Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) Questions to Dr. John Tanton with reply

Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) Questions

March 8, 2002

Dr. Tanton:

I appreciate your taking the time to read and answer these questions. If you want to ask me to clarify any of them, I'll be at my desk all day today (334-956-8309).

  1. How many anti-immigration organizations have you been involved in over the years and for how long?
  2. What is your current role at FAIR?
  3. What is your current role at US, Inc.? What is US, Inc." Is Roy Beck an employee of US, Inc.?
  4. How many people would you say are members of NumbersUSA and ProEnglish: What does it take to be a member in terms of money? What is the readership of The Social Contract? (Since they are all part of US, Inc., I figure you are the one to ask about this.)
  5. What is the relationship between NumbersUSA, The Social Contract Press, ProEnglish, Americans for Better Immigration, etc., and US, Inc.?
  6. What are the major foundations/individuals that fund US, Inc.? Your 2000 tax return shows contributions from individuals/foundations in the amounts of $1,300,00 and $437,500 for example - would you be willing to comment on where this money comes from? Also, I understand that one foundation has come forward to fund NuumbersUSA's newly rented building on 6th Ave. in DC - can you tell me who or what that is?
  7. Which anti-immigration organizations have you, or has US, Inc., provided funding for? I know that US, Inc., has given money in recent years to Voice of Citizens Together, California Coalition for Immigration Reform, ProjectUSA, FAIR, Americans for Better Immigration. Are there others funded by your organization?
  8. How do you feel about having as your editor Dr. Wayne Lutton, a man who serves as Editorial Advisor to the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens? (Just for your information, a recent posting on the Council's web site refers to Blacks and Homosexuals as "retrograde species.") Do you have any concerns about this organization?
  9. Do you have any concerns about publishing articles in The Social Contract penned by people such as Dr. Virginia Abernethy, and Michael Masters of the Council of Conservative Citizens of James Lubinskas of American Renaissance
    (FYI: Glenn Spencer just spoke to American Renaissance, an organization that is racist and focuses on eugenics). I guess what I am trying to get at is what are your views of these organizations?
  10. What do you think of The Camp of the Saints? Many have said it is racist, which I assume you do not agree with, so I thought I should ask your opinion. Is it true that you were instrumental in bringing the book to American readers or is the story about Cordelia May Scaife correct in that regard?
  11. Do you have any concerns about the anti-Hispanic comments that have been made over the years by Glenn Spencer and Barbara Coe? Both have referred to Mexicans as savages and other such unsavory terms - yet US, Inc. funds them.
  12. Are these statements from your 1986 memo on FAIR still true of that organization and of the anti-immigration movement as such:
    1. "Our financial growth has heavily based on a small number of major donors, but have now leveled off. We have found few new donors … ."
    2. "We have spent some time, money and effort trying to build a membership for purposes of political validity and power, but this has not been a major emphasis."

  13. There may be some problems with your tax forms, but since I don't know all of your funding sources I may be wrong about these discrepancies, so I feel I should ask you about this. It appears that several large contributions are not listed on your form 990 as required by law including: $25,000 from Swensrud, $25,000 from Scaife, and $15,000 from McConnell. Could you comment on this discrepancy?
  14. What is the relationship between the Center for Immigration Studies and FAIR? In your 1986 memo, you suggest as part D6 that the anti-immigration movement must "continue to build the intellectual basis for immigration law reform." Is that what CIS was for? Mark Krikorian of CIS told me that his organization has nothing to do with FAIR and never did - is this true?
  15. Are you involved in the campaign to get Zuckerman elected to the Sierra Club board? If so, how?
  16. What is your view of Catholicism and immigration? In your 1986 memo, you posed the question about whether immigrants would bring with them a Mexican or European Catholicism - the latter being more casual. What does this mean?
  17. Why did Linda Chavez, Walter Cronkite, and Frm. Senator Alan Simpson resign from FAIR?
  18. What do you think of our current immigration - especially in regards to the countries of origin of most immigrants, legal and illegal? It would be nice to have an explicit statement of our views on current immigration policy and how they relate to racial issues, if at all.

