Under new management and recruiting young up-and-coming white nationalists, ProEnglish is enjoying a renaissance of sorts. The group does as its name suggests, aggressively promotes policies that favor English as the official language of the United States. While ProEnglish would like us to believe that its agenda is uncontroversial, this could not be further from the truth.
ProEnglish was established in 1994 with the oversight of founding chairman white nationalist John Tanton. Tanton is the architect of the contemporary anti-immigrant movement, having founded, funded, or supported a constellation of nativist groups. Known collectively as the John Tanton Network, these groups have become notorious for their numerous collaborations with white nationalists and ethnic separatists.
ProEnglish operates under U.S., Inc., the Network’s financial umbrella, which acts as its parent organization. KC McAlpin, the group’s longtime executive director, left in 2010 to become John Tanton’s right-hand man as president at U.S., Inc. As board members, both men continue to shape ProEnglish’s undertakings.
ProEnglish seeks to “unite” the United States by trampling the rights of minorities. From outlawing the use of multiple languages on government forms, to eliminating bilingual education in grammar schools, ProEnglish aims to make miserable the lives of non-native speakers. After a period of low activity and leadership changes, the group has come back to life and is doubling down on its nativist agenda.
Its recently hired Executive Director, Robert Vandervoort, has a well-documented history of activism within the white nationalist movement. One of Vandervoort’s first public appearances on behalf of ProEnglish was a gathering of the white nationalist H.L. Mencken Club. Vandervoort also landed ProEnglish a panel at the CPAC Conference titled, “The Failure of Multiculturalism: How the pursuit of diversity is weakening the American Identity.” Vandervoort invited British white nationalist Peter Brimelow to sit on the panel. Brimelow runs the anti-immigrant blog VDARE.com, where Islamophobic, xenophobic and anti-Semitic views are published.
In 2011, the group hired Phil Tignino as its Director of Communications. Tignino is the former student coordinator of the Washington State University chapter of Youth for Western Civilization, a far-right student group that has collaborated with many controversial figures, including Jared Taylor of American Renaissance, a cornerstone white nationalist publication. While active in that chapter, Tignino participated in such events as “straight pride month,” during which his chapter sold “Straight Pride” t-shirts. Tignino recently moved on from ProEnglish, and the group wasted little time finding a replacement who is a near clone.
Like Tignino, Peter J. Lee, the group’s new hire, shares an affinity for associating with a veritable who’s who of bigotry like Kyle Rogers of the Council of Conservative Citizens, Richard Spencer of Alternative Right and Peter Brimelow, founder of VDARE.com. He’s also connected via social networking sites to other controversial young leaders in the white nationalists movement – guys like Marcus Epstein and Matthew Heimbach. According to his profile, he interned with the Leadership Institute, an organization that trains far-right activists. He’s in not-so-good company. Kevin DeAnna, founder of Youth for Western Civilization, is a former trainee and organizer for the group.
Not only should ProEnglish be watched for its increasingly aggressive anti-immigrant activities, but also for its promotion of young “talent.” The group is becoming adept at grooming tomorrow’s white nationalist leaders for mainstream consumption.