The spirit of white nationalist John Tanton is alive and well at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the anti-immigrant group he founded in 1979.
Tanton hasn’t been involved in the day-to-day operations of FAIR for years. He is reportedly suffering from advanced Parkinson’s disease at a nursing home in northern Michigan. But FAIR’s current leadership continually fail to disavow the ideas of Tanton, a man who wrote, “I’ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.”
One of FAIR’s most recent hires also appears to similarly support Tanton’s goal of preserving a white majority in the United States.
On October 3, FAIR Senior Researcher Kenric Ward retweeted an image of far-right Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán. The photo was captioned: “A nation which expects its biological survival from immigrants won’t survive.” The account that initially posted the image, @DefendEvropa, regularly glorifies fascists like Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists in the early 20th Century.
One day earlier, Ward retweeted Paul Ray Ramsey, a white nationalist video blogger and regular speaker at alt-right conferences known more commonly by his screen name, Ramzpaul. Ramsey’s is just one of myriad alt-right and white nationalist accounts FAIR’s Ward follows and interacts with on Twitter. Others include Richard Spencer, white nationalist outfits like Identity Evropa and the publisher Counter-Currents, neo-Confederate figures like League of the South President Michael Hill and Brad Griffin. He also follows Jason Kessler, the white nationalist organizer of August’s deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
At the time of publication, Ward uses a Confederate seal as his profile photo on Twitter.
— Kenric Ward (@Kenricward) June 21, 2017
Ward’s writing has previously featured at right-wing outlets such as Watchdog.org and The Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal blog. He was hired by FAIR earlier this year, with his byline first appearing on FAIR’s blog in early June.
Ward’s dalliances with white nationalist, neo-Confederate, and more general alt-right outlets and individuals certainly isn’t unprecedented for FAIR staffers. The organization previously employed people like Rick Oltman, a member of the white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens, and Jospeh Turner, a self-proclaimed nationalist who has defended neo-Nazis. People like Marcus Epstein also continued to appear at FAIR-organized events long after their history of white nationalist activism had been exposed.
However, the unwillingness of FAIR leaders to distance themselves from white nationalist figures and ideas is most telling.
When asked by The Standard-Times earlier this year whether he disavows the goal of maintaining or expanding a white majority, FAIR Executive Director Bob Dane pointedly defended racist anxieties held by Tanton and others.
“For many, the question of whether a country loses its majority status is a fair question,” Dane said. “It’s a legitimate policy question for a lot of folks.”
FAIR continues to foment fear and suspicion of people it perceives as a threat to the white majority Tanton idealized. In August, the group published an issue paper, “Could Uncontrolled Immigration Expose Us to a Public Health Crisis?”, which peddles racist tropes about immigrants and refugees bringing diseases—a deliberately ignorant effort to demonize immigrant communities used by nativists for centuries.
Right from the start, the influence the paper’s bigoted influences and aims are apparent. The first paragraph cites an article written by white nationalist and former FAIR employee Rick Oltman. The article was published in the Winter 2017 issue of John Tanton’s quarterly journal, The Social Contract. It is also not the first time the group has employed the odious framing. During a television appearance last year, FAIR President Dan Stein suggested Central Americans pose a health threat on scale to the devastation America’s indigenous populations suffered from European colonists.
FAIR has had years to genuinely distance itself from rightful accusations of bigotry and white nationalism. Instead, the group continues to double down on those ideas. In its over 35 years of existence, FAIR’s actions continue to show that it’s a racist dog unable to learn new tricks.