Friday, October 05, 2007

Dog whistle nativism

As I was sitting here yesterday staring in disbelief at Tom Tancredo's odd statement that global warming (if true) means we should reduce immigration (and that the Sierra Club should be advocating that) I started to suspect that he was making some kind of dog whistle reference that nativists are familiar with.

The notion that immigrants increase national pollution reminded me of the nativist belief that immigrants are bringing disease to America. Both beliefs fit well into the xenophobic/proto-fascist view of immigrants/foreigners/an internal enemy as an infection in the body politic, so I did a Google search and turned up this Carrying Capacity Network article about immigration increasing pollution which seems to be an attempt to dress up nativist racism in pseduo-academic garb.

I went to the CCN homepage and noticed (among the other bits of xenophobic hysteria) an article about a possible "epidemic" resulting from immigration. This kind of stuff is standard in anti-immigrant racist propaganda.

Then I found that a few years ago a group with alleged ties to white supremacist groups had tried to take over the Sierra Club in order to make reducing immigration one of it goals.

The leadership of the Sierra Club, the landmark environmental organization, is enmeshed in a bitter struggle over whether to advocate tough immigration restrictions as a way to control environmental damage that has been associated with rapid population growth.

The debate is unusual in its intensity, even for an organization whose fractious disputes are legendary. It focuses on efforts by several outsiders and grass-roots members of the club to win seats on the board of directors. The dissident group is led by Richard D. Lamm, the former Democratic governor of Colorado, who has argued for 20 years that national policies leave the country open to unsustainable immigration.

At stake is the leadership of an organization of 750,000 members that has a 112-year history of pushing conservation and pollution issues into the national consciousness and federal law.

For weeks, both camps have issued charges and countercharges and the dissidents have filed two lawsuits, neither of which is active.

For starters, the executive director of the club, Carl Pope, said that Mr. Lamm's supporters were ''in bed with racists.'' An internal group supporting the mainstream candidates further contends that Mr. Lamm and his fellow candidates are unwitting blocking backs for a stealthy network of nativist groups that wants to take control of the organization, which was founded by a Scottish immigrant, John Muir.
Looking further, one finds that the "immigration brings pollution" meme and the push to infiltrate the Sierra Club does have ties to white supremacists. Specifically, John Tanton.

Anti-immigration activists have pondered trying to take over the well-known environmental group, the Sierra Club, going back at least to the mid-1980s. The basic idea, suggested in a once-secret 1986 memo by anti-immigration leader John Tanton, was to seize the reins of a respected and well-financed liberal group to express immigration restriction arguments that might otherwise draw accusations of racism.

Led by a group then called Sierrans for U.S. Population Stabilization (it is now known only by its acronym, SUSPS), anti-immigration activists including current Club director Ben Zuckerman made their first attempt in 1998. Their proposed resolution failed in a bitterly fought 60%-40% vote of the Sierra Club's membership.

Last fall, as predicted earlier in these pages, it became clear that a second major attempt, led again by Zuckerman and his allies, had begun. SUSPS and other anti-immigration groups and individuals are now pushing to elect a board majority that agrees with them.
Then there's this bit which ties this (Tancredo, the Carrying Capacity Network, and the push to make anti-immigration a plank of the Sierra Club) together.

IR: What is SUSPS' strategy in the current election?

COX: One of their strategies has been to run high-profile candidates. This year, they are backing former Colorado Gov. Dick Lamm, who in recent years has been working very closely with anti-immigration groups and U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo [R-Colo.], who chairs the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus and is one of the most vocal anti-immigration leaders in Congress.

Their second candidate is Frank Morris, a former head of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, who is making his second attempt backed by SUSPS. Morris has become very involved in the same anti-immigration groups that Zuckerman is involved in. Morris sits on the board of the Diversity Alliance for a Sustainable America, as does Lamm, and that's the organization that Zuckerman is a past director of.

