Our VoiceImmigrationNews & Politics

Anti-Immigrant Leader Says Immigration merely ‘Skirmish in a Wider War’

Eric Ward • Sep 03, 2008

In 1989, John Tanton, the founder of the modern day anti-immigrant movement, told Otis L. Graham Jr. that “I have all along seen the immigration battle as really a skirmish in a wider war….”

Since that time critics of Tanton have argued that his “wider war” is one steeped in racism and white nationalism.  These critics had reason to argue, as well, particularly because of Tanton’s strong commitment to the faux-scientific study of eugenics, which promotes the forced sterilization of both the poor and nonwhites.

Perhaps, though, these critics are not arguing loud enough. In a recently surfaced memo, “The Case for Passive Eugenics,” Tanton goes as far as to argue for a softer, gentler eugenics movement because, simply:

“Hitler’s reign in Nazi Germany did little to advance the discussion of eugenics among sensitive persons.”

At present, Tanton still serves on the board of his most influential organization, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

Recently a public archive of Tanton’s writings was discovered in the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  Among the revealing items to surface in these newly uncovered Tanton memos are the following:

“I’m sure it will give you a new understanding of the Jewish outlook on life, which explains a large part of the Jewish opposition to immigration reform.” – John Tanton promoting an article written by anti-Semite Kevin McDonald of Occidental Quarterly a vicious anti-Semitic journal [Source: Letter to Mrs. C.S. May, December 10, 1998].

“You are saying a lot of things that need to be said, but I anticipate it will be very tough sledding” – John Tanton writing to Jared Taylor of the white supremacist group Council of Conservative Citizens concerning Taylor’s draft newsletter [Source: Letter to Jared Taylor, October 10, 1990].

“I’ve been a reader of your materials for some time, and hope that we can meet some day. Is there any chance that you could come up and join us?” – John Tanton inviting Wayne Lutton of the white supremacist group Council of Conservative Citizens to a FAIR event [Source: Letter to Wayne Lutton, June 10, 1991].

Over the last decade the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) has argued vehemently that the charges of racism so oft leveled against it and its front groups by a range of respected institutions such as the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Wall Street Journal were patently false.

In December 2007, when SPLC added FAIR to their list of hate groups, the anti-immigrant organization responded with a statement of its own. While choosing not to respond to the charges convincingly leveled by SPLC, the group did state that “FAIR is highly respected for the very reason that it has always argued that immigration policy should not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion.”

Members of FAIR must have forgotten themselves then when they allowed radio talk show host Doug McIntyre to rant without interruption about the truth behind FAIR’s political agenda at the fall 2005 FAIR Director’s Meeting:

“The brown toxic cloud strangling Los Angeles never lifts and grows thicker with every immigrant added. One can’t help appreciate the streets of Paris will soon become the streets of LA. However, Paris’ streets erupted while LA’s shall sink into a Third World quagmire much like Bombay or Calcutta, India. When you import that much crime, illiteracy, multiple languages and disease-Americans pick up stakes and move away.”

Perhaps FAIR also forgot to pass their statement on to staff member Rosanna Pulido before she decided to declare to an audience attending a debate on immigration exactly how she feels about the American Catholic Church:

“What better way to fill your pews and fill your offering coffers then with inviting in and giving sanctuary to illegal aliens? . . . The Catholic Church is not Catholicism. It has nothing to do with Christianity or the Bible.” -Rosanna Pulido, FAIR Staffer, Chicago Public Radio, October 04, 2007

While FAIR seems clearly offended by SPLC and the Wall Street Journal’s criticisms, no one at FAIR seems remotely offended by Tanton continually reaching out to white nationalists, the virulent bigotry that fills his writings housed in the Bentley Historical library, the racist musings heard at Director’s Meetings, or the Catholic bashing committed by one of its staffers.

In fact, when it comes to cleaning their own house, the Federation for American Immigration Reform seems completely unwilling to do so, not incapable.

However, what is absolutely clear, regardless of how limply FAIR may argue its stance “against” bigotry, is that it’s members have absolutely no qualms about associating with and organizing alongside of committed bigots.

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