The “Population Bomb” and Anti-Immigrant Lobby
Lately conservatives are becoming increasingly aware of the deep ties between the leadership of the Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform (FAIR), NumbersUSA, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), and Californians for Population Stabilization, and Zero Population Growth, Planned Parenthood, and radical environmentalists.
The roots of today’s anti-immigrant lobby can be traced to hard core nativists and progressives of the progressive era (1880-1920s), with a big boost in the 1960s due to the book “The Population Bomb” by Paul Ehrlich, also a noted climate alarmist who predicted the Earth would become covered with glaciers several miles deep, but now predicts we’ll fry due to global warming.
Obama’s science adviser, John Holdren, is also a disciple of Paul Ehrlich. Holdren and Ehrlich once co-authored a paper “Human Population and the Global Environment“, predicting ‘gloom and doom’ from overpopulation, climate change, etc. Indeed there are far more deep ties between the anti-immigrant lobby and environmentalists and far left progressives than conservatives.
Some conservatives strenuously object to the term “anti-immigrant”, as many liberals conflate anti-immigrant with anti-illegal-immigration, and those who merely oppose illegal immigration are wrongly labeled anti-immigrant.
However, the principal organizations opposing immigration reform not only want massive enforcement of existing immigration laws, but also drastic 75% cuts in legal immigration, ending birthright citizenship, etc. John Tanton founded organizations such as FAIR, NumbersUSA, CAPS, and CIS, which are truly anti-immigrant in the full sense of the term.
The Tanton lobby’s messaging to conservatives about immigration enforcement resonates well, but most conservatives don’t support cutting legal immigration levels. Conservatives need to be wary about how these faux conservatives are manipulating the conservative movement.
Tanton is not just anti-immigrant, but known for making numerous comments disparaging Latinos in particular, such as a statement in a 1993 memo, “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.”
Tanton is also a big fan of eugenics, for example this statement from a 1996 letter: “Do we leave it to individuals to decide that they are the intelligent ones who should have more kids? And more troublesome, what about the less intelligent, who logically should have less? Who is going to break the bad news [to less intelligent individuals], and how will it be implemented?”
John Tanton – Master Manipulator of Republicans!
John Tanton has gone to great lengths to manipulate Republicans with the false narrative that immigrant = Democrat. In a letter to a supporter, Tanton wrote of the lobbyist he hired to convince Republican politicians that immigration reform was against their own self-interest:
The goal is to change Republicans’ perception of immigration so that when they encounter the word “immigrant,” their reaction is “Democrat.”
Our plan is to hire a lobbyist who will carry the following message to Republicans on Capitol Hill and to business leaders: Continued massive immigration will soon cost you political control of the White House and Congress, given the current, even division of the electorate, and the massive infusion of voters about to be made to the Democratic side. We are about to replay the Democratic hegemony of 1933-53, fueled back then by the massive immigration of 1890-1924.
Tanton did indeed hire James Edwards, a lobbyist who had been a staffer for a member of the House Immigration Caucus, to persuade Republicans that “immigrant” is synomymous with “Democrat.”
Hijacking Immigration and the Population Bomb
The myth that human beings are “overpopulating” the earth, which has persisted for centuries, is rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding of human activity, economics, and natural science. Numerous political elites have promulgated the overpopulation myth in pursuit of various big-government policies both in their home countries and around the world. People like Thomas Malthus, Paul Ehrlich, and Margaret Sanger have sought various “remedies” for this false crisis, “solutions” which devalue human life—abortion, sterilization, and euthanasia—and promote government control of economic activity.
Often the radical nature of these proposed “solutions” has led advocates of such policies to couch their ideas in terms of helping the world’s poor and concern for the environment. But a lesser-known story is that over the last 40 years in the United States, many leaders of this movement have hijacked concerns over immigration to advance their agenda. Population-control advocates have built, operated, and funded much of the anti-immigration movement in the United States. What follows helps explain how this has happened and sheds light on the pervasive connections between the population- control movement and the principal proponents of immigration restrictions.
