Yesterday Apple Music tweeted its support for the Southern Poverty Law Center. This comes in the aftermath of the "Unite The Right" Charlottesville rally in which one person was killed and more than thirty were wounded when James Alex Fields, Jr. drove his Dodge through a crowd, killing Heather Heyer and wounding 19 other people.
Apple, Spotify and many other tech companies have denounced Neo Nazi's and the KKK and have vowed to take steps to remedy the situation. According to The Guardian, "Apple CEO Tim Cook pledged $1m donations to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Anti-Defamation League and sent a strongly worded memo to staff, quoting Martin Luther King, about the violence in Charlottesville on Saturday.
This might sound cynical but Apple most likely made a lot more than a million dollars by selling hate music from such groups, as it only started removing them from iTunes three years ago.
While it's never too late to do the right thing, Apple's support of the SPLC ieft some people quite upset. And these weren't people who support white supremacy either. They are people who read the news. The non-profit organization has in recent years come under scrutiny for their erroneous labeling of certain groups and individuals as extremists and is increasingly seen as hate mongering to raise money. In 2015 for instance, the Southern Poverty Law Center's greatest expenses, ten million, were spent on fundraising, outspending legal expenses.
And while their Hate Map is a useful tool for keeping tabs on real extremists, it is also ironically being used to incite violence. The 2012 shooting of a security guard at a prominent conservative organization,The Family research Council was politically motivated, allegedly as a result of what some consider the SPLC's agitprop in branding the organization as a hate group. And by "some," I don't just mean right wing media. The Washington Post had this to say about the SPLC's actions.
"Human Rights Campaign isn’t responsible for the shooting. Neither should the organization that deemed the FRC a “hate group,” the Southern Poverty Law Center, be blamed for a madman’s act. But both are reckless in labeling as a “hate group” a policy shop that advocates for a full range of conservative Christian positions, on issues from stem cells to euthanasia."
In 2014, the SPLC labeled neurosurgeon and former presidential candidate Ben Carson (now the U.S. Secretary for Housing and Urban Development) as an extremist. They were forced after an outcry to apologize and remove his name from the list.
Perhaps the most egregious decision to many was the SPLC's decision to label to Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, two prominent ex-Muslim activists as anti-Muslim extremists.
Nawaz is a British author and columnist, a Liberal Democrat candidate, and founder of a counter-extremist think tank called Quilliam who describes itself as "The world’s first counter-extremism organisation. We have a full spectrum approach to promote pluralism and inspire change."
Ayaan Hirisi Ali, was born in Somalia, and is now an activist, feminist and lecturer living in America after leaving The Netherlands due to death threats. Ayaan had created a film with Theo van Gogh, which sparked controversy, and Theo was murdered in the streets as he cycled to work one day. Ayaan is also the founder of AHA, a non-profit with the aim to help end violence against women, including female genital mutilation. Ms. Ali's labelling by the SPLC as an extremist also received backlash from feminists and organizations like The Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice who demanded a retraction which has not been given.
Again it is admirable that Apple is putting its money where its mouth is (something that never would have happened while Steve Jobs was alive) and is taking a stand against hate. But aligning with a group many people see as being a hate group that can defame people at will, might not have been the best place for the money, at least judging by the strong reactions to its post.
— Diana Death (@TheeDianaDeath) August 21, 2017
Since when is it good business to alienate a good percentage of your customers/potential customers? Might want to fire your PR director.
— Sheryl Lynne (@SherylLynne97) August 23, 2017
Just sold my AAPL stock. Keep it up, Tim.
— ¢ wise, £ foolish (@logoffnow) August 22, 2017
.Unless you want to see a business backlash, you should stick to playlists. SPLC is a leftist, activist, propagandist group. #Nottolerant
— Leo Knight (@primetimecrime) August 21, 2017
— God's Ventriloq
Cancelling my Apple Music subscription.
— gruvybaby (@gruvesnark) August 21, 2017
uist (@godsven3loquist) August 21, 2017
Support tolerance by supporting an intolerant organization. Sounds logical Apple. Sorry not duped.
— Kalani Reed (@Kalani_Reed) August 21, 2017
Beats 1 posted the same tweet and got the same reaction.
That was quick. pic.twitter.com/8V07j75fyO
— Alex VanNess (@thealexvanness) August 21, 2017
That is why I am deleting your app pronto! SPLC is a hate group
— LoisLaneAmericaWon (@reese0325) August 21, 2017
— C. E. Simmons (@cesimmns) August 21, 2017