April 19, 2017 – Ben Zuckerman, the president of the board of the anti-immigrant Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) co-edited a book with well-known white nationalist Michael Hart. The book, Extraterrestrials: Where Are They?, examines the plausibility of aliens existing and was first published in 1982 and again in 1995, but a 2015 email exchange obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center indicates that Zuckerman cared little about Hart’s openly racist beliefs.
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“Dear ****: whatever Michael Hart’s opinions regarding race might be, he is not an astronomer and has not been one for more than two decades,” Zuckerman wrote in an email exchange with a postdoctoral researcher who quizzed him about Hart’s racist views. Zuckerman and Hart also organized a conference together titled “Symposium on the Implications of Our Failure to Observe Extraterrestrials” around the same time the book was released.
Hart, a Jewish astrophysicist, has attended pseudo-academic racist gatherings for decades. He is the author of the racist book Understanding Human History, which focuses on alleged differences in intelligence between various ethnic and racial groups. In the past, Hart was a regular at the biannual conferences put on by American Renaissance, a racist publication that wrote, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, that “[w]hen blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western civilization — any kind of civilization — disappears.”
Hart stopped attending AMREN conferences following a very public spat with former Klan boss and professional anti-Semite David Duke. The conflict was trigged at the 2006 conference by Duke, who attacked Jews, telling the crowd, “There is a power in the world that dominates our media, influences our government and that has led to the internal destruction of our will and spirit.” Though Duke didn’t directly say Jews were that power, everyone in the crowd—including several members of the neo-Nazi National Alliance—knew exactly who he meant.
Hart couldn’t take it. He stood up and yelled at Duke, “You fucking Nazi, you’ve disgraced this meeting!” and stormed out. As many as 50 people at the conference then began to jeer and point at the rapidly disappearing Hart.
Hart and other Jewish academic racists left American Renaissance shortly thereafter, when founder Jared Taylor declined to explicitly ban anti-Semites. Hart went on to host his own racist gathering, a “Preserving Western Civilization,” conference in response. At that conference, Hart compared the Koran to Mein Kampf and Islam to Nazism.
In recent years, Hart attended Richard Spencer’s 2013 National Policy Institute (NPI) conference in Washington, D.C. Also in 2013, Hart attended another racist gathering, a meeting of the H.L. Mencken Club in Baltimore.
So why would Zuckerman agree to co-edit a book with a white nationalist, and then choose to ignore his documented racist views 20 years later? Mainly because CAPS and Zuckerman are both comfortable working with white nationalists.
CAPS recently hired and fired a well-known neo-Nazi, Parker Wilson, who was arrested in 2011 after he admitted to fighting with brass knuckles. Police searched his residence and found “numerous White Pride paraphernalia, firearms, ammunition and components to make a pipe bomb.”
CAPS’ co-founder is white nationalist Garret Hardin, a visionary nativist who, along with white nationalist John Tanton, helped to build the well-established organized nativist movement in the U.S. that we see today. In a 1997 interview, Hardin stated, “My position is that this idea of a multiethnic society is a disaster. That’s what we’ve got in Central Europe, and in Central Africa. A multiethnic society is insanity. I think we should restrict immigration for that reason.” Like FAIR, CAPS received funding from the Pioneer Fund, a now defunct organization whose original mandate was to pursue “race betterment” by promoting the genetic stock of those “deemed to be descended predominantly from white persons who settled in the original 13 states prior to the adoption of the Constitution.” Before its insolvency, it funded studies of race and intelligence, as well as eugenics, the “science” of breeding superior human beings that was discredited by various Nazi atrocities and supported by many of the leading Anglo-American race scientists of the last several decades.
CAPS has also made more than a few questionable hires in recent memory. In 2013, the organization hired white nationalist John Vinson as a senior writing fellow. Vinson is a founding member of the openly racist neo-Confederate group League of the South, and the Anti-Defamation League credits with drafting the “Kinism Statement,” a set of guiding principles for a modern white supremacist interpretation of Christianity. Another white nationalist who writes frequently for CAPS is Frosty Wooldridge, a former FAIR advisory board member who has written countless anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant screeds including once writing “In order to be faithful to the Islamic religion, Muslims ultimately must degrade and kill all other people who follow any other religions.” He has granted interviews to anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers on multiple occasions. Both Wooldridge and Vinson no longer write for CAPS after SPLC pointed out their racist views in a previous blog post published in February of 2017.
Zuckerman is an ally of Tanton’s and once called him a “great environmentalist.” He was an integral part of the nativist push to take over the board of environmental group the Sierra Club, a major goal of Tanton’s, Zuckerman was elected to the Club’s board in 2002 where he then attempted to push the club to end its position of neutrality on American immigration policy to one that favors clamping down the borders. Sierra Club members rejected Zuckerman’s proposal along with similar ballot initiatives a few years later, dealing a major defeat to Tanton, Zuckerman and other nativists who were heavily invested in the hostile takeover attempt.
Zuckerman’s relationship with Hart and Tanton is not random. The nativist movement that Tanton started was founded on white supremacist principals and the groups making up that movement today—including Zuckerman’s CAPS—have direct ties to white nationalism, despite their environmentalist veneer.
The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch monitors and exposes the activities of the American radical right. www.splcenter.org/hatewatch