Judicial Watch obtained the documents in a response to a Freedom of Information Act request that asked for “Any and all records concerning, regarding, or related to the preparation and presentation of training materials on hate groups or hate crimes distributed or used by the Air Force.” Included in the 133 pages of lesson plans and PowerPoint slides provided by the Air Force is a January 2013 Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute “student guide” entitled “Extremism.” The document says that it is “for training purposes only” and “do not use on the job.” Highlights include:
- The document defines extremists as “a person who advocates the use of force or violence; advocates supremacist causes based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or national origin; or otherwise engages to illegally deprive individuals or groups of their civil rights.”
- A statement that “Nowadays, instead of dressing in sheets or publically espousing hate messages, many extremists will talk of individual liberties, states’ rights, and how to make the world a better place.”
- “[W]hile not all extremist groups are hate groups, all hate groups are extremist groups.”
- Under a section labeled “Extremist Ideologies” the document states, “In U.S. history, there are many examples of extremist ideologies and movements. The colonists who sought to free themselves from British rule and the Confederate states who sought to secede from the Northern states are just two examples.”
- In this same section, the document lists the 9/11 attack under a category of “Historical events.”
- "[A]ctive participation …with regard to extremist organizations is incompatible with military service and, is therefore prohibited.” [Emphasis in original]
- The document details the “seven stages of hate” and sixteen “extremists’ traits.”
- The SPLC is listed as a resource for information on hate groups and referenced several times throughout the guide.
- Of the five organizations besides the SPLC listed as resources, one is an SPLC project (Teaching Tolerance) and one considers any politically or socially conservative movement to be a potential hate group (Political Research Associates).
- Other than a mention of 9/11 and the Sudan, there is no discussion of Islamic extremism.
In April 2013, following a terrorist shooting at the family Research Council (FRC) headquarters that occurred in August 2012, Judicial Watch filed multiple FOIA requests to determine what, if any, influence SPLC’s branding of hate groups had on government agencies. On its website, the SPLC has depicted FRC as a “hate group,” along with other such mainstream conservative organizations as the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, and Coral Ridge Ministries and Catholicism. At the time of the shooting, FRC president Tony Perkins accused the SPLC of sparking the shooting, saying the shooter “was given a license to shoot … by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center.”
The document was obtained by Judicial Watch was from the Air Force, but it originated in a DOD office and is, therefore, thought likely to be used in other agency components.
You might remember that earlier an Army training sessions, that also obtained its information from SPLC, listed Catholicism and Evangelical Christianity as extremist organizations along with Hamas and the Ku Klux Klan:
“The Obama administration has a nasty habit of equating basic conservative values with terrorism. And now, in a document full of claptrap, its Defense Department suggests that the Founding Fathers, and many conservative Americans, would not be welcome in today’s military,” said Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton. “And it is striking that some the language in this new document echoes the IRS targeting language of conservative and Tea Party investigations. After reviewing this document, one can’t help but worry for the future and morale of our nation’s armed forces.”