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Anti-immigrant law drafter extraordinaire Kris Kobach continues to play dumb about the racist organization bankrolling his efforts, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), and its founder John Tanton. In a piece published by Salon yesterday, Kobach, who is also the Kansas secretary of state, was quoted claiming that he is “not familiar with [Tanton’s] writings or his views.” He also said: “I have not done any legal work for any organization that expresses or supports racial discrimination, nor will I ever do so in the future. ”

Really, Kris?

Kobach is “of counsel” at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, the legal arm of FAIR, which the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) lists as a hate group. The reasons are multiple: FAIR has taken money from a foundation described as “neo-Nazi”; the group has employed and put on its boards members of hate groups; and its president, Dan Stein, has said that many immigrants hate America. Stein has also attacked the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act, which ended years of racist immigration quotas, as retaliation “against Anglo-Saxon dominance.”

As to Tanton, his long list of racist comments includes questioning the “educability” of Latinos and arguing that “for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.” Tanton has dabbled in anti-Semitism and even expressed hopes of taking a “politically incorrect” tour of Atlanta with a Holocaust denier. Tanton, who founded FAIR in 1979 and was long its principal ideologue, remains on the advisory board of FAIR today.

It’s not like these facts have been hidden from Kobach. The SPLC has been reporting on Tanton and FAIR’s extremism for more than a decade. Staff members at SPLC, including myself, have repeatedly contacted Kobach for comment about his relationship to FAIR and Tanton, most recently with a series of E-mails in 2010. At the time, Kobach told the newspaper at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, where he taught constitutional law, that “neither he nor members of the Immigration Reform Law Institute or Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) had been interviewed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).”

Well, he is a lawyer, and it is technically true Kobach hadn’t been interviewed. But that’s only because he refused to respond to our requests for comment. And he was just plain wrong about FAIR; I have repeatedly interviewed Dan Stein.

It seems ridiculous that Kobach would play coy like this. The fact of the matter is that many others besides SPLC have asked Kobach about his relationship to FAIR and Tanton. In a 2009 interview with The New York Times, reporter Julia Preston asked him about his work with FAIR and the SPLC’s contention that the group has ties to white nationalists. Kobach reportedly called the allegations slander and said, “I would immediately disassociate myself from any litigation that was racist in nature.” So let’s be clear here: Kobach tells Salon that he’s “not familiar” with Tanton’s views, but when he talks to the Times three years earlier, he’s familiar enough with Tanton’s views to denounce our allegations about them as slander. Hmm.

In February 2010, a reporter with the Phoenix FOX affiliate asked Kobach: “Are you troubled by any of the statements or beliefs or activities of anybody at all in FAIR?” His response: “No, I’m not.” “And,” he added, “if I encountered anyone who was in any way involved in that organization who had engaged in any kind of discrimination, I would immediately disassociate myself.”

Ah, promises, promises.

Kobach has even been pressed about his connections to FAIR by lawmakers. In a February 2010 hearing in Nebraska regarding an anti-immigrant law Kobach was pushing there, State Sen. Bill Avery asked Kobach whether he knew that the SPLC had classified his umbrella group, FAIR, as a hate group. According to immigrant rights activist Paul Olson, who was in the audience, “Kobach replied that he was indeed aware of SPLC’s classification of FAIR as a hate group—but that it was wrong.”

The connections between Kobach and Tanton run even deeper. As Politico pointed out earlier this month, a PAC run by Tanton’s wife Mary Lou has been giving Kobach money for some time. The online news source reported that Federal Election Commission files show that the U.S. Immigration Reform PAC (USIRPAC) gave Kobach $10,000 in 2003 and 2004.

And what has Kobach done for his salary at FAIR’s legal arm? He’s worked as hard as he can to throw the undocumented out of the country. Kobach wants immigrants to “self-deport” and he has gone about it by pushing legislation in several localities and states that have made life hell for legal immigrants, citizens and the undocumented alike.

