This evening the news broke that John Tanton, architect of the modern nativist movement, died at the age of 85. Tanton’s passing was announced on Radio Renaissance by fellow white nationalist Jared Taylor, and confirmed in an official statement by the Federation for American Immigration Reform — an anti-immigrant hate group founded by Tanton in 1979.
Tanton was also responsible for three other hate groups: ProEnglish, the Center for Immigration Studies, and the white nationalist Social Contract Press, the latter of which republished an English translation of the racist novel Camp of the Saints and published articles by open white supremacists and antisemites. It would be difficult to overstate Tanton’s impact on today’s culture of xenophobia.
Although Tanton claimed that his desire for immigration restriction was motivated by a love of the environment and concern for overpopulation, a treasure trove of personal letters revealed by the Southern Poverty Law Center proved otherwise. The SPLC noted that Tanton had been in contact with “Holocaust deniers, former Klan lawyers and the leading white nationalist thinkers of the era.”
In one letter dated December 10, 1993, Tanton wrote “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.” A close personal friend of Jared Taylor, Tanton was known to recommend Taylor’s American Renaissance publication to friends and colleagues.
During the 140th episode of Radio Renaissance, Taylor and his pseudonymous co-host Paul Kersey — the blogger behind the noxiously racist website Stuff Black People Don’t Like — mourned Tanton’s death, and did a better job of documenting Tanton’s bigotry than anyone else.
Taylor praised Tanton as a man who “became very concerned about the demographic future of the United States,” and “devoted almost entire — his adult life to seeing to it that the United States did not become overloaded with people, and founder under the effect of some of the wrong kind of people.” He added that Tanton built lasting institutions and said he was “very, very sorry to see him go.”
Taylor went on to call Tanton a “great American patriot,” who was denounced by civil rights groups that “hate the founding stock of America” because he “cared about who was coming to the United States, not just how many.” Paul Kersey boasted that Tanton “left such an important legacy” through the groups he founded, which ensured that “these ideas would flourish.”
Taylor specifically praised the Center for Immigration Studies, which he called “one of the most effective think tanks in the United States,” and remarked that “everything I know about immigration I learned from CIS.” Taylor also brought up the fact that Tanton had received “some of his funding” from the Pioneer Fund, a eugenicist organization founded in 1937 by Wickliffe Draper.
“In any case this is, as I say, a sad day, but we can turn this day into a celebration,” Taylor said. “A celebration of John Tanton and his institution-building, which I believe will go on indefinitely into the future.” It is certainly true that while John Tanton may be dead, his dark legacy will live on through the ideas he spread and the organizations he founded.