Republican Attorney General Candidate Barry Smitherman Objects To Identifying Hate Groups

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Republican Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman

Barry Smitherman, Texas Railroad Commissioner and Republican candidate for Attorney General, is upset. He's not bothered by the millions current Attorney General Greg Abbott has wasted on lawsuits he can't win, Abbott's dedication to voter disenfranchisement laws, or Abbott's near-release of thousands of Texans' Social Security numbers. No – he's distressed that certain hate groups are being labeled as hate groups.

Last year, Smitherman learned of study material used in his daughter's school to go along with the American classic To Kill A Mockingbird. The study material was provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which Smitherman claimed “has a more radical view of racism, hate, and intolerance.” The SPLC is an organization that has fought Southern racism for decades by identifying hate groups, publishing studies into institutional racism, and providing legal assistance to victims of racial discrimination. Rarely do even Republicans bring up complaints about the SPLC – that's reserved for the hate groups SPLC exposes.

Apparently, Smitherman thinks what the historic organization does is “radical” – and he's been working against it for the last year on behalf of some hideous groups.

Read more below the jump.Smitherman wrote an email to his daughter's teacher laying out his complaints.

“For example,” Smitherman wrote in his email, “the group 'Crusaders for Yahweh' is labeled by the SPLC to be a 'Christian identity' group and is placed on the SPLC's 'hate map. The same with the 'Evangelical Latter Day Saints' (mormons), the Jewish Defense League, which SPLC calls 'anti-Arab', and the Border Guardians, which is labeled by the SPLC as “anti-immigration.”

Let's look at those groups Smitherman came to the hearty defense of. Crusaders for Yahweh, as the Texas Observer explains, promotes “white supremacist language and Nazi imagery” on its websites. Its founder is a neo-Nazi named Paul Mullet “who's been in and out of prison and believes Obama is the anti-Christ.” The Jewish Defense League was deemed a “right-wing terrorist group” by the FBI in 2001 and has been “linked to beatings, bombings and assassination attempts, including Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, in the name of repelling anti-Semitism.”

Smitherman got the name of the Mormon group wrong, almost certainly meaning the “Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints”. FLDS' leader, infamous child abuser Warren Jeffs, is  currently serving a life sentence in Texas on two separate child sex assault convictions. Border Guardians' leader “urged a leader in the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement to undertake a campaign of harassment and violence against undocumented immigrants” in 2006.

The guy defending these hideous groups is calling the Southern Poverty Law Center “radical” for denouncing them? The radical's name is Barry Smitherman, and he shouldn't be allowed anywhere near the top attorney's office in Texas.

(H/T Texas Observer)

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About Author

Ben Sherman

Ben Sherman has been a BOR staff writer since 2011. A graduate of the University of Texas, Ben has worked on campaigns, in political consulting, and has written for other news outlets like Think Progress. Ben considers campaign finance reform the fundamental challenge of our time because it distorts almost every other issue in American politics.

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