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The FAIR Files: Attacks On Multiculturalism Will Help

In 1991, Dan Stein of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) sent a report to his board of directors under the subject line: “The Defenders of American culture Rise to the Call to Arms.” In the memo, which is archived at George Washington University’s Gelman Library, Stein, who was then FAIR's executive director and today is the organization’s president, celebrated a new “disdain” in the media and among intellectuals for “the political agenda of those who openly attack the contributions of Western Civilization.” He was particularly happy that “multicultural and Politically Correct” school curricula had come under criticism.

Stein’s report expressed the hope that mounting criticism of multiculturalism would eventually lead to attacks on the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which ended years of racist immigration policy (under a national origins quota system heavily skewed against non-whites and even darker-skinned Europeans) and initiated a wave of non-white immigration to the U.S. For Stein, the 1965 Act was “a key mistake in national policy” and a “source of error.”

Stein is not the only key FAIR leader concerned that today’s immigrants are harmful to Western civilization. FAIR founder and board member John Tanton has repeatedly made the argument that a declining white population will end in American cultural ruin. In a Dec. 10, 1993, letter to Garrett Hardin, a controversial ecology professor, he said: “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.” On Jan. 26, 1996, he wrote Roy Beck, head of the immigration-restrictionist group NumbersUSA (and then an employee of Tanton's foundation U.S. Inc.), questioning whether Latinos were capable of governing California. Referring to the changing demographics in California’s public schools, Tanton wondered “whether the minorities who are going to inherit California (85% of the lower-grade school children are now 'minorities' — demography is destiny) can run an advanced society?”

Tanton went so far as to propose creating a “League for European-American Defense, Education and Research” or, to use Tanton’s acronym, LEADERs. LEADERs would defend “ourselves and our tradition against attacks,” counter “the denigration of Western culture” which Tanton wrote is “under siege,” and stop the “reduction of the European-American demographic and cultural majority to minority status.”

The way back to that promised land, apparently, is to erase the legacy of the 1965 Act. As shown in Tanton’s correspondence, which is stored at the Bentley Historical Library at University of Michigan, the FAIR founder is a big fan of the Immigration Act of 1924, which kept the vast majority of non-whites from immigration to the U.S. In a Nov. 3, 1995, memo to Stein and the entire FAIR board of advisers, Tanton mocked the idea that the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned Chinese immigration to the U.S. and ultimately was subsumed into the 1924 Act, was racist. He also defended the infamous “White Australia” policy that restricted non-white immigration into that country from 1901 to 1973, saying it was not racist, but intended to protect native-born labor. The Australians disagreed, passing the 1975 Racial Discrimination Act to outlaw racially based immigration quotas in the island nation.

Tanton has long lionized a principal architect of the 1924 Act, John B. Trevor Sr., a man with a seriously unsavory past. In the pre-World War II period, Trevor distributed pro-Nazi propaganda, drew up plans to crush uprisings of “Jewish subversives,” and warned shrilly of “diabolical Jewish control” of America. In addition to founding the anti-immigrant American Coalition of Patriotic Societies, Trevor was an adviser to the extreme-right, anti-Catholic Christian Crusade of Billy James Hargis, who regularly referred to the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence as Communist documents.

No matter. Tanton has sent Trevor’s unpublished autobiography about his efforts to pass the 1924 Act to numerous friends, including, on Nov. 21, 2001, FAIR board member Donald Collins, who posts frequently on the racist website In a cover letter, Tanton told Collins that the work of Trevor should serve FAIR as “a guidepost to what we must follow again this time.”

One FAIR principal who wasn’t as optimistic as Stein in believing that attacks on multiculturalism signaled the beginning of the end for the 1965 law was Otis Graham Jr., who helped Tanton establish FAIR and now serves on the board of the Center for Immigration Studies, which was once part of FAIR. In a letter dated “97-98” in the Gelman archives, Graham told the FAIR board: “[W]e must remember history. The first immigration reform movement grew out of the 1880s and thus took 40 years to achieve success. And even with much agitation and publication and many groups, the reform movement still needed outside, ‘divine’ help,” which Otis identified as a world war, the Russian Revolution, and labor unrest.

What disasters does Graham suggest it will take this time? “Whatever FAIR does, we need help: an economic downturn or depression, disease from abroad, terrorist attacks on the U.S., Chinese or Haitian boats on the beaches, and much more.” Bring on the apocalypse.

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