Thursday, February 19, 2009

Recognition: Who shapes the immigration debate?

In going through records left behind following the death of my father a little over a year ago and, now, my mom about two months ago, I've found all sorts of interesting "evidence" of their values.

My father was a big supporter of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a civil rights, legal organization founded by Morris Dees. It meant a lot to me to find dad's string of support and the recognition coming back to him and mom.

Now the SPLC is out with a new report documenting the fact that three leading, well-known, seeming "mainstream" anti-immigration groups share extremist roots that appear racist at the core.

Here's what I found on the SPLC website about the report:

Three Washington, D.C., organizations most responsible for blocking comprehensive immigration reform in 2007 are part of a network of groups created by a man who has been at the heart of the white nationalist movement for decades, according to a report issued today by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Nativist Lobby: Three Faces of Intolerance describes how the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and NumbersUSA were founded and funded by John Tanton, a retired Michigan ophthalmologist who operates a racist publishing company and has written that to maintain American culture, "a European-American majority" is required.

"These groups have infiltrated the mainstream by presenting themselves as legitimate commentators, when, in reality, they were all conceived by a man who is convinced that non-white immigrants threaten America," said Mark Potok, director of the SPLC's Intelligence Project. "They have never strayed far from their roots."

The report examines how Tanton, who still sits on FAIR's board of directors, founded the racist Social Contract Press and has corresponded with Holocaust deniers, white nationalist intellectuals and Klan lawyers for decades — correspondence documented by his own writings stored at a University of Michigan library.

It also shows that FAIR has been aware of his views and activities for years.

FAIR, whose members have testified frequently before Congress, has hired as key officials men who also joined white supremacist groups. It has promoted racist conspiracy theories. And it has even accepted more than $1 million from the Pioneer Fund, a racist foundation devoted to proving a connection between race and intelligence, the report found.

FAIR has been designated as a hate group by the SPLC.

The report also examines how the Center for Immigration Studies — which bills itself as a scholarly think tank — began its life as a FAIR program and continues to produce dubious studies furthering FAIR's anti-immigration agenda. It's a vision described by Tanton in a 1985 letter in which he wrote that CIS would produce reports "for later passage to FAIR, the activist organization, to remedy."

Similarly, NumbersUSA, a group that has achieved dramatic policy successes, began its life as a Tanton foundation program, the report found. NumbersUSA Executive Director Roy Beck has even been described by Tanton as his "heir apparent." He also edited The Immigration Invasion, a book by Tanton and a colleague that was so raw in its immigrant bashing that Canadian border authorities have banned it as hate literature.


Checking the background and the sources on suppliers of information and the content of same is very important. Some of the major American media networks need to do a bit of digging on these organizations before putting them out there to all of us as so-called "experts." Experts in what? Hate? Racism and race baiting? Xenophobia? Classic nativism?

It is long past time that we entered a serious conversation about comprehensive immigration reform in this nation. And, such a discussion does not need to be informed by people whose entire worldview is defined by bigotry, discrimination and racism. At least that's how I see it.

Come to think of it, I know my dad and mom would agree.



Chris said...

Larry, I don't even know where to start on this one except to say that Morris Dees is the biggest fraud on planet earth and likewise the SPLC.

I would suggest doing a little research on this organization and also Mr. Dees.

Mr. Dees prayed on white guilt in order to make a fortune.

Millard Fuller, his partner for a few years had this to say.

"Morris and I shared the overriding purpose of making a pile of money, we were not particular about how we did it: we just wanted to be independently rich. During the 8 years we worked together we never wavered in that resolve."

In 1993, the American Institute of Philanthropy assigned the SPLC a D grade on a scale of A to F on their fundraising practices.

In a series of fund-raising letters the Law Center implied it forced the United Klan of America to pay the mother of lynching victim Michael the sum of 7 million dollars. Bulah Mae Donald actually received $51,874.70 from the klansman, the Law Center collected millions as the result of fund-raising letters about the case.

Perhaps you should do a little research in how they brainwash our children in the name of "tolerance." This is an extreme left of center group.

Anonymous said...

Chris, nothing from you but what we all expect. You need to dig deeper on the SPLC and national media reports on the impact of their work. You have no credibility whatsoever. Pack it in!

Larry James said...

Chris, can't tell you how much I disagree and how different my research is than yours.

