March 2, 2009

The Southern Poverty Law Center's postmodern Poverty Palace



The Southern Poverty Law Center has worked tirelessly to eradicate the last vestiges of poverty, Southern or otherwise, in the lifestyle of founder Morris Dees (a member of the Direct Marketing Association Hall of Fame) by smearing people like Dick Lamm, three-times Democratic governor of Colorado. Some of the moolah raised from the affluent saps Dees has terrified has gone into building this expensive but godawful-looking headquarters building in Montgomery, Alabama. The design was perpetrated by Erdy-McHenry Architecture. Yes, I know it looks like a high-rise trailer, but, trust me, it cost a lot of money to build something that ugly. The design won an AIA Gold Medal.

James Kunstler recently visited Montgomery, and reflected:
Here and there around the rest of the downtown, other weird experiments in American post-war anti-urbanism presented themselves, most notably a "building" designed to look like a small-scaled Death Star, all black reflective glass, canted concrete and steel walls – which turned out to belong to Morris Dees' renowned Southern Poverty Law Center ...

Joseph J. Levin Jr., an SPLC executive, wrote back to Kunstler to complain about their headquarters being criticized, and to enlighten Kunstler with a detailed explication of the complicated aesthetic and political theories behind the design. Kunstler responded:
The issue is what you did on the site you chose. (And by the way, in case you wonder, I am a registered Democrat and a New York Jew, not a conservative.) You put up a building that looks like the Fuhrer Bunker. It dishonors the site and it even dishonors your mission of social justice. The design of the building makes social justice appear despotic.

Aw, c'mon, Mr. Kunstler, you should give the SPLC a break for engaging in truth in advertising. Granted, the SPLC's headquarters looks like a Secret Policeman's Training Academy out of the movie "Brazil," but, hey, form follows function.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

34 comments:

dollmaker said...

But we really know why it looks like that, right? This thing was built to withstand a pretty powerful bomb blast. As OKBOMB students know, Morris Dees has an extremely shady history regarding the attack. A 1996 FBI memo released in 2004 confirms that the SPLC had an informant in white nationalist compound Elohim City prior to the bombing. How closely the SPLC and the FBI were working has never been disclosed by either party (though Dees later admitted in a press conference that the SPLC had people there) but it's clear that the FBI was aware of the SPLC's informant, and it's therefore likely that the SPLC was a conduit for whatever information their informant learned. At the same press conference (at SE Oklahoma State U a few years back), Dees even admitted that they were aware McVeigh had been to Elohim City before the bombing, something the FBI to this day refuses to acknowledge--despite several other informants that have come forward claiming to have seen him there and a speeding ticket McVeigh received a few miles from the rural compound, turned up by the AP. Dees claims that although they knew who McVeigh was and that he'd been to Elohim City prior to the bombing, they "didn't have him on our radar until after he was arrested." Unfortunately for Dees, this cannot be true. It's well-known that McVeigh visited Elohim City under the name Tim Tuttle, and was only known by that name there. Therefore unless Dees was simply bragging about the extent of his informant network, the SPLC knew a great deal more about McVeigh prior to the bombing than Dees lets on. Most chillingly, the FBI memo involving the SPLC describes the phone call McVeigh made from AZ to the compound, looking for a helper, two days before the bombing. How much Dees, the SPLC and the FBI knew beforehand is certainly open to speculation, and Dees's lack of candor in the matter makes one suspicious as to what kind of relationship he has/had with the government.

Of course, the connection between the ADL and the Washington Post in the OKBOMB case, which reads like something out of a conspiracy movie, is even more disturbing.

SFG said...

Amusing that he's a New York Jew and a Democrat, not a conservative.

Ed Koch and Jackie Mason always struck me as conservative, for New York. A lot of liberal and conservative is the community you live in; most American liberals espouse positions that would be right-wing in Europe, but if born there would probably have been socialists or communists.

kudzu bob said...

This calls to mind a bad English architect's famous epitaph: "Lie heavy on him, Earth, for he Laid many a heavy load on thee."

Anonymous said...

So the leftists are eating their own dogfood, at least as far as aesthetics go.

I was told recently by someone who spent some time in Australia that office buildings there are often not air-conditioned. This is because air conditioning is supposed to be bad for the environment.

If only somebody could introduce that meme into the Montgomery, Alabama central business district.

anony-mouse said...

If Kunstler's not a conservative, what's he doing in 'The American Conservative'?

Truth in advertising!

Shawn said...

The Southern 'Poverty' Law Center is a hate group itself which exists to shakedown people and smear people--if they had it their way there would be no such thing as free speech.

Svigor said...

Holy...! It really does look like a high-rise trailer!

