I can’t quite remember where or when I heard Morris Dees speak back in the 90’s, but I remember that he was one of the very few speakers who ever inspired me. I may not be easily moved by speeches, but then, I may be as easily fooled as a great many other people. Morris Dees was fired by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit he co-founded in 1971 with Julian Bond and Joe Levin.
Morris Dees, now 82, was the SPLC. What could this now-old man have done to be unceremoniously ousted from the organization he co-founded?
The group’s president, Richard Cohen, did not give a specific reason for the dismissal of Mr. Dees, 82, on Wednesday. But Mr. Cohen said in a statement that as a civil-rights group, the S.P.L.C. was “committed to ensuring that the conduct of our staff reflects the mission of the organization and the values we hope to instill in the world.”
“When one of our own fails to meet those standards, no matter his or her role in the organization, we take it seriously and must take appropriate action,” Mr. Cohen said.
Mr. Cohen’s statement suggested that Mr. Dees’s firing was linked to workplace conduct. He said the center, which is based in Montgomery, Ala., had requested “a comprehensive assessment of our internal climate and workplace practices” in a bid to ensure that the organization was a place where “all voices are heard and all staff members are respected.”
Despite murdering all those words and saying nothing, the smell is certainly that Dees said or did something that violated the radical rules of the hour. Perhaps he touched someone on an unwanted elbow. Perhaps he doubted that it was righteous for Palestinians to destroy Israel. Maybe he uttered the word “girl” or, god forbid, interrupted an employee’s exposition of pained experiences.
But whatever he did, it was so horrible that Cohen had to first fire the man who created the fabulously wealthy kingdom over which Cohen now ruled, and now plans to investigate.
The center’s most recent tax documents showed an endowment of $471 million. In response to criticism about its wealth, the center has pointed to the high cost of engaging in long, complicated legal battles. Skepticism has persisted anyway.
Half a billion dollars is a lot (technically, a “shit ton”) for an organization with “poverty” in its name. But then, like when the ACLU met fools with their money, the cries of Apocalypse have been very, very good to the SPLC.
After the deadly violence at a white nationalist gathering in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, donations to the organization came flooding in. Tim Cook, the head of Apple, announced the company would donate $1 million to the center. It also received a $1 million grant from a foundation created by George and Amal Clooney.
The SPLC has long since forsaken its mission of fighting the Klan, instead creating lists of people and organizations for the woke to hate and punch, which the passionate advocates of the media, who describe themselves as “journalists,” believe as gospel. If you’re on the list, you’re doomed. How could Morris Dees’ SPLC be wrong?
I also received the law school’s invitation to the presentation of the “Morris Dees Justice Award,” which you also mentioned in your letter as one of the “great things” happening at the law school. I decline that invitation for another reason. Morris Dees is a con man and fraud…
The positive contributions Dees has made to justice–most undertaken based upon calculations as to their publicity and fund raising potential–are far overshadowed by what Harper’s described as his “flagrantly misleading” solicitations for money. He has raised millions upon millions of dollars with various schemes, never mentioning that he does not need the money because he has $175 million and two “poverty palace” buildings in Montgomery. He has taken advantage of naive, well-meaning people–some of moderate or low incomes–who believe his pitches and give to his $175-million operation. He has spent most of what they have sent him to raise still more millions, pay high salaries, and promote himself.
Those words were written in 2007 by Stephen Bright, no slouch to civil rights and indigent defense himself. Despite this revelation, Dees and the SPLC continued to thrive, to soar to new heights of credibility and wealth on the backs of “naive, well-meaning people.”
In 2016, the King Center in Atlanta gave its highest honor to Mr. Dees: the Martin Luther King Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize, according to an article on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website.
It quotes Dr. Bernice A. King, Dr. King’s daughter, who leads the center, as saying that Mr. Dees “has tirelessly, and bravely championed the rights of the disenfranchised.”
Who is Morris Dees, the champion of the poor or a con man? Whichever he was, he’s now the goat of the SPLC, which has burned him at the stake for some unstated heresy, even as they dine on the vast wealth with which the organization is endowed at Dees’ hand.
Like Ira Glasser trying desperately not to speak ill of the ACLU for having abandoned its mission and lying its way through so the useful fools keep donating money, Dees will not tear down the organization he created even as the organization happily sacrifices him.
Mr. Dees said he learned of his firing in an email this week. On Thursday evening, he repeatedly said he would not “say anything negative about the center or its employees.”
What would an 82-year-old man have to do with the SPLC on a day-to-day basis, even if his technical association remained as far as the public was concerned? Did he come to the office every day, maybe grab a tush or tell a dirty joke. Had he done that since 1971, or only in his dotage? He obviously wasn’t at work this week, or Cohen could have told him to his face he was fired rather than learn it by email. Not even a phone call or a personal visit.
Whether a half-billion-dollar endowment is a big enough deal for an organization that does little more than prepare hate lists to justify some small degree of appreciation for Morris Dees, still adored for his battles against the Ku Klux Klan, it was not enough to save him from being burned at the stake and allowed to quietly be forced into social justice exile.
Update: At the LA Times, Matt Pearce eked some backstory out of the SPLC.
A letter signed by about two dozen employees — and sent to management and the board of directors before news broke of Dees’ firing — said they were concerned that internal “allegations of mistreatment, sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and racism threaten the moral authority of this organization and our integrity along with it.”
Obviously, this provides no clue what actual conduct Dees is alleged to have done, but are the typical meaningless, conclusory claims that provide all the woke need to know.