Dan Stein is accustomed to criticism, especially after Rachel Maddow nailed him on her show earlier this year for his ties to white nationalism. But he may not have expected students to walk out on him during his public debate on SB1070 at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.
Stein as the president of anti-immigrant group FAIR, took credit for drafting Senate Bill 1070 in Arizona. FAIR is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and received funds from the controversial Pioneer Fund, a foundation that supports racial eugenics. Stein was instrumental in raising these funds. In a 1993 article in the Progressive, he noted, “I don’t give a shit what they do with their money…. My job is to get every dime of Pioneer’s money.”
He recently embarked on a University campus tour in an effort to rebuild his reputation. Along with his debate partner, Enrique Morones, Dan Stein is touring campuses from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin to “debate” Senate Bill 1070. But based on the events in Milwaukee, Stein’s attempt to lend legitimacy to FAIR and the constellation of anti-immigrant organizations known as the John Tanton Network has failed again.
When Stein’s tour landed at the University of Wisconsin, college students, high school students and nuns demonstrated the presence of a hate group in their community. A high school student asked Dan Stein to account for receiving funds from an organization that funds eugenics, and supported segregation in the south. Apparently Stein was flustered, because he decided to respond with a snide remark rather than addressing the question. The high school student shot back, “YOU need to answer the question.”
Community members gathered outside of the speaking engagement with signs reading, “Hate isn’t the answer” and “Wisconsin is not Arizona.” As Dan Stein was trying to spread his hate inside the auditorium, nuns, students and concerned community members joined the protest as they were filing in.
Wisconsin made it clear to Stein that hate is not welcome in its communities. Right before Stein was supposed to give his closing remarks, the students all stood up and walked out.
University of Wisconsin is a model for all the campuses that receive visits from anti-immigrant groups and their leaders. Organizations that support and promote bigotry are not welcome.
The students who organized the walkout are from Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES!), the youth component of Voces de la Frontera (www.vdlf.org). If you are a student in the Milwaukee area, call 414-643-1620 x205 to get involved.