Jim Bowery said...

Golden Spittoons

Anonymous said...

Whew - Kunstler narrowly escaped being put on the list! (The list Steve and VDARE and so many others are on: dangerous racists and domestic terrorists per the SPLC.)

Kunstler pulled out his bona fides just in time: I'm a Jew! And not a right wing Jew or self-hater - I'm a Democrat Jew!

Oh, well then it's okay.

For now.

When hearing Dees rant about "domestic terrorists" or that sort of thing, who else gets a strong whiff of Freudian projection?

Hopefully a gust of wind will blow that hideous monstrosity on its side - right on to Dees's sports car.

Tony Danton said...

Since 'social justice' is despotic the building at least constitutes truth in advertising.

Anonymous said...

It's asymmetric, loud, not integrated into the surroundings, probably dysfunctional, probably expensive, and trendy as hell.
It's also ugly but no one there would have the guts to say that.
Perfect match of form and function. The architect must have had a good laugh.
Cheers Morris. Don't sue me please!

kudzu bob said...

Re "If Kunstler's not a conservative, what's he doing in 'The American Conservative'?

"Truth in advertising!"

Anony-mouse, conservatism is not some brand of soft drink on a store shelf. Neither is it an ideology. Rather, conservatism is a temperament, a habit of mind sometimes found in strange places. Many conservatives hold Gore Vidal in high regard for his fierce, lifelong defense of what remains of the American republic, for instance.

As for Kunstler, genuine conservatives might reasonably find his advocacy of livable, pedestrian-friendly towns and neighborhoods far more congenial than they do the socially corrosive notions of Republican proponents of free trade and open borders.

Goyish Atheist said...

Shalom Anony-mouse:

James Kunstler wrote a book, the Geography of Nowhere, that contained some conservative themes, lamenting the destruction of the landscape and the homogenization of architecture across the USA, mostly via national corporations. This is the kind of thinking that was commonplace among real conservatives back in the day.

But Kunstler overdoes much of his stuff, and in his youth was arrested for diamond smuggling, likely on behalf of a family business so he didn’t have much choice in the matter (i.e., do it or else).

Blode0322 said...

A lot of liberal and conservative is the community you live in; most American liberals espouse positions that would be right-wing in Europe, but if born there would probably have been socialists or communists. - SFG

Your first clause is right on. I would clarify your second though - most American liberals espouse positions that would be right-wing for western Europe (Spain, France, and the UK). Most American liberals are quite politically correct (though not particularly socialistic) by comparison to the mainstream of the smaller countries of central and northern Europe.

Austria, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Switzerland - a lot of politicians and regular folks in those countries have a plain-spoken manner that would make the American left cry its little eyes out. Their reasoning for providing services to the poor is often the opposite of Anglo-American reasoning (think of it as Fabian thought for the semi-literate) - PC Anglophones are waiting for welfare to "liberate" or "empower" the poor. Scandinavian and Alpine socialists dole out services because they've figured that people who can turn over a decade of free education and the best nutrition in history into an inability to hold down a job are not going to be autonomous no matter what - it's just unpleasant to make them starve or live in the street.

Anonymous said...

high verbal intelligence, low visual intelligence.
I have always said that art reflects the inner souls of the cultures they come from...so what does the Jewish aesthetic sense..or lack thereof, say about them?

WASPs= Sargent, Homer, Rockwell, Turner, Reynolds, the Pre-Raphealites...
Jews=?

Mr. Anon said...

Doesn't the SPLC's new building itself constitute some kind of hate-crime?

Whoever designed this monstrosity falls in a long line of misanthropic T-square slingers - Le Corbusier, Speer, Gehry - architects for whom buildings are "spaces" designed according to some soul-destroying philosphy, not buildings that people actually live and work in.

They really must hate us.

SF said...

Kunstler believes our society is going down because of future fossil fuel shortages. He probably shares some VDare positions on population and the causes of financial collapse.

New Manifest Destiny said...

Re: kudzu bob - "genuine conservatives might reasonably find his advocacy of livable, pedestrian-friendly towns and neighborhoods far more congenial than they do the socially corrosive notions of Republican proponents of free trade and open borders."

Very good point.

The only way to salvage the Republican Party and possibly the conservative movement as a whole in America is to begin to reactivate America's thousands of decaying/abandoned small towns and/or retrofit its suburbs, not to mention resettle its vast rural areas (HUGE potential waiting to be tapped) - these areas must again become repopulated by the enterprising, hardy, and independent-minded people of the past who built and settled America - and judging by their lifestyles those people were profoundly conservative.

