In the last week, many have questioned the principle of “guilt by association.” On April 17, Jason DeParle published an article in the New York Times on seminal white nationalist John Tanton, and since then the constellation of organizations he founded have scrambled to disavow his contribution to their agendas.
Their strategy has been to decry a purported “guilt by association” smear campaign, one that they claim undermines their credibility without actually engaging their arguments.
Maybe that’s a fair criticism. Indeed, no one needs to evoke their founder to condemn their projects. These organizations can speak for themselves. It certainly wasn’t Tanton that gave us this tidbit yesterday afternoon:
“I’m afraid that in the Islamic world democracy faces the problem of a vicious people, one where the desire for freedom is indeed written in every human heart, but the freedom to do evil.”
That was Mark Krikorian, the executive director of an organization founded by Tanton, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).
In an April 21 piece responding to the aforementioned New York Times article, Krikorian belittled its author for a flat analysis that ignored numerous dimensions of the anti-immigrant movement. For him, labeling his colleagues and his organization “racist” is not corroborated by mere ties to Tanton.
It seems, then, that Mr. Krikorian would like to be his own advocate.
So we can attribute the “vicious people” remark above to his personal prerogative; we can say the same for his career-long accrual of similarly ignorant observations, like these:
- After a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, Krikorian had apparently unearthed the conditions that made the nation a “basket case” (his words): “My guess is that Haiti’s so screwed up because it wasn’t colonized long enough…[A]fter experiencing the worst of tropical colonial slavery, the Haitians didn’t stick around long enough to benefit from it. (Haiti became independent in 1804.). And by benefit I mean develop a local culture significantly shaped by the more-advanced civilization of the colonizers.”
- A 2008 CIS report on “green card marriages” referred to the beneficiaries of this practice as “small-time con artists and Third-World gold-diggers.”
- Throughout the nineties and until 2002, Krikorian often partnered with the white nationalist Social Contract Press, founded by John Tanton and edited by Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC) collaborator and renowned homophobe Wayne Lutton. In its journal, he has opined in his typical bigoted manner, offering statements like “Immigration is not a civil right.”
- CIS has had a consistent relationship with VDare.com, an anti-immigrant blog that frequently features the writings of white nationalists. Weekly, CIS circulates VDare articles to its members, and it published Peter Brimelow (VDare’s founder) in a 2001 report; VDare, for its part, has publicized Krikorian’s work.
Krikorian is right: we shouldn’t need to invoke Tanton’s reputation to criticize CIS. “Guilt by association” won’t carry the entire case against CIS; then again, was it ever really needed?