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John Tanton’s name disappeared from the Federation for American Reform’s (FAIR) list of its board of directors in the days following the major April 17 New York Times story outlining Tanton’s racist views. FAIR’s website includes no information about why Tanton is no longer on the board, though Tanton’s bio is still listed on the page devoted to board member biographies. The Times story had described Tanton as a currently serving member of FAIR’s board.
It is unclear what role the Times story may have played in this change, but FAIR’s reaction to the story has been nothing short of hysterical. Today, FAIR spokesman Bob Dane was quoted condemning the article as a “hit piece” and telling the conservative website OneNewsNow, “The New York Times is very open borders, pro-amnesty and pro-President Obama… . They focused on one individual and [used] the old tactics of out-of-context statements, decades-old information, and guilt by association.”
The day after the Times story ran, FAIR President Dan Stein put out a press release reviling the front-page feature as “recycling decades-old baseless allegations, quoting out-of-context statements, and implying guilt by association.” The release claimed FAIR does not discriminate on the basis of “race, creed, color, religion, gender or sexual orientation.” What it didn’t do is mention Tanton, who Stein in 2009 called a “Renaissance man” of wide-ranging “intellect,” or Tanton’s longstanding white nationalism. That may well be because Stein, and FAIR, share some of Tanton’s views.
For example, in a 1994 oral history, Stein told Tanton, his interviewer, that those who supported the 1965 immigraton reform, which ended decades of a racist quota system, wanted to “retaliate against Anglo-Saxon dominance” and that this “revengism” against whites had created a policy that was causing “chaos and will continue to create chaos.” And in a 1991 memo entitled “The Defenders of American Culture Rise to the Call to Arms,” Stein said he hoped that mounting criticism of multiculturalism would eventually lead to attacks on the 1965 Act, which he called “a key mistake in national policy” and a “source of error.”
Principals at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), thought up and founded by Tanton, were similarly upset by the Times profile of Tanton. CIS head Mark Krikorian wrote on National Review Online that the article failed miserably by ignoring “the hate campaign” Krikorian claims was waged against Tanton by groups including the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). “Fleshing out that completely unreported story would have been a good use of the resources of the New York Times and made the article genuinely newsworthy.”
On April 22, CIS researcher Jerry Kammer wrote that the story “spills pools of ink detailing Tanton statements — most of them decades old — that demonstrate a shrill and tone-deaf dismay at the effects of uninterrupted mass immigration.” And he complains that the story failed to attack “advocates of illegal immigration and ethnic organizations,” including the SPLC. A few days later, this Monday, Kammer was still ranting, writing that the story “made poor use not only of [reporter Jason] DeParle’s considerable talents as a reporter but also of the resources of the New York Times.”
But at NumbersUSA, long a project of Tanton’s foundation U.S., Inc., there was jubilation. The head of NumbersUSA, Roy Beck, who was once slated to be Tanton’s heir at his foundation, used the Times piece as a propaganda tool. Under the headline, “The New York Times Smears Movement for Lower Immigration, but Compliments NumbersUSA,” the group quoted large sections of the article that discussed its role in dooming a 2007 bipartisan attempt at immigration control. “According to the Times: We are fair-minded. We are massively influential. Our methods are effective,” NumbersUSA said.