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Inside The Poverty Palace

A lot of people on the right have known for a while that the Southern Poverty Law Center is an extremely effective grifting operation. You might have even called it “a marketing tool for bilking gullible Northern liberals.” That succinct description is made not by an enemy of the SPLC, but one of its former employees, Bob Moser, writing in the New Yorker in the wake of the wealthy “poverty” organization’s firing of its founder under an ethical cloud. [1]Excerpts:

In the days since the stunning dismissal of Morris Dees, the co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, on March 14th, I’ve been thinking about the jokes my S.P.L.C. colleagues and I used to tell to keep ourselves sane. Walking to lunch past the center’s Maya Lin–designed memorial to civil-rights martyrs, we’d cast a glance at the inscription from Martin Luther King, Jr., etched into the black marble—“Until justice rolls down like waters”—and intone, in our deepest voices, “Until justice rolls down like dollars.” The Law Center had a way of turning idealists into cynics; like most liberals, our view of the S.P.L.C. before we arrived had been shaped by its oft-cited listings of U.S. hate groups, its reputation for winning cases against the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nations, and its stream of direct-mail pleas for money to keep the good work going. The mailers, in particular, painted a vivid picture of a scrappy band of intrepid attorneys and hate-group monitors, working under constant threat of death to fight hatred and injustice in the deepest heart of Dixie. When the S.P.L.C. hired me as a writer, in 2001, I figured I knew what to expect: long hours working with humble resources and a highly diverse bunch of super-dedicated colleagues. I felt self-righteous about the work before I’d even begun it.

I knew they were rich, these do-gooders, but I had no idea they were this rich. More:

The controversy erupted at a moment when the S.P.L.C. had never been more prominent, or more profitable. Donald Trump’s Presidency opened up a gusher of donations; after raising fifty million dollars in 2016, the center took in a hundred and thirty-two million dollars in 2017, much of it coming after the violent spectacle that unfolded at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that August. George and Amal Clooney’s justice foundation donated a million, as did Apple, which also added a donation button for the S.P.L.C. to its iTunes store. JPMorgan chipped in five hundred thousand dollars. The new money pushed the center’s endowment past four hundred and fifty million dollars, which is more than the total assets of the American Civil Liberties Union, and it now employs an all-time high of around three hundred and fifty staffers. But none of that has slackened its constant drive for more money. “If you’re outraged about the path President Trump is taking, I urge you to join us in the fight against the mainstreaming of hate,” a direct-mail appeal signed by Dees last year read. “Please join our fight today with a gift of $25, $35, or $100 to help us. Working together, we can push back against these bigots.”

Moser goes on to say that the organization exists mostly to raise money from, well, gullible Northern liberals. But he also points out that journalists depend on its annual list of “hate organizations” — this, without ever questioning the fact that the SPLC’s designation of even ordinary conservative organizations (like Family Research Council and Alliance Defending Freedom) as hate groups serves to tarnish their reputations and keep the dirty money rolling in from liberals easily separated from their money.

People inside the organization aren’t surprised by any of this. As Moser writes:

For those of us who’ve worked in the Poverty Palace, putting it all into perspective isn’t easy, even to ourselves. We were working with a group of dedicated and talented people, fighting all kinds of good fights, making life miserable for the bad guys. And yet, all the time, dark shadows hung over everything: the racial and gender disparities, the whispers about sexual harassment, the abuses that stemmed from the top-down management, and the guilt you couldn’t help feeling about the legions of donors who believed that their money was being used, faithfully and well, to do the Lord’s work in the heart of Dixie. We were part of the con, and we knew it.

Read the whole thing.  [1]

 

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34 Comments To "Inside The Poverty Palace"

#1 Comment By redbrick On March 25, 2019 @ 8:14 pm

They have been a major part of taking down civil war soldiers memorials and erasing any Southern history that would not pass muster at a Harvard cocktail party.

$130+ million in one year? Man there sure is good money in scamming Yankees.

#2 Comment By Fiestamom On March 25, 2019 @ 8:16 pm

Floyd Corkins,the shooter who shot a Family Research council employee in 2012, got his info from the SPLC. In an in interview with police, he said “”Southern Poverty Law lists anti-gay groups,” Corkins told interrogators in a video, which FRC obtained from the FBI. “I found them online, did a little research, went to the website, stuff like that.”

