Intelligence Report: Anti-Immigration Leader at Heart of White Nationalist Scene for Decades

The architect of the modern anti-immigration movement and founder of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) has been at the heart of the white nationalist scene for decades, corresponding with racist intellectuals, Klan lawyers and even Holocaust deniers, according to the latest issue of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report, released today.

Despite his public denials of racism, John Tanton's own writings, which are stored at a University of Michigan library, reveal a man who has frequently corresponded and worked with leading white nationalist thinkers. The papers document, for example, how Tanton promoted the work of a radical anti-Semitic professor as a "new understanding of the Jewish outlook on life." He even suggested that the board of FAIR, on which he sits, discuss the professor's theories on the Jews.

"John Tanton has repeatedly denied that he has any racist ideas, despite a record that includes describing Latinos as voracious breeders who are less intelligent than others," said Mark Potok, editor of the Intelligence Report, a quarterly investigative journal that monitors the radical right and antigovernment activity. "But Tanton's own private papers show definitively that he has worked with racists for decades. What's most remarkable of all is that FAIR refuses to repudiate or even criticize the man who remains one of its top leaders despite this explosive evidence."

Tanton's network of nativist organizations includes high-profile players in the immigration debate. FAIR officials have testified numerous times before Congress. Other groups founded by Tanton include NumbersUSA and the Center for Immigration Studies, a group whose studies are often quoted by the media.

Despite the veneer of respectability cultivated by these groups, Tanton's writings show an interest in immigration that is rooted in racism and eugenics, the "science" of building a better human race through selective breeding and sterilization that was discredited by Nazi abuses. On Dec. 10, 1993, he wrote to Garrett Hardin, a controversial ecology professor, expressing his concerns about the future. "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," Tanton wrote.

Also in the Winter 2008 issue of the Intelligence Report:

  • "Killing a Brown" reports new evidence suggesting that right-wing extremists are infiltrating the U.S. military. Two years ago, the Intelligence Report revealed that alarming numbers of neo-Nazis and other white supremacists were taking advantage of lowered recruiting standards and lax enforcement of anti-extremist military regulations to enter the armed services.
  • "House of Ill Repute" examines how police raids that uncovered a huge stash of drugs, pornography and hate literature at a "church" in Jacksonville, Texas, showed the "sovereign citizens" movement still thrives in certain quarters. The movement's most famous adherents include Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols and members of the Montana Freemen.
  • "Burnout" chronicles the plight of the Vinlander Social Club. Once the fastest-rising racist skinhead crew in the country, it has declined thanks to the egos of key members and continuing problems with the criminal justice system.