Opposition to immigration and immigration reform efforts, and the visibility and “respectability” given to overtly anti-immigrant rhetoric in mainstream media, has been good business for white supremacists and other right-wing hate groups.
An October 2008 story in USA Today examined the ways in which the “white-power movement is changing its marketing strategy to broaden its appeal.” The article quotes neo-Nazi leaders saying that the economic downturn and the most recent debates about immigration were good for recruiting. Here’s the head of the nation’s largest neo-Nazi group speaking:
“Historically, when times get tough in our nation, that’s how movements like ours gain a foothold,” he says, “When the economy suffers, people are looking for answers….We are the answer for white people.”
“And now this immigrant thing in the past couple of years has been the biggest boon to us,” [he] says. “The immigration issue is the biggest problem we’re facing because it’s changing the face of our country. We see stuff in English and Spanish….They are turning our country into a Third World ghetto.”
Not surprisingly, anti-immigrant commentary by pundits like Pat Buchanan shows up on websites that traffic in “white nationalist” commentary. The Anti-Defamation League has documented that white supremacist groups have encouraged members to support the efforts of supposedly mainstream groups like ALI-PAC, Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee.
Buchanan’s own American Cause conference last summer brought a mix of Religious Right and conservative political leaders together with people like anti-immigrant author Peter Brimelow, who said after the 2008 elections that Republicans should focus on winning white voters and predicted that Obama will do something “that will start to shock people right away. I think that whites — that is to say, Americans — will organize. … I think immigration will become an issue and it will become an important part of that organization process.”
Of course not all opponents of comprehensive immigration reform are racists or white supremacists. But in fact there is not much difference between the above-quoted rhetoric from the far fringe and what is heard regularly from anti-immigrant cable news pundits with columns in right-wing publications
And many of the groups that provide newspaper and television commentary, and congressional testimony, have their own troubling origins and connections to “white nationalists.”
The Federation for American Immigration Reform, the Center for Immigration Studies, and NumbersUSA – respectively a lobbying group, a think tank, and a grassroots organizing vehicle — are all, in the words of the Southern Poverty Law Center, “fruits of the same poisonous tree.” All were created by John Tanton, a man with “deep racist roots,” who has been “at the heart of the white nationalist scene.”
“Together, FAIR, CIS, and NumbersUSA form the core of the nativist lobby in America. In 2007, they were key players in derailing bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform that had been expected by many observers to pass. Today, these organizations are frequently treated as if they were legitimate, mainstream commentators on immigration. But the truth is that they were all conceived and birthed by a man who sees America under threat by non-white immigrants. And they have never strayed from their roots.”
Tanton says such criticism is unfair, and describes himself as an environmentalist, but his record and rhetoric is well-documented. He has repeatedly described contemporary immigrants as inferior. He has questioned the “educability” of Latinos and in a letter to Roy Beck, head of NumbersUSA, he wondered “whether the minorities who are going to inherit California … can run an advanced society?”
Tanton is also the publisher of Social Contract Press, whose editor is Wayne Lutton, who the Rocky Mountain News reported has been on the advisory board of the segregationist Council of Conservative Citizens. (It’s worth noting that even then-Republican National Committee Chair Jim Nicholson called the CCC racist in 1999 and urged Republicans to quit the group.) Lutton has “written articles for the Journal of Historical Review, published by the Holocaust-denial group Institute for Historical Review, though according to the SPLC, Lutton’s articles haven’t dealt with Holocaust denial, but with other World War II issues.
Social Contract produces a journal that promotes racialist writers and publishes and promotes books opposing immigration, such as America Extinguished: Mass Immigration and the Disintegration of American Culture, by the late Samuel Francis. Francis was fired from the Washington Times in 1995 after appearing at an American Renaissance conference and giving a speech denouncing miscegenation, decrying a “war against the white race” and insisting that whites must ” reassert our identity and our solidarity, and we must do so in explicitly racial terms through the articulation of a racial consciousness as whites .”
Lutton has also spoken at an American Renaissance conference, organized by American Renaissance editor Jared Taylor, an unabashed white nationalist who this month announced the February 2010 conference with fanfare that concluded this way:
Perhaps it is because we have a black president, or perhaps because immigration is now spreading from the coasts to every part of the country, but unprecedented numbers of whites are coming out of their coma and beginning to realize where our country is heading. The result is energy, ideas, activism, and commitment on a far greater scale than at any time in the 20 years since American Renaissance began publishing.
These are still very dark times in America. But the movement to speak out in the name of our nation’s founding stock—to put our house back in order—is building up to critical mass. It helps, of course, that we have history, morality, and human nature all on our side.