Fox News host Bill O'Reilly criticized the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for adding former Fox contributor Ben Carson to the group's “extremist files” for his anti-LGBT comments. To defend Carson, O'Reilly invited a senior fellow from the Family Research Council (FRC), a group also listed on the SPLC's “extremist files” for their anti-LGBT rhetoric, to denounce the SPLC.
The SPLC recently added Washington Times columnist Carson to its “extremist files,” citing his extreme anti-LGBT rhetoric (emphasis original):
In His Own Words:
“Marriage is between a man and a woman. It's a well-established pillar of society and no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA [North American Man/Boy Association, a group advocating pedophilia], be they people who believe in bestiality--it doesn't matter what they are, they don't get to change the definition.”
--Interview on Fox News' “Hannity,” March 26, 2013
"[I]f we can redefine marriage as between two men or two women or any other way based on social pressures as opposed to between a man and a woman, we will continue to redefine it in any way that we wish, which is a slippery slope with a disastrous ending, as witnessed in the dramatic fall of the Roman Empire."
--America the Beautiful: Resdiscovering What Made This Nation Great, 2012 book written with Candy Carlson
“Obamacare is really the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery. And ... in a way, it is slavery.”
--Values Voter Summit, Washington, D.C., Oct. 11, 2013
“I mean [our government and institutions] are very much like Nazi Germany. ... You know, you had a government using its tools to intimidate the population. We now live in a society where people are afraid to say what they really believe.”
--Quoted by Breitbart News, March 12, 2014
On February 10, O'Reilly criticized the designation of Carson and invited FRC's Ken Blackwell on to discuss whether the SPLC was “straying from their mission.” During the interview, Blackwell denounced the group as an “auxiliary operation of the political left,” and admitted that FRC was designated a “hate organization” by the SPLC. Blackwell said that the designation of Carson as an anti-LGBT extremist is “ridiculous on its face.” O'Reilly ended his interview with Blackwell by asking him whether he “consider[s] the Southern Poverty Law Center a hate group?”
The FRC was designated by the SPLC as an anti-gay hate group, owing to the malicious anti-LGBT rhetoric of FRC figures like FRC president Tony Perkins, who has endorsed a Ugandan bill that would have imposed the death penalty for homosexuality, asserted that gay people face “eternal damnation,” and compared gays with terrorists. Along with other FRC personalities, Perkins has accused gay men of preying on children and condemned efforts to curb anti-LGBT bullying as part of an effort to “recruit” children “into that lifestyle.”
Ben Carson responded to the SPLC in a statement to the conservative website Breitbart.com, saying, “When embracing traditional Christian values is equated to hatred, we are approaching the stage where wrong is called right and right is called wrong. It is important for us to once again advocate true tolerance,” adding that “It is nothing but projectionist when some groups label those who disagree with them as haters.” Carson's statement continues a pattern of conservative media conflating homophobic views and statements with Christian religious beliefs.
UPDATE: The SPLC issued a statement on February 11 announcing that it has removed Ben Carson from its “extremist files” list. The statement also notes that “Dr. Carson has, in fact, made a number of statements that express views that we believe most people would conclude are extreme” and that “his views should be closely examined.”