Team America PAC, an organization backed by Tom Tancredo, a former Colorado congressman and two-time gubernatorial candidate who ran for president in 2008, has been dubbed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Since Tancredo, a longtime conservative, considers SPLC to be a dubious organization whose left-wing agenda is designed to collect as much cash as possible, he isn't especially upset by this designation. But he's admittedly irritated by a 7News report on the subject that he sees as having essentially endorsed the hate-group tag.
Tancredo is no stranger to controversy. Back in 2007, for example, he sparked ire when he suggested that one way to prevent a nuclear attack by terrorists would be a threat to bomb Mecca.
More recently, he has contributed multiple op-eds to Breitbart News, the alt-right news agency tied to Steve Bannon, a key adviser of President Donald Trump, and he supports Trump's original plan to temporarily ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries from visiting the United States — "although I would have added Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to the list," he notes. Still, he rejects the idea that Team America PAC is hateful toward the Muslim faith in general.
"They attacked me because last year, I re-posted an article written by some Spanish guy that was called, 'What Really Died at Auschwitz,'" Tancredo maintains. "What he said was that we destroyed a whole culture with the destruction of six million Jews, and that void is being filled by Muslims. Whether it's true or not, I thought it was an interesting observation, and that's what I wrote — and that was it. And somehow, that makes Team America not just a hate group, but an anti-Muslim hate group, which is really amazing."
According to Tancredo, the purpose of the PAC, which has been in existence for more than a decade, "is simply to support people who are on our side in regard to immigration. And 'on our side' means immigration with assimilation, securing our border and e-verify, which is our number-one issue. We want to mandate e-verification for every employer [of undocumented workers] and go after the ones that violate it."
As for the Southern Poverty Law Center, he dubs it "a fraudulent organization that's really a money-raising endeavor for Morris Dees," a former trial lawyer. (Other criticism of the group mentioned by Tancredo is summarized on the Southern Poverty Law Center page at Conservapedia, a right-leaning variation on the Wikipedia model.) He also suggests that the main reason SPLC goes after organizations like his is that "there's more money to be made attacking conservative groups than the other way around. I wish that weren't true; I wish we had the same degree of support. But that's just the way it is."
He shared such thoughts with 7News reporter Sally Mamdooh prior to the airing of a report about SPLC-named hate groups in Colorado, Tancredo continues, but none of that made the final version, broadcast on the evening of February 27. Instead, a brief clip of Tancredo defending Team America PAC was followed by a live transition from Mamdooh, who, in his view, referred to the hate-group label as if it were fact rather than opinion.
At this writing, the video of the hate-group package, which yours truly saw live, isn't online. Instead, there's simply a post featuring the SPLC list, with Team America PAC at number three.
That doesn't placate Tancredo, however.
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"I'm not concerned when [the SPLC] says anything, because I know what they are — and I know they're fraudulent," he allows. "What I am concerned about is something like Channel 7 giving credence to it. That annoys me."
When Mamdooh was interviewing him at his home, Tancredo adds, she asked him if he knew any Muslims — and as it turned out, a longtime Muslim pal who works as a plumber just happened to be installing a water softener at that very moment. "I said, 'Hello,' and called my friends over," he notes. "One of them has been my friend for twenty years. They're both Iranian, and I've supported the Iranian diaspora, which has been trying to kick out the mullahs, since I was in Congress. So nothing I've done is designed to be hateful to Muslims."
Even if the Southern Poverty Law Center says different.