One of the great tragedies of modern America is the depopulation of countryside and of the small-medium sized towns/cities of America and the herding of all of these people in to soul-crushing anonymity of suburbia and/or the cities where they then become virtual slaves to the hyperconsumerist lifestyle and thus lose all individual initiative and economic freedom, dependent as they are on the bureaucrats and/or plutocrats in the high-rises of the nearest downtown district.

By (re)making conservative and traditionalist communities which are socially cohesive, pleasant and crime free (i.e., generally White), well-planned and at least semi-walkable, full of small or medium-sized independent businesses, built with decent architecture and surrounded by workable farmland, ranchlands, and/or forests - the Republicans and conservatives of America can regain the spirit which made America great. This may be the only way for conservatives to oppose the centralization of political and economic power, along with the creeping totalitarianism, that is associated with the modern Multicult Left and Neo-Con Right.

Republicans/conservatives will only continue to lose by running away from the problem by retreating further in to the suburban wasteland of hyperconsumption, and by clustering along America's coast with all of the leftist rootless cosmopolitans which inhabit it.

Much of suburbia and urban America along the coasts is ripe for abandonment by conservatives - by remaining there they are fighting a losing battle; conversely, vast swathes of America are virtually empty and ripe for (re)settlement by people seeking a new life where they can rebuild truly conservative communities.

Martin Regnen said...

The Death Star, the Emperor's New Clothes, and the Hitler Bunker... I guess this building is so butt-ugly that Kunstler can't just stick to calling it one name.

Martin Regnen said...

This building's so bad I couldn't resist posting about it myself on corrupt.org.

Anonymous said...

"high verbal intelligence, low visual intelligence.
I have always said that art reflects the inner souls of the cultures they come from...so what does the Jewish aesthetic sense..or lack thereof, say about them?"

It seems like you answered your question in your first phrase.

"The design was perpetrated by Erdy-McHenry Architecture."

Doesn't sound very Jewish.

Anonymous said...

Hey, who are WE to judge whether this building is aesthetically pleasing or not? [/sarcasm]

Anonymous said...

Good point Kudzu Bob.

Kunstler's commentary on his "eyesore of the month" page is a good example of this.

http://www.kunstler.com/eyesore.html

Read his comment on the November 2008 eye sore of the month.

Mark said...

I have always said that art reflects the inner souls of the cultures they come from...so what does the Jewish aesthetic sense..or lack thereof, say about them?"

Oh, God help us...

anony-mouse said...

Kunstler says he is not a conservative.

His defenders here say he is a conservative.

So his defenders are either calling him a liar or its possible to be conservative and non-conservative at the same time.

Reading kunstler.com does not reveal someone of a conservative temperament unless being hyper-apocolyptic qualifies as being conservative (peak oil today, Y2K then, next who knows).

OTOH if I could find anything on the internet indicating that he smuggled diamonds I might change my mind about him being somewhat nerdy.

Anonymous said...

"Hey, who are WE to judge whether this building is aesthetically pleasing or not?"

I don't know. Who are you?

kudzu bob said...

Anony-mouse: As Gandalf the Wizard tells us, "Help may come from unexpected places."

Dennis Dale said...

This business of putting dun-colored Le Cobusier-esque blocks on columns really should be punishable by hard labor. I don't care what their rationale, it's trite as well as butt-ugly.
Architecture really is different; I'll accept a work of art--book, painting, film, etc--that requires an explanation, some context, but the context for a building is its landscape, not theory. That thing's gotta sit there while fad and fashion shift ever-on. I haven't read Kunstler on architecture but it sounds like he's right-on about the lack of respect architects have for the space around their buildings.

silver said...

Scandinavian and Alpine socialists dole out services because they've figured that people who can turn over a decade of free education and the best nutrition in history into an inability to hold down a job are not going to be autonomous no matter what - it's just unpleasant to make them starve or live in the street.

So why pay them to perpetuate their poverty? It'd make more sense to double or triple, hell even quadruple their "entitlements" if would voluntarily sterilize. You don't even have to be explicitly hereditarian; you just base it on the unhappy acceptance that the poor perpetuate their poverty generation after generation and that nothing that can really be done about it. I don't know why egalitarians have fits about these things. The people who sterilize will unquestionably lead better lives and probably never think for a second about the "larger forces" at play.

Blode0322 said...

Good question, silver. My (crummy) answer is that they're not THAT politically incorrect.

Victoria said...

Read Kunstler's funny review of
the Parthenonhc

Victoria said...

Also, this Kunstler review is hilarious:
http://www.kunstler.com/eyesore_200709.html

Chris Campbell said...

So, does Levin then equate Conservative=Nazi?

If so, that is rather-oh what is the word?-hateful!

Anonymous said...

I guess it looks like a trailer...to those who inhabit them!