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FAIR Chairman Sings Praises of Racist Founder John Tanton

By Heidi Beirich on September 9, 2011 - 7:35 am, Posted in Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Latino, Extremist Propaganda

In its September newsletter, the chairman of the board of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), Roy Porter, wrote a glowing paean to the group’s racist founder, John Tanton, in advance of FAIR’s Oct. 1 tribute to “John and his legacy.” Tanton played a critical role in the creation of several powerhouse anti-immigrant groups besides FAIR, including the Center for Immigration Studies and NumbersUSA, and is arguably the man most responsible for the modern nativist movement.

Porter gushed with praise for Tanton. “I’d like to express the board’s immeasurable gratitude to John, a man of extraordinary leadership ability, wisdom, courage, and compassion,” Porter wrote. In words reminiscent of those employed earlier by FAIR President Dan Stein to praise Tanton, Porter described the FAIR founder as “very much a Renaissance man, with expertise in such diverse fields as medicine, chemistry, ecology, history, literature, philosophy, politics, demography, agriculture, and land conservation.”

What’s not on Porter’s list of Tanton’s amazing abilities is racism. Nowhere is mention made of Tanton’s memos to FAIR’s board that questioned the “educability” of Latinos and warned darkly of a “Latin onslaught.” Also ignored are Tanton’s many racist comments including this 1993 gem: “I’ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.” And that’s only the beginning.

Tanton’s long record of supporting eugenics, the “science” of breeding a better human race that was utterly discredited by the Nazis, doesn’t rate a Porter mention either. In a 1996 letter, Tanton wrote: “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?” At one point in the mid-1990s, Tanton even tried to create his own eugenics outfit, the Society for Genetic Education or SAGE.

It gets worse. No mention is made of how Tanton introduced key FAIR leaders to the president of the Pioneer Fund, a white supremacist group set up to encourage “race betterment,” at a 1997 meeting at a private club. Tanton also wrote a major far-right funder to encourage her to read the work of a radical anti-Semitic professor — to “give you a new understanding of the Jewish outlook on life” — and suggested that the entire FAIR board discuss the professor’s theories on the Jews. He revered a principal architect of the Immigration Act of 1924, instituting a national origin quota system and barring Asian immigration — a rabid anti-Semite whose pro-Nazi American Coalition of Patriotic Societies was indicted for sedition in 1942. Tanton even arranged for his hero’s private papers to be stored in the same library as his at the University of Michigan.

And what of Tanton’s racist connections? Tanton employs and shares an office in Petoskey, Mich., with Wayne Lutton, who has been a member of white supremacist groups and written for a Holocaust denial journal. Tanton supported the white nationalist journal American Renaissance financially for some years and undertook correspondence with its leader Jared Taylor. (An example of Taylor’s writings: “When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western civilization — any kind of civilization — disappears.”) At one point, longtime white nationalist Sam Dickson, who often speaks at American Renaissance conferences, offered to take Tanton on a “politically incorrect” tour of Atlanta. For more on Tanton’s connections, read here. You certainly won’t find them in Porter’s piece.

All of this information about Tanton’s extremism seems lost on Porter and others in leadership positions at FAIR. In fact, Porter’s missive ends by citing longtime FAIR principal Dick Lamm, the former Colorado governor and a long-time opponent of multiculturalism, fawning over Tanton. “I am an unabashed friend of John Tanton,” Lamm said. “What a mix of virtues and abilities! John is a visionary, prophet, organizational genius and a warm and caring human being. Give me a thousand John Tantons and we could save the world.”

A thousand John Tantons? Now that’s a scary thought!

  • ModerateMike

    Yes, I do sometimes forget that people tend to be swayed most by arguments that touch them on an emotional and/or personal level.

  • skinnyminny

    I’m no expert on this, but, that’s one thing you can’t do, and that’s ‘lose your message.’ This, by no means, is being rude or trying to ridicule. But, it’s all in the message you are trying to convey, while sizing up your audience (knowing your audience), and presenting it in a way that will sell. In this case, their response, such as, well aren’t they just trying to press…here is where you either have to use analogies, or find a better way to present a stronger message.

    Sounds like you have a few listeners who are hard to convince on certain issues. I find most people are easily convinced by things which are too good to be true, things that are bad for them, i.e., what’s too good to be true – get rich quick schemes, things that are bad for them – chasing after relationships they know won’t work.

    A good idea may be to bring in guests, or present stories/incidents of which these groups were involved which resulted in victims – sometimes, it takes a story of a bad incident to get peoples attention. Yet, this will take careful delivery of the message in order to not cause legal issues down the road. Good luck!

  • ModerateMike

    “All of this information about Tanton’s extremism seems lost on Porter and others in leadership positions at FAIR.”

    I doubt if Tanton’s extremism is lost on anyone within FAIR; everything that SPLC has reported about FAIR indicates that it is using the current immigration system to engage in racial/ethnic cleansing.

    But Tanton’s racism, and that of FAIR in general, certainly seems to be lost on the general public. I talk about this organization with everyone whom I can get to listen, and so far, not one person has ever even heard of FAIR or Tanton. Moreover, even my more compassionate listeners are inclined to say things like, “Well, Mike, you’re calling what they’re doing racism, but aren’t they just pressing the government to enforce the law?” It’s tough to convince people that racist organizations are behind the current immigration policies without sounding like a paranoid nut.