The Racist Origins of Immigration Reform

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Heidi Beirich of the SPLC has been doing some serious research into the background of John Tanton. The SPLC is running a special report on Tanton this month. I highly recommend it.  I’m going to do some quick and dirty links.  Over the next few days I’m also going to be running a few best of articles about Tanton and his “associates”.

I’ve never been able to understand why Tanton keeps getting away with his racist, neo-Nazi hate.  I know, when you use the “neo-Nazi” epitaph it’s not good, but with Tanton it is true.  He is also one of the most staunch pro-abortion advocates – anywhere.

So, why do “Christian” conservatives flock to his organizations?

“… Tanton also corresponded for years with the late Sam Francis, a one-time Washington Times columnist who was fired after details of a racist speech he gave at an American Renaissance conference became public. From 1999 until his death in 2005, Francis edited the crudely racist and nativist Citizens Informer, the tabloid published by the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), an organization that says it “oppose[s] all efforts to mix the races of mankind.”

What may have been most remarkable of all was Tanton’s endorsement of a proposal from another friend — Peter Brimelow, who would later start a racist anti-immigration website — that FAIR hire Sam Francis to edit its newsletter. That proposal, which Tanton sent to FAIR’s Dan Stein on Nov. 3, 1995, was made two months after The Washingon Times fired Francis for racism.

Tanton’s contacts with other white nationalists also are instructive:

Beginning in the late 1980s, Tanton corresponded regularly with Virginia Abernethy, now a professor emeritus at Vanderbilt University. Abernethy is a member of the CCC and recently described herself as a “white separatist.”

On June 26, 1996, Tanton wrote to Sam Dickson — a Georgia lawyer who has represented the Ku Klux Klan, written for and been on the editorial advisory board of Holocaust denial publications, and spoken at several of the biannual conferences put on by American Renaissance — to thank him for a good time during a visit by Tanton and his wife. “The next time I’m in Atlanta,” Tanton wrote Dickson, “I hope to take one of your ‘politically incorrect’ tours.”

In a Dec. 23, 1996, letter, Tanton complained that it was hard to write checks for Theodore O’Keefe, who was involved for years in the Holocaust-denying Institute for Historical Review, because O’Keefe would only use a pen name. It was not clear from the letter what O’Keefe had written for Tanton.

On June 17, 1998, Tanton wrote to Stan Hess, who was then a member of the CCC, about Hess’ proposal to open a FAIR office in California (the letter was copied to Stein). The letter recounted how Tanton had “presented” Hess’ idea to the FAIR board. Hess was arrested later that year for burning a Mexican flag at an Alabama CCC rally that was attended by an unrobed Klansman. Hess would go on in 1999 to help form the neofascist American Friends of the British National Party and, later, to become California state leader of a group headed by neo-Nazi and former Klan leader David Duke.In Dec. 30, 1994 — at the end of the year that FAIR finally stopped soliciting Pioneer donations (after negative publicity) and issued its denunciation of eugenics — Tanton wrote to German academic Wolfgang Bosswick to defend the Pioneer Fund, saying its critics were the “hard (Marxist) left in the United States.”

On Sept. 18, 1996, he wrote to now-deceased California multimillionaire Robert K. Graham, a eugenicist who started a sperm bank to collect the semen of Nobel Prize-winning scientists: “Do we leave it to individuals to decide that they are the intelligent ones who should have more kids? And more troublesome, what about the less intelligent, who logically should have less? Who is going to break the bad news [to less intelligent individuals], and how will it be implemented?”

On May 21, 1997, Tanton wrote to Richard Lynn — a race “scientist” who claims that black people “are more psychopathic than whites” and suffer from a “personality disorder” characterized by a poverty of feeling and lack of shame — to congratulate Lynn on his book, Dysgenics, on how less intelligent individuals are outbreeding the intelligent. The next year, on Feb. 9, 1998, he wrote to Pioneer Fund President Harry Weyher to propose that Weyher hire Lynn to write “a study of Barry Mehler.” Mehler, the Ferris State University professor who founded the Institute for the Study of Academic Racism, is a harsh critic of race science and eugenics.

FAIR officials may not have known of these contacts, but they certainly knew of others. On Oct. 29, 1998, for instance, Tanton wrote a memo for his file on Harry Weyher discussing the Pioneer Fund’s new website and a paper on “sub-replacement fertility” by Roger Pearson, a notorious race scientist who heads the Institute for the Study of Man. The memo was copied to FAIR’s Dan Stein and K.C. McAlpin, the executive director of ProEnglish, a group on whose board Tanton now sits.

Most remarkable of all, however, was the Feb. 13, 1997, gathering organized by Tanton at the New York Racquet and Tennis Club. Three years after FAIR had stopped taking Pioneer Fund money, Tanton brought FAIR board members Henry Buhl, Sharon Barnes and Alan Weeden — along with Peter Brimelow, future founder of the VDARE.com hate site — to a meeting with Pioneer Fund President Harry Weyher. The meeting, held expressly to discuss fundraising efforts to benefit FAIR, was memorialized in a Feb. 17, 1997, memo that Tanton wrote for his “FAIR Fund-Raising File.” A year later, on Jan. 5, 1998, Tanton wrote to John Trevor, a Pioneer Fund board member and the son of the notorious pro-Nazi eugenicist John Trevor Sr., to thank him for his personal “handsome contribution” to FAIR.

It’s not that Tanton didn’t understand, just as well as Stein and the other leaders of FAIR, exactly how controversial eugenics was. After starting his own eugenicist group, the Society for Genetic Education in 1996, he wrote to Graham, the California eugenicist, to discuss public relations strategies. In a Sept. 18, 1996, letter, Tanton explained how his new group’s website “emphasized mankind’s use of eugenic principles on plants and the lower animals as a way to condition the public to the idea of genetic manipulation, and raise the question of its application to the human race.” Elaborating, he added: “We report ways [eugenics] is currently being done, but under the term genetics rather than eugenics.”…”

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