In Attacking Amazon, Matt Gaetz Boosts a Terrorist Organization

The Florida lawmaker hails violent, anti-Semitic, and Islamophobic groups during a tech CEO hearing.

Graeme Jennings/Pool via AP

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.

During Tuesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing with CEOs from major tech, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) defended multiple homophobic, Islamaphobic, and anti-Semitic groups, including one that is a federally designated terrorist organization.

Gaetz remarks came in the course of attacking the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit organization that maintains a list of hate groups that Amazon has chosen to ban from using its fundraising service. “The Southern Poverty Law Center, which you allow to dictate who can receive donations on your AmazonSmile platform, have said the Catholic Family News, Catholic Family Ministries, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the American Family Association, the Family Research Council, the Jewish Defense League, and even Dr. Ben Carson are extremists,” Gaetz said to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. “I’m just wondering why you would place your confidence in a group that seems to be so out of step and seems to take mainstream Christian doctrine and label it as hate?”

While Gaetz seemed to highlight groups with innocuous-sounding names, the organizations he listed are considered fringe outfits by far larger groups involved in similar issues.

Catholic Family Ministries and its publication Catholic Family News are a part of the anti-Semitic brand of Radical Traditional Catholicism that rejects the Vatican’s liberalizing reforms in the 60s and has played home to excommunicated priests. On their website, they have a page for articles tagged with “The Jews” with posts rejecting the Roman church’s modern conciliatory overtures to the Jewish community. They explicitly reject the kind of “mainstream Christian doctrine” that Gaetz’s question claimed they represent.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform, according to the SPLC, has multiple ties to white nationalists and eugenicists. The organization has documented FAIR’s founder, John Tanton, as saying the US should remain majority white.

The American Family Association and Family Research Council, have frequently espoused homophobic views, and in the American Family Association’s case, Islamaphobic statements as well. As recently as 2010, the Family Research Council likened being gay to pedophilia. 

The Jewish Defense League is the most puzzling Gaetz endorsement. In 2001, the FBI designated the organization as a “right-wing terrorist group.” Federal officials found them responsible for 15 acts of terrorism between 1980 and 1985, and JDL members were suspected of being responsible for a 1972 New York bombing that left two dead.

Despite the groups’ history of hate, Bezos caved to Gaetz’s questioning. “Sir, I’m going to acknowledge this is an imperfect system,” Bezos responded. “And I would like suggestions on better or additional sources.”

Gaetz fired back with the suggestion that Amazon should “divorce from the SPLC,” something conservatives angered by the watchdog group’s designations have long advocated.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate