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Roy Beck Visits Mentor, John Tanton

Stephen Piggott • Jun 25, 2010




On June 21, the anti-immigrant blog The Castillo Chronicles reported that NumbersUSA president Roy Beck and his wife were in Petoskey, Michigan last week. Petoskey is the home of the founder of the modern day anti-immigrant movement, John Tanton. Tanton’s web of anti-immigrant organizations continue to enjoy mainstream credibility despite their strong ties to white nationalism. One of Tanton’s organizations, NumbersUSA, is currently under the leadership of Roy Beck. Despite his repeated denials, Beck has a longstanding relationship with Tanton and his visit to his old friend and mentor in Michigan is no surprise.

In the past, Beck downplayed his relationship with Tanton, most notably in Senate hearings in 2001 and 2004. Tanton and Beck have known each other since the 1970s when Beck was a journalist. He was hired by Tanton in 1992 as the Washington editor of Tanton’s white nationalist quarterly journal, The Social Contract. The journal is now edited by Wayne Lutton, a person with strong ties to the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white supremacist group formerly known as the White Citizens Council. Beck himself has a history with the Council, speaking at its annual conference in 1997.

It is not surprising that Beck has attempted in recent years to distance himself from Tanton, especially considering Tanton’s much-criticized ties to white nationalists, as well as documents written by Tanton over the years that illustrate his true views:

“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].

Civil rights organization the Southern Poverty Law Center succinctly points out why Beck would distance himself from Tanton,

John Tanton has come to be an embarrassment. His longstanding connections to white nationalist ideologues, his flirtation with anti-Semitism, and his many racist statements about Latinos have become well known — and are a huge liability for Beck and his restrictionist program. Pressed, Beck claims he is not ashamed of his mentor. But Tanton’s name is nowhere on his website. John Tanton, it seems, is undermining Roy Beck’s respectability.”

Beck’s recent visit to Petoskey shows that he is still close with his mentor and is willing to keep these ties even if it means putting his organization’s credibility at further risk. Recently others within the Tanton Network have backed the anti-immigrant mastermind. Dan Stein, the president of FAIR, for which Tanton is the founder and remains a board member, stated on Rachel Maddow’s show recently, that Tanton is someone, “I will go to bat for anytime.” The most recent issue of Tanton’s The Social Contract attacks the creditability of the Southern Poverty Law Center in all but two of the publication’s articles. The two articles that don’t attack the SPLC lavishly praise Tanton, titled “Prophet with Honor - The Enduring Relevance of Dr. John Tanton” and “How a Rural Ophthalmologist’s Vision Changed Our Lives.”

As the years pass by, more and more damming information about John Tanton surfaces. Even with all of the negative press, the leaders of the organizations founded by Tanton cannot or do not want to distance themselves from the founder of the movement to which they belong. Visiting Tanton’s hometown or writing an article lauding him only strengthens the ties between the creator and his offspring.

And confirms that the anti-immigrant movement is still firmly rooted in white nationalism.

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