After reading about the John Tanton Network’s relationship to eugenics and possibly sterilization, I finally broke down in tears. As a researcher who studies white nationalism and anti-immigration for a civil rights organization, the majority of what I read is deeply offensive. It usually doesn’t bother me; I see my work as a necessary tool to educate people about white nationalism in a post-civil rights era. But as I re-read how eugenics scholars may have advocated for the forced sterilization of non-Christian people who weren’t white, I turned off my desk lamp and went home for the night.
As Barry Mehler points out in the video, Immigration and the White Nationalist Movement, modern day anti-immigration is rooted in the eugenics movement of the 1920s, similar to anti-immigration in the 20th century. Both fought, and are fighting, to preserve the idea of a white nation. However, unlike today, anti-immigration of the 1920’s openly fought to preserve white supremacy. Since it’s no longer socially acceptable to openly promote eugenics, modern anti-immigration hides its white nationalist roots.“The movement to restrict immigration, legal immigration and illegal immigration is a white nationalist movement. The concern is for white control of the United States”, says Mehler when addressing the links between the two movements.
Intellectual thinkers behind modern anti-immigration are some of the exact same leaders behind the current white nationalist movement. The creation of over two dozen anti-immigrant organizations, including the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), was driven by white nationalism. Both concur their believe that multi-racial societies are inherently unstable, and…that a preference for one’s own group is natural, normal, and healthy and that “the genetic make-up of “non-white” people is biologically and culturally inferior to white people.” In fact, anti-immigration is white nationalism.
For example, John Tanton, the founder of FAIR, the Center for Immigration Studies, and NumbersUSA, received over 1.2 million from a pro-eugenics foundation. The editor of Tanton’s quarterly journal, The Social Contract, is also a board member of the well-known anti-Semitic organization, The Charles Martel Society. The summer 2009 issue of The Social Contract asserts that “new research shows that evolutionarily driven genetic factors provide a powerful explanation of differences in both achievement and temperament.” According to the author, “Not only are we supposedly biologically different, immigration will threaten the intellectual development of our nation. “
As Rep. Luis Gutierrez lays the ground work for immigration reform, Americans must remember that the issue isn’t necessarily immigration.
It’s a debate about what America should look like.