Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center by Tyler O’Neil (Bombardier Books; 240 pp., $16.99). Journalist Tyler O’Neil of PJ Media has been busy. From roughly around the time of the Charlottesville racial conflagration in 2017 to the filling of the inkwells that were used to print this book, O’Neil has covered various aspects of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and its self-appointed role as arbiter of “hate” and what passes for “acceptability” in American society. Unfortunately, the book is an obvious clip job that compiles the author’s previously published articles and blog posts, replete with repetitions, non sequiturs, a few typos, and bumpy transitions.

Anthologies of one’s past work could be valuable if one is known for considering eternal verities amidst the fads and fancies of this passing world. Or, at the very least, if one can construct a continual and clear narrative of a given subject that is a culmination and expansion of one’s previous work. Making Hate Pay fails both tests. O’Neil breaks no new ground, largely drawing from the work of others in addition to patching together the last several years of his own articles for PJ Media.

It’s a pity, because the SPLC’s reputation deserves a more rigorous demolition. In wanting to be even-handed and fair to his subject, O’Neil acknowledges some of the good done in the early years of the SPLC. I would concur that even a broken clock is right twice a day. However, O’Neil’s analysis seems based on a rather slipshod understanding of history and religion. He is rather summary in his view of the causes of the Civil War and even states at one point that “the SPLC is right on the history of the Confederacy.” While slavery, no doubt, was a major issue in the Civil War, O’Neil would have done well to acknowledge the complicated nature of the conflict, as well as the various legitimate readings of the Constitution and the federalism of the U.S. political system.

O’Neil’s failures result in him painting with too large a brush and unwittingly conceding one of the pillars of the SPLC’s dubious dogma: that the South has racism in its bones. Likewise, in several places he speaks of religion and the afterlife and makes summary theological conclusions of what several religions believe. His breezy treatment of these matters lack nuance and betray a theological ignorance all too common with journalists. It would have been better had he addressed these topics in a more complete way, or simply remained silent.

Despite these faults, there is much in the book to commend to readers, including its sketches of the libido dominandi, or will to power, of the SPLC’s woke progressives; their self-congratulation when they ruin careers and lives with their reckless allegations; and the evil and ambitious fundraising genius and suspect character of SPLC founder Morris Dees. O’Neil adequately details the ends-justifies-the-means ethic of the SPLC, the in-house contradictions that resulted in exposés of sexual and racial discrimination, and the collusion with the media, government, academia, and financial institutions to chill speech based on what the SPLC deems “unacceptable.”

Many of the misdeeds of the SPLC will be already familiar to Chronicles readers. But for the neophyte or the millennial who needs to get up to speed, this book may provide an introduction to its utter corruption. For others—save yourself the time.

(John M. DeJak)