December was a cruel month for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
Last December was a cruel month for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). FAIR's Congressional Task Force had hoped to take advantage of Iowa's presidential caucuses, in which immigration was a hot-button issue, by hosting a "Radio Row" at the Des Moines Marriott on Dec. 27 and 28 that featured 22 right-wing radio talk show hosts broadcasting live about "uncontrolled immigration."
Events did not turn out as FAIR hoped or planned.
In early December, the Intelligence Report added FAIR to its list of hate groups and issued a report that detailed the group's ties to white supremacy. At the same time, the Center for New Community (CNC), a Chicago-based anti-racist organization, organized a grassroots coalition of civic, labor and interfaith groups called the Campaign for a United America that informed the broader Iowa public about FAIR's anti-immigrant racism. In the end, six radio hosts dropped out of the FAIR event, and the organization received a fair amount of bad press in Iowa and elsewhere.
FAIR responded to the Center's hate group designation with a press release that defended, among other things, its acceptance of more than $1 million from the racist Pioneer Fund. The fund, whose original mandate was to pursue "race betterment" by promoting the genetic stock America's white settlers, backs racist "research," including that of American Renaissance, a white supremacist newsletter that has suggested that black people are inherently psychopathic.
FAIR also claimed that it had never "hired anyone who was a member of a 'white supremacist group.'" But as the Report documented, FAIR had long employed Rick Oltman, a speaker at several events put on by the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens, or CCC. (The CCC explicitly claimed Oltman as a member.) The Report also said that FAIR had hired Joe Turner, founder of the anti-immigrant hate group Save Our State, as its western region representative in November 2006. Although Turner denies being a racist, he has defended white nationalism. "I can make the argument that someone who proclaims to be a white nationalist isn't necessarily a white supremacist. I don't think that standing up for your 'kind' or 'your race' makes you a bad person," Turner wrote in 2005.
Shortly after the Report added FAIR to its hate group list, Turner disappeared from FAIR's staff roster. Calls to FAIR officials seeking an explanation for Turner's unannounced departure were not returned. A switchboard operator told a caller who asked for Turner only, "He's no longer with the company."
Turner's abrupt exit seems to have hurt FAIR's image in nativist extremist circles.
"I'm very worried that we may have been sold down the river again by those damn groups in DC," wrote "Al Lewis" on the Americans for Mass Deportation E-mail list. That list's founder, Liz DeMarco, lamented that she "did not even warn [Turner] about [FAIR] because I knew he needed the money for himself and his family." Laine Lawless, who in 2006 encouraged neo-Nazis to attack undocumented immigrants, slammed FAIR as well: "That's the problem with FAIR — no one knows what they actually DO, except make speeches occasionally, once a year put on a 'workshop' with guest speakers, and of course highly-over-paid [FAIR President] Dan Stein goes on FOX News periodically."