How environmentalists shaped Republican immigration policy

Ruben Mishchuk/Unsplash

On Monday, May 28, the Sierra Club turned 126 years old. Throughout its existence, the group's lobbying for environmental regulations has earned it a permanent place in progressive circles. But many may be surprised that the group was once a haven for immigration restrictionists.

The Club's restrictionist origins can be traced back to 1968 when it published a best-selling book titled The Population Bomb by biologist Paul R. Ehrlich. In it, Ehrlich argued that population growth was responsible for the earth's environmental decline, and advocated for immediate action in fighting against overpopulation. In the 1980s, the Sierra Club urged Congress to make population stabilization a chief US goal. A few years later the Club asserted that "Immigration to the U.S. should be no greater than that which will permit achievement of population stabilization in the U.S."

RELATED: Time to reverse course: America is being corrupted by its own power

One of the members who was influenced by Ehrlich's work was the Michigan eye doctor John Tanton. Tanton's concern about population growth's impact on the environment inspired him to serve as chairman of the Sierra Club's population stabilization committee from 1971 to 1975. In 1979, those same concerns propelled him to create the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which would become one of the most influential US organizations advocating for less immigration.

Six years after creating FAIR, Tanton helped secure a grant that launched the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) a think tank that describes itself as "Low immigration, Pro-immigrant." He also helped his former editor, Roy Beck, raise funds to launch NumbersUSA, a grassroots nonprofit that's also devoted to immigration reduction.

Tanton's engagement with FAIR ended when he left the advisory board in 2002, and his involvement in CIS and NumbersUSA never extended beyond his startup assistance. But some people involved in the restrictionist network are motivated by the same environmental concerns that worried Tanton. Roy Beck, for example, is a disgruntled former environmental reporter who blames poor air and water quality and a lack of open spaces on overpopulation from immigration. The Colcom Foundation, the largest funder of immigration restriction groups is animated by the same set of concerns, with their mission being to "foster a sustainable environment…by addressing the major causes and consequences of overpopulation."

Several of these environmentalists are concerned enough about overpopulation that they have outright advocated for abortion to reduce the US population size.

Several of these environmentalists are concerned enough about overpopulation that they have outright advocated for abortion to reduce the US population size. CIS Fellow David North, for example, argues that "too many people means too much pollution and not enough green space." He believes that there should be a "low-growth population organization" that seeks to "curtail needless restrictions on abortion." This is similar to the mission of the Weeden Foundation, another funder of FAIR, CIS, and NumbersUSA. The Foundation says that "an increasing population causes greater impact on the environment and loss of biodiversity" and believes that the liberalizing of Latin American abortion laws are among the "interventions necessary to lower birthrates." Tanton himself started a local Planned Parenthood Chapter in Northern Michigan for the same reasons he started FAIR.

At first glance, it's difficult to see the environmentalists in a coalition with other restrictionists. The former is comprised of a largely secular, socially liberal elite. The latter is filled with economic and cultural populists. But what they hold in common is a shared belief in a zero-sum world and an ahistorically, pessimistic outlook for what voluntary human cooperation can accomplish.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of CIS, observed in the National Review that 14 years ago there were left/right alliances on both sides of the immigration debate, and the choice was between the patriotic coalition or the post-American coalition.

American conservatism is built on the precepts that individuals are valued as ends in themselves and that public problems are best answered by civil society.

But people are defined by their own principles, not those of their coalition partners. American conservatism is built on the precepts that individuals are valued as ends in themselves and that public problems are best answered by civil society. A conservative vision for the American immigration system is one that removes barriers that impede individual choice, opportunity, and the exercise of responsibility.

Immigration restrictionists of the left and the right may have different reasons for their positions, but both are similar in that they demand the sacrifice of individual liberty in favor of centrally planned objectives.

Sam Peak is a Young Voices Advocate and opinion journalist who writes about immigration policy. You can follow him on twitