Last week, the Southern Poverty Law Center released its latest report, 30 New Activists Heading Up the Radical Right. Tenth Amendment Center executive director Michael Boldin found himself mixed in among the neo-Nazis, white supremacists and anti-Muslim personalities highlighted in the report.
The SPLC characterizes the Tenth Amendment Center as “on the political far right,” a description Boldin said he found amusing. The TAC founder pointed out that the organization opposes detention provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act, civil liberty violating aspects of the Patriot Act and presidential war power abuses, not to mention an unconstitutional federal “War on Drugs” that cages millions of minorities and criminalizes thousands of people simply seeking some pain relief. Not exactly a laundry list of right wing causes.
“Dude, I don’t know what these people are smoking, but it appears they’re calling for a mass arrest of thousands of sick cancer patients that use marijuana,” Boldin said.
TAC communications director Mike Maharrey called the SPLC’s apparent disdain for the idea that states possess the power and authority to nullify unconstitutional federal acts “ironic” in light of its application during the 1840s and 1850s. Northern states nullified fugitive slave acts, passing “Personal Liberty Laws” that guaranteed due process for blacks accused of escaping slavery and forbid state cooperation with federal slave catchers.
“These guys claim to champion minority rights, particularly those of African-Americans, yet they poo-poo a principle that was successfully used to protect blacks. I guess, the SPLC would have supported returning accused fugitive slaves to servitude without any kind of due process and with the full cooperation of state officials,” Maharrey said. “Apparently, maintaining a centralized power structure is more important than actually protecting the rights of individuals over at the Southern Poverty Law Center.”
Stephanie Mencimer, columnist for the progressive magazine Mother Jones, also found the SPLC’s take on Boldin a little out of place, pointing out that he got his start in politics opposing the Iraq war.
“SPLC links Boldin with the “Patriot movement” and far-right extremists. But it overlooks a lot of the issues that Boldin himself has championed. I met him two years ago at a Tenther conference in Atlanta, which definitely featured some fringey right-wingers, including the John Birch Society. But Boldin stuck out for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that he is a California hipster who travels with tins of sardines in his suitcase to ensure that he eats enough omega-3 fatty acids,” she wrote.
In fact, the Wall Street Journal editorial page called the TAC the “ACLU wing of the Tea Party” last month and two former Bush administration officials recently accused the organization of “fear mongering” in the pages of the Washington Post.
Boldin said the SPLC seems more intent on engaging in a witch hunt than looking out for minorities and the poor and he wonders if the once venerable organization has outlived its usefulness.
“Heck, they didn’t even get my age right. How many other things are they getting wrong?”
The Tenth Amendment Center exists to promote and advance a return to a proper balance of power between federal and State governments envisioned by our founders, prescribed by the Constitution and explicitly declared in the Tenth Amendment. A national think tank based in Los Angeles, the Tenth Amendment Center works to preserve and protect the principle of strictly limited government through information, education, and activism.