On October 25, white nationalist publishing house The Social Contract Press (TSCP) held its 39th annual Writers’ Workshop conference in Washington, DC. Among the featured speakers at the event was Kansas Secretary of State and virulent nativist Kris Kobach.
The annual Writers’ Workshop is the brainchild of white nationalist and founder of the organized anti-immigrant movement, John Tanton. The meetings began as a venue for Tanton and colleagues to exchange ideas and strategies as they worked to build the then-nascent anti-immigrant movement that exists today. The invitation-only meetings have been attended by prominent white nationalists over the years including Peter Brimelow, Sam Francis, and Jared Taylor.
U.S. Representative Brian Babin, a Republican freshman from Texas, was also a featured speaker.
Tanton is no longer a regular at these meetings, but under the stewardship of KC McAlpin and Wayne Lutton, the white nationalist editor of TSCP’s quarterly journal, the bigotry sparking these meetings remains 39 years later.
Kobach’s attendance at the event may be unexpected as most elected officials usually attempt to stay away from white nationalist events or downplay the act of doing so (e.g. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) earlier this year). Kobach’s presence, however, is far from unbelievable. In addition to his position as Kansas Secretary of State, Kobach serves as one of the organized anti-immigrant movement’s leading minds, drafting anti-immigrant legislation including Arizona’s SB 1070. Earlier this month a federal judge ruled an unconstitutional anti-immigrant housing ordinance Kobach authored will cost the city of Hazelton, Pennsylvania, $1.4 million.
Kobach was photographed at the event alongside representatives of The Remembrance Project including the group’s founder, Maria Espinoza, and Robin Hvidston and Cynthia Kendoll – two of the group’s more active leaders at the state level. Espinoza and Kendoll spoke at the 2013 and 2014 editions of the Writers’ Workshop, respectively.
Refugees a target at this year’s event
Photos taken by event attendees reveal several anti-Muslim activists speaking at this year’s event. James Simpson appears to have given a presentation based on the e-book he authored earlier this year, The Red-Green Axis: Refugees, Immigration and the Agenda to Erase America. The Center for Security Policy, the think tank headed by anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney, published Simpson’s book in June.
Diana West also spoke at this year’s event. An anti-Muslim demagogue and avid enthusiast of McCarthy-esque witch hunts, West was honored by Gaffney’s organization in 2013. “Diana West is among America’s most thoughtful and intellectually invigorating writers of our time,” Gaffney said. “We take great pride in bestowing this recognition on a cherished friend and admired colleague.”
U.S. Rep. Brian Babin, a Republican freshman from Texas, who is quickly becoming one of nativists’ primary champions in Congress, was a featured speaker. Earlier this year, Babin introduced legislation to suspend refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. The legislation has predictably garnered support from nativist organizations including the anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim movement’s two primary grassroots organizations, NumbersUSA and ACT! for America.
And while it may not have been the topic of his presentation, Kobach has previously expressed fears of Muslims. He has parroted bigoted conspiracies purporting that Muslims are attempting to insert Shariah law into American courts. In 2012, he proposed an amendment to the Republican Party’s platform supporting a ban on Shariah despite the fact he was “not aware of any court that’s accepted the argument.” In the years immediately following 9/11, Kobach also helped create a federal racial profiling program that required all people visiting from 25 countries—mostly Arab—to be fingerprinted and monitored.
Not the only event in town
The timing of this year’s event was not arbitrary.
As in previous years, The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the flagship organization of the anti-immigrant movement, held its Board of Advisors conference near the Writers’ Workshop. On Twitter, FAIR shared a photograph from the conference showing its president, Dan Stein, and former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. Brewer signed the Kobach-authored SB 1070 into law in 2010 and has remained a staunch ally of the anti-immigrant movement since leaving office earlier this year.
Had Kobach only traveled to the nation’s capital to attend those events he may be able to sidestep some criticism. However, by accepting an invitation from the white nationalist Social Contract Press, he further underscores how truly extreme he and his actions are.