Right-Wingers Rejoice Over Layoffs At Southern Poverty Law Center

Conservative media figures celebrated the loss of income and employment for over 60 workers at the Southern Poverty Law Center, the civil rights organization perhaps best known for monitoring and helping dismantle right-wing extremist groups.

“Your entire organization is trash, and America will be better off when it’s forced to lay off every single employee,” Sean Davis, founder and CEO of The Federalist, wrote on X, formerly called Twitter.

“Far-left propaganda group SPLC is tanking,” tweeted former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. “About time! They lost their way years ago. Sat on a big bank account of millions & pretended to be fighting for ‘little guys.’ They are a hate group that labels others ‘hate group.’”

Jack Posobiec, the major right-wing influencer with over 2.5 million followers on X who the SPLC has described as having an extensive history of bigotry and collaborating with white supremacists, responded to news of the layoffs by tweeting a gif of former President Donald Trump wearing sunglasses and smiling.

SPLC workers were informed of the layoffs on Thursday. Margaret Huang, the organization’s president and CEO, informed staff that she and the executive board had decided to “restructure” the organization, and had made “difficult decisions to end some longstanding programmatic work,” according to a company-wide email reviewed by HuffPost.

A handful of major SPLC projects appear to be essentially shuttering, including Learning for Justice, which provides classroom resources for students to learn about racial justice and tolerance; the Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative, which provides “pro bono legal representation to detained immigrants at immigrant detention centers in the Deep South”; and the Economic Justice Project, which aims to reform policies trapping impoverished Americans, especially in communities of color, in cycles of debt.

The Montgomery, Alabama-based organization didn’t confirm the exact number of employees being let go but acknowledged to The Associated Press that it “is undergoing an organizational restructuring.”

The SPLC union issued a withering statement denouncing the layoffs. “Today, the Southern Poverty Law Center — an organization with nearly a billion dollars in reserves, given an “F” rating by CharityWatch for ‘hoarding’ donations — gutted its staff by a quarter,” the union said.

The union added that over 60 of its members, including five union stewards and the union chair, had been let go. “Make no mistake — laying off dozens of employees, many of whom were Union activists, less than a year before we will bargain our second contract was no coincidence,” the statement said. “This is designed to punish Union activists and intimidate employees just as we saw when Mercedes-Benz fired Union organizers in Vance, Alabama. Management’s goals here are clear, but they will not win. Our Union is strong.” (Mercedes-Benz denies the allegation, leveled by United Auto Workers, that it targeted union organizers. The National Labor Relations Board has yet to rule on the accusation.)

The SPLC union formed in 2019 amid turmoil at the organization. Morris Dees, one of the organization’s founders, was fired after being accused of racist and sexist behavior, and was criticized as being more focused on fundraising than SPLC’s mission of combating racial and social inequities.

Since its founding in 1971, the SPLC has played a big role in fighting white supremacist groups. It has won lawsuits against the Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Nations, a national neo-Nazi group that maintained a compound in Idaho in the 1980s. Its work monitoring such groups has made it a target of violence and threats. In 1983, three Klansmen broke into the SPLC’s office, dousing it with gasoline and setting it ablaze.

Late last week, modern extremists rejoiced at the SPLC’s decision to lay off so many of its employees.

“The demonic SPLC just laid off 60 people and shuttered multiple departments,” gloated Andrew Torba, founder of the social media site Gab, which became a haven for racism and antisemitism, including from the man who shot and killed 11 worshipers at a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018. “Screw your optics, I’m going in,” the shooter wrote on Gab before walking into the Tree of Life synagogue. The SPLC documented how Torba managed to still raise millions of dollars for Gab after the mass shooting.

“lol SPLC, but also a BILLION dollars!?” tweeted Henrik Palmgren, the Swedish founder of Red Ice, a white supremacist media network. Palmgren was responding, via a quote tweet, to the SPLC union statement about the organization’s considerable resources.

“WTF?” Palmgren continued. “The organization not only needs to be shut down by force, their reserves need to be confiscated and given to healthy nationalist causes and groups. Especially those they have ruined and sued over the decades.”

“This is beautiful news, thank you @splcenter,” tweeted Darren Beattie, the former Trump White House speechwriter who was pushed out after speaking at a white supremacist conference. “To the 60 losers who weren’t valuable enough to keep their jobs... maybe join onlyfans and hope there are enough men with goblin fetish to keep groceries in your fridge. Sad!”

Andy Ngo — the far-right influencer who the SPLC once described as “publishing anti-antifa, Islamophobic and transphobic tweets and articles to his sizable Twitter following, along with disseminating the arrest records and personal details of left-wing demonstrators” — was also delighted by the layoffs.

“You & your colleagues, both current & former, have caused significant harm & division with your well-funded lies & propaganda,” he tweeted. “I hope the whole lot of you goes down, & one day in the future people can read about the shameful period of American history you were involved in.”

The SPLC layoffs come weeks after Media Matters, another liberal organization that monitors right-wing extremist rhetoric, had a round of layoffs. Platformer also reported that the Stanford Internet Laboratory, which monitors extremists’ abuse of social media platforms, is collapsing amid a series of lawsuits, subpoenas and congressional hearings from Republican officials and other conservative figures.