The SPLC has documented the devastating results of Kobach’s activities, in terms of sowing racial divisions and bankrupting communities with legal fees, in its report, “When Mr. Kobach Comes to Town.” The latest casualty of Kobach’s efforts is Alabama, where a law he wrote, H.B. 56, was passed last year and has led to massive human rights violations as well as economic devastation. His track record is so heinous that his own state of Kansas in the last week has rebuffed his attempts to pass anti-immigrant legislation there. Kansas House Democratic Leader Paul Davis told the Lawrence paper that the more people learn about the effects of similar Kobach laws in Arizona and Alabama, “the more people shy away from the direction he wants to go.”

Let’s hope Davis is right. And maybe it’s time Kobach made good on his oft repeated promise to dissociate himself from activities and groups motivated by racism and discrimination?

Discuss

The anti-gay hate group Family Research Council (FRC) brought quite a collection of extremists to Washington, D.C., for its Values Voter Summit 2011 (VVS). According to the FRC, the event, which is being held today and tomorrow at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, has an attendance of some 3,000. It’s co-sponsored by organizations, like the American Family Association (AFA), that join the FRC in demonizing of the LGBT community. (The Southern Poverty Law Center today ran an advertisement in the Washington Post detailing these groups’ false claims about LGBT people). But bigotry toward gays and lesbians is not the only kind on display here today. Muslims took quite a beating, too.

Speakers repeatedly expressed their fears about gay marriage and the expansion of LGBT rights. In his opening remarks, FRC President Tony Perkins warned that President Obama was “redefining the family” by refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act and by repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). In a session Perkins moderated about the military, he wondered, given the repeal of DADT, who would protect those with “politically incorrect values?”

The extremism was most vivid in the main exhibit halls. Maybe the weirdest bunch in were from the American Society for Tradition, Family and Property (TFP), a self-described Catholic organization whose representatives seemed to be wearing red cloaks. The TFP table had a particularly noxious pamphlet – “10 Reasons Why Homosexual ‘Marriage’ is Harmful and Must be Opposed” – that argued that same-sex marriage “ignores a child’s best interests” and that it “turns a moral wrong into a Civil Right.” The pamphlet blamed same-sex marriage for forcing Christians to “betray their consciences by condoning … an attack on the natural order.” Another TFP pamphlet warned hysterically about the dangers of “socialism,” which, for some unknown reason, given our hyper-capitalist economy, they seem to think is on the march and targeting “traditional marriage” and “parental rights.” Anti-gay propaganda from the FRC and AFA was also on hand.

There was a table operated by the “Shariah Awareness Action Network,” a coalition that includes anti-Muslim hate groups. They were giving out material against the so-called “9/11 Mosque” – actually a Muslim cultural center run by a moderate cleric and called Park51 – that claimed “it will be a place for Islamic radicals around the world to celebrate their victory.”

The network’s representatives were hard-selling a November conference they will be holding in Nashville that will bring together members of the anti-Muslim hate group Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA) and activists from the anti-gay hate group Traditional Values Coalition. The conference promises to reveal how Shariah law, which can never exist in the U.S. given our Constitution, “poses a threat to our American way of life.” The same folks were distributing copies of WorldNetDaily, a publication best known for pushing crazy conspiracy theories and birtherism. The table for David Horowitz’ Freedom Center, which funds SIOA, had a pamphlet giving the top 10 reasons why the U.N. needs to be abolished. It claims the U.N. is in an “obsessive war against the free world.”

The AFA held the Friday luncheon. Though it was staffed by figures who are rabidly anti-gay and anti-Muslim, such as Bryan Fischer, the luncheon mostly shied away from controversy. But not entirely. The AFA’s director of social media, Don Cobb, said he had watched a full two seasons of the Fox TV program “Glee,” which urges acceptance by parents of gay children. Cobb was horrified by how engaging the show was – and by its message. “Just accept [a gay child’s] lifestyle?” Cobb asked sarcastically. “Just accept his lifestyle without thinking about him?” The implication was clear: acceptance of gay children was unacceptable.

The AFA luncheon also featured Neil Mammen, author of Jesus is Involved in Politics!: Why aren’t You? Why isn’t Your Church? Mammen repeatedly referred to President Obama as “Barack Hussein Obama” and warned repeatedly of Muslim evil toward Christians.

