Many have pointed out that the white nationalist wing of the Alt-Right is floundering, as evidenced by Richard Spencer moving back home with his parents and Jason Kessler’s pathetic display in Washington DC.
But at the same time, over the last month, DC has been rocked by news of successive firings after it came to light that a Trump speech writer, a DHS agent, and respected conservative journalist and author at Tucker Carlson’s The Daily Caller, all had clear connections, relationships, and interacted with, the white nationalist Alt-Right.
Many have also noted how white nationalist talking points and conspiracy theories such as the idea that black South Africans freed from Apartheid are waging a campaign of genocide against white Boer farmers, has been picked up by the likes of Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump. Thus, while the Alt-Right may have left the street, they still have a sizable influence within government and established “conservative” circles, even if this reality continues to remain an embarrassment, when brought to light.
But when we do look closely at those within the White House who have a history of connections to the Alt-Right, who have championed their talking points, and also those who have been removed over the years due to a connection, we find a clear pattern; a relationship and an affinity with a small set of white nationalist and anti-immigrant groups and think tanks, largely centered around the Federation for American Immigration Reform, (FAIR), and its associate acts, Center for Immigration Studies, (CIS) and NumbersUSA.
While Donald Trump, Jr might have followed white nationalists like Ricky Vaughn on Twitter, the Trump administration was putting the policy suggestions of FAIR – into practice and into law. Meanwhile, people like Stephen Miller even openly dream of rolling back the racial clock to before 1965, when the ‘algorithms’ of non-white immigration were altered.
But for a group formed by an open white nationalist and Eugenicist, funded in part by literal Nazis at the Pioneer Institute, and long used as a mega-phone by those who would grow to bounce the Alt-Right on their knee: Peter Brimelow, Jared Taylor, and Sam Francis – these groups somehow have escaped all connection to the events in Charlottesville or the growing threat of the far-Right in the minds of millions of Americans.
FAIR and its associates have changed and impacted the lives of millions of people, for the worst. From pushing for SB-1070 in Arizona, to the separation of families at the border, FAIR has been at the center of almost all repressive and racist immigration policy in the last several decades.
At a time when so many are in the streets fighting the growth of fascism and calling for abolition, it’s time we connect all the dots and begin to name those who are responsible for the realities that we see all around us.
The (White) House That John Tanton Built
White nationalist, and former DHS agent Ian Smith, stepped onto the political radar, according to The Atlantic by way of working as a:
[P]olicy analyst working on immigration. He used to work for the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), an anti-immigration legal organization associated with the right-wing Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). From 2014 to 2017 he wrote a number of columns on immigration for National Review.
Scott Greer, who was recently let go from The Daily Caller after it came out that he penned white nationalist essays for Richard Spencer’s fancy pants white power magazine Radix, also had high praise for FAIR and like minded groups. In December of 2017 he wrote in The Daily Caller:
The few organizations who dare to criticize it and provide research to show its negative effects are a brave group that regularly deal with hysteric outrage from media elites. Thankfully, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and NumbersUSA continue the fight in spite of all the flak they receive.
Four years earlier, when Greer was writing for Campus Reform, a Breitbart like publication aimed at far-Right students and with close ties to TPUSA, he was also linking to and referencing FAIR and CIS.
But who and what is FAIR, the Federation for Immigration Reform? As the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote:
FAIR leaders have ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists and have made many racist statements. Its advertisements have been rejected because of racist content. FAIR’s founder, John Tanton, has expressed his wish that America remain a majority-white population: a goal to be achieved, presumably, by limiting the number of nonwhites who enter the country. One of the group’s main goals is upending the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which ended a decades-long, racist quota system that limited immigration mostly to northern Europeans.
FAIR was founded in 1979, by John Tanton, would also found NumbersUSA, and Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), the “big three” of anti-immigrant groups, that would go on to mastermind everything from SB-1070 to the VoterID campaign which kicked millions of voters, largely of color, off the voting rolls. The group’s stated goal was to keep America as much a white nation as possible, and preserve white supremacy within the United States by keeping non-white immigration down. Tanton stated:
“As Whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion?”
— FAIR founder and board member John Tanton, Oct. 10, 1986
“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.”
— John Tanton, letter to eugenicist and ecology professor Garrett Hardin (now deceased), Dec. 10, 1993
A Beach Head for White Supremacy
Throughout his years leading FAIR, Tanton would grow to build relationships with many people who would go on to create the intellectual building blocks of what would become the Alt-Right, including Sam Francis, Jared Taylor, Peter Brimelow, and Kevin MacDonald. According to the SPLC, FAIR also got money from the Pioneer Fund, which formed in the 1930s and promote white supremacy and Eugenics, and was formed by people with close to the Nazi regime in Germany. This relationship lasted from 1985 to 1994, when news of the relationship became public.
