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GrowthBusters, the film: where the Anti-Immigrant Overlaps the Environmental

Rebecca Poswolsky • Oct 07, 2011

Last week anti-immigrant group Californians for Population Stabilization’s (CAPS) Senior Writing Fellow, Maria Fotopoulos, interviewed GrowthBusters documentary filmmaker Dave Gardner.  The interview, titled “Addicted to Growth,” promotes Gardner’s film, which is set to be released later this month.

GrowthBusters focuses on notions of limits to growth, water shortages, hunger, peak oil resources, and species extinction. The film also focuses on overpopulation as a key environmental concern. While limits to growth and discussions about resources, consumption, and population are all important discussions worthy of widespread participation, groups like CAPS – with their wildly controversial histories, leadership, and goals – are about far more than simply promoting open dialogue about such issues.

For CAPS, yes, the question is about growth—but for who and why.

CAPS is California’s most prominent anti-immigrant organization. White nationalist John Tanton – the architect of the modern day anti-immigrant movement and founder of the bigoted Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) – has long sought to steer environmentalists into the racist framework of anti-immigrant organizing, viewing the environmental movement at-large as a viable inroad to broader and even more progressive circles of individuals.

Unsurprisingly, CAPS is listed on FAIR’s website as a state contact. And like FAIR, CAPS has received funding from the Pioneer Fund, a foundation that has a long history of promoting the genetic superiority of white, European-Americans through the study of eugenics. Again to no surprise, the GrowthBusters’ website links to a host of anti-immigrant groups as supposedly credible sources for information regarding overpopulation.

Among these links are several John Tanton Network groups.

When Mr. Gardner was asked by Fotopoulos, “You’ve interviewed many of the leading thinkers on growth and overpopulation for the Growthbusters documentary. Who has been the most optimistic about the future?” Gardner responded by first referencing Dick Lamm:

“Dick Lamm former governor, Colorado, [sic] gave a great interview about sustainability. He said there’s still a possibility for us to have a wonderful world for our kids, but the legacy that growth has left us has given us such a strong cultural inclination to not do the right thing that it’s going to be really hard to make the changes; it might even be impossible.”

Lamm is a member of Progressives for Immigration Reform’s (PFIR) board of advisors, just one of the many spin-offs that litter the Tanton Network’s family tree. Dick Lamm is also a good friend of John Tanton himself. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Lamm once stated that “new cultures” in America were “diluting what we are and who we are.”

While environmentalists are taking a stand against groups like CAPS, PFIR, and others in the Tanton Network, Gardner is proud to use such groups to promote and to control discussions around notions of growth via the platforms and megaphones of anti-immigrant activists and their co-horts. The collaborating of CAPS with Gardner should be surprising to none, as this is film by a man who says his work is about one thing – “growth” – when it’s truly attempting to turn viewers towards another – the denigrating of immigrants via nativist rhetoric thinly clad in “Green.”

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