Monday, June 23, 2008

Eugenics and Nativism: Joined at the Hip

Racism and Xenophobia

The Federation for American Immigration Reform ('”FAIR”) received a good deal of negative publicity after it was disclosed that it had received most of its start-up money from nonprofit Pioneer Fund foundation. The Pioneer Fund has a long history of promoting eugenics and giving funding to researchers who champion white supremacist causes. As well, the Pioneer Fund has provided money to a variety of anti-immigrant causes. The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League have both condemned FAIR and the Pioneer Fund as promoting racist hate views. Most critically for the present discussion is the role of eugenics and immigration. Eugenics is broadly defined as follows:

Eugenics: Literally, meaning normal genes, eugenics aims to improve the genetic constitution of the human species by selective breeding. The use of Albert Einstein's sperm to conceive a child (by artificial insemination) would represent an attempt at positive eugenics. The Nazis notoriously engaged in negative eugenics by genocide.

The word "eugenics" was coined by Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911) to denote scientific endeavors to increase the proportion of persons with better than average genetic endowment through selective mating of marriage partners.

The practice of eugenics was first legally mandated in the United States in the state of Indiana, resulting in the forcible sterilization, incarceration, and occasionally euthanasia of the mentally or physically handicapped, the mentally ill, and ethnic minorities (particularly people of mixed racial heritage), and the adopting out of their children to non-disabled, Caucasian parents. Similar programs spread widely in the early part of the twentieth century, and still exist in some parts of the world. It is important to note that no experiment in eugenics has ever been shown to result in measurable improvements in human health. In fact, in the best known attempt at positive eugenics, the Nazi "Lebensborn" program, there was a higher-than- normal level of birth defects among the resulting offspring.

Eugenics, notorious for its association with the enactment of the Nazi Nuremberg laws, which led inevitably to the holocaust, was largely born in the United States. The Pioneer Fund played a large role in the promulgation of eugenics based laws in the United States. These laws forced the sterilization of thousands and banned interracial marriage. States (27) that had sterilization laws still on the books (though not all were still in use) in 1956 were: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah,Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin. In fact, the Nuremberg laws were largely shaped by eugenics laws and anti-miscegenation laws from the United States.

During the first decades of the century… major political figures such as Henry Cabot Lodge had unblushingly defended Anglo-Saxonism, the superiority of the “original” American stock. The eugenics movement flourished in these years. Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson embraced racist theories; Henry Adams, Henry James, the president of Harvard, and other cultural heavyweights did the same. Many key members of the new generation of social scientists, including E.A. Ross and John R. Commons, doubted the intellectual capacity of racial and ethnic minorities. These pioneers in sociology and economics provided additional authority to nativists’ arguments. As late as the early 1920s, when the prominent social psychologist William McDougall proposed a racist interpretation of history based on the results of intelligence tests, when Madison Grant’s The Passing of the Great Race and Lothrop Stoddard’s The Rising Tide of Color found a wide audience of college-trained readers for their racist theories, the “genetic case” for nativism remained a position that could be defended in rational discourse. (“The Party of Fear: The American Far Right from Nativism to the Militia Bovement,”David H. Bennett (Vintage Books 1988) p. 283)

Eugenicists generally hold that certain people (mostly northern-hemisphere Caucasians) are superior in a variety of qualities to other people (mostly non-Caucasians and non-Anglos such as Jews). The latter are said, by eugenicists, to be innately inferior. Eugenicists, therefore believe that the inferior members of the human species must be controlled by a variety of methods ranging from birth control to sterilization and, in extreme cases, extermination. The superior members of the species must, in turn, be encouraged to breed and must not sundry their superior genes by association with inferior members (miscegenation or race-mixing). Given that the Nazis carried these programs to their logical conclusion, the mass extermination of inferior human beings, eugenics has come to be viewed as scientifically indefensible and morally repugnant.

"American intelligence will be more rapid than the decline of the intelligence of European national groups, owing to the presence of the negro..."