The network of organizations founded by John Tanton were quick to label Mario Lopez’s piece a “smear”, deny the linkages, etc. However, John Tanton himself admits in this interview that he was heavily influenced by Paul Ehrlich, author of “The Population Bomb“, and other books of population alarmists.
Mario Lopez identified a number of Tanton’s leadership roles, which show his environmental and progressive orientation. The leadership of FAIR, NumbersUSA, and CIS likewise have deep ties to many of the same groups.
- 1961-1964: Board Member, Washtenaw County League for Planned Parenthood
- 1965-1971: Co-founder, Organizer and President, Northern Michigan Planned Parenthood
- 1968-1972: Co-Founder and President, Michigan Women for Medical Control of Abortion
- 1968-1972: Board Member, Michigan Council for Study of Abortion
- 1975-1978: President, Northern Michigan Planned Parenthood
- 1969-1971: Organizer and Chairman, Mackinac Chapter Sierra Club Population Committee
- 1970-1972: Organizer and Chairman, Sierra Club, Petoskey Regional Group
- 1970-1973: Member, Sierra Club National Long-Range Planning Committee
- 1970-1974: Organizer, League of Conservation Voters, 11th Congressional District
- 1971-1974: Chair, National Sierra Club Population Committee.
- 1973-1975: Chairman, Zero Population Growth Immigration Study Committee
- 1973-1978: National Board Member, Zero Population Growth
- 1975-1977: President, Zero Population Growth (1975-1977)
- 1975-1978: President, Northern Michigan Planned Parenthood
- 1976-1979: Sexuality Education Consultant and Curriculum Development Advisor, Petoskey High and Middle Schools
- 1976-1979: Legislative Chairman and Public Affairs, Michigan Planned Parenthood Council
- 1979-1987: Organizer and Chairman, Federation for American Immigration Reform
- 1979-present: Board Member, Federation for American Immigration Reform
- 1980-1990: Board Member, Population/Environmental Balance (formerly Environmental Fund).
- 1982-present: Founder and Chairman, U.S. Inc.
- 1996: Founder, NumbersUSA.
Tanton’s organizations are often referred to as “conservative”, but in fact their leadership are progressives with a population reduction obsession. There’s nothing conservative about promoting abortion and forced sterilization! Many assume that supporting the status quo (i.e. present immigration policy) is “conservative”, but a strong case can be made that in an immigration context “conservative” means free market principles and “progressive” means arbitrary quotas, big government bureaucracy to decide which immigrants are worthy of coming, etc.
I would argue that a “conservative” approach to immigration policy would be much closer to pre-progressive era policy where there were no quotas, only a set of restrictions to screen out criminals, beggars, prostitutes, and immigrants with serious contagious diseases from entering the U.S.
Defusing the Population Bomb
Economist Stephen Moore wrote an interesting piece “Defusing the Population Bomb” about Paul Ehrlich and his followers, which I re-post in it’s entirety with his permission. Stephen Moore didn’t specifically mention immigration restriction, but it’s obvious John Tanton, by his own admission, was heavily influenced by Paul Ehrlich, Lester Brown, etc.
This week mankind reaches a new demographic milestone: 6 billion people living on the Earth. Too bad so many of them are Malthusian declinists, who regard all these human beings as net destroyers of the planet.
A recent New York Times story wails that if the world’s population isn’t curtailed soon, the globe will start to look as poor and crowded as Calcutta. Ted Turner says mankind is breeding like “a plague of locusts” and urges couples all over the world to limit themselves to one child. Zero Population Growth laments that the population of the U.S. is about twice the size it should be in order to protect the environment.
The mystery is why anyone takes these modern-day Chicken Littles seriously anymore. After all, every objective fact and environmental trend is running in precisely the opposite direction of what the widely acclaimed doomsayers of the 1960s – from Lester Brown to Paul Ehrlich to the Club of Rome – once predicted. Birth rates around the world are lower, not higher, today than at anytime in at least a century. Global per capita food production is 40 percent higher today than as recently as 1950. The “energy crisis” now is such a distant memory that these days oil is virtually the cheapest, not the most expensive, liquid on Earth. In sum, the population bomb propagandists have all the intellectual credibility of the Flat Earth Society.
