In 1996, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) undertook an experiment, creating its own TV talk show about immigration called “Borderline.” The program ran for one year on NET, a satellite TV station put together by archconservative Paul Weyrich, an anti-gay bigot who has also been accused of anti-Semitism by the Anti-Defamation League for claiming the Jews killed Jesus. In all, 51 episodes of “Borderline,” which was hosted by then-FAIR executive director and current president Dan Stein, were aired.
NET was created to push far-right ideas. The network’s mission statement “declared war” on “political correctness,” which it called “a type of ‘cultural tyranny,’” supposedly “rampant” in the television industry. NET was also adamantly opposed to “the modern rules of cultural Marxism by which, for example, homosexuals must be called ‘gays’, bums and beggars must be termed ‘homeless’, and violent criminals have been labeled ‘victims’ of society.” No fan of immigration, the channel ran ads for The Social Contract, a xenophobic journal created by John Tanton, the white nationalist founder of FAIR (who remains on its board today) and the architect of much of the modern nativist movement.
It has been reported before, by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) among others, that “Borderline” featured prominent white nationalists, including the late Sam Francis, who later became the top editor of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC); and Jared Taylor, who edits America Renaissance, a newsletter that claims blacks and Latinos are intellectually inferior to whites. What is new is the availability of the actual videotaped interviews on “Borderline,” thanks to FAIR’s decision to store many of its materials, including the “Borderline” episodes, at The George Washington University Gelman Library’s Special Collections. The SPLC recently examined these interviews.
The program, which opened with footage of immigrants running across the border or arriving in the U.S. in broken-down flotillas, featured nearly all prominent contemporary nativist leaders, including Tanton; Mark Krikorian and Otis Graham of the nativist Center for Immigration Studies; Roy Beck and Rosemary Jenks of NumbersUSA, another nativist group; and several anti-immigration politicians. “Borderline” repeatedly took up the topic of whether immigrants come to the U.S. to work or invade. For FAIR officials, invasion seemed to be the right answer.
On April 22, 1996, “Borderline” was hosted by then-FAIR Deputy Director K.C. McAlpin and featured the CCC’s Sam Francis, who had recently been fired from his job at The Washington Times for making racist comments, along with Peter Skerry of the Brookings Institution. The topic of the day was, in McAlpin’s words, “the relentless march against our border — is it immigration or colonization?” The question was purely rhetorical for McAlpin, who later in the show asserted that Mexico has been “acting very much like a colonial power.” Francis very much agreed. “This is actually a process of political warfare,” Francis opined. “They encourage immigration to the North, get rid of who they don’t want and create a political lobby in this country as a kind of political bludgeon against the United States.” Skerry, who repeatedly disagreed with these sentiments, was frequently cut off.
In a segment devoted to “ethnic separatists,” McAlpin warned the audience that Mexicans want to take back the Southwest. “This is a serious issue and serious threat,” McAlpin said. “This is not just a bunch of radicals and academics and intellectuals on campuses and if the population of the Southwest continues to change in this dramatic fashion, I think we do have a serious problem.” Francis couldn’t have agreed more, saying, “I think … that you are going to have more and more political and ethnic problems as this demographic shift occurs in the Southwest.” Francis also said that Mexico was meddling in American affairs just as the Soviets and Nazis had in prior periods, “using ideological and ethnic loyalties to manipulate a political force within our own government.”
At other times, “Borderline” advanced ideas popular in white nationalist circles —not surprising, given that white nationalists were often featured on the program. Particularly popular was the idea that immigrants are destroying American culture or displacing Western civilization with degenerate, Third World ways.
Lawrence Auster, a white nationalist who spoke in 1996 to a conference put on by the racist American Renaissance journal and whose website A View from the Right is listed as a hate site by the SPLC, was on the show on April 1, 1996, making the argument that if the U.S. loses its white majority, it will be destroyed. The topic that day, according to host Dan Stein, was to “take a politically incorrect look at American culture and Western Civilization.” Stein added, “America, love it or lose it.” (In more recent years, Stein has repeatedly insisted that neither he nor FAIR have any preference for any one race or nationality or ethnic group.) Auster argued that because of an “invasion,” “America is in the process of dissolving as a nation.” Supposedly drawing on history, Auster warned that as demographic change occurs and “the majority is threatened in its position” the result could be “civil war.”
Auster’s particular concern that day was the loss of “the historic European Anglo American culture.” Stein certainly seemed to agree with his guest’s worries. “How can we preserve America if it becomes 50% Latin American?” he asked. Stein also said that Anglos were leaving Los Angeles because it had become “a foreign country to them.”
Another prominent white nationalist who appeared on “Borderline” was naturalized English immigrant Peter Brimelow, who in 1999 would go on to found the anti-immigrant hate site VDARE.com and author of Alien Nation, a book that argued America should remain white-dominated.
In a discussion about Alien Nation on Aug. 5, 1996, Stein asked Brimelow whether “America’s social and economic elites seem to be writing off the whole idea of the nation-state.” He added: “If they shift their loyalty from the nation-state, what are they loyal to?” Brimelow argued that these same elites are creating the “greatest transformation of any independent state in history” by bringing in “new minority groups that did not exist before.” Brimelow considered these elites to be “treasonous,” people who “hate our traditional culture and they see immigration as a weapon to help destroy it.” “Are they really patriots?” Brimelow asked.
On pro-immigration conservatives, Brimelow claimed that they had been traumatized by the civil rights movement in the 1960s and now support “the idea of the current [non-racist] immigration policy” mostly “so they can demonstrate repeatedly to themselves that they are not really prejudiced.” In another segment, Brimelow said, “they are constantly repressing deep racial feelings.”
Stein asked Brimelow to talk more about his statement “race is destiny in American politics.” Brimelow did, saying, “you really alter the texture of the country by bringing in different ethnic groups.” Endorsing the invasion theory, Brimelow told one caller, “you have areas of South Texas and so on that have essentially gone back to Mexico.” Stein later asked Brimelow whether this all meant “the end of the United States?” Brimelow’s answer: “Sure.”
Sometimes, “Borderline” took up the message of its network. On July 15, 1996, William Lind, a close ally of Weyrich’s who worked at his Free Congress Foundation, was interviewed by Stein. Arguing that education had turned into “indoctrination,” Lind said that “cultural Marxism” was destroying American society. When prompted by Stein’s suggestion that American elites were against “Americanization,” Lind argued that “a country [like the U.S.] that becomes multicultural breaks up and fights … [is] a prescription for Bosnia. It is extremely dangerous.” Lind went on, saying, “The first thing we need to re-Americanize is America. The problem is that our elites are hostile to our own American culture” and see “immigration as a weapon to destroy it.” He added: “America is turning more and more into a Third World country.” (Lind has given similar speeches before, most notably in 2002 when he gave a speech about cultural Marxism to a conference put on by the Holocaust denial publication, The Barnes Review.)
Interestingly, the one videotape that seemed to be missing from the files aired on Sept. 30, 1996 and featured prominent white nationalist Jared Taylor, whom Tanton gave money to personally to start up American Renaissance, which throws occasional conferences that are important gatherings on the country’s white supremacist scene. The show’s topic was the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, which overturned the Immigration Act of 1924 and allowed non-whites to emigrate to the U.S. without being subjected to a racist national origins quota system.
The Southern Poverty Law Center lists FAIR as a hate group for reasons including its accepting of funds from the racist Pioneer Fund. Other reasons include Stein’s bigoted views, the participation of some of its officials in white supremacist groups, bigots on the board, and some of its television programming. For a brief summation of this reasoning, please go here.