A natural extension of the eugenicist view is that the superior members of the species should not be outnumbered by the inferior members. In order to prevent an influx of inferior members, eugenicists promote measures to prohibit or sharply curtail immigration. Such measures found voice in the restrictive and racist Immigration and Restriction Act of 1924. The Act sharply curtailed immigration by countries with undesirable members like immigrants from Latin Countries, Eastern Europe, Russia and Jews. “The [Immigration and Restriction Act of] 1924 act, following a barrage of eugenicist propaganda, reset the quotas at 2 percent of people from each nation recorded in the 1890 census (Southern and eastern Europeans arrived in relatively small numbers before then)… Cynical, but effective. “America must be kept American,” proclaimed Calvin Coolidge as he signed the bill.” ( (“The Mismeasure of Man,”Stephen Jay Gould, p. 262) As stated by one of the eugenicist social scientists who backed race and national origin restrictions on immigration:

The decline of American intelligence will be more rapid than the decline of the intelligence of European national groups, owing to the presence of the negro. These are the plain, if somewhat ugly, facts that our study shows. The deterioration of American intelligence is not inevitable, however, if public action can be aroused to prevent it. There is no reason why legal steps should not be taken which would insure a continuously upward evolution.

The steps that should be taken to preserve or increase our present intellectual capacity must of course be dictated by science and not by political expediency. Immigration should not only be restrictive but highly selective. And the revision of the immigration and naturalization laws will only afford a slight relief from our present difficulty. The really important steps are those looking toward the prevention of the continued propagation of defective strains in the present population. (Brigham 1923) (“The Mismeasure of Man,”Stephen Jay Gould, p. 260)

The Pioneer Fund, which almost exclusively funded FAIR in its early years, was instrumental in promoting eugenicist views and the enactment of eugenicist laws. Harry Hamilton Laughlin, a Pioneer Fund president, was a life-long eugenicist, who was part of the Eugenic Research Association (“ERO”), a government project that promoted eugenics laws among the states.

A preoccupation with controlling migration was just one of the habits that FAIR founder, Laughlin and his fellow immigration restrictionists shared with Adolf Hitler

From the time he moved to New York in 1910 until his death in 1943, Laughlin committed himself to a search for patterns of bad heredity or “dysgenesis.” Even more impressive than the abundance of statistical material collected during Laughlin’s research was his success in translating the implications of eugenical theory into law. The ruling passions of his career as a eugenicist were immigration restriction, eugenic sterilization, and prohibition of interracial marriage.

Laughlin’s efforts at immigration restriction included an attempt to survey every public charitable institution or mental hospital in American. He combined those data with material on the number of foreign-born persons in jails, prisons, and reformatories to provide a basis for testimony to Congress as its appointed “Expert Eugenics Agent.” Reflecting in large part Laughlin’s testimony, Congress passed the Immigration Restriction Act of 1924, which was consciously drawn to block the flow of Jews and Italians from 1900 to 1920.

Hitler praised the racist features of American immigration legislation in Mein Kampf even before he came to power. He condemned the automatic grant of citizenship, extended indiscriminately to “every Jewish or Polish, African or Asiatic child” born in Germany as “thoughtless” and “hare-brained.” America, “by simply excluding certain races from naturalization,” was making “slow beginnings” toward a vision Hitler could support. A preoccupation with controlling migration was just one of the habits that Laughlin and his fellow immigration restrictionists shared with Adolf Hitler. "The American Breed" (“The American Breed”: Nazi Eugenics and the Origins of the Pioneer Fund, by Paul A. Lombardo, J.D., Ph.D., Albany Law Review (2002) (emphasis added)).

