The Tanton Network’s 10 Biggest Gaffes of 2011

Stephen Piggott • Dec 28, 2011

As we reflect on the passing of another year, the John Tanton Network provides us with a number of gaffes which not only expose their nativist ties but also the Network’s relationships with the extreme far right, with anti-Semites and white nationalists among them. Here’s the list:

10. Anti-immigrant lawyer Kris Kobach was given a $5000 fine for inaccurately reporting more than $75,000 in contributions and expenditures from his 2010 election cycle. Kobach is a lawyer for the anti-immigrant group Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), founded by white nationalist John Tanton. Instead of accepting the fine and admitting his mistakes, Kobach decided to go down the conspiratorial path, ranting about the “anti-conservative bias among some members of the commission.”

9. Anti-immigrant group ProEnglish had a very torrid time this year. As we reported, the group has had at least four executive directors in 2011 alone. The latest person to take up the position is Robert Vandervoort. Vandervoort wasted no time showing where his loyalties lie, however. Weeks after joining ProEnglish he appeared at the annual conference of the white nationalist organization H.L. Mencken Club where he distributed ProEnglish materials. ProEnglish also hired Phil Tignino, a former chapter leader of Youth for Western Civilization (YWC) to its staff. YWC is a student organization with strong ties to white nationalists.

8. The banner anti-immigrant organization within the Tanton Network is the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Earlier this year, FAIR appointed Frosty Wooldridge to its advisory board. Frosty has a long history of racist statements. Frosty contacted Imagine2050 earlier this year and wrote the following in an email to us: “Somali’s [sic] plight is real and, as I said, if you feed them, they will add another 10 million starving children. That’s a biological fact. Africa at 1 billion will hit 3.1 billion in 90 years. They create their own human misery.”

7. The anti-immigrant group Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), another group founded by John Tanton, was embarassed this year when Imagine2050 broke the news that the document reported to be the manifesto of alleged Norwegian mass murder Anders Breivik contained a reference to a report written by CIS.

6. 2011 was another bad year for the anti-immigrant group Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR). At its annual conference in October, PFIR staff booted four pregnant women from the event for asking questions that PFIR didn’t deem suitable. How progressive.

5. 2011 was a year full of Muslim bashing from Mark Krikorian, head of CIS. On his blog at National Review, Krikorian didn’t hide his disdain for Muslims, calling them a “vicious people.” He went on to state the following in another blog post: “I think Jew-hatred is so deeply rooted in the Arab and broader Islamic world that even governments that would want to help end the citizenship limbo of Palestinian refugees and their descendants would hesitate, fearing popular uprisings and Islamist attack.”

4. Arizona State Senator and founding member of the Tanton Network group State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI) Russell Pearce was recalled in November of 2011. Pearce is credited as the architect of SB 1070, the divisive Arizona law that sanctions racial profiling. Additionally, Pearce often cordially met with Arizona’s premier neo-Nazi and former member of the National Socialist Movement, J.T. Ready—even going so far as to personally ordain him into the Church of Latter Day Saints. In 2006, Pearce also circulated an email to his constituents that espoused Holocaust denial and racist diatribes. The email was originally composed by the neo-Nazi organization National Alliance, whose former leader William Pierce inspired Timothy McVeigh to bomb the FBI building in Oklahoma City.

3. In early 2011, anti-immigrant group NumbersUSA posted a list of state contacts on its website. Among the state contacts was known Holocaust denier Jim Rizoli. After Imagine2050 broke this news, Rizoli emailed Imagine2050 to confirm his revisionist views: “Your dam [sic] right I’m a Holocaust Denier and proud of it.”

2. After a front page Sunday New York Times expose investigating John Tanton’s racist ties and statements appeared in April of this year, Tanton quietly disappeared from FAIR’s board. When this came to light, FAIR claimed that Tanton had decided to leave the board in February, but the organization neglected to mention this little fact to Jason DeParle, the author of the expose. Tanton’s affiliation with the group he founded didn’t stray for too long, though. A few months after his name disappeared from FAIR’s board, he appeared on FAIR’s advisory board where he remains at the time of writing.

1. In January of this year, the Social Contract Press, the publishing arm founded by Tanton, issued a press release in which it called for a ban on all Muslim immigration to the United States. The statement was met with widespread criticism which prompted K.C. McAlpin, the leader of the Social Contract Press’s parent company, to state, “Congress has used that power in the past to ban the immigration of Communist Party and National Socialist (Nazi) party members who were deemed to be threats to our national security. This case is no different.”

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