“Carol Swain is an apologist for white supremacists.” That was the jarring headline of a front-page article that greeted Dr. Swain in her local paper on October 17, 2009. The headline was a quote from Mark Potok, a top spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, the self-anointed “watchdog” that presumes to be the preeminent monitor of “hate groups and racial extremists throughout the United States.”
Carol Swain, then, must be a very bad person, no? Probably joined at the hip to the neo-Nazis, KKK, and Aryan Nations, right? After all, the folks at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and especially the organization’s founder, Morris Dees, have acquired sainted reputations as heroic crusaders against these nefarious groups and other purveyors of hatred, bigotry, and violence. Dees, Potok, and their colleagues at SPLC are regularly paraded as the go-to “experts” on all the various extremists that threaten the realm. Surely, they must know something dark and sinister about Dr. Swain’s collaboration with these forces.
Undoubtedly, Professor Swain was not the only one shocked by the SPLC allegation; many of her academic peers and students, as well as the many fans of her books and published columns, would have considered her to be one of the last persons to fall under such loathsome accusations.
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