James Hodgkinson, the shooter who shot up Republicans at a softball game liked the SPLC on Facebook.

Southern Poverty Law Center sounds like a hate group to me. Did these events not bother the author of the New Yorker piece?

#3 Comment By Fran Macadam On March 25, 2019 @ 8:29 pm

Something died inside me a little every time I went to work inside a respected non-profit and found out it wasn’t serving the purposes that I’d thought it had.

When one considers that the disciple who was in charge of taking in and dispensing charity was Judas, the temptations of holding the bag are obviously not without precedent. Did the money corrupt these folks, or did they go into it to corrupt?

Some things in life when experienced lend you a Cosimanian outlook. I suppose he’d say,for them, charity began at home.

BTW, the Google verification now lies with impunity, constantly saying you make captcha errors when you hadn’t leading to have to make dozens of redo. Google, wasting your life, with fake results.

#4 Comment By Jim in Ohio On March 25, 2019 @ 8:41 pm

Every institution will have some degree of corruption, because all institutions are comprised of people who are likewise flawed in various ways.

This is why identity politics is so poisonous. It makes you forget this fact and allows you to see innocence and purity where it doesn’t exist (along with guilt!).

Life is simply “the goodies” and “the baddies”.

Reality is never that neat and tidy. Be cautious and wary of every source, even if that source is an ally.

#5 Comment By RATMDC On March 25, 2019 @ 8:59 pm

redbrick, say what you want about SPLC, but there should be no memorials to those who killed and destroyed on behalf of such a vile regime (slavery was explicitly mentioned in Declarations of Secession, and by Confederate leaders in general).

#6 Comment By Atl On March 25, 2019 @ 9:17 pm

The SPLC thinks Charles Murray is a white nationalist. They’re beyond contempt.

#7 Comment By Eliana On March 25, 2019 @ 9:23 pm

I used to get their mailers from time to time and I always thought there was something fishy about just the way their mailers looked.

From the outsides of the envelopes alone they just looked too much as though they were announcing Self Importance in a Self Important Way, screaming too insistently to be noticed.

Not that I send money to any group that sends me unsolicited junk mail anyway—but theirs always always struck me as having a particularly odd and repellent quality to it.

Had no idea they were crooked but at the same time I really don’t find it surprising at all.

#8 Comment By JEinCA On March 25, 2019 @ 10:30 pm

Rod My Orthodox Brother,

You failed to mention the most disturbing aspect of the SPLC is that they work hand in hand with the F.B.I.

[2]

The SPLC is not only partnered with the FBI but with Big Tech firms such as Amazon, Google and Twitter.

In recent times even Traditional Catholic groups have made it onto the SPLC’s list of “Hate Groups”. I wonder how long until Our Church (the Orthodox Church) and conservative Christian writers such as yourself make it onto that list? I wouldn’t be suprised if the SPLC doesn’t have a list of average American citizens that they’ve reported to the FBI for comments they’ve written on blogs like your own. What strange and precarious times we seem to be living in.

#9 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 25, 2019 @ 11:01 pm

Reality is never that neat and tidy. Be cautious and wary of every source, even if that source is an ally.

Sound advice. I’ve never donated to SPLC, although I’ve gotten myself on their mailing list more than once. They offered to inscribe my name on their “Wall of Tolerance” if only I would return the enclosed postage pre-paid envelope with an appropriate donation.

The very notion of a tolerant wall seemed oxymoronic. Further, I learned somewhere along the line, working in circumstances where we never had much money (because we refused to seek government grants and seldom fit the paradigms of corporate or foundation sources) that Martin Luther King, Jr. had said “I don’t like the sound of that word. I don’t want anyone to tolerate me. I want my rights under the constitution.”

SPLC did some good things. Taking down a chapter of the Klan with a massive lawsuit was one. I appreciated seeing the report of the mother of the young man this chapter had murdered getting the keys to their club house and surrounding property as part of the award of damages. But once an organization is up and rolling, its primary purpose becomes its own perpetuation. And it has long seemed that SPLC has nothing else to live for.

I was also skeptical of their use of conspiracy statutes. I spent some time greeting and hosting visitors to a federal prison, developing a healthy critique of the use of “conspiracy” in federal law enforcement. I had no admiration for the use of the concept by SPLC. It amounts to guilty by association.

