Same Hacks Smearing John Tanton Are Shilling for Soros

By James Kirkpatrick
Published in The Social Contract
Volume 30, Number 1 (Fall 2019)
Issue theme: "John Tanton: His Life and Legacy (1934-2019)"

“Puppet master.” “Almost single-handedly responsible.” “Architect of the movement.”

These are phrases used to describe the late Dr. John Tanton, a patriot, philosopher, and philanthropist who defied the Establishment by fighting for a sustainable future. He was effective, and so he was reviled by those who hate this country and want to transform it.

They described him like he was the archpriest of some dark conspiracy, solely responsible for the rise of immigration patriotism, nationalism, and President Donald Trump. Indeed, so-called mainstream journalists and activist organizations sound like crazy conspiracy theorists ranting about the Illuminati when they describe the late Dr. Tanton.


• The Southern Poverty Law Center wrote in 2008 that John Tanton was “the puppet master of the modern anti-immigration movement.” On July 18, 2019, it called him the “racist architect of the modern anti-immigrant movement” and said “his legacy is difficult to overstate.”

• The Los Angeles Times called Dr. Tanton the “quiet architect of American’s modern-day immigration movement.”

• The Daily Beast proclaimed that John Tanton “over 40 years almost single-handedly built the American immigration movement around a core of rancid white nationalism.”

• The Washington Post said John Tanton “was the architect of a national anti-immigration movement that found expression in the policies of the administration of President Trump.” The smear piece about his death concluded with a quote from a former associate comparing Dr. Tanton to a dead cat poisoning a well.

• On August 14, The New York Times ran a sprawling article about philanthropist Cordelia Scaife May and what the Grey Lady called the “Tanton-May network.” Combining painstaking coverage about the funding of various groups mixed with allegations of racism, it accused the “Tanton-May network [of having] harnessed each surge of anti-immigration sentiment.”

Thus, if you believe the corporate media, support for patriotic immigration reform or sustainable population growth is not an organic phenomenon. It is an astroturfed movement controlled by shadowy millionaires, with the late Dr. Tanton as “puppet master.”

He poisoned the civic discourse. It’s his fault America is divided.

Compare this coverage to that surrounding George Soros and his vast network of foundations. In 2017, George Soros transferred $17 billion to his Open Society Foundations, which, among other things, lobby for increased immigration. This is just one example of Soros’s financial influence, but this donation alone dwarfs the amount of money ever given to foundations dedicated to patriotic immigration reform.

What’s more, this is only part of what George Soros donates. For example, he recently donated over $5 million to a new Democratic political action committee in preparation for the 2019 elections. Comparing the financier Soros’s vast empire to the ophthalmologist Dr. Tanton’s modest resources is like comparing China’s economy to North Korea’s.

And yet, the same publications and organizations that claim the late Dr. Tanton was some super-wealthy puppet master are quite defensive about Mr. Soros.

In 2018, The Los Angeles Times featured an article explaining “How billionaire philanthropist George Soros became a favorite far-right target, especially in his native Hungary.” “A Holocaust survivor and a billionaire many times over, he has directed the bulk of his personal fortune to his foundation, which advances progressive political causes and supports an array of human rights, health, and education initiatives across the globe,” wrote Laura King. “But for anyone with even a passing familiarity with the darker and more conspiratorial corners of the Internet, Soros’s name is synonymous with a vast and sinister network spanning decades and vaulting continents.”

An op/ed in The Washington Post proclaimed: “Conspiracy theories about Soros aren’t just false. They’re anti-Semitic.” Yet author Talia Lavin admitted within her own column that her employer, Media Matters for America, received a $1 million donation from Soros in 2010. Washington Post columnist, Dana Milbank, sneered at those who question Soros’s influence. “Of course it’s George Soros’s fault,” he scoffed. “It’s always George Soros’s fault.” Jennifer Rubin, another staff columnist, called President Trump linking immigration to George Soros “conspiratorial lunacy.”

