Letter: SPLC's numbers are valid

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Editor of the Reformer,

I appreciate Richard Keefe providing a more detailed explanation of his questions about the Southern Poverty Law Center's methodology and offering two examples ("'Hate Map numbers are arbitrary," May 11).

What he doesn't mention about those examples is that the SPLC removed both towns from its hate map after the towns provided evidence that the designation was flawed. These examples don't invalidate the methodology. Rather, they show that, by taking in new data to improve accuracy, the SPLC uses a responsible, evidence-based methodology.

Mr. Keefe also claims — without providing proof — that the hate-group designation diminishes tourism. That is a legitimate concern, but I wonder if it's accurate in this situation? Gurnee, Ill., — described by Mr. Keefe as a "small tourism-reliant village" — is a town of 30,000 people, with a median household income of $90,000, that boasts around 25 million tourist visitors every year. If hate-group designations damage tourism, shouldn't other places where the SPLC has found hate groups, such as Los Angeles, New York City, and Houston, also see declines? All three cities had record-setting tourism in 2018.

Sam Costello

Marlboro, May 13



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