Finally, the “hate lists” were entirely subjective and without clear empirical criteria. Its a kind of grown up version of the school yard “You’re not my friend any more. I don’t like you.” Some things they call hate are things I believe to be true. Not necessarily a lot, but I don’t support anyone smearing whatever moves that they disapprove of in that manner.

redbrick, say what you want about SPLC, but there should be no memorials to those who killed and destroyed on behalf of such a vile regime (slavery was explicitly mentioned in Declarations of Secession, and by Confederate leaders in general).

That’s too pat a statement. The confederacy was indeed vile, and it certainly was all about preserving “the institution of Negro slavery.” That is quite explicit in the confederate constitution.

But the fact is, most of those who fought in the union armies were NOT fighting to abolish slavery, and most of those fighting in the confederate armies did not own slaves. If we want to insist that the union is one and indivisible, that “the United States is a government, not a league” (Andrew Jackson to John C. Calhoun) then in some manner all those who fought to secede must be fully accepted as fellow citizens. And allowed some freedom to honor their ancestors. In the words of Ulysses S. Grant, you have to admire people who have given their all for a cause, “although it was, I think the worst cause men have ever fought for.”

One Phil Ochs song I never really liked was “Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of.” Aside from the fact that for a brief, shining moment circa 1830 Mississippi was moving in the direction of abolishing slavery, at least authorizing the legislature to consider it in the “Whole Hog” state constitution, we fought a war to DENY Mississippi the option to find itself another country to be part of.

Some years ago, there was a movement to rename N.B. Forrest High School, in Florida. I approved of removing Forrest’s name. The name was applied as an act of defiance at the peak of the civil rights movement, and the student body is now 1/3 or so African Americans. But I suggested as a kind of olive branch that it be named for Patrick Cleburne, a confederate general who seems to have genuinely been fighting for southern independence, rather than to preserve slavery. Cleburne recommended in 1864 that enslaved men be offered the opportunity to enter confederate military service, with the promise that not only they but their wives and children would be freed in exchange for honorable service.

Cleburn’s proposal was supported by Robert E. Lee, viewed skeptically by Jefferson Davis, and fiercely rejected by the confederate general staff. Cleburne’s fellow generals made comments like ‘Our rebellion is based on the inferiority of the Negro. If we make soldiers of them, we concede the question.’

Duh-uh. I think honoring confederate officers who were prepared to concede the question is a reasonable compromise for national unity.

#10 Comment By MichaelGC On March 25, 2019 @ 11:21 pm

The exposure and downfall of the slander and defamation machine that is the SPLC, an organization that made a business of hate and existed to raise funds for itself, is a long time coming. How many times have I heard that the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) or the American College of Pediatrics (ACP) are hate groups on the order of the KKK merely because the SPLC said so. So much comeuppance taking place these last few days — the MSM and the SPLC they cited as the definitive authority on hate. NPR is one of the big offenders.

#11 Comment By A Former Washingtonian On March 25, 2019 @ 11:25 pm

Our nation’s capital is full of much smaller “nonprofit” groups that aspire to be the SPLC. They have names like “The Campaign for Women’s Awesomeness”–because who could be against women’s awesomeness? But when you talk to the people who work there, you find that these organizations often operate in a weird gray area where they come perilously close to lobbying, even though officially, legally they’re not allowed to do so.

But what stands out most about such groups is how little they actually do. Employees can rarely point to accomplishments beyond the organization’s public praise or condemnation of certain legislation. If they exist for any reason, it’s to give chirpy young activists a nonprofit to work for so they can have their student loans forgiven, while the leadership rakes in decent salaries thanks to some philanthropic benefactor or foundation. And of course, everyone gets to preen about working for a “nonprofit,” which in youthful, idealistic social circles makes them inherently more virtuous than their profit-driven peers–even if they haven’t done a damned thing to make even one woman more awesome.

It’s rather depressing, except for the fact that these countless groups keep idealistic people with no sense of how the world works from making real trouble for the rest of us in a more relevant line of work.

#12 Comment By cka2nd On March 26, 2019 @ 3:03 am

I can remember the late leftist journalist Alexander Cockburn denouncing Dees and the SPLC as frauds at least as far back as the 90’s, and he might have started in on them even earlier than that.

