On Wednesday, The Baltimore Sun published an attack by Ron Smith on the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization known nationally for its lawsuits against and investigations of white supremacist hate groups in America ("The truth about 'hate crimes' and the racial justice racket," Commentary, Dec. 3).
Aside from a great deal of unsubstantiated name-calling, Mr. Smith mentions an essay written by Nicholas Stix, a man Mr. Smith sparely describes as a "columnist and blogger."
What Mr. Smith declines to say is that Mr. Stix is a well-known white nationalist who recently prepared a lengthy introduction to an article, published by the National Policy Institute, that paints "a statistical and narrative portrait of the war on white America."
In it, Mr. Stix concludes that the Brown v. Board of Education ruling outlawing school segregation was "arguably the worst decision" in the Supreme Court's history. "Integration and the civil rights movement," Mr. Stix continues, "led directly to the destruction of great cities."
Many of Mr. Stix's articles, which dwell heavily on what he sees as a huge wave of anti-white hate crime committed by black people, are archived at the VDARE Web site.
With Mr. Stix, Mr. Smith claims that the October murder of an interracial couple in Winchester, Calif., allegedly by four black men, was motivated by race hate - despite the statements of police that the motive was robbery.
Mr. Smith goes on to describe hate crime legislation as a "questionable legal construct used almost exclusively against whites."
Actually, the concept has been ratified by the Supreme Court in a case in which the defendant was a black man who had attacked whites because of their race. Yet that doesn't stop Mr. Smith from claiming that "the truth is one thing and the liberal agenda is another."
Mark Potok, Montgomery, Ala.
The writer is director of the Intelligence Project for the Southern Poverty Law Center.
After reading Ron Smith's column, I am disappointed that he sees the SPLC as a fundraising business instead of a source for educational materials for schools to promote tolerance and a provider of strong legal representation for victims of hateful violent crime.
That strong legal representation is directly effective in removing hateful organized criminals from society and in deterring others from participating in such crime.
Peter McCullough, Lutherville
The writer has been a contributor to the Southern Poverty Law Center for many years.
As a long-time supporter of the Southern Poverty Law Center, I was appalled by the condescension and ignorance Ron Smith displayed toward this organization.
He feels justified in calling the SPLC a "scam" - not as a result of any credible research on his par, but merely because he doesn't believe in its mission and finds its income of $111 million over four years to be out of line.
Along with fighting hate and bigotry on all fronts, SPLC promotes tolerance and respect for diversity in schools by way of its award-winning Teaching Tolerance program, advocates for foreign guest workers who suffer exploitation and seeks justice for learning-disabled and homeless youths denied their right to an education.
I am proud to count myself among the group's supporters.
And yes, Mr. Smith, the SPLC even targets anti-white hate groups.
Jonathan Jensen, Baltimore
Perhaps Ron Smith is unaware that then-Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, writing for a unanimous Supreme Court in the 1993 case of Wisconsin v. Mitchell, held that hate crime laws are constitutional. How else could Mr. Smith erroneously contend that hate crimes "are a questionable legal construct"?
In the Wisconsin case, Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote: "According to the state ... bias motivated crimes are more likely to provoke retaliatory crimes, inflict distinct emotional harms on their victims, and incite community unrest. The state's desire to redress these perceived harms provides an adequate explanation for its penalty enhancement [in hate crimes cases] provision over and above mere disagreement with offenders' beliefs or biases."
Samuel I. "Sandy" Rosenberg, Baltimore
The writer is a member of the House of Delegates.