The Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) chief of staff, Lecia Brooks, participated in a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday.
She was asked to explain why her center included various Christian organizations on a list of hate groups that included proven extremists such as the Ku Klux Klan.
The main topic of the hearing was the alleged extremism among the U.S. military.
Brooks stressed that U.S. Army should work toward screening soldiers with extremist tendencies.
She added that her organization does not suggest excluding each person somehow affiliated with hate groups listed by SPLC, but rather those who are explicitly violent in their actions.
During the hearing, a Republican Representative, Matt Gaetz from Florida, said that the goal of the committee is to prevent any ostracism against members of the military who simply do not share views favored by the political left.
In Gaetz’s words, the objective is to prevent '’woke supremacy’‘.
A committee chairman Adam Smith, a Democratic Representative from Washington, expressed similar concerns that each person subscribing to the ideology that is not leftist might be branded as extremist by SPLC.
'’SPLC is not anti-Christian’’
In response to the concerns raised, Brooks said that SPLC identifies a group as extremist if its principles or leaders behave or think in a way that insults a whole group of people, usually based on the immutable features that people belonging to an insulted group possess.
She further explained that SPLC is '’not anti-Christian at all’‘, adding that being against marriage equality does not make any group extremist.
To bolster her claim, the SPLC chief of staff even pointed to an internal survey in which 65 percent of SPLC members identified themselves as Christians.
Some Representatives still dissatisfied
Brooks’s reply did not appease all participants in the hearing.
Many Representatives still believed that SPLC branded some groups as being extremist too easily.
Republican Representative Austin Scott from Georgia named Ben Carson as an example of a person identified as extremist by SPLC, partly because of his inegalitarian view on marriage.
Republican Representative Scott DesJarlais from Tennessee listed Family Research Council, American Family Organization, and the American College of Pediatricians as organizations SPLC unreasonably included among the hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.
DesJarlais entered into an argument with Brooks, in which SPLC chief of staff explained that these groups were identified as extremist due to their vilification of the entire classes of people.
Tennessee Representative disagreed, pointing to an example of Antifa which, in response, Brooks described as a loose organization that cannot be called extremist '’since it does not attack any group in particular’‘.