#13 Comment By Daath On March 26, 2019 @ 4:19 am

They seem to be progressive equivalents of corrupt televangelists. Like them, SPLC founders may well have started as genuine people of principle, but once they realized how much money was rolling in, the rot set in. And of course, when you’re doing the Lord’s work, the rules don’t really apply to you. Whatever petty little sins you’re guilty of (and nobody’s perfect, right?), they’re more than offset by the greater good of your deeds. And look at all those bright-eyed idealists you’re attracting. Surely they wouldn’t come if there was something fundamentally wrong.

I don’t mean this as whataboutism. It’s just ironic to see an organization that is a bit of a holy cow for progressives (at least I’ve received few flames for not showing sufficient respect for their hate group lists), behaving like the preachers who in their heyday were just about the worst kind of conmen in the eyes of the very same people.

#14 Comment By Nachum On March 26, 2019 @ 5:35 am

The Ku Klux Klan ceased to exist about forty years before the SPLC was founded. (It had really only existed for well under two decades, as well as for a few years after the Civil War.) Hence, any talk of them fighting it was mostly a fund-raising scam.

#15 Comment By Angel from Montgomery On March 26, 2019 @ 6:39 am

Probably a good idea to remove “Southern Poverty Research Center” from your resume, for some of the same reasons you’d remove having worked for Bernie Madoff.

Why do so many groups of this kind end up smelling so bad?

The SPLC story is all too familiar, and not very different from one of those wacko cults that protected themselves by developing profitable ties to corrupt corporations and politicians. Stockholders in JP Morgan and the other corporations and celebrity foundations that gave it money must be asking what kind of fools were in charge of charitable giving. Instead of being seen as nice, generous people, they’ll be seen as helping prop up a sick environment of sex abuse, racism, and corruption.

#16 Comment By Ben H On March 26, 2019 @ 9:05 am

“…making life miserable for the bad guys.”

Little did they know that all the time they were the bad guys.

#17 Comment By Sir On March 26, 2019 @ 9:17 am

RATMDC, do you feel better now that you got to do your virtue signal thing? Have your sensitive, nuanced, and enlightened views been properly validated and affirmed?

#18 Comment By bevdig On March 26, 2019 @ 9:25 am

The SPLC is just the biggest and best example of what might be called the “compassion-industrial complex”, a huge network of non-profits, charities, lobbyists, politicians and journalists who prey on the desire of people to do something altruistic.

In reality, it is just a nice little racket. Staffers get paid little or nothing, and a thin layer at the top reward themselves with lavish salaries and expense accounts. Accountability is just about zero; it’s all about keeping the money flowing in.

#19 Comment By March Hare On March 26, 2019 @ 10:35 am

Ugh.

I gave money to these guys for a few years back in the 1980s, right after I moved to Texas and got my first dose of open, in-your-face racism. It seemed the least I could do.

But in my defense, I have a pretty good BS detector, and the ever-escalating direct mail appeals turned me off so much that I gave up on them, or at least gave up donating after a couple of years.

Looks like I only detected the above-the- waterline part of the iceberg.

#20 Comment By Hound of Ulster On March 26, 2019 @ 11:46 am

Every great cause begins as a movement and ends as a racket.

The similarities to Creflo Dollar-style televangelist ‘preachers’ have already been noted, I will also throw in some of the direct-mail shenanigans you see on the fringes of ‘movement conservatism’ around stuff like ‘survival seeds’ and ‘prepping’, and accusations of excessive compensation claimed by the leadership of the American Red Cross and various cancer awareness groups.

Non-profit oversight in the US is really inconsistent, and any non-profits should be viewed, no matter how noble their cause is seen by their supporters, with a healthy skepticism. People are fallen, and everyone, no matter how broken or deranged, is the ‘hero’ of their own internal narrative.

#21 Comment By Ain’t Ben On March 26, 2019 @ 11:50 am

“Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” – Eric Hoffer

And shrewder organizations, like the FRC and ADF, skip the first two steps.

Seriously, these organizations are opposite sides of the same coin – extremely well-funded, run by overpaid leaders, and devoted to fundraising off of “gullible” people by demonizing others.

The SPLC, at least, was once part of a great cause doing noble work. It’s a shame what’s happened, but I think that Hoffer quote above is right far more often than not.