Public figures were on hand to add their voices to the anti-gay and anti-Muslim sentiments expressed in the literature being handed out in the exhibition hall. Freshman Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) warned the crowd ominously that “they,” whoever they are, “are trying to use the military to advance their social agenda.” Her comments came in a discussion about the recently revoked DADT policy. Hartzler has long warned against expansions of gay rights. During the Eagle Forum Collegians 2011 Summit, she delivered a speech on why young conservatives should oppose marriage equality, claiming that legalizing gay marriage is akin to legalizing pedophilia, incest and letting 3-year-olds drive a car.

Joining Hartzler on her panel was another freshman, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.). He echoed her concerns. “We cannot use our military to promote social ideas that do not reflect the values of the country,” he said.

In the afternoon session, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) mocked gay people, saying, “the most unhappy people I’ve met were those that called themselves gay.” King has repeatedly warned that gay marriage will destroy Western Civilization, an idea he repeated this afternoon. King seemed a little paranoid in his talk, referring more than once to unnamed opposition he called “they” who he claimed “will attack everything we believe in.” As with Hartzler, King didn’t say who “they” are.

Given the comments that were made and the ugliness expressed towards the LGBT and Muslim communities today, it was funny that the moderator of the event repeatedly warned those attending VV2011 to not be the “weird one.” He claimed the media wants to “provoke” values voters into saying something crazy so that they could use the comments to make the point that “this is what all Values Voters are like.” But no provocation was really needed – the weirdness was amply on display.

Discuss

In its September newsletter, the chairman of the board of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), Roy Porter, wrote a glowing paean to the group’s racist founder, John Tanton, in advance of FAIR’s Oct. 1 tribute to “John and his legacy.” Tanton played a critical role in the creation of several powerhouse anti-immigrant groups besides FAIR, including the Center for Immigration Studies and NumbersUSA, and is arguably the man most responsible for the modern nativist movement.

Porter gushed with praise for Tanton. “I’d like to express the board’s immeasurable gratitude to John, a man of extraordinary leadership ability, wisdom, courage, and compassion,” Porter wrote. In words reminiscent of those employed earlier by FAIR President Dan Stein to praise Tanton, Porter described the FAIR founder as “very much a Renaissance man, with expertise in such diverse fields as medicine, chemistry, ecology, history, literature, philosophy, politics, demography, agriculture, and land conservation.”

What’s not on Porter’s list of Tanton’s amazing abilities is racism. Nowhere is mention made of Tanton’s memos to FAIR’s board that questioned the “educability” of Latinos and warned darkly of a “Latin onslaught.” Also ignored are Tanton’s many racist comments including this 1993 gem: “I’ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.” And that’s only the beginning.

Tanton’s long record of supporting eugenics, the “science” of breeding a better human race that was utterly discredited by the Nazis, doesn’t rate a Porter mention either. In a 1996 letter, Tanton wrote: “Do we leave it to individuals to decide that they are the intelligent ones who should have more kids? And more troublesome, what about the less intelligent, who logically should have less? Who is going to break the bad news [to less intelligent individuals], and how will it be implemented?” At one point in the mid-1990s, Tanton even tried to create his own eugenics outfit, the Society for Genetic Education or SAGE.

It gets worse. No mention is made of how Tanton introduced key FAIR leaders to the president of the Pioneer Fund, a white supremacist group set up to encourage “race betterment,” at a 1997 meeting at a private club. Tanton also wrote a major far-right funder to encourage her to read the work of a radical anti-Semitic professor — to “give you a new understanding of the Jewish outlook on life” — and suggested that the entire FAIR board discuss the professor’s theories on the Jews. He revered a principal architect of the Immigration Act of 1924, instituting a national origin quota system and barring Asian immigration — a rabid anti-Semite whose pro-Nazi American Coalition of Patriotic Societies was indicted for sedition in 1942. Tanton even arranged for his hero’s private papers to be stored in the same library as his at the University of Michigan.

