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Tanton’s ProEnglish & The Company They Keep


Imagine 2050 Staff • Nov 16, 2011

photo taken from Pargon's flickr page

Last week, we posted a blog outlining the internal problems at ProEnglish, an organization that lobbies for measures that would make English the official language of the United States. Despite some successes, ProEnglish has recently faded a bit. In 2010, it championed legislative victories; in 2011, it makes the ludicrous demand that Puerto Rico adopt English as its official language.

And then there’s the issue of turnover, with four different executive directors in eight months. In late October, ProEnglish announced the hire of its newest, Robert Vandervoort, who’s well-connected amongst anti-immigrant legislators and organizations in the beltway.

Vandervoort has some more controversial friends, as well. He has attended events held by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, an organization that, among other conservative efforts, distributes books by Sam Francis, a major benefactor to the modern white nationalist movement who argued for “white racial consciousness.”

Researchers in Maryland say that Vandervoort attended the most recent conference of the H.L. Mencken Club, where ProEnglish’s presence was heavy. The H.L. Mencken Club hosts speakers such as mainstay nativist Pat Buchanan, and Richard Spencer, founder of the online magazine Alternative Right and executive director of the National Policy Institute. Both of the aforementioned organizations frequently argue for the genetic superiority of white, European-descended peoples, as well as promoting equivocal examinations of extremist political movements like fascism.

It might surprise some that Mr. Vandervoort keeps such company, but this really is in keeping with his organization.

For example, ProEnglish recently hired Phil Tignino, a member of the far-right student group Youth for Western Civilization. And all this is not to mention the fact that ProEnglish was founded by a white nationalist, John Tanton, who still sits on its board of directors. ProEnglish is just one of many such organizations in Tanton’s network of groups that each, in its own way, seeks to make anti-immigrant arguments appear more mainstream, all the while concealing the inherent bigotry that these arguments utilize.

Though there has been a bit of turmoil at ProEnglish, it really is just more of the same; its new executive director will certainly be a good fit for its typical nativist arguments.

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