[NFR: I don’t know enough about FRC to say, but I know for a fact that you’re WRONG about ADF. It comes to the aid of Christians who could not have afforded to mount a legal defense. It does great and important work for religious liberty. — RD]

#22 Comment By Free Speech Advocate On March 26, 2019 @ 11:54 am

This story would have “made my day” except that my overly suspicious nature suggests to me that this story, and its author, and The New Yorker may be subtlety signaling that the way for this organisation to “redeem itself” would be to morph into a huge Rainbow Rights group, even more than it already is.

In other words, poor folks be damned, as usual nobody wants to advocate for that issue, even if it’s in your org name.

The worrying bottom line is that if the SPLC never raised another dime it is now completely financially self sustaining and that gives it a lot of power — unless it just gets bled dry by administrative “overhead.”

#23 Comment By Sir On March 26, 2019 @ 12:27 pm

“The confederacy was indeed vile, and it certainly was all about preserving “the institution of Negro slavery.” That is quite explicit in the confederate constitution.” Talk about too pat a statement….. Virginia voted against secession three times notwithstanding it’s interets in slavery and only voted to secede when it was required to produce troops to the federal government for the purposes of invading other sovereign states. Other states such as North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas also did not secede until well after the federal call for troops. The Confederate constitution did have express provisions to protect slavery; it also had express provisions to enhance states’ rights and to limit tariffs and the use of taxes for internal improvements – something “the South” had been arguing about for, at least, the previous 3 to 4 decades (see e.g., [3])

#24 Comment By Janwaar Bibi On March 26, 2019 @ 12:28 pm

slavery was explicitly mentioned in Declarations of Secession, and by Confederate leaders in general

Slavery is also promoted in the Old Testament and the Koran, and in both “holy” texts, this god of Abraham permits his precious chosen ones to enslave other people. Shouldn’t we ban the Old Testament and the Koran, and forbid worship of a god who is cool with enslaving other people?

Prediction: you will tell me about “prescriptive” vs. “descriptive” and how I am sadly misunderstanding the printed text in front of my eyes, the Infinite Mercy of the Abrahamic One.

#25 Comment By There and Then On March 26, 2019 @ 2:07 pm

“The Ku Klux Klan ceased to exist about forty years before the SPLC was founded. (It had really only existed for well under two decades, as well as for a few years after the Civil War.) Hence, any talk of them fighting it was mostly a fund-raising scam.”

At the time I retired in 2002 after 25 years in state law enforcement there were 5 active chapters of thr Ku Klux Klan in my state. This did not come from the SPLC, but from personal investigation into domestic terrorist organizations. You have no idea what you are talking about.

As an aside I would like a follow-up article on the funding and financial resources of The Heritage Foundation. No, didn’t think so.

#26 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 26, 2019 @ 2:53 pm

Slavery is also promoted in the Old Testament and the Koran, and in both “holy” texts, this god of Abraham permits his precious chosen ones to enslave other people.

Ahistorical hogwash Janwaar. You set up a most flammable straw man, but its only your own private Burning Man festival.

Slavery has indeed been a component of MOST human cultures throughout human history. One does not have to argue that statues of Robert E. Lee should have been prohibited in the Code of Hammurabi, in order to take a position in the very real debate about whether the practice of chattel slavery authorized by state statute in 1860 was, or was not, an essential component of a specific decision to secede from a specific union in that time and place.

(Most cultures didn’t even HAVE an abolitionist movement.)

Virginia voted against secession three times notwithstanding it’s interets in slavery and only voted to secede when it was required to produce troops to the federal government for the purposes of invading other sovereign states. Other states such as North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas also did not secede until well after the federal call for troops.

Perfectly true. And furthermore, Kentucky’s unionists by and large calculated their chances of keeping their slaves were better inside the union than joining the confederacy. (They weren’t far wrong either, if the war had only ended sooner). But the fact remains, that the Confederacy, which was a real governing entity, and the government that sustained the confederate armies, was explicitly devoted to perpetuation of slavery. Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas didn’t have any problem with that. (Well, the elites didn’t. My Tennessee ancestors did, and enlisted accordingly).

South Carolina tried to secede over tariffs, and no other state would join them. Abraham Lincoln was elected president, and seven states seceded, joined before war was joined by four others.

I gave quite a bit of background about the diversity of opinion within the confederacy. “Sir” seems to have skipped over it.

I know for a fact that you’re WRONG about ADF. It comes to the aid of Christians who could not have afforded to mount a legal defense.

Well, SPLC did some of that too. And many gangsters have done wonderful things for children in the neighborhood. Just because a racket does something you appreciate doesn’t absolve it of being a racket.

