Warning: This is a happy, feel-good opinion piece. Well, unless you’re a huge fan of the Southern Poverty Law Center. However for all other citizens of the great state of Tennessee, be happy and rejoice!
In a widely disseminated Feb. 21 article by USA Today’s Natalie Allison, Tennessee was named the angriest, most hateful state in the nation, according to rankings from Wallethub.
In addition to anger and hatred, the study ranked states for jealousy, excesses and vice, greed, lust, vanity and laziness. Tennessee was ranked third worst for excesses and vice and was in the nation's top 20 ranking for almost all of the other sin categories examined.
Some news outlets even included pictures from the recent “White Lives Matter” rally in Shelbyville to back up their conclusions. I saw no mention of the “Murfreesboro Loves” campaign anywhere.
To determine the angriest and most hateful states, WalletHub looked at, per capita, violent crimes, sex offenders, hate groups and hate crime incidents, in addition to the number of mass shootings and elder abuse complaints.
Those indicators included crime, health, education and real estate statistics, among other data that came from government agencies like the U.S. Census Bureau
WalletHub's results were released the same day as the Southern Poverty Law Center's annual Year In Hate report, which listed some 37 hate groups in the Volunteer state, including neo-Nazi, KKK, racist skinhead, white nationalist, black nationalist and other extremist groups. This is where my problem with this study begins.
The data provided by the SPLC cannot be trusted; it is biased. I assert, and studies show, any statistics provided by the SPLC are biased and should not be used in any determination of a subjective topic like “angriest” or “most sinful.” The SCLC labels any organization they don’t like, those who are incongruent with their ideology, as “hate groups.” We aren’t talking about the KKK or neo-Nazis here, just groups with a different political point-of-view.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an Alabama-based 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization that has gained prominence on the left for its “hate group” designations. It has mutated over time from a once- respectable organization to an unapologetically biased entity that targets those who espouse any philosophy other than its own. It seeks to destroy those it opposes by labeling them “hate groups.” Opposition groups are thus marginalized as extremists and denied any consideration as legitimate or mainstream. It’s really brilliant, the SPLC wins without any argument.
The Southern Poverty Law Center's "Hatewatch" fails to use objective criteria in determining which organizations should be labeled a "hate group," George Yancey, professor of sociology at the University of North Texas, finds in a new study, "Watching the Watchers: The Neglect of Academic Analysis of Progressive Groups," published in the January issue of the journal Academic Questions.
SPLC's list dubiously lists Family Research Council as a hate group while ignoring anti-Christian groups that use similar rhetoric, which demonstrates that the list is more about mobilizing liberals than providing an objective source for hate groups, Yancey argues. SPLC has escaped critical analysis of its work in academia because of a liberal bias among academicians, the study additionally claims.
All the groups listed on Hatewatch, with the exception of black separatists, Yancey notes, are either political or religious conservatives. Yancey believes this is because SPLC is a liberal organization and it is using subjective criteria to choose which groups belong on the list.
I think the actions of a few, many from out of state, are being used to unfairly label the rest of TN’s 6.7 million citizens. And hey, Californians are moving here in droves. Why move from “Have a Nice Day” country to the angriest state?
Let me present some evidence, albeit anecdotal, that Tennessee is not the angriest state in the union.
In November 2017, the same WalletHub named TN the 20th most charitable state. In the spirit of inspiring altruism, WalletHub determined the most charitable of the 50 states by comparing them across 14 key indicators of charitable behavior. The dataset ranges from volunteer rate to share of income donated to share of sheltered homeless.
In 2016 Travel and Leisure magazine ranked Nashville the friendliest city in America. With a song in their hearts—and probably one on their lips, too—Tennesseans won the survey for making visitors feel welcome. Nashville also ranked No. 11 for its creative and delicious food trucks, like Biscuit Love and Smokin Thighs. All that smiling is apparently good for the skin: Nashvillians also made the top 10 for their good looks.
Here are the testimonies of two out-of-town visitors surveyed.
“I'm originally from California and when I first found out that I would be moving here a few years ago I was dreading it... I thought that everybody here would be hicks or Bible thumpers but it turned out that everyone is SO WONDERFUL! People here never walk past you without a hello and how are you doing? (Also) not everyone is stupid here like most outsiders would think, in fact almost everyone I know is well educated.”
Another person, from Kentucky and now living in northern Alabama stated: “My trips to Tennessee have been met with consistent kindness and genuine Southern hospitality. Seriously well-mannered people. Nashville is the friendliest city you'll ever find.
Travel and Leisure’s conclusion: “Southern Hospitality is real and is exemplified in Tennessee.”