The third well-known SUSPS candidate, David Pimentel, is on the advisory board of the same group.

It goes further. Dick Lamm is also the chairman of the board of advisors for the large anti-immigration group the Federation for American Immigration Reform [or FAIR, a group originally started by John Tanton].

Morris is on the board of another anti-immigration group, the Center for Immigration Studies [also founded by Tanton] and, along with Zuckerman, is on the Californians for Population Stabilization board. Lamm is on that group's advisory board.

Finally, the Carrying Capacity Network, another anti-immigration group, has David Pimentel on its board. Doug LaFollette and Frank Morris sit on its advisory board. So we're seeing something of an interlocking set of directors with all these anti-immigration groups.
The significance of the Tancredo comment is that it is an example of the process of transmission. As Dave Neiwert puts it

The far right has become extremely adept at cloaking itself in recent years. It's become very adept at fronting "conservative" organizations that are adept at echoing their own agendas. You can, however, see the far right's influence in the end result of these groups' positions. As with other "transmissions" where extremist beliefs are advocated in the mainstream, the underlying origins of the organizations, or their funding sources, or their open associations with extremists, or any combination of these, reveals the core agendas at work.

After awhile, it becomes clear enough what is happening with a large number of the anti-immigrant groups. White supremacists have been going to great pains to camouflage their activities since the early 1990s, and this is one of the important ways they do it. In the meantime, you have guys like Michael Savage and Jared Taylor getting on the airwaves and reminding everyone what degraded, nasty citizens those brown people are.
Neiwert mentions funding. Since the conservative movement loves to hate George Soros so much, I'm tempted to point out that the groups attempting to subvert Sierra Club have financial ties to a well known wealthy scion of the conservative movement. But to do so would be rather petty, so I won't say that it's Richard Mellon Scaife.*

It's also a bit ironic to see that VDare - the anti-immigration site which runs Michelle Malkin's column - helped recruit members to join the Sierra Club and support the SUSPS - a group which has formed an alliance with eco-terrorist Paul Watson who is also trying to subvert the organization for ideological reasons - given that Malkin likes to stereotype environmentalists as being or supporting eco-terrorists.

*I will, however, give a clue. It's R_____d M____n S____ e. Get the joke?(Updated 8-7-07)


Sheldon said...

The most ridiculous aspect of this nativist environmentalism is this: The ecological crisis we are confronting are global in nature, and national borders are ultimately irrelevant.

And finally, may I mention a pet-peave of mine?

I implore you not to buy into the premises of so-called "eco-terrorism". They may be politically-ecologically motivated vandals, but hardly terrorists.

Hume's Ghost said...

You're right (although I think the guy I was referencing has claimed responsibilty for sinking whaling boats.

However, he's an eco-terrorist in Malkin's book which makes for the irony.

spocko said...

Hume's Ghost. Nice post, well connected. You know when people put these things together the people on the right will cry "Conspiracy theory!" "Tin Foil hat time."

But it's not even a very well hidden connection! I found out years ago that people can get together for the most craven reasons and SAY that they are doing it for a good reason. At first people will go, "Well Duh, it's obvious that is a front group for (insert topic/subject/group) isn't it obvious?" then as time goes on people FORGET or don't bother to check the funding that started it and why they started it. On the part of the organization they might not be hiding it, but they don't make it really public either.

And if you get your funding from bunch of people you can defuse the connection. If you list 40 donors and 2 do most of the funding those 38 will hide the 2.

Also, the think tanks get millions of dollars from oil companies who cast doubt into the global warming story so that the press HAS to do the "Well some scientists don't agree" since we know that modern journalism has to be equal weight to things even it they aren't equal.

So. Good research. Thank you. If some of that research is new, you might want to add your findings to Source Watch.

Hume's Ghost said...

I don't think anything I posted is new reseach.

Everything was cribbed from SPLC or Oricnus (who was writing about this in 2004).