Today’s nativist agenda is no different than the one that animated the nativists who helped enact the restrictive 1924 immigration act. Nor is there a difference in the latent racism inherent in such views. “Earlier generations of Americans knew that in most cases, what are now called Third World populations, by their very nature, are temperamentally different from the European Christians who settled North America, fashioned the United States, devised its system of laws, and fathered its free institutions. .. We must never, never, never shrink back in craven fear of the imbecilic words that our adversaries hurl at us -- "racist," "bigot," "fascist," and such rubbish ” Father James Thornton

Tanton had the Social Contract Press translate, publish and promote The Camp of the Saints, a starkly racist apocalyptic novel

John Tanton, perhaps more than any other person, is the architect of the modern nativist movement. In a recent article, Tanton, who rarely grants interviews, forthrightly admitted as such:

The success of U.S. English taught Tanton a crucial lesson. If the immigration restriction movement was to succeed, it would have to be rooted in an emotional appeal to those who felt that their country, their language, their very identity was under assault. “Feelings,” Tanton says in a tone reminiscent of Spock sharing some hard-won insight on human behavior, “trump facts.

More than anyone, Tanton served as the liaison between the “mainstream” anti-immigration movement, whose arguments were still rooted in population and job concerns, and its natural allies on the far right, who saw an epic struggle to maintain America’s national and racial character. He courted mainstream conservative donors, like the Scaife family, as well as the fringe Pioneer Fund, whose current president argues that blacks are genetically less intelligent than whites. He had the Social Contract Press translate, publish and promote The Camp of the Saints, a starkly racist apocalyptic novel about a wave of Indian immigrants overrunning France. In 1996, Tanton coauthored The Immigration Invasion with Wayne Lutton, who sits on the advisory board of a publication put out by the white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens. Editor of the Social Contract Press since 1998, Lutton now occupies an office just a few feet from Tanton’s.

Though he plays the victim, Tanton wants it both ways: harnessing the political power that comes from tapping into nativist grievances and building bridges with outright racists, while at the same time dismissing any of the negative consequences that might come from such partnerships. Perhaps Tanton shares the views of his allies, or perhaps he simply understands that if what people like Taylor euphemistically call “cultural” issues were taken out of the equation, there wouldn’t be the same flood of phone calls to senators. “If the 12 million illegal immigrants in this country were all good-looking, English-speaking, white people,” Taylor told me, “the opposition to illegal immigration would be considerably less.”

Aside from Tanton, the other person most identified with what is euphemistically called “white nationalism” but is in reality “white supremacy” is the British expatriate, Peter Brimelow. Brimelow penned the anti-immigrant book, Alien Nation and founded the forthrightly racist website Brimelow has stated that the United States is a white Protestant country and that it must keep its whie character by sharply limiting immigration of non-whites. Among the racists that Brimelow regularly features on his VDare and who also contribute to John Tanton, periodical, The Social Contract, are the following:

Steve Sailer

Jared Taylor

Kevin MacDonald

Daniel Seligman and Arthur Jensen

Geoffrey Sampson "There's Nothing Wrong with Racism"

The founder, chief ideologue and long-time funder of FAIR is a racist. Key staff members have ties to white supremacist groups, some are members, and some have spoken at hate group functions. FAIR has accepted more than $1 million from a racist foundation devoted to studies of race and IQ, and to eugenics

John Tanton and Peter Brimelow, despite being racist extremists, are not marginal figures in American politics. Tanton’s organization, FAIR, testifies often before Congress and it is regularly quoted in the mainstream press. Brimelow has been affiliated with The National Review and was a journalist for Forbes magazine. Both Tanton and Brimelow are regulars on the talk show circuit and their cronies are regularly featured on the right-wing cable “news” shows. Each has made racist statements but it is Brimelow who pushes a far right agenda that explicitly embraces racism and anti-Semitism. These extreme views have constantly challenged organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch and the Anti-Defamation League. In a recent posting on SPLC’s website, they articulated their reasoning behind listing FAIR as a hate group.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is almost certainly the most-quoted immigration restriction organization in America. … In the past six years, FAIR officials have testified at least 30 times to Congress. Day in and day out, FAIR is taken seriously as a mainstream commentator on the immigration debate…

The founder, chief ideologue and long-time funder of FAIR is a racist. Key staff members have ties to white supremacist groups, some are members, and some have spoken at hate group functions. FAIR has accepted more than $1 million from a racist foundation devoted to studies of race and IQ, and to eugenics — the pseudo-science of breeding a better human race that was utterly discredited by the Nazi euthanasia program. It spreads racist conspiracy theories. Its political ads have caused numerous politicians, Democratic and Republican, to denounce it.

