VTDigger.org publishes press releases as a service for our readers.
We want to get as much salient information about politics and public policy issues to the public as possible. Rather than write staff reports based on press releases, as many news outlets do, we run them verbatim, and we vet the material to make sure that it comes from legitimate sources.
We reserve the right to ignore press releases that aren’t relevant, that are patently self-promotional or that present potentially libelous information.
We don’t censor political views.
On Monday, we ran a press release, however, that later gave us pause. It was about a poll of Vermont voters and their views on “illegal immigration.” The survey, conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, was commissioned by the Federation for American Immigration Reform. According to the release, it “reveals that likely Vermont voters overwhelmingly believe illegal immigration is harmful to the state, and half would like to see overall levels of immigration to the United States reduced.”
“A clear majority of likely Vermont voters, 55 percent, say that illegal immigration negatively affects the state,” according to FAIR.
The information was distributed by PRNewswire, a commonly used mainstream media information source, and it was also published in The Sacramento Bee.
We received an email from Brendan O’Neill, an activist with Migrant Justice, within minutes of posting the FAIR press release. O’Neill who is an advocate for Mexican migrant workers in Vermont pointed out that FAIR has a dubious reputation. The organization is described as a “hate” group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights organization, based in Montgomery, Ala.
Here is an excerpt from the center’s 2001 report on anti-immigration groups, which was updated in 2007 to include FAIR.
Founded in 1978 by John H. Tanton, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is one of the country’s best-established anti-immigration groups — and the richest beneficiary among them of the largesse of the infamous Pioneer Fund.
The Fund, which has long subsidized dubious studies of the alleged links between race and intelligence, awarded FAIR $1.2 million between 1985 and 1994, according to the Institute for the Study of Academic Racism. FAIR now says that it has severed its links to the controversial Fund.
Today, FAIR claims a staggering 70,000 members, although that number is almost certainly inflated. Tanton remains on FAIR’s board and also is the publisher of The Social Contract Press, which sells racist anti-immigrant tracts.
Dan Stein, the group’s executive director, has warned that certain immigrant groups are engaged in “competitive breeding” aimed at diminishing white power. Rick Oltman, FAIR’s western representative, has spoken before and worked with the racist Council of Conservative Citizens.
Garrett Hardin, a FAIR board member, has argued that aiding starving Africans is counterproductive and will only “encourage population growth.” Overall, FAIR blames immigrants for crime, poverty, disease, urban sprawl and increasing racial tensions in America, and calls for a drastic cut in the numbers of those allowed in.
Though we very rarely remove posts, I took the press release down after I read the center’s report. Though the information from FAIR was cloaked in legitimacy — it was a about a poll, and it came from a commonly used email newswire — I decided VTDigger.org shouldn’t publish information from a group that has a record of racist views.
Shortly afterward, Migrant Justice took credit for the decision and then excoriated VTDigger.org on Facebook.
Justicia Migrante Migrant Justice
VT Digger published a press release about Vermonters being ‘anti-immigrant’. Catch is they didn’t check the source to see they published a HATE GROUPS press release who were part of the fight for the Arizonification laws and whose hateful rhetoric enables a system of violence against all people of color. Tell VT Digger to check their sources before publishing hate! VtDigger
Unfortunately, my inbox hasn’t been inundated with complaints.
VTDigger.org is a platform for wide-ranging, sometimes heated discussions on issues.
When it comes to racism, however, there is no debate. Our nation has a shameful history of bigotry that continues to this day through acts of discrimination, violence and the war of words against people of color.
It’s a legacy of hatred we want no part of.
~Anne Galloway, editor of VTDigger.org