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John Tanton (1934–2019) was a Michigan activist and ophthalmologist. He is best known as one of the major figures behind anti-immigration activism in the United States. He began as an environmental activist, holding leadership positions during the 1970s in the Sierra Club and Zero Population Growth as well as Planned Parenthood. This segued into a focus on immigration levels as the primary driver of population growth in the U.S., and starting in 1979 into a narrow obsession with immigration and the related English-only movement. He founded or co-founded the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), The Social Contract Press, U.S. English, and ProEnglish.
The Tanton network of groups seems to view national identification cards and high-tech surveillance such as entry-exit visa tracking as necessary to "secure the border". They have campaigned in support of passage of the REAL ID Act and used rhetorical appeals to the war on terror and 9/11 to promote immigration restriction; The Social Contract Press has gone so far as to call for a complete ban on immigration by Muslims "for national security reasons" because they are "undermining America's national security, social cohesion, and cultural strength". Tanton also issued a private memo in 1988 which led to the resignations of Walter Cronkite and Linda Chavez from the U.S. English board after the memo — containing such statements considered offensive by the Hispanic community as "Can homo contraceptivus compete with homo progenitiva"..."Perhaps this is the first instance in which those with their pants up are going to get caught by those with their pants down!" was leaked by the Arizona Republic.
When he wasn't insulting Hispanics and campaigning for national ID cards, he keeps busy republishing bad racist novels from France, co-writing books with Wayne Lutton, and sending money to Tom Tancredo. He also founded the Society for Genetic Education, which is described by some as supporting eugenics.
- "Keeping America Empty", In These Times profile, April 24, 2006.
- His profile on the Southern Poverty Law Center, which notably has no mention of his environmental activities.
- James Crawford, Hold Your Tongue, Chapter 6
- The Camp of the Saints by Jean Raspail, The Social Contract Press, 1994; orig. Scribners, 1975
- The Immigration Invasion by Wayne Lutton and John Tanton, The Social Contract Press, 1994; Lutton is also the co-author of a virulently homophobic book on AIDS with David Noebel
- "Tancredo's Dubious Allies", The American Spectator, January 16, 2007