Much of this has been known for years. But last February [2007], underlining the way that FAIR does business, its leaders met with the leaders of Vlaams Belang — a hastily renamed Belgian party that under a prior appellation, Vlaams Blok, was officially banned by the Belgian Supreme Court as a racist and xenophobic group. It was, for some, a final straw — the Rubicon of hate, as it were. When FAIR officials met with Vlaams Belang leaders to seek their “advice” on immigration, we decided to take another look at FAIR. When our work was done, it was obvious that FAIR qualified as a hate group.

The identification of FAIR as a bona fide hate group is important. FAIR is the hub of the American nativist movement, the group that more than any other has contributed to the rancid turn the national immigration discussion has taken. With FAIR fanning the flames of xenophobic intolerance, hate groups, hate crimes and hate speech directed at foreigners and Latinos continue to rise in America.

It cannot be gainsaid that FAIR, NumbersUSA, VDare and the coterie of anti-immigrant organizations have an agenda which is larger than merely restricting immigration. Nativist writers such as Steve Sailer, Jared Taylor and Kevin MacDonald fervently believe that blacks are of inferior intellect, that Jews are controlling the media and that the white race should be protected from nonwhites. Their ideology is exactly the same ideology that led to the Nazi Nuremberg laws. They have used immigration as a gateway to the mainstream, witness Lou Dobbs, Bill O’Reilly, Glen Beck and Sean Hannity preaching their gospel of hate to millions every single night. Unless and until these modern day eugenicists are marginalized, the way David Duke and the Aryan Nation have been marginalized, these extremists will continue to influence public policy to the peril of a great many Americans.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What you have said, regarding FAIR, is also applicable to other organizations, such as the Sierra Club and Planned Parenthood, whose founders have strong ties to the eugenics movement.

[And by the way, Dr. Tanton has also held major leadership positions in those organizations, as well as Zero Population Growth (now "Population Connection") and the Audubon Society.]

And with respect to FAIR's founding, the seed money actually came from the prestigious Mott Foundation.

From 1982 to 1994 was when FAIR received grants from the Pioneer Fund. It is true that those involved in the formation of the Pioneer Fund had reprehensible views. But the same is true for the Ford Foundation (from which organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center - which you've cited extensively above - derive much of their funding).

Here is a partial list of organizations that have also accepted grants from the Pioneer Fund - they include major universities and medical facilities. Are all of those organizations also "hate groups"?

With respect to FAIR - It is a broad-based organization, with leaders who range from liberal to conservative, and elsewhere in between. Scroll down here for a partial list of those who've worked with FAIR, or served on their National Advisory Board.

As you can see, they include prominent leaders in the civil rights, environmentalist, abortion-rights, and labor movements. Some conservatives have pointed out the liberal leadership of FAIR.

Furthermore, some of the people who have worked with FAIR were also, at the same time, working with the SPLC.

*** Perhaps that's why it took the SPLC 27 years to label FAIR as a "hate group."

The issue of immigration is so multi-faceted, that there are liberals and conservatives on both sides.

It is fine to disagree, but the Godwin-istic comparisons to Hilter and the Nazi's are very inappropriate.

Many of these people, involved in FAIR and NumbersUSA, have dedicated their lives to advocating for civil rights - and any comparison to "David Duke" and "Aryan Nation" is highly-inappropriate, and extremely offensive.