WHAT IS A HATE GROUP and how many of them are in the U.S.? According to the Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center, the U.S. has 917 hate groups, 32 in Georgia and, believe it or not, one in Cobb County. Thats right, a hate group right here in Cobb.

The Cobb organization landing on the SPLCs hate group list is American Vision in Powder Springs. American Vision did not respond to requests for comment, but its Wikipedia entry describes it as a nonprofit Christian ministry founded in 1978, having published more than 175 books, DVDs, CDs, and MP3s. We asked Jason Shepherd, chair of the Cobb GOP, what he thought about the Southern Poverty Law Centers designations.

Really, there is no way not to say that the Southern Poverty Law Center is, itself, a hate group, Shepherd said. They may have started off with noble and lofty ideals, fighting the real threat of the KKK in Alabama in 1971, but over the decades have used their goodwill to attack and label anyone who does not agree with their far left ideology hate groups in order to lump their political enemies with true hate groups like the KKK and neo-Nazi organizations and destroy them. Even Politico, hardly a news organization that could be classified as on the right, asks whether the SPLC has now become more of a partisan progressive hit operation than a civil rights watchdog.

One of the problems Shepherd has with the SPLC is that it never defines what a group is.

Is it one or two people behind a computer who have put up a website, or dozens of people working with a headquarters, staff and funding? he asked.

And what makes them a hate group, he wondered, noting thats a question the SPLC never answers.

For a Neo-Nazi organization like Ayran Nations Worldwide, it is self-explanatory, but what about the organization in Powder Springs they have labeled a hate group as well? Given the recent history of SPLC, how can anyone take seriously an organization that once labeled the Eagle Forum and the Alliance Defending Freedom hate groups?

The SPLCs own staff, Shepherd said, have admitted their goal is to get the media to call them a civil rights watchdog, while their real goal is to eliminate groups that do not conform to their far left beliefs.

Any time someone commits an act of violence and is labeled to have been inspired by an organization, normally, that organizations views are scrutinized and action is taken against the organization, but none of that happened when a gunman attacked the Family Research Council headquarters in D.C., he said.