The Ku Klux Klan ceased to exist about forty years before the SPLC was founded.

Do explain that to the lady whose son was murdered by a local Klan. And your time line is preciously close to the deaths of Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner, not to mention Viola Gregg Liuzzo.

There are still active little clubs that call themselves the KKK today. They may have little sting to them, but that’s probably because they feel the cost might be too high to pay at present — police actually arrest racists who act homicidally on their ideology.

#27 Comment By cka2nd On March 26, 2019 @ 3:50 pm

Daath says: “They seem to be progressive equivalents of corrupt televangelists.”

Yes, that’s an excellent analogy, and apparently the criticism, including from black and progressive journalists, goes back at least into the 80’s, as the SPLC obsession with funding and it’s endowment might even go back into the 70’s.

#28 Comment By cka2nd On March 26, 2019 @ 3:56 pm

Nachum says: “The Ku Klux Klan ceased to exist about forty years before the SPLC was founded. (It had really only existed for well under two decades, as well as for a few years after the Civil War.) Hence, any talk of them fighting it was mostly a fund-raising scam.”

Tell that to the family members of the Communist Workers Party members and supporters massacred in 1979 by a Klansmen and Nazis in Greensboro, NC. The modern Klan may be splintered and a pale shadow of what it was in its heyday, and may not even be structurally linked to its predecessor organizations (kind of like the US Socialist Party of today on the left, which has no structural link to the party of Eugene Debs and Norman Thomas thanks to the folks who would later become the neo-cons) but that doesn’t mean all iterations of the Klan ceased to exist in the 1930’s.

#29 Comment By Olivier On March 26, 2019 @ 6:43 pm

Good riddance! The problem is that with a 450M hoard the SPLC can hang on for a good long time even with zero new donations. Meanwhile people have a short memory and like to donate; thus I am afraid it will manage to muddle through.

#30 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On March 26, 2019 @ 7:10 pm

“BTW, the Google verification now lies with impunity, constantly saying you make captcha errors when you hadn’t leading to have to make dozens of redo. Google, wasting your life, with fake results.”

I’ve had this problem recently when using my iPad or the local university library computer. But when I use the public library computer for submitting comments, there’s never a problem.

#31 Comment By RATMDC On March 26, 2019 @ 7:31 pm

MichaelGC, you’re referring to the American College of Pediatricians. That’s a tiny group that is in fact referred to as a hate group by the SPLC, but is also seen with scorn by the National Institutes of Health, the American College of *Pediatrics*, and plenty of others.

Why? This group supports conversion therapy, a thoroughly abusive practice that, rather than changing someone’s sexuality, often leads to severe psychiatric damage. The organization also opposes same-sex couples adopting and rearing children, going so far as to lend support to court cases severing children from loving and supporting couples.

That’s a hate group.

#32 Comment By njoseph On March 26, 2019 @ 11:07 pm

Two things to add to this discussion, one point per post.

First- Yes, there is slavery in the Hebrew Bible, BUT, it wasn’t the same as chattel slavery as in the Confederacy. The Hebrew word “eved” can mean servant, slave, worker, etc, and is used in various contexts to mean different things. Hebrew indentured servants were time-limited in there period of service, unless they chose to stay with their masters, and had many rights, unlike Southern slaves. Non-Israelite slaves- probably the only category in the Bible for which the word “slave” is applicable- also had rights, and could not be assaulted or killed by whim, again unlike Southern chattel slavery. This article from the old Jewish Encyclopedia lays out the Biblical context:

[4]

#33 Comment By njoseph On March 26, 2019 @ 11:12 pm

Second, I had no idea that Morris Dees was originally in business with Millard Fuller. What a contrast in their stories! Millard Fuller gave up all his wealth to live on a Christian communal farm in Georgia, out of which he started Habitat for Humanity. Ironically, it turns out that he, too, got fired from the organization he started, possibly for sexual advances, but he was a millionaire in the South of the 60’s and gave it all up for his religious commitment to service. Go figure that he and Dees had been partners.

#34 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On March 28, 2019 @ 10:24 am

The Hebrew word “eved” can mean servant, slave, worker, etc, and is used in various contexts to mean different things.

And in the 17th century Anglosphere, wage workers addressed their employers as “master,” and generally did not have the right to vote, on either side of the Atlantic.