Yes, it is true that in just this past century the number of human beings on the planet has just about quadrupled. But as the current issue of National Review points out, the simple and benign explanation is improved health and more wealth (see table). Consider the trends in life expectancy, arguably the single best measure of human well-being. From about the time of the Roman Empire through about 1800 average human life expectancy was less than 30 years. In the U.S. today, life expectancy is 75. Even in poor countries, like India and China, life expectancy has risen to above 60. We have doubled the number of years of life in just the past 200 years.
Meanwhile, infant mortality rates in the U.S., and across the globe, have fallen by about tenfold in just the last century. A century ago, if a woman had three children, the likelihood was that at least one of them would have died at birth or before the fifth birthday. Nowadays the probability of childhood death is less than 1 in 100. As the late, great doomslayer Julian Simon taught us, increased population is a consequence of mankind’s victory over death.
The doomsayers fret that man is copulating uncontrollably like John B. Calhoun’s famous Norwegian rats in a pen, who multiply until they die off from lack of sustenance. Thanks to unbridled human copulation, “we are adding another New York City every month, a Mexico every year, and almost another India every decade,” writes environmental author Bill McKibben. Yet, we are nowhere near running out of room on the planet. If every one of the 6 billion of us resided in Texas, there would be room enough for every family of four to have a house and an 1/8th of acre of land – and the rest of the globe would be vacant. True, if population growth continues, soon some of these people would have to spill over the border into Oklahoma.
The dreaded population bomb that emerged as a worldwide obsession in the 1960s and 1970s has been all but defused. The birthrate in developing countries has plummeted from just more than six children per couple in 1950 to just more than 3 per couple today. The major explanation for smaller family sizes, even in China, has been economic growth, not condom distributions or coercive birth control measures.
The fertility rate in the developed world has fallen from 3.3 in 1950 to 1.6 per couple today. These low fertility rates presage declining populations. If Japan’s catastrophically low birthrate is not raised at some point, in 500 years there will be only about 15 Japanese left on the planet. The average number of births to women in poor countries has dropped from 5 to 3 in just the past 50 years.
We used to worry about our capacity to feed the planet, but in the United States these days, we have to pay farmers to stop growing so much food. The dean of agricultural economists, D. Gale Johnson of the University of Chicago, has documented “a dramatic decline in famines” in the last 50 years. Fewer than half as many people die of famine each year now than did a century ago – despite almost a quadrupling of the population.
Virtually every natural resource has fallen steadily in price – following the same downward spiral that has characterized oil over the past 20 years. According to the most recent EPA statistics, pollution of the air and water is not increasing, it is decreasing – even though there are more people.
The population controllers at the United Nations and inside the U.S. environmental movement regard mother nature as pure and fragile and man’s footprint on the Earth as the despoiler of this natural state. They worship the created, not the Creator. And they are in many cases hostile to economic development and human progress. They celebrate the planting of a new tree as magnificent progress, but abhor the planting of another fetus in a woman’s womb as anti-progress.
But the good news for those of us with two, three, or God forbid, four children or more is this: The Malthusians are wrong. There is no ethical, environmental or economic case for small families. For those of us who believe there is intrinsic value and dignity in every human life, we should celebrate, not decry, that there are now 6 billion human beings on the Earth.
William F. Buckley Jr. Had the Right Idea – Root Them Out!
William F. Buckley Jr. saw a similar situation in the 1960s and 1970s. White supremacists, anti-Semites, and conspiracy theorists (John Birch Society) found their way into the conservative movement. Bigotry and fringe conspiracy theories aren’t conservative values, and Buckley recognized how even a small bigoted minority tarnished the conservative movement.
Buckley did his best to call out these fringe elements, depriving liberals of an opportunity to define conservatives as bigots, something the vast majority of conservatives are not.
Stupid is letting your opposition define you! It’s time conservatives showed the anti-immigrant lobby the exit. There’s nothing conservative about John Tanton and his ilk. The #1 weapon of choice of the Tanton anti-immigrant lobby is disinformation, and every time a conservative leader parrots Tanton’s talking points, outreach with immigrant demographics is damaged.
Bob Quasius is founder and president of Cafe Con Leche Republicans