And what of Tanton’s racist connections? Tanton employs and shares an office in Petoskey, Mich., with Wayne Lutton, who has been a member of white supremacist groups and written for a Holocaust denial journal. Tanton supported the white nationalist journal American Renaissance financially for some years and undertook correspondence with its leader Jared Taylor. (An example of Taylor’s writings: “When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western civilization — any kind of civilization — disappears.”) At one point, longtime white nationalist Sam Dickson, who often speaks at American Renaissance conferences, offered to take Tanton on a “politically incorrect” tour of Atlanta. For more on Tanton’s connections, read here. You certainly won’t find them in Porter’s piece.

All of this information about Tanton’s extremism seems lost on Porter and others in leadership positions at FAIR. In fact, Porter’s missive ends by citing longtime FAIR principal Dick Lamm, the former Colorado governor and a long-time opponent of multiculturalism, fawning over Tanton. “I am an unabashed friend of John Tanton,” Lamm said. “What a mix of virtues and abilities! John is a visionary, prophet, organizational genius and a warm and caring human being. Give me a thousand John Tantons and we could save the world.”

A thousand John Tantons? Now that’s a scary thought!

Discuss

The horrific events that took place in Norway this past Friday— a huge bombing in central Oslo closely followed by a bloody shooting rampage on nearby Utoya island that left 93 dead—are a sobering reminder of what extreme radical-right beliefs can drive some to do. And the threat is not confined to Norway or Europe. Exactly the same ideas that motivated the Oslo shooter to take up arms are popular in radical-right circles on this side of the Atlantic.

Anders Behring Breivik, 32, described by Norwegian police as a right-wing Christian fundamentalist, was apparently driven to act by hatred of Muslims and fears of multiculturalism. Breivik’s 1,500-page manifesto, 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, equates liberalism and multiculturalism with “cultural Marxism,” something Breivik says is destroying European Christian civilization. Posted online just before the attacks, the manifesto is described in The New York Times as a diary of Breivik’s months of planning.

Writing under the Anglicized name “Andrew Berwick,” Breivik predicted a massive war that would kill or injure more than a million people as he and his small group seize “political and military control of Western European countries and implement a cultural conservative political agenda.” Breivik’s manifesto also describes a secret April 2002 meeting in London to reconstitute the Knights Templar, a military order active in the medieval Crusades, that was attended by “representatives” of European countries and one “European-American.” The document does not name the attendees, and authorities are unclear the meeting actually occurred.

Fears of “cultural Marxism” have a long pedigree in this country. It’s a conspiratorial kind of “political correctness” on steroids — a covert assault on the American way of life that allegedly has been developed by the left over the course of the last 70 years. Those who use the term posit that a small group of German philosophers, all Jews who fled Germany and went to Columbia University in the 1930s to found the Frankfurt School, devised a cultural form of “Marxism” aimed at subverting Western civilization. The method involves manipulating the culture into supporting homosexuality, sex education, egalitarianism, and the like, to the point that traditional institutions and culture are ultimately wrecked.

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Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 12:10 PM PDT

FAIR Shares Founder's Extremist Views

by hbeirich

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.”

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Today, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a new report, “Attacking the Constitution: State Legislators for Legal Immigration and the Anti-Immigrant Movement.” It documents the radical beliefs of 12 leading members of a coalition called State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI). The group is pushing harsh, anti-immigrant legislation across the country and announced in January a national campaign to attack the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of citizenship for all children born in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction of its laws.

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This coming Saturday, the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) is holding a major event to honor the sesquicentennial, or 150th anniversary, of the beginning of the Civil War. The festivities will “commemorate” events that most Americans see as a terribly dark period in American history: “the founding of the Confederate States of America, the inauguration of Jefferson Davis and the raising of the first Confederate Flag.” Little mention is made by the SCV, which calls the Civil War a “Second American Revolution,” of the widespread devastation and death that accompanied the war the Confederate States of America (CSA) fought to defend slavery.

Taking the end of the same route as Martin Luther King Jr. and thousands of others who participated in the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march in 1965, the celebrations will include a march up Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue to the Capitol, with participants festooned in hoop skirts, battle flags and other period dress. On the steps of the Capitol, the group will reenact the swearing in of Jefferson Davis, the first and only president of the CSA. The march begins at 11 a.m.

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