The New York Times ran a good front-page story yesterday that detailed the racism of John Tanton, the architect of the modern anti-immigration movement, something we have been writing about since 2002 (here, here and here). But the Times' story gave the organizations Tanton founded, including the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a bit of a pass, implying that charges of racism against them turned almost entirely on their association with Tanton. The truth of the matter is that, particularly in the case of FAIR, the organizational apple has not fallen far from the founder's tree.
Dan Stein, FAIR's president, has his own notorious history of racism. He has repeatedly attacked the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 – enacted, in President Lyndon B. Johnson's words, to end the "harsh injustice" of our country's then-racist immigration quota system – as a disaster for Western civilization and Anglo-Saxon dominance. In a 1994 oral history, Stein told his interviewer, Tanton, that those who supported the 1965 reform wanted to "retaliate against Anglo-Saxon dominance" and that this "revengism" against whites had created a policy that is causing "chaos and will continue to create chaos."
In a 1991 memo entitled "The Defenders of American Culture Rise to the Call to Arms," Stein said he hoped that mounting criticism of multiculturalism would eventually lead to attacks on the 1965 Act, which he called "a key mistake in national policy" and a "source of error."
Like Tanton, Stein takes a dim view of today's immigrants. He has warned that immigrants are engaged in "competitive breeding" aimed at diminishing white power and that "[m]any of them hate America, hate everything the United States stands for." Stein led FAIR's efforts to win funding from the racist Pioneer Fund, which promotes the idea that whites are genetically superior, saying in 1993 that his "job [was] to get every dime of Pioneer's money." Bizarrely, FAIR describes the fund on its website as supporting "equal opportunity for all Americans."
Stein also served as editorial adviser to The Social Contract, a nativist hate journal published by Tanton, when it ran a particularly virulent special issue that was entitled, "Europhobia: The Hostility Toward European-Descended Americans." The lead article argued that multiculturalism was replacing "successful Euro-American culture" with "dysfunctional Third World cultures."
Other FAIR leaders have participated in racist groups. Rick Oltman, FAIR's longtime western regional coordinator, spoke as part of a 1997 immigration panel put on by the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), a hate group that has described black people as a "retrograde species of humanity." CCC publications at the time listed Oltman as a member. The FAIR official who followed Oltman in his position, Joseph Turner, was on record before joining FAIR as saying that being a white separatist did not imply a person was racist. Jim Staudenraus, FAIR's eastern regional coordinator, participated in an anti-immigration conference in 2002 with Jared Taylor, a prominent white nationalist and friend of John Tanton. In 2007, a senior FAIR official met with leaders of Vlaams Belang, a Belgian political party that officials in that country outlawed in a previous incarnation (Vlaams Blok) as a "criminal organization" because of its racist anti-immigrant views.
FAIR's board also has extremist connections. FAIR board member Donald Collins writes frequently for VDARE.com, a nativist website named after Virginia Dare, said to have been the first English child born in the New World. (VDARE is dedicated to bashing immigrants and has published the work of many white nationalists and anti-Semites.) Collins' articles have focused on attacking the Catholic Church for its liberal stance on immigration. One accused Los Angeles Archbishop Roger Mahony of selling out his country "in exchange for more temporal power and glory." Another claimed bishops were "infiltrating and manipulating the American political process" to dismantle the separation of church and state — the classic calumny directed at American Catholics for decades by the Klan and others. Another person linked to VDARE is Joe Guzzardi, a member of FAIR's board of advisors who has worked as an editor of the site. Other members of FAIR's board of directors have offered similar sentiments. Former Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm once said that "new cultures" in America were "diluting what we are and who we are."
Although Stein tried to imply otherwise in his interview with the Times, Tanton remains a force at FAIR, where he is on the board of directors. In its 2004 annual report, FAIR praised Tanton for "visionary qualities that have not waned one bit." In 2009, FAIR President Dan Stein told the Washington Post that Tanton is a "Renaissance man" of wide-ranging "intellect." Tanton is also on the board of Pro English and continues to publish the Social Contract.
For more details on FAIR's extremism, which includes racist anti-immigrant television programming and the dissemination of anti-immigrant propaganda, please read here.
Given FAIR's views of immigrants, it is not surprising that FAIR's latest efforts have been to pass punishing anti-immigrant legislation at the local and state levels. At the local level, these efforts have led to racial strife and bankrupted communities. The SPLC has documented these effects in our report "When Mr. Kobach Comes to Town: Nativist Laws and the Communities They Damage." Kris Kobach is a lawyer for FAIR's legal arm, the Immigration Reform Law Institute.
At the state level, FAIR is a partner to State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI), which hopes to pass anti-immigrant laws. The group, founded in 2007 and filled with legislators holding extremist views, is rabidly anti-immigrant. It attributes to "illegal aliens" what it describes as "[i]ncreasingly documented incidences of homicide, identity theft, property theft, serious infectious diseases, drug running, gang violence, human trafficking, terrorism and growing cost to taxpayers." Its founder, Republican Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, writes on SLLI's website that "the personal and economic safety" of all Americans is threatened by "the ongoing invasion of illegal aliens" and compares the situation to that facing the settlers during the American Revolution. SLLI and FAIR have this year devoted themselves to gutting the 14th Amendment's promise of birthright citizenship. The amendment was approved in the aftermath of the Civil War to guarantee citizenship to all persons born in this country. FAIR and its allies are willing to undermine that crucial part of the Constitution to further their anti-immigrant agenda.
For more information about other Tanton-created organizations with anti-immigrant track records mentioned in the Times' story, please read our profiles of NumbersUSA and the Center for Immigration Studies.