But, as usual, you don't deal with the issues I had in mind. The truth about the three so-called "mainstream authority" organizations that attempt to inform national immigration debate was my point. You ignore the heart of the matter to discredit the messenger.

A sort of cruel and devious racism drives the immigration "conversation" for so many people, lots and lots of them in churches. While I wouldn't join anon just above to say "pack it in," I would urge you to stick with the point.

Anonymous said...


The tone of your diatribes makes it really hard to stay civil, but I will try.

First, some cites please.

Second, as Larry points out, you've missed the point of his orignal blog (as usual).

Third, you constantly defend the right of people to make "piles of money," so assuming Dees and Fuller ever said any such thing (and there are no cites) what is wrong with them wanting to make piles of money if done privately and legally?

Fourth, I don't know about 1993, but in 2009 Charity Navigator gives the SPLC 3 stars ("good" = exceeeds or meets industry standards).

Fifth, you miss the point about the $7M verdict against the Klan. The verdict bankrupted that particular branch of the Klan, which was the point. The SPLC provided 1,000's of hours of legal services to Mrs. McDonald FREE. How much money she actually recovered of that judgment was not within the SPLC's control (if it was $50K - again, no cites). The Klan owned what collectible assets it owned. But without the SPLC, it would have been 0. I do not think she is on record as having any complaints.

Sixth, Morris Dees risks his life everyday to do what he does. He has had numerous plots to kill him exposed. He obviously believes in what he does.

Though tempted to agree with Anon 8:25, I would just ask instead that you think about what you say before you spew such venemous nonsense. How you could be so nasty about an organization that has done so much good is just beyond me. Who has brainwashed you?

Larry James said...

Thanks for the comments. You know, at some point you just have to admit that with some things there is a right and a wrong, and little if any "in between." In the case of the 3 organizations being investigated here what we have is racism, hatred and evil. All are wrong and people of faith should be found standing with, for and among those who are not welcomed and are pushed aside and out. Jesus once said, "I was a stranger and you welcomed me." The 3 groups studied here welcome no one except those who are just like them. Very wrong, especially for a nation of immigrants such as ours.

Anonymous said...

Chris, did indeed miss Larry's point, but I'm trying to understand her point (scary indeed).

Does she suggest that everybody just Morris Dees is a fraud, because he doesn't allow, lynching, terrorism and hate crimes by acknowledged perpetrators (i.e. the Klan, White Citizens' Councils, etc.), go unchallenged because they result in 'white guilt'?

And because Ms. McDonald only got a little over $50k, the fact that the Klan was effectively put out of business, was a bad thing?

Or is she saying that because Dees got paid (and because none of the other law firms she might consider 'legitimate' would take her case pro-bono), that the resultant justice was 'fraudulent'?!

Chris, one question: What kind of person are you?!

Anonymous said...

chris's politics, and maybe faith, trump everything, including truth and basic human deciency. i'm for conservative enforcement of workable immigration laws, but i am not for the racism obviously back of these organizations. dees is irrelevant to that larger concern. thanks, larry

Chris said...

I would invite you to google "The Church of Morris Dees."

Thie article was published in Harpers magazine in 2000.

Even his associates describe him as a fraud and millionaire huckster.

This man took advantage of older people to get their donations.

Numbers USA has a goal of reducing both legal and illegal immigration to more traditional levels and it enjoys broad public support. It's more important than ever since the economy has gone south that immigration is reduced.

Anonymous said...

A few years ago the SPLC also exposed the Conservative Citizen's Council as a radical-right neo-Klan front organization and ended its public acceptance as a legitimate mainstream group whose opinions should be respected. Radical fringe groups in the immigration arena are now also seeking "fronts" which will spout their extreme views. Such fronts hire spokesmen with a few letters behind their name to add a veneer of respectability. Ferreting them out is some of the SPLC's most important.

Anonymous said...


The Harper's article is interesting. Dees is obviously not above criticism. But I notice, as Larry did, that you consistently resort to arguments ad hominem when you don't like the speaker's opinion, instead of just addressing the substance of the issue at hand. Tehcnically, that's what's known as a logical fallacy.

Chris said...

Fair enough--the subject is anti-immigration groups. I know only about NumbersUSA through their Action Board. Today I read some on their website. I found very logical discussion on a lot of subjects having to do with immigration. I saw nothing hateful or racist about anything I read.

The most interesting part I read was a discussion on The Sojourner Argument. That's the argument that our immigration policy should be based on Exodus 23:9.

