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Syrinx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-30-05 04:09 PM
Original message
Morris Dees?
I was going to add Morris Dees to my thread about greatest Alabamians. I was going to go as far as to suggest him as Attorney General (or at least head of the Civil Rights division at Justice) in the next Democratic administration. But first I decided to take a look at what Wikipedia said about him.

First, some of what I found as expected:

Dees' most famous cases have involved landmark damage awards that have driven several prominent neo-Nazi groups into bankruptcy, effectively causing them to disband and re-organize under different names and different leaders. In 1981, Dees successfully sued the Ku Klux Klan and won a seven million dollar settlement. This was topped a decade later, when in 1991 he won a judgement of $12 million against White Aryan Resistance. He was also instrumental in the rewarding of a $6.5 million judgement against Aryan Nations in 2001, which splintered that group as well.

In 1972, Dees was the finance director for Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern. He also served as President Jimmy Carter's national finance director in 1976, and as national finance chairman for Senator Ted Kennedy's 1980 Democratic primary presidential campaign against Carter.

But the article also has some content I find troubling:

While the actions of the SPLC against racist and hate groups have won considerable praise and accolades for Dees, he has also been subjected to criticism for the legal tactics used in obtaining these judgements, which enforce the idea that neo-Nazi groups are subject to "guilt by association," rather than from direct involvement in violent hate crimes.

Dees and the SPLC were the subject of an award-winning 1994 investigative report by the Montgomery Advertiser which revealed deceptive fundraising practices and poor management at the Center. Dees and his organization lobbied aggressively against the report's consideration for journalistic awards, but it was a finalist for a 1995 Pulitzer Prize. In a frequently reposted profile web-published In 1996 by the Jubilee Newspaper, "The Newspaper of Record for the American Christian Patriot", Dees is criticized by former Center employees and associates for being more interested in fundraising than legitimate civil rights programs and for allegedly discriminatory employment policies at the Center.

Dees has a number of critics among liberals, including investigative journalist Alexander Cockburn and University of Kansas professor Laird Wilcox. Some note that Dees has unfairly lumped a number of other movements in with white supremacy, including Second Amendment or gun rights activists, groups that are libertarian in political orientation such as the jury nullification movement, and groups that have their roots among the overpopulation, environmentalist, and population control movements, such as immigration reductionism. Others accuse Dees of overly aggressive fundraising, using blacklisting and guilt by association as organizing tactics, and practicing a sort of left-wing version of McCarthyism. The Southern Poverty Law Center is one of four groups negatively profiled by Laird Wilcox in his book The Watchdogs. Wilcox, who tracks extremist groups of both the left and right, accuses the Southern Poverty Law Center and the other three groups he profiles in that report of: "illegal spying, theft of police files, fund-raising irregularities, irresponsible and fraudulent claims, perjury, vicious and unprincipled name-calling, ritual defamation, libel, intolerance of criticism, harassment, stalking, and a callous disregard for the civil liberties of their opponents and critics."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morris_Dees

So, what's the true bottom line on Morris Dees? Is he a civil-rights hero and the worst enemy of hate groups everywhere? Or is he a left-wing McCarthyite and a shamelessly self-promoting hypocrite?
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jody Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-30-05 04:14 PM
Response to Original message
1. A little bit of all of them, hero and hypocrite. n/t
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Syrinx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-30-05 04:25 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. yeah, like most people I guess
Just on a larger scale.
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davidinalameda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-30-05 04:16 PM
Response to Original message
2. the right wing has been spreading these stories about him
no man is a saint, but I think what Dees has done ranks up there with some of the best

he has brought the Klan to their knees and is now taking on the religious right

go to his website and poke around and make the decision for yourself

the only people I've heard anything from regarding any questionable fundraising practices on his part are right wingers

I think he's a great man and very brave to be doing what he's doing in this day in age
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Syrinx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-30-05 04:28 PM
Response to Reply #2
5. I think you're probably right
The part that especially concerned me was the article in the Montgomery Advertiser. The Advertiser is a right-wing paper, but it says the article was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. That stood out to me.

I think I'll probably add him to my other thread. Thanks for your input.
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The Velveteen Ocelot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-30-05 04:18 PM
Response to Original message
3. I think he's a hero.
I've been following the excellent work of the SPLC for years, and this is the first I've heard about any improper conduct by that organization. I attended a lecture Dees gave not so long ago - and I was extremely impressed. It's very hard for me to believe these accusations. And I wouldn't call Cockburn a liberal, exactly -- his primary claim to fame derives from slamming Israel and any liberal who isn't 'left" enough for his pure tastes.
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Syrinx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-30-05 04:30 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. Cockburn
Alexander Cockburn seems like a really nasty dude. He seems to hate everyone except hard-core communist Jew haters.

Fitting that the spelling of his name sounds like slang for veneral disease. :D
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Totally Committed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-30-05 04:31 PM
Response to Original message
7. Please remember that Wikipedia can be "edited"
by any member at any time. I'm sure there are a lot of Wingnuts and Freepers who do nothing all day but alter these profiles unflatteringly.

Google him, and then consider the source of what you find.
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Syrinx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-30-05 04:39 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. that's true
I will look at some more links about him. I'll also check back at Wikipedia later in the day. Most of the contributors seem to be honest, and Wikipedia seems amazingly self-correcting, at least in my limited experience with it.
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unsavedtrash Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-01-05 12:27 PM
Response to Reply #7
12. the white power people at stormfront actually have a movement to adjust
Wikipedia to their liking. They are attacking various people and events into their revisionist line of thought. As a whole, Wikipedia has become just another set of opinions with a few real facts thrown in.
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biscotti Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-30-05 04:43 PM
Response to Original message
9. Morris Dees
is a true hero of Civil Rights. As well, he is on the front lines of tracking hate groups of all types with the focus on bring them to justice. I doubt he would run for Public office. Himself and Southern Poverty Law Center Foundation is under threats constantly.
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Syrinx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-30-05 04:48 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. what about Attorney General?
What if President Edwards, or Dean, or Clark, or H. Clinton, or whoever, nominated him for AG? I wonder what the reaction would be in Washington?
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davidinalameda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-01-05 01:15 AM
Response to Reply #10
11. gods forbid that would ever happen
we need him where he is--not playing politician in Washington
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nosmokes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-06-05 02:28 AM
Response to Original message
13. morris is a good man, warts and all
i'm privileged to have had more than a passing acquaintance with the man for a short while in the '70's, and his mother and my mother(rest their souls) were the best of friends. remember that the SPLC is an organization that that alabama power structure never wanted in the first place, and if it were to magically go away tomorrow in a puff of smoke you wouldn't find a whole lot of white folks with teary eyes in the large white building with the dome on top that's just a few blocks away. true, morris ain't no saint, but then he's never held himself up to be one either so far as i know. his mama was a different story - i'd beatify her in a NY second, cause ya know someone that fought the odds like morris was a natural born trouble-maker. ;)
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Syrinx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-06-05 04:50 AM
Response to Reply #13
14. thanks for your input
That's interesting.
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