Heidi Beirich
Southern Poverty Law Center


Dr. John Tanton's Reply to SPLC questions

Memo to: Heidi Beirich

Date: 11 March 2002

Hello Ms. Beirich:

You're off to a bad start with your first question, which is in the form of the classic "when did you stop beating your wife?" I am not anti-immigration (or anti-immigrant), and have never belonged to any anti-immigrant organizations. We simply have different ideas on what constitutes a reasonable immigration policy at this point in history. Name-calling is a bigot's tactic.

If, instead of discussing immigration, I were calling for a diet and suggesting different quantities and types of food, would you call me "anti-food?" If I were calling for the regulation of driving, with driver testing, seatbelt laws, strictures on driving and alcohol, would you call me "anti-auto" or "anti-driver?" I would hope not.

Reasonable people can disagree on what one's ideal body weight should be, or how fast to drive in a school zone. Reasonable people can also disagree on the three great questions of immigration policy:

  1. How many people should we admit each year?
  2. Which categories of immigrants should get how many visas?
  3. How can these limitations, once agreed upon, be enforced?

The various immigration reform organizations will all be glad to supply their differing answers to these fundamental questions, and are glad to have them debated. If you or the SPLC wishes to enter into the debate, the price of admission is to make your own recommendations, supply the justifications, and defend them in debate. To turn your question 18 back to you: "What do you think of our current immigration...?"

It appears that you have pre-judged the issue before learning about its components and complexities. Pre-judgment is the heart of the word "prejudiced," which means to judge before the facts are in. I think you are exposing yourself to this charge.

A number of your questions deal with the funding. Turnabout is fair play: If you will provide me with a full and accurate list of all SPLC's individual and foundation donors, complete with addresses (ZIP Code order would be fine), I'll be glad to consider providing you with ours.

Your questions about and characterizations of other persons show little evidence of tolerance for differences of opinion. Isn't "Teaching Tolerance" one of SPLC's themes? Does this mean only that others should be tolerant of your opinions, and that there is no need for reciprocity on your part? Do you value diversity of opinion, or not? If you are tolerant and hence non-judgmental, what is the basis for the pejoratives used throughout your questions? I must say that the tone and content of your questions raise the specter of intolerance for that which is different from your notions.

Do you side with or against Voltaire when he wrote, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"? It seems that SPLC's doctrine is more along the lines of "If you say something we disapprove of, we'll try to kill off you and your organizations."

Here are several questions of my own:

  1. I would like some assurances from an analysis of your staffing patterns that you do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender or national origin. Please supply a list of your staff and governing board complete with an analysis for these four pillars of non-discrimination, and correlated with salary level. In your opinion, to avoid the charge of discrimination, should the makeup of your staff mirror the city of Montgomery, the state of Alabama, the United States - or perhaps the world? What groups are over- or underrepresented?
  2. Please give me your reaction to the Harper's exposé (November 2000) on the SPLC, charging your colleagues with veniality and hypocrisy, among other items. What is the social justification for your absolutely enormous endowment? These monies were evidently obtained from donors under false pretenses of actually doing something about Southern Poverty. Granted, based on your IRS 990 report, the SPLC has rescued its governing board and top staff from poverty. What have you done for the average impoverished Southerner, whose plight you have appropriated into your organization's name?
  3. Finally: there is an old maxim that what we say about others tells more about ourselves that it does about others. In this connection, SPLC is given to accusing others of racism and hate crimes. Exactly how would you describe the emotion that motivates you? Is it Love for those who are different or who you perhaps perceive as "enemies?" Or is it more akin to Hate on your part? My analysis is that it comes much closer to the latter than the former. Certainly SPLC is chief among the hate-mongering groups in the United States, if not the world.

John H. Tanton

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