Philanthropists Fuel Anti-Immigrant Bigotry

Eric Ward • Nov 24, 2008

<iWhen well-known philanthropists donate money to national anti-immigrant groups, a new twist is hammered into the axiom “throwing good money after bad,” one that results in deeper discrimination and increased violence against immigrants and their families.

Controversial anti-immigrant leader John Tanton used to love to brag that from 1983 until 1986 famed financial leader and philanthropist Warren Buffet made yearly gifts of $90,000 to his organization, U.S. Inc. While Buffet is thought of as a man who donates selflessly to the public good, he is also remembered for having supported full-bore bigotry.

Having attended several of John Tanton’s events, Buffet’s continued support raises the following question: was he in the room when Tanton mused that if:

“whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion? … Perhaps this is the first instance in which those with their pants up are going to get caught by those with their pants down?”

It would seem Buffet is among those with his pants around his ankles, to co-opt Tanton’s dead metaphor. After all, Tanton used Buffet’s support to seed and fertilize the contemporary anti-immigrant movement, which is tearing communities and working families apart.

Buffet, it therefore seems, is actually guilty of contributing to the creation of a contemporary, politically driven Frankenstein’s Monster.

Recent reports have surfaced that large donations to Tanton’s network are not things-of-the-past, either. By supporting some of the nation’s most controversial anti-immigrant organizations — some of which actively maintain ties to white nationalists and myriad other political extremists — some deep-pocketed philanthropists are ensuring that this Monster will continue stalking American landscapes.

A blogpost gaining momentum over at ValleyWag contains a report that Facebook Board of Directors member Peter Thiel (pictured above-right) may have donated up to $1 million dollars to NumbersUSA, which was founded under the financial and administrative umbrella of John Tanton’s Michigan-based group, U.S. Inc.

Most will find interesting that in 1997 NumbersUSA’s Executive Director Roy Beck spoke at the national conference of the white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens, the direct descendant of the White Citizens Councils of the 1960s that for years terrorized African Americans and activists across the Jim Crow South.

Does Thiel care, or even seem to?

The Center for New Community is now reporting that in a September 2008 fund raising letter the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) announced that Robert W. Wilson, another “leading national philanthropist,” offered to match the donations of other FAIR members. According to The Chronicle, Wilson, a retired hedge-fund manager, establishes “long relationships with organizations before bestowing a large gift.” Wilson is also a Trustee of the Environmental Defense Fund.

These monstrous relationships that both Wilson and Thiel have helped to establish not only tarnish their respective reputations as national civic leaders but also prove that they have no qualms about aligning themselves and their business endeavors with espousers of bigotry, of bizarre notions of “race science,” and of anti-Catholic prejudice, all of which ultimately displays that they apparently have no qualms about such notions becoming embedded into mainstream notions of American identity.

Ideological consistency, however, doesn’t appear to exist in the worldviews of these moguls.

For example, in 2007 Wilson endeavored to donate $22.5 million to the New York Roman Catholic Archdiocese. Does he not recognize the canyon of belief that exists between the Catholic Church and FAIR?

Luckily, the distinction has been made for him.

Alongside the Ku Klux Klan, the American National Socialist Workers Party, and other Neo-Nazi groups, FAIR has been outed as a hate group by the civil rights organization the Southern Poverty Law Center. Not a difficult designation to make when FAIR staffer Rosanna Pulido isn’t afraid to publicly pose questions like:

“What better way to fill your pews and fill your offering coffers than with inviting in and giving sanctuary to illegal aliens? . . . What is being passed off right now by the Catholic Church is not Catholicism. It has nothing to do with Christianity or the Bible.”

Money isn’t the root of all evil, bigotry is, and the funds of these philanthropists breathe life into such evil. Those lucky enough to know wealth, those like Thiel and Wilson, have no business acting as the necessary lifelines these bigots require.

For shame, for shame.

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