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New Leaders at Tanton’s Nativist Network, But Not New Tolerance

The Social Contract magazine, the most overtly white nationalist organ of John Tanton’s network of anti-immigrant organizations, so outdid itself with its fall 2010 edition calling for a ban on Muslim immigration that even some of its readership reacted with distaste.

The 68-page volume was packed with anti-Islamic rhetoric and featured contributions from Muslim-bashers like Stop Islamization of America founder Pam Geller; right-wing attack dog Ann Coulter, who once called Islam a “car-burning cult,” and Stella Paul, who writes about Islam for the far-right magazine American Thinker, where she recently described President Obama as “rapper-in-chief.” It closed with an essay by K.C. McAlpin, who described Islam as a “hostile, intolerant, and totalitarian ideology masquerading as a religion” that “needs to be quarantined in the failed states it has already infected.”

McAlpin, who last July took a new job as a kind of successor to long-time mentor Tanton, apparently got some pushback from readers of the racist magazine — a remarkable thing, given that the journal has published such things as a special issue entitled “Europhobia: the Hostility Toward European-Descended Americans.” The issue railed against multiculturalism, arguing that it was replacing “successful Euro-American culture” with “dysfunctional Third World cultures.” The other journal principals are Wayne Lutton, a one-time member of white supremacist hate groups, and Kevin Lamb, who has written for white supremacist publications.

On Feb. 2, McAlpin posted on The Social Contract’s website a reply essay addressed to “thoughtful observers” who criticized the proposal to bar Muslims from immigrating to the U.S. (It explicitly was not addressed to “our adversaries on the far left who get a case of the vapors whenever limits on mass immigration are proposed.”) But he hardly took it back. “A ban on Muslim immigration is … a practical and necessary way to defend ourselves against the growing threat of homegrown terrorism the U.S. faces in the 21st Century,” he wrote.

McAlpin’s posture suggested that while Tanton — in his late 70s and reportedly suffering from Parkinson’s disease — may be fading from the scene, his radicalism is not. McAlpin is a long-time acolyte of Tanton’s, and until July headed a nativist group called ProEnglish, which is actually a project of U.S. Inc., the funding umbrella founded and long run by Tanton. That month, he moved to Tanton’s home state of Michigan to take over U.S. Inc., suggesting that he is, in effect, the heir to the architect of most of the contemporary anti-immigration movement. U.S. Inc. funds The Social Contract and a large number of other nativist groups.

There’s more to suggest that Tanton is essentially withdrawing from the fray. U.S. Immigration Reform PAC, another nativist funding mechanism that was long run by his wife Mary Lou (and on whose board McAlpin sits), announced in November that James Edwards would be its new manager. (Note to regular Hatewatch readers: He is not the James Edwards who runs white supremacist Political Cesspool radio show and blog.)

Edwards, who is also a legislative consultant to NumbersUSA and a fellow at Center for Immigration Studies – both of them originally Tanton creations – once served as a staffer for the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), a long-time and unrepentant segregationist who fought fiercely against civil rights legislation. He has written at least one article for The Social Contract, and has been cited or quoted in many others. In 2003, he testified before a congressional committee in favor of legislation that would enable local police agencies to enforce some federal immigration laws. Testifying alongside him was Kris Kobach, then senior counsel to the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), the legal arm of the nativist Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). (FAIR was founded by John Tanton, who remains on its board today. The Southern Poverty Law Center has listed FAIR as a hate group since 2007 because of its ties to white supremacy.) Kobach and his IRLI colleagues have been instrumental in writing and defending a series of constitutionally dubious anti-immigrant laws, including last year’s notorious S.B. 1070 in Arizona.

Earlier, in 1996, McAlpin hosted an episode of FAIR’s short-lived cable talk show “Borderline” that featured far-right columnist Sam Francis (who went on to become the editorial director of the explicitly racist Council of Conservative Citizens), along with Peter Skerry of the Brookings Institute. The topic, in McAlpin’s words, was “the relentless march against our border – is it immigration or colonization?” Predictably, Francis agreed that it was the latter. (Skerry did not, and in reward was repeatedly cut off while attempting to make his point.) In a different “Borderline” segment on “ethnic separatists,” McAlpin warned viewers that Mexicans want to reconquer the American Southwest: “This is a serious issue and a serious threat.”

ProEnglish unpersuasively masks its anti-immigration agenda with rhetoric about the importance of making English America’s official language. For instance, it opposed the DREAM Act, which would allow some undocumented youths to eventually become citizens, “because it would effectively legalize approximately 2 million illegal aliens … without specific steps requiring to prove they are English proficient.” (In fact, the act would have applied to students who had lived in the U.S. for at least five years and earned a high school diploma or equivalent – all but assuring aptitude in English). ProEnglish also opposed Puerto Rican statehood because the linguistic difference it would “endanger our nation’s unity” and “increase demands for taxpayer-funded translation and interpreter services.”

In June 2006, McAlpin and Edwards joined other far-right conservatives in signing a “Declaration opposing amnesty ‘guest worker’ proposals.” Among the signatories were Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, antigovernment “Patriot” Tom DeWeese of the conspiracy-minded American Policy Center, and a representative of Cliff Kincaid’s extreme-right Accuracy in Media. In 2008 and 2009, McAlpin’s ProEnglish poured $83,000 into a movement called Nashville English First that aimed to make Nashville the largest U.S. city with English as an official language. The proposal was defeated by voters in January 2009.

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