Mark Krikorian, executive director of the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies, has a sad. See, he doesn’t appreciate the fact that CIS—a top ally of Jeff Sessions and others from the Trump regime—was just labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that tracks hate activity nationwide. Krikorian believes this is really a campaign to delegitimize, silence, and oppress him, and like all delegitimized, silenced, and oppressed people, he penned an op-ed in one of the nation’s top papers in which to air his grievances:
Since 2007, the Southern Poverty Law Center has methodically added mainstream organizations critical of current immigration policy to its blacklist of “hate groups,” including the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the Immigration Reform Law Institute and Californians for Population Stabilization, among others. In February, my own organization, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), got its turn.
The wickedness of the SPLC’s blacklist lies in the fact that it conflates groups that really do preach hatred, such as the Ku Klux Klan and Nation of Islam, with ones that simply do not share the SPLC’s political preferences. The obvious goal is to marginalize the organizations in this second category by bullying reporters into avoiding them, scaring away writers and researchers from working for them, and limiting invitations for them to discuss their work.
The rationale offered for CIS’s inclusion on the blacklist is implausible even for those predisposed to support blacklists. The SPLC long ago made a hate figure of John Tanton, a controversial Michigan eye doctor it breathlessly describes as the “puppeteer” of various groups skeptical of current immigration policy, including CIS.
So his argument seems to be, “Hey, we don’t wear sheets!” Still, he does his best to whitewash both Tanton and Tanton from CIS history, saying that at most Tanton just raised money for the group, and that Tanton’s “controversial”—in other words, racist—claims about immigrants and others groups were just “vices.” But even if Tanton were just a funder, he’s still a part of the group’s DNA. And as for some of those so-called “vices,” well, check out them out, courtesy of SPLC.
A retired Michigan ophthalmologist, John Tanton spent decades at the heart the white nationalist movement. His racist views were first exposed in 1988 when a series of private memos he wrote for principals at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) were leaked to the press. The memos were filled with racist statements and warned about a coming "Latin onslaught."
At the time, Tanton’s group U.S. English, which opposed bilingualism in public schools and government agencies, disavowed any racial motivation. “Hispanics who learn English will be able to avail themselves of opportunities,” explained its president, former Reagan administration official Linda Chavez. She resigned when Tanton’s memos were leaked. The news that U.S. English had received funds from the distributor of The Camp of the Saints, a racist French novel in which starving Third World refugees overrun Europe, added to Chavez’s sense of betrayal.
The novel has recently re-emerged, with HuffPo noting that white nationalist and senior counselor to Trump, Steve Bannon, has used “this stunningly racist novel” to demonize Muslims. Other papers from Tanton’s library show he “has for decades been at the heart of the white nationalist scene. He has corresponded with Holocaust deniers, former Klan lawyers and the leading white nationalist thinkers of the era.” And according to Think Progress, “Tanton is a strict nativist who once wrote a paper titled ‘The Case for Passive Eugenics.’” Charming.
Still, SPLC doesn’t have to rely on Tanton’s moldy papers in order to make the case that CIS belongs on the baddies list. Krikorian does a mighty fine job himself, once referring to respected journalist and Univision anchor Jorge Ramos as a “white-Hispanic ethnic hustler.” In 2009, Kirkorian had a fit over Sonia Sotomayor’s name. Really. A year later, Krikorian argued, following the devastating earthquake there, that Haiti is “so screwed up because it wasn’t colonized long enough” by white people.
Then there’s CIS “weekly email roundup.” Lord. According to Krikorian’s own words, the roundup of “immigration commentary has occasionally included pieces”— translation: this has happened a couple times—“by writers who turned out to be cranks.” The “cranks,” according to SPLC, have actually been anti-Semites and Holocaust-deniers, one of whom called Jewish people “truly subversive,” “manipulative,” and “evil.” Or maybe have some “vices,” Kirkorian might argue.
Krikorian also tries to slither out of the infamous Jason Richwine scandal, saying that “CIS has published work by independent researcher Jason Richwine, who wrote a contentious Harvard University dissertation on IQ a decade ago.” What Kirkorian doesn’t mention is that Richwine was forced to resign from his job because that “contentious” dissertation, which basically argued that the children and grandchildren of immigrants will always be dumber than white people. From Imagine 2050:
In May 2013, Richwine co-authored a deeply flawed Heritage Foundation study on the fiscal impact of immigration. He resigned in disgrace later that week following revelations first published by The Washington Post that Richwine wrote a racist doctoral dissertation, titled “IQ and Immigration Policy,” asserting there are persistent racial differences in IQ.
“No one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites,” Richwine writes at one point in his dissertation, “but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against.” As Imagine 2050 noted around the time of the Heritage report’s release, Richwine’s work is easily fit within the tradition of the Pioneer Fund’s bigoted legacy of so-called “race realism.”
CIS was aware of Richwine’s bigoted argument well before the release of the Heritage report and details of Richwine’s “IQ and Immigration Policy” surfaced.
FYI, Mark: The son of immigrants authored this post.
Finally, not even the magic of Christmas Day is sacred, with SPLC noting that CIS staffer John Miano attended VDARE’s holiday party last December. VDARE—named after Virginia Dare, the first white child born in the Americas—“focuses on opposing non-white immigration into the United States, but has also published the writings of anti-Semites.” And according to SPLC, Ann Coulter may have also been at that holiday party too. Talk about a “white Christmas.”
When it comes to immigration, CIS is in the minority here. Nearly two-thirds of Americans prefer a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants rather than deportation, according to recent polling. And no one’s trying to silence CIS—by Kirkorian’s own account, the group has testified in front of Congress some 200 times. With Trump in power, there will probably be even more.
CIS may not like the designation from SPLC, but after all the racist mud they’ve flung out, it’s deserved.