Racist Activist Joins, Then Quits, Controversial English-Only Group

Mainstreaming Extremism

In the 20 years since it was founded by anti-immigration activist John Tanton, U.S. English has billed itself as a well-meaning group that "promotes unity and empowers immigrants by encouraging them to learn English." But the organization, which lobbies to establish English as the official U.S. language, has not been able to steer clear of controversy, especially since one of Tanton's secret memos was leaked in 1988.

"In this society ... will the present majority peaceably hand over its political power to a group that is simply more fertile?" Tanton asked.

Two of the group's most prominent figures, former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite and Reagan appointee Linda Chavez, quit U.S. English — Cronkite leaving the group's advisory board and Chavez resigning as executive director — after Tanton's comments hit the newspapers. But another big-name member of the group's advisory board, movie action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger, has remained steadfast since reportedly joining the board in 1988.

This August, soon after he launched his campaign for governor of California, Schwarzenegger's association with U.S. English became controversial after the Southern Poverty Law Center disclosed long-standing ties between a newly hired top official at U.S. English and three prominent hate groups.

James Lubinskas, who came on as director of communications for U.S. English last spring, had been the assistant editor or a contributing editor at American Renaissance, a magazine that promotes "scientific" racism, from 1998 until at least last October. He has spoken at least once at a conference of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens and has contributed frequent articles to that group's newsletter.

In 2000, Lubinskas shared a stage with former Klan leader David Duke at a gathering of another white-supremacist group, the American Friends of the British National Party — a fact he denied in a letter to Washington Post columnist Terry Neal, who summarized the Southern Poverty Law Center's findings in an Aug. 13 article. At the same event, another fellow speaker was Sam van Rensburg, then a leading official of the neo-Nazi National Alliance.

Shortly after that denial, Lubinskas left U.S. English and his name was deleted from its Web site. Another board member, leftist-turned-archconservative activist David Horowitz, told a reporter that he also had jumped ship because of Lubinskas' ties to the white supremacist right.

Schwarzenegger, already under fire for his support of the Proposition 187 anti-immigration referendum, has declined to comment on his association with U.S. English.