The Nativists

Around the country, an anti-immigration movement is spreading like wildfire. An array of activists is fanning the flames

AGE: 73

Within two days of his selection to head the new anti-immigration group Protect Arkansas Now, Joe McCutchen was exposed by the Southern Poverty Law Center for his connections to racist groups. McCutchen had spoken to the hate group Council of Conservative Citizens about immigration, as Arkansas newspapers promptly reported. He had written another racist group, American Renaissance, to ask that its members support an anti-immigration outfit in Michigan. And the Center also reported that McCutchen had written a series of letters to his local paper in which he alleged that Jews controlled the central government, banking, media, the entertainment industry and the entire world monetary system.

Politicians who'd been close to McCutchen and his group drew back. The governor, a Republican and a Baptist minister, angrily denounced the bill to deny social services to illegal aliens that McCutchen was pushing.

But McCutchen was nonplussed.

Indeed, his reaction to the charge of anti-Semitism was simple: He wasn't engaging in racist stereotyping. He liked Jews. All he had been doing, McCutchen said, was "speak[ing] highly of the business ability of many Jewish persons."

And that, apparently, was that. Despite a January Associated Press story describing the entire affair, McCutchen seemed to regain his stature as a press interviewee, particularly in April, when he joined the Minuteman Project vigilante effort in Arizona. He appeared in an April 1 story on CNN's "Lou Dobbs Tonight," an April 12 story in the Ventura County (Calif.) Star, an April 14 article from MSNBC, and an April 22 Los Angeles Times report. None of these reports made any mention of McCutchen's background. However, the silliest account may have come on May 2 from The Christian Science Monitor, which sympathetically described McCutchen's professed "compassion" for illegal border-crossers.