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Southern Poverty Law Center questions “bigoted” speaker at annual Oakland County business meeting

L. Brooks Patterson defended James Simpson's invitation, saying Simpson was asked to speak specifically because he's provocative.
screen grab of Oakland Co. video
L. Brooks Patterson defended James Simpson's invitation, saying Simpson was asked to speak specifically because he's provocative.


According to its website, the Oakland County Business Roundtable began in 1993 as a space for business leaders to “engage” with county leaders on “issues that will enable them to prosper.”

For next month’s lunch meeting, County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has invited writer James Simpson to be the keynote speaker.

Simpson is opposed to President Obama’s efforts to resettle Syrian refugees here, as evidenced from this 2015 speech:

“This is about flooding our country with people who do not share our values, they do not share our beliefs. And as this happens more and more, our culture, our society is becoming diluted more and more to the point where it won’t be distinguishable from any other country in the world.”

Mark Potok joined us today to talk more about who James Simpson is and what he could offer at next month’s roundtable. Potok is with the Southern Poverty Law Center and is a leading expert on the world of extremism.

“Jim Simpson is an extremist on the right. He is a guy who has alleged, among other things, that the left, the so-called progressive left, is in a massively complicated conspiracy with all kinds of other people like George Soros, the Communist Party, major unions, Muslim terrorists, Catholic liberal groups, foreign intelligence services and so on, to invade or to propagate the invasion of the United States by people who are not like us. He talks in those terms very often and in very unguarded ways. It’s really remarkable to hear some of the things he says," Potok said.

Potok told us he was shocked to hear that Simpson had been invited to speak at the annual Oakland County roundtable.

“This is a man who trafficks in conspiracy theories, in demeaning and defamatory propaganda, and it is very difficult to imagine what he could say about business or the economy that would be of any use to anyone,” he said.

Oakland County Executive Patterson defended the invitation in a statement issued to wnd.com, saying that Simpson was invited to speak precisely because he’s provocative. “It’s not about whether one agrees with him, but it’s about stimulating meaningful conversation on a timely and important topic in our country,” Patterson wrote.

“Well, inviting the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan also presumably could stimulate a conversation … but that doesn’t meant that the Klan really has anything to offer in terms of a public debate or dialogue,” Potok said.

Listen to our conversation above for more.

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