The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has over the years taken on the job of watchdogging hate groups in the U.S. Each year it issues a report -- Year in Hate -- and this year has featured the growing activities of "nativist extremists" against immigrants, especially Mexicans. It quotes the FBI as to the growth of hate crimes -- racially, ethnically and religiously motivated crimes -- against Latinos. Also it describes some of their excessive rhetoric and conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, some of their nonsense has gotten in to respectable print and debate.
SPLC does not just quote figures, but also points a finger and names names. It lists the prominent hate groups and individual leaders. Most of these are small and obscure. This year, however, it has listedits among the hate groups FAIR -- the Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform -- because of some early association with white supremacy and continuing hostility toward the undocumented. Naturally, FAIR has screamed the designation is unfair. As an opponent to the comprehensive immigration reform proposals of last summer, it won a mantle of respectability as a leading opponent. Its word was respected in the media and quoted in Congress. So SPLC's tagging FAIR as a hate group is quite controversial.