John Tanton, the white nationalist and eugenicist founder of 3 leading anti-immigration groups, died yesterday.
To gain even more authority, Tanton founded CIS to act as an independent-seeming “think tank” that could produce research with a “greater appearance of objectivity,” in the words of FAIR President Dan Stein. This approach helped the media and policymakers embrace its work.
By establishing FAIR, CIS and other groups, Tanton created an anti-immigration ecosystem that was otherwise absent in Washington and in the media. Newspapers published editorials that reflected FAIR’s thinking about immigration as a “flood” or “onslaught,” and then FAIR quickly sent copies to all members of Congress, creating the sense that there was consensus supporting restriction.
What was true for Congress was also true for journalism. While mainstream outlets such as “The Today Show” didn’t want to give fringe views a platform, they were happy to book staff from Tanton’s groups to come on the air and explain why the United States should turn immigrants away. These men wore suits and spoke authoritatively about complex legal issues. While the actual policy options were far more complicated than “restriction” vs. “open borders,” the public came to understand the issue in narrow, skewed terms.
Perhaps John never appreciated fully at the outset how public would be the recognition of his work, nor how unfairly those who feared him would seek to destroy his legacy. He was a victim of his unanticipated success. He never accepted these harsh statements about him – his mind wasn’t built to understand the unprincipled, the self-interested and the unethical.
John was a gentle soul who merely wanted to ensure we had the vital conversations that would allow future generations to judge that we acted properly at the time when it mattered most. He deserves an honest assessment by those seeking an honest history. He was a gift to the nation and he will be sorely missed.
In order to make your own “honest assessment”, we at IDEAL would ask you to merely read Tanton’s own words that neither Tanton nor the groups he sponsored–FAIR, CIS, and Numbers USA ever denounced.
FAIR, CIS and Numbers USA have their roots in white supremacy and they continue to advocate for an agenda that serves those ends. They should not be an acceptable part of the immigration debate. More on this to come.
Let us not forget these groups supported and defended Tanton until the very end.