George Soros was among those targeted by the inept terrorist Cesar Sayoc, recently sentenced to 20 years in prison for sending mail bombs. In the aftermath, The New York Times explained “How Vilification of George Soros Moved From the Fringes to the Mainstream.” Rather than the detailed breakdown of his foundations that the Times provided on the “Tanton-May network,” the article condemned those investigating the financier. “On both sides of the Atlantic,” it intoned, “a loose network of activists and political figures on the right have spent years seeking to cast Mr. Soros not just as a well-heeled political opportunist but also as the personification of all they detest.” It also accused Soros critics of “employing barely coded anti-Semitism” and presenting a “warped portrayal of him as the mastermind of a ‘globalist’ movement, a left-wing radical who would undermine the established order, and a proponent of diluting the white, Christian nature of their societies through immigration.” It’s important to note this is meant to be a straight news piece, not an editorial.

The Daily Beast wrote in 2018 that a “GOP Ad Channels Anti-Semitism to Portray George Soros as Puppetmaster.” Author Spencer Ackerman accused “the Republican Party, from Trump on down” of having “more aggressively flirted with the conspiratorial invocations of Soros that European anti-Semites have recently used to substantial political success.”

Just before Dr. Tanton’s death, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote a piece condemning militia movements and accusing them of being driven by anti-immigrant sentiment rather than purely antigovernment motivations. “The movement’s conspiracy theories are a factor, however,” it said, “as some extremists believe immigration is being abetted or encouraged by global figures such as George Soros.”

Yet is immigration not being abetted or encouraged by George Soros? George Soros wrote an article entitled “Why I’m Investing $500 Million in Migrants,” available at Soros says he will make investments that “specifically address the needs of migrants, refugees, and host communities” and will help “startups, established companies, social-impact initiatives, and businesses founded by migrants and refugees themselves.” In the article, featured in The Wall Street Journal , Soros also calls on other investors to make the same commitments.

Does repeating Soros’s own words make one a conspiracy theorist or an extremist?

When discussing conspiracies and funding, the metaphor of the “octopus” or puppet master is often used. John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company was sometimes portrayed as an octopus. Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi called Goldman Sachs “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.” In an obituary of the late David Koch, The New York Times and other publications referred casually to the “Kochtopus,” the network of conservative and libertarian organizations supported by the Koch brothers. The “Kochtopus” example is so widely used, one could provide countless citations.

The same kind of language was also used to describe the late Dr. Tanton. The SPLC called him a puppet master. In 1993, The Los Angeles Times profiled the Foundation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and raised questions about its “questionable funding sources and racially insensitive writings by the organization’s founder, Michigan ophthalmologist John H. Tanton.” Frank Sharry of the National Immigration Forum condemned immigration groups he said were informally linked to FAIR. “I see all these groups as spinoffs of FAIR, sort of tentacles of the same octopus,” he said. “They all get their misinformation and support from the head of the octopus.”

Yet when applied against Soros and his foundations, the “octopus” or puppet master metaphors become wildly offensive. “If you search today for Soros, you will immediately find images of his head with octopus tentacles, another classic anti-Semitic motif,” complained Buzzfeed in an article defending the oligarch, entitled “The Unbelievable Story Of The Plot Against George Soros.” The article goes on to explain that the demonization of Soros began with two Jewish political consultants and was promoted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son. Somehow, this doesn’t make the charge of “anti-Semitism” self-discrediting.

Similarly, the Southern Poverty Law Center sees no issue in calling Dr. Tanton the “puppet master” of a movement. However, when the libertarian cartoonist Ben Garrison made a cartoon featuring George Soros as a “puppet master” (who was in turn being manipulated by Rothschilds), he was called “anti-Semitic.” The White House withdrew Garrison’s invitation to a social media summit as a result.

The truth is that the late Dr. Tanton’s resources were far more modest than Mr. Soros’s vast wealth. Nonetheless, Dr. Tanton had a huge impact. He wasn’t a “puppet master,” merely a patriot doing what he could to save his country. Mr. Soros’s foundations have infinitely more power and influence. Yet the same publications that condemn Dr. Tanton as some conspiratorial archfiend claim it is offensive to single out Mr. Soros in any way.

This double standard shows the true nature of power in the West. It shows that Dr. Tanton wasn’t some privileged oligarch. He was an underdog, resisting those who want an overpopulated, unsustainable, disunited America. His legacy should be honored and his example followed.

About the author

James Kirkpatrick, a regular contributor to, is a Beltway veteran and a refugee from Conservatism Inc

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