John Tanton's name is getting a lot of play. Depending on who you talk to, Tanton is either a raging pro-eugenics racist with a deep-seated animosity toward brown people -- or -- a beaming, professorial Renaissance man with an insatiable curiosity and an infallible moral compass.
Why should you care? Because Tanton founded the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and now sits on its board. We've referenced him in a couple of blog posts recently. A lot of people have FAIR, and Tanton, on the brain because of developments on the fronts of immigration, population control, and Amendment 4, the "slow growth" amendment to the Florida Constitution that we'll all be voting on in November.
Just about anybody involved in either immigration control or reform has ties to, or opinions about, FAIR. The organization is said to be behind the recent Arizona Senate Bill 1070, for example. Lake Worth City Commissioner Scott Maxwell, who is staunchly in favor of strict immigration control, is a FAIR supporter. As is Lesley Blackner, the Palm Beach Attorney who started the Hometown Democracy movement that resulted in getting Amendment 4 on this year's ballot. Whether you're an environmentalist, a slow-growth advocate, a white nationalist, an immigration reformer, or a women's reproductive rights activist, the road you're marching will eventually lead you back to John Tanton. The Southern Poverty Law Center published an inflammatory report late last year labeling FAIR a "hate group" based in large part on its evaluation of Tanton.
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And then there's Joyce Tarnow.
New Times has been covering Tarnow for nearly a decade: She's a former Deerfield Beach activist and gadfly, a population control expert who once ran an abortion clinic in Fort Lauderdale. Tarnow, who lives in North Florida now, is a vocal advocate for Amendment 4. She has strong opinions on immigration. She's all for zero population growth. And she thinks Florida's environment is going to go down the tubes if we don't brush the beach sand out of our eyes and really look at what's happening to our water and our wildernesses.
Tarnow, now in her 70s, is as fierce a bulldog as ever. She bared her canines at us this week, when she fired off an email to defend John Tanton, whom she called "a personal friend of mine." Here's what she had to say:
John Tanton has been a population control advocate for more than forty years. I first met John in 1972 when he and I served on the national board of Zero Population Growth. His contributions to the social issues of our day are courageous and well thought out, issues that too many are afraid to tackle.
A small example was his suggestion to the board and staff of ZPG that we should look into radio advertising of condom use. That did not fly then, but now we have Viagra all over the air waves.
John and his wife Mary Lou organized the Planned Parenthood chapter in Petoskey, Michigan. He started FAIR because he saw that U.S. population was being propelled by the immigration policy changes by Congress starting in 1965. He started the Social Contract magazine that features the best writers on population, immigration and the impacts on our resources and our citizens.
John is a stellar individual and is slandered by an organization [ed: Tarnow is referencing the Southern Poverty Law Center here] that collects a lot of money but spends very little on its stated mission.