In the 1990s, FAIR continued its open association with white nationalists, and launched a TV show, Borderline, that featured white nationalists such as Sam Francis, Jared Taylor, and Peter Brimelow of VDARE, who in 2016, would watch as Alt-Right trolls in DC gave Hitler salutes at a conference he spoke at, while Richard Spencer yelled, “Hail Trump.”
In 1999, Brimelow launched VDARE, which featured the writings of a variety of white nationalists including himself, while also influencing and being used as source material by slightly more mainstream nationalists, such as Ann Coulter. In return, several people at FAIR wrote for VDARE.
As time has gone on, FAIR links to white nationalist groups has also continued and become even more documented. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center:
Tanton has a lengthy record of friendly correspondence with Holocaust deniers, a former Klan lawyer and leading white nationalist thinkers, including Jared Taylor (who wrote in 2005, “When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western civilization — any kind of civilization — disappears”). On another occasion, Tanton wrote a major FAIR funder to suggest she read the work of radical anti-Semitic professor Kevin MacDonald — to “give you a new understanding of the Jewish outlook on life” — and suggested that the entire FAIR board discuss the man’s theories about the Jews.
Rick Oltman, who for much of the 1990s was FAIR’s western regional coordinator, spoke as part of a 1997 immigration panel sponsored by the Council of Conservative Citizens, a racist group that has described black people as a “retrograde species of humanity.”
Jim Staudenraus, FAIR’s eastern regional coordinator, participated in an anti-immigration conference in 2002 with white nationalist Jared Taylor.
In 2007, a senior FAIR official met with leaders of Vlaams Belang, a Belgian political party that officials in that country outlawed in a previous incarnation (Vlaams Blok) as a “criminal organization” because of its racist, anti-immigrant views.
In late 2006, FAIR hired Joseph Turner as its western field representative after Oltman departed. Turner was the founder of the Southern California group Save Our State, a now-defunct anti-immigrant hate group that was known for attracting neo-Nazis to its rallies. Turner was on record before joining FAIR as saying that being a white separatist did not imply a person was racist. Turner once accused Mexican immigrants of turning California into a “third world cesspool.”
Longtime FAIR board member Donald A. Collins writes frequently for the VDARE.com, an anti-immigrant hate site named after Virginia Dare, said to have been the first English child born in the New World.
Another person linked to VDARE is Joe Guzzardi, a member of FAIR’s board of advisors who worked as an editor of the site.
[The same day that Ian Smith was fired] FAIR staffer and sole Latino employee Joe Gomez filed an official complaint with Washington, D.C.’s Office of Human Rights alleging discrimination and harassment during his tenure with the organization. Included in the litany of complaints was Communications Director Dave Ray inappropriately referencing Gomez’s ethnicity, often greeting him with “Hola hombre,” and “Que paso?” while other employees used a mocking Hispanic accent. Gomez also alleges FAIR employee Jennifer Hickey used the word “spic” twice, once referencing him.
FAIR discusses a recent study on the Tucker Carlson show. Carlson remains a major pipeline for white nationalists into the mainstream, and like Breitbart, has used groups like FAIR as a beachhead against immigration.
As It’s Going Down wrote:
Anti-immigrant white nationalists have always been part of the beach head of the Alt-Right, helping white nationalists find a home at places like Breitbart as columnists and tickling the fancy of people like Steve Bannon. Groups such as V-Dare, who participate in neo-Nazi and white nationalist conferences along with Richard Spencer, have a currency outside of straight white nationalist circles, and are regularly cited by pundits like Ann Coulter. FAIR however has managed to push this ability to mainstream its views one step closer, catapulted by their already existing ties to politicians like Jeff Sessions, advisers like Steven Miller and Kellyanne Conway, and local Trump campaign managers.
According to an expose in VICE by Tess Owen, many of the key people within the White House who many Americans associate so strongly with Trump and especially his most racist policies, were also once directly tied to FAIR. Moreover and perhaps more terrifying, many people who came directly out of groups like FAIR, have now found a home in ICE and DHS. These include:
- Stephen Miller: Hired by Jeff Sessions as an aide at the bequest of David Horowitz after he graduated Duke University, where he along with Richard Spencer organized event, such as a speaking engagement with Peter Brimelow of VDARE. Has worked tirelessly to promote FAIR and CIS talking points, and is behind the major anti-immigrant and anti-refugee legislation coming out of the White House.
- Kellyanne Conway: According to VICE, before working for Trump, Conway, “provided polling services to FAIR,” which aided in their reports and policy proposals against immigrants.
- Jeff Sessions: Worked with FAIR under BUSH II and Obama to defeat immigration reform and was awarded for his service by FAIR. “In the Senate, Sessions had close relationships with anti-immigrant hate groups such as the Center for Immigration Studies and Federation for American Immigration Reform; Stephen Miller certainly interacted (and likely continues to interact) with these groups as well,” (AmericasVoice).
