lawmakers, including Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz with whom I am still close today.
But screw all that. Dammit, I’m a conservative. By default, I must be a racist, misogynist, bigoted creep.
That, of course, is the narrative, and it is dangerous.
Over the years, seeing prominent news networks cite the SPLC’s “lists” and “statistics” as fact has been disappointing to say the least. But now, as a victim of the SPLC’s tactics to discredit and smear, it is horrifying to read The Daily Caller’s story, showing the SPLC has been given a role by YouTube to discern racism from genuine policy and political principles.
This gatekeeper role is not only a disservice to the country, it is a dangerous, disruptive threat to the republic itself. While preaching about the dangers of anger and hatred, the SPLC’s assessments — ill informed at best, willfully blind at worst — dump more fuel on the fire of culture wars burning in America today. While claiming to fight hatred, the SPLC incites it, fomenting even more distrust among the American people.
I have plenty of flaws. Plenty. Go check out my Wikipedia page. However, being a racist, a hater or an extremist is certainly not among them.
YouTube should terminate its relationship with the SPLC immediately. And prominent news networks must stop citing the organization’s information as if it were a legitimate source. The SPLC is not a legitimate source.
The Southern Poverty Law Center is as much of a hate group as the organizations it claims to out.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.