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Victim of Smear Campaign Gets Even With Morris Dees


By James P. Tucker Jr.

Morris Dees, who makes a lucrative career out of smearing many decent U.S. organizations, was visibly shaken at what he expected to be a “sweetheart” event when a pro-Southern group on his hit list challenged him on his lurid past, The Times Examiner of Greenville, S.C., reports.

Dees spoke at the University of South Carolina’s “Carolina Productions Lecture Series,” a student-run campus organization, on Feb. 27. An estimated 300 people, including more than 30 law enforcement personnel, attended. Some professors ordered students to attend; some gave extra credit for attending. Considering how embarrassing it proved for Dees, his faculty cheerleaders probably regret such pressure.

Dees labeled the League of the South as “racist” and “terrorist” in publications put out by his Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and public statements.

But the League is “racially neutral with members of different races,” said Lexington attorney Larry Salley, a member of the board.

H.K. Edgetton of Black Mountain, a black man noted for supporting southern heritage, called Dees a “poverty pimp” during the question-and-answer period.

But it was Salley who had the most fun with Dees.

“Salley prepared and passed out a well-documented brochure that appeared to be the official program, featuring Dees’s photograph and the statement ‘With Justice for All’ on the cover,” The Times Examiner reported.

Inside, after the anticipated Dees-friendly words, the brochure transitioned into the harsh facts with footnotes citing the source of the material. Dees disciples, in blissful ignorance, helped hand out the brochures.

One of the 14 documented statements is from Harper’s magazine:

“The cover story of Harper’s magazine’s November 2000 issue exposed the SPLC’s alarmist fund-raising tactics with which it raises large sums that are not used to help those it purports to serve. The Southern Center for Human Rights’ Stephen Bright charged that [Dees] is a fraud who has milked a lot of very wonderful, well-intentioned people. If it’s got headlines, Morris is there.”

Quoting from the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, CIV2114 (1979), the brochure says:

“Of all the damning indictments against Morris Dees, the worst comes from his closest connection. He was sued by his ex-wife, Maureene Bass Dees, who alleged that he had committed incest with his stepdaughter and future daughter-in-law.”

“When Dees saw the program he was visibly shaken,” the paper quotes Salley. “I stood up and asked him why 55 percent of the SPLC’s income went into his pocket, and he tried to shout me down. Then other members of our group tried to ask him similar questions, and they shut down the question-and-answer period.”

Carolina Productions “is taxpayer funded and in the past they have had groups such as transvestite exotic dancers,” Salley said.

The following night Dees spoke at Western Carolina University where about 200 attendees received the same brochure.

Dees refused to comment on the well-deserved roasting he took.

(Issue #14, April 5, 2006)

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Updated March 26, 2006