Racist hate network using media to sabotage immigration reform, says book author

"Myth of Race" still a force in modern politics

Anyone interested in understanding fringe forces behind the looming battle over U.S. immigration reform might do well to read a new book that details how six centuries of racist and white supremacist thinking continue to shape modern politics in the United States.

“Such organizations as the Pioneer Fund, the American Renaissance Foundation and FAIR (the Federation for American Immigration Reform) have successfully kept age-old racist theories in the eyes and minds of the public and continue to pursue the goals of the eugenics movement in the early twentieth century,” writes the book’s author, Robert Wald Sussman, PhD, a professor of physical anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis.

Published recently by Harvard University Press, Sussman’s book is titled “The Myth of Race, The Troubling Persistence of an Unscientific Idea.” Sussman is a noted authority on the history of the eugenics movement and the role of anthropology in building scientific consensus that perceived racial distinctions among humans have no biological basis.

Since it’s release in October, the reader comments section for Sussman’s book on Amazon has become a battleground between those who describe it as “a well-timed and well-researched history of ideas that traces the political motivations behind the pseudoscience of human ‘race’” and those see it as “absolute Marxist libtard tripe… better suited as a substitute for toilet wipes.”

The book also has generated a predictable backlash from those who would like his research to be ostracized, including a recent article on the American Renaissance website VDARE.

And, as noted in a recent book review in Nature, Sussman’s book can be read as an inadvertent retort to former New York Times journalist Nicholas Wade’s book, “A Troublesome Inheritance,” which was published while Sussman’s book was in press.

Describing Wade’s book as one of the “more insidious” attempts to to show that there is a genetic basis for racial differences, the review suggests that Wade relies on much of the same research as that used in the controversial 1994 book by Charles Murray, The Bell Curve.

“Like The Bell Curve, Wade’s book draws heavily on a long tradition of what historians refer to as scientific racism, particularly research connected to the Pioneer Fund, chartered in 1937 in part to ‘support study and research into the problems of heredity and eugenics’ and, as Sussman shows, still deeply involved in eugenic and racial research,” writes the reviewer, Nathaniel Comfort, PhD, a professor at the Institute of the History of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland


Sussman devotes the majority of his book to tracing the early origins of racist theories, moving systematically through the Bible-based arguments that fueled the Spanish Inquisition, the teachings of botanist Carl Linnaeus and philosophies of Immanuel Kant. He details how these and other racist theories have been thoroughly debunked, beginning in the early 19th century by anthropologists such as Franz Boas and more recently through the scientific techniques of modern biology and genetics.

Lest we think that science has won the war on racism, Sussman uses the final three chapters of his book to argue that a well-funded and secretive network of foundations and think tanks continues to use many of these tired racist arguments to support a white supremacist agenda first set in motion during the early 1930s by the American manufacturing multimillionaire Wickcliffe P. Draper.

The Pioneer Fund

Draper, a fervent supporter of Adolph Hitler and the Third Reich’s fascination with eugenics, used a large chunk of his fortune in 1937 to establish the Pioneer Fund, a private foundation dedicated to the support of “scientific research” into the problems of heredity and eugenics and the dissemination of this information to the public and policymakers.

It’s a mission, Sussman argues, that continues to this day.

Sussman details how Draper first used his fortunes to support the distribution of Nazi eugenics propaganda in the United States before launching the Pioneer Fund, which continues to funnel millions more into bogus race-based science research, white supremacist newsletters and websites, extreme right-wing political campaigns and thinly-veiled support for controversial political issues, such as ultra-conservative stands on immigration reform.

Much of Sussman’s argument for the Pioneer Funds influence over an ongoing, racism-charged anti-immigration movement in the United States revolves around the Funds’ long-term relationship with John Tanton, whom he describes as a nativist at the heart of the white nationalist movement in the United States for more than 30 years.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the Pioneer Fund began pursuing its anti-immigration agenda by pumping millions of dollars into like-minded organizations, such as the New Century Foundation, the American Renaissance Foundation, the American Immigration Control Foundation and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). It also established close working relations with a broad network of right wing conservative politicians, including Jesse Helms, Sussman writes.

Tanton, who founded FAIR in 1979, has accepted more than a $1 million in funding from the Pioneer Fund, writes Sussman. Despite its widely recognized racist background, FAIR continues to spread its propaganda in the popular media and have a relatively frequent voice in Congress, writes Sussman, noting that FAIR sources were quoted in mainstream media more than 500 times in 2008, including several appearances on CNN.

Long labeled as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, FAIR is just one of the many currently operating anti-immigration organizations that Sussman’s book links to John Tanton, FAIR and past or current support from the Pioneer Fund.

Since the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling that corporations are legal persons, a decision that allows corporations to contribute to political campaigns without disclosure, it is difficult to know just how much and who the Pioneer Fund, FAIR, and other racist, neo-Nazi, and white supremacist groups are funding.

A network of linkages

And while many organizations and politicians have disavowed their connections to the Pioneer Fund, Sussman’s book offers plenty of evidence to establish a rich network of linkages, some that can be traced to recent political campaigns and ballot initiatives, including:

Now that Republicans have won congressional majorities in the November 2014 mid-term elections, FAIR is cranking up pressure on party leadership to “go big” in rolling back the Obama immigration agenda, as outlined in a recent FAIR news release.

As immigration reform once again heads to the front-burner of American politics, the nation’s politicians and voters have an opportunity to decide whether a fringe coalition of racist groups will once again be allowed to sabotage serious efforts to reach a rational compromise on critical immigration issues, he suggests.

“Racism has not gone away in the United States, and with a black president in his second term, open, blatant racism has once again become very prominent in many spheres of American life,” Sussman concludes.