- Kris Kobach: A “legal counsel to the Immigration Reform Law Institute, FAIR’s litigation arm, helped draft Arizona SB 1070,” (VICE). Also worked with the Trump administration to further the VoterID project, which kicked millions of largely Democratic Voters of color off the roles and promoted the racist conspiracy theory that “illegals” were voting for Democratic candidates in a variety of states.
- Julie Kirchner: A “former FAIR director, left the organization in 2015 to act as an immigration adviser to the Trump campaign. She is now the Citizenship and Immigration Services ombudsman,” (SPLC).
- John Zadrozny: “[F]ormerly of FAIR, has moved to the State Department following his stint on the Domestic Policy Council,” (SPLC).
- Jon Feere: Another FAIR to Trump appointee, Feere became an advisor to ICE’s acting director Thomas Homan.
Steve King, a Republican with a long documented history of white nationalist politics and who regularly shares Alt-Right and neo-Nazi content on social media, appears at the FAIR conference.
Moreover, FAIR also holds an annual “Hold Their Feed to the Fire” conference aimed at bringing in far-Right politicians, talk show radio hosts, law enforcement, and far-Right pundits. As the SPLC wrote:
Brandon Judd and Hector Garza, president and vice president, respectively, of the National Border Patrol Council, were in attendance, along with Art Del Cueto head of the Tucson Border Patrol Union.
A number of Sheriffs FAIR works with also attended, including Tom Hodgson of Bristol County, MA, Chuck Jenkins of Frederick County, MD, and Sam Page of Wentworth, NC.
But moreover, following the ‘Hold Their Feed to the Fire Conference,” attendees did just that, putting pressure on Republican and Trump officials to get rid of DACA, which essentially Trump did, putting it on a time table for it to be destroyed, although courts eventually ruled against him.
FAIR, NumbersUSA, and CIS all have greatly expanded power, with Trump in office and support from media moguls like Tucker Carlson, the social media ‘activism’ of the Alt-Right, and even friends in law enforcement. As The Daily Beast wrote:
Mark Krikorian, CIS’s executive director, told The Daily Beast that last month, for the first time, his group [along with FAIR] scored an invite to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement stakeholder meeting, a gathering that happens a few times a year where ICE leaders talk policy and procedure with immigration lawyers and activists. And he said that since Trump’s inauguration, he’s been in touch with new appointees at the Department of Homeland Security. It’s a new level of access and influence that helps explain the quick, dramatic changes Trump has made in immigration policy—changes that will impact millions of people.
A number of the 79 items on the list composed by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), have either been implemented or shown up in leaked draft proposals from the administration.
From attacks on DACA to family separation, FAIR, CIS, and NumbersUSA have all helped craft and popularize some of the host hated, racist, and draconian legislation that has been launched against immigrant communities in recent times. In fact, FAIR and its allies are attempting to cut the legal number of immigrants from coming into the US by half, and even roll back the 1965 Immigration Act, long a dream by white nationalists. As The Atlantic wrote:
Trump adviser Stephen Miller says the new White House plan to amend U.S. immigration law, introduced by Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue, is “the largest proposed reform to our immigration policy in half a century.” The White House wants to revisit the 1965 Immigration Act, which opened America’s doors wide to immigrants of color and produced the most sweeping demographic transformation of the country in its history.
The fash to politics pipeline, has never been clearer.
“Ignore them and they’ll go away,” is a refrain we’ve all heard a million times. Yet, today FAIR is perhaps the most successful white nationalist group in the United States; they have members in DHS and in ICE, they count the President, policy advisors, and law enforcement all as potential allies. Last year, less than 10 people protested FAIR’s conference; this year, there were none.
The fact that there is not an organized resistance to FAIR and associated groups in the US is a major problem. We have allowed a key component of the white nationalist movement that has existed for decades to be whitewashed as a resource for the administration and Fox News anchors. While such policies as Family Separation were fought and defeated in the streets, the racist reasoning behind these policies and their birth from within white nationalist circles, is largely, simply not discussed.
Throughout 2017 and 2018 the United States has seen both the explosion of the antifascist movement and radical abolitionist struggles against ICE and in support of the prison strike. With these struggles has come the generalization of a variety of skills, from building mass coalitions, to carrying out in-depth writing and research projects.
Let’s put our skills together and re-imagine an antifascist campaign unlike any others. This would mean completely mapping who works at these groups, and finding out where they cross over with the rest of the Alt-Right. It would mean organizing against those already in office. It would mean engaging in a mass educational events to get more people on the same page. It would mean pickets at offices and mobilizations against conferences. It would mean call-in campaigns which would attempt to split actual conservatives from white nationalists. But over all, it would mean understanding the ideological basis for groups like FAIR, who are attempting to so drastically change policy and the lives of millions of people.
Years ago we we saw a danger as a few within the Alt-Right were attempting to build networks within the growing white power scene; and we responded. Now, we can see the networks in front of us, leading from the white nationalist conference halls, all the way to the White House.