You can find it by googling:
The sojourners argument NumbersUSA

rcorum said...

Why in the world would Morris Dees be used to expose anything. Just reading court documents about his divorce turned me off. I realize that the discussion is now pretty much off topic, but character does count. There are plenty of other who could have been used to make the point without even mentioning Dees. On numerous occasions I have seen any argument about anything advanced by Rush Limbaugh tossed out without any discussion of the merits. It does work both ways.

Anonymous said...

Dees follows in the great civil rights advocates path paved by among others Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Talk the talk and stuff your pockets with cash. Womanizer, bi-sexual, child molester. Truly someone we should all be proud that James supports.

Anonymous said...

The point is the research and the manner in which the leaders of these groups hides behind seeming acceptance to put forward arguments founded on narrow, racist, xenophobic reality. Unanswerable reality. Some of these posts sound what I read about Dr. King and Malcolm X, among others. Go ahead, kill the one who brings the message, but realize that doesn't change the message. Much, if not most, opposition to immigration reform is based on racist attitudes and values.

Anonymous said...

Bi-sexual? Child molester? You've got to be kidding! Anon 8:12 - you are truly out of control and off the map.

Chris said...

Anon. 8:51

I do not believe that opposition to immigration reform is based on racism. I do not believe that to not want to be invaded, conquered, and dispossessed is the same as racial discrimination and bigotry. The SPLC wants open borders. In fact Dees and company provides these lawbreakers with legal assistance, rewarding them for their criminality. One man lost his ranch because charges were brought against him for allegedly holding trespassers against their will. He gave them water and cookies and let them go within an hour, but he still was sued and lost his ranch. It was HIS ranch and they were trespassing.

As for Rush Limbaugh, I have never heard him talk about Morris Dees.

From what I have read about Dees, it makes Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton look like choir boys.

Anonymous said...

chris, read the report and the research about the 3 oranizations in question. Then, we can talk.

Chris said...

By the way, unless immigration is reduced, the stimulus plan will have no impact whatsoever on the unemployment rate. Under present immigration rules the Obama administration will authorize more than 3.3 million new working age foreigners to take US jobs over the next two years, enough new workers to fill every new job created under the Obama plan, plus 1.3 million existing US jobs, these are just legally imported workers.

Anonymous said...


Listen to your own language: "invaded, conquered, and dispossessed." I do not believe you would use such terms if the issue were immigration from England, Australia or Canada - in other words, people who were like "us" in language and culture. Let's just be honest about this much.

RightDemocrat said...

I am happen to be a social justice-minded Christian with liberal economic views and really like this blog but I think you are wrong about illegal immigration.

Of course, some folks concerned about illegal immigration may have the wrong attitude (just as some apologists for illegal immigration have a selfish motivation - greed) but the impact of immigrant cheap labor on our nation's poor is often overlooked. I blame the big business interests that hire illegals more than the undocumented workers themselves, however, we do need to get immigration under control. Some individuals on the left seem to think it is racist to distinguish betwen legal and illegal immigration which is just crazy in my view.

The endless supply of low cost labor hurts the poorest American workers - many of whom happen to be African American or Hispanic. Is there any question that illegal immigration negatively impacts those workers at the bottom of the economic scale ? Perhaps some on the right overstate the impact of immigration as a cause of our economic problems but it still has a harmful impact on the person working for at a low wage. And illegal immigration helps those at the high end of our economy. The rich get inexpensive maids, nannies and gardners. A tolerance for illegal immigration fits trickle down economics well.

It also isn't racist to be concerned about our nation maintaining a common language. We have a long tradition of assimilating immigrants into this country, yet, we are increasingly divided by language. Immigrants need to learn English not only so they can reach their full earning potential but also to communicate with neighbors and participate in civic life. Churches can also play a role in helping to assimilate immigrants. A number of churches are expanding their outreach by offering English classes.

Larry James said...

Right Democrat, thanks for the thoughtful comments. I understand your concerns on the labor front, and I share many of them. I believe comprehensive reform can begin to address those issues in a productive manner. A consistent, documented guest worker program would, if enforced, mean that immigrant wages would rise because they would no longer be illegal or hidden. The rise in labor costs at the bottom would would level the playing field for American workers.

What I see everyday is the human side of the problem. Thousands of good families and people, here without documents. We need reform, and a reform the leaders of the groups I reference here certainly do not want because of the hatred that motivates them.