Monday, December 31, 2007

Nativism's Racist Proponents Exposed

In an extremely well-researched piece, Heidie Beirich (Where Anti-Immigrant Zealots Like Lou Dobbs Get Their 'Facts' - exposes the racist strain that informs the "respected" advocates of anti-immigrant hysteria such as the organization Federation for American Immigration Reform ("FAIR") which is often quoted in mainstream media such as the New York Times or National Public Radio. Beirich dissects the tangle of neo-Nazis who populate seemingly mainstream anti-immigrant organizations.

At the center of the Tanton web is the nonprofit Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the most important organization fueling the backlash against immigration. Founded by Tanton in 1979, FAIR has long been marked by anti-Latino and anti-Catholic attitudes. It has mixed this bigotry with a fondness for eugenics, the idea of breeding better humans discredited by its Nazi associations. It has accepted $1.2 million from an infamous, racist eugenics foundation. It has employed officials in key positions who are also members of white supremacist groups. Recently, it has promoted racist conspiracy theories about Mexico's secret designs on the American Southwest and an alternative theory alleging secret plans to merge the United States, Mexico and Canada. Just last February, FAIR President Dan Stein sought "advice" from the leaders of a racist Belgian political party.

FAIR, which has consistently been treated as a mainstream advocacy group is rife with eugenitist nuts:

Probably the best-known evidence of FAIR's extremism is its acceptance of funds from a notorious, New York City-based hate group, the Pioneer Fund. In the mid-1980s, when FAIR's budgets were still in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, the group reached out to Pioneer Fund, which was established in 1937 to promote the racial stock of the original colonists, finance studies of race and intelligence, and foster policies of "racial betterment." (Pioneer has concentrated on studies meant to show that blacks are less intelligent than whites, but it has also backed nativist groups like ProjectUSA, run by former FAIR board member Craig Nelsen.)

Marginal extremist groups are identified as such in most media, however, such is not the case with FAIR and other anti-immigrant groups. The problem is that such groups hijack the seemingly legitimate fears of otherwise rational citizens for their racist agenda. While a portion of the U.S. population is racist many who have been duped into supporting organizations like FAIR do not realize the contribution to organizations that preach hatred.

Hiring Haters

In late 2006, FAIR hired as its western field representative, a key organizing position, a man named Joseph Turner. Turner was likely attractive to FAIR because he wrote what turned out to be a sort of model anti-illegal immigrant ordinance for the city of San Bernardino, Calif. Based on Turner's work, FAIR wrote a version of the law that is now promoted to many other cities. (The law almost certainly violates the Constitution, but that has not stopped many municipalities' interest.)

Turner made one of his more controversial remarks, amounting to a defense of white separatism. "I can make the argument that just because one believes in white separatism that that does not make them a racist," Turner wrote in 2005. "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." The Southern Poverty Law Center has listed Save Our State as a hate group since it appeared in 2005.

Turner's predecessor in the FAIR organizing post, Rick Oltman, was cut from the same cloth. Oltman has been described as a member of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) in the publications of that hate group, which is directly descended from the segregationist White Citizens Councils and has described blacks as "a retrograde species of humanity."

Lou Dobbs and most of the Republican presidential field give such racism a rational face. Unfortunately, many do not realize that they are been recruited to advance a racist agenda that would do the NAZIs’ proud. Such is the state of discourse on immigration.

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