Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Architect Of English Only

Sean Braisted must donate to the same causes that I do: the Southern Poverty Law Center has plowed through the letters of anti-immigration crusader John Tanton, stored in a file at the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan. The result: an explosive look at the racist/nationalist who has donated $20,000 to seeing Eric Crafton’s English Only referendum become Metro Nashville law.

I first wrote about John Tanton last August. The man clearly holds fringe, racist beliefs: Jews, Catholics, Latinos, Asians, African-Americans--anyone who is not a white Christian is a threat to white supremacy, in his twisted worldview:
John Tanton has not merely flirted with and adopted many of the core ideas of white nationalism over the past three decades. He has carried on correspondences with some of the key leaders of the white nationalist movement, meeting and even vacationing with some of them, and pushing many of their central ideas.

Over the years, his closest friend on the white nationalist scene seems to have been Jared Taylor, the man who began publishing American Renaissance, a racist, pseudo-scientific magazine focusing on race, intelligence and eugenics, in 1990. ("When blacks are left entirely to their own devices," Taylor wrote in its pages a few years ago, "Western civilization — any kind of civilization — disappears.")

What’s frightening is that Tanton has legitimized his fringe views via groups like U.S. English and FAIR, which have exported the mechanism for enforcing these views to communities all around the country. If Nashville approves Crafton’s English Only referendum, we will be the largest city in the country to approve a major plank in John Tanton’s bigoted platform.

Yesterday Braisted posted :

The question we must ask ourselves is how much of a foot in the door do we want to allow the white nationalists from outside Nashville to have? Do we want this city to be the beacon of hope for every two bit hack who thinks his genetic makeup is superior to all others?

I’m going to take this a step further. I don’t think we need to worry about giving white nationalists from outside Nashville a foot in the door so much as we need to worry about empowering those already here. A legislative win will only emboldens the bigotry of Tennessee's nativist groups. If this is a success in Nashville, it will spread across the state.

Racism exists in Nashville just as it exists everywhere in some form or another. Do we want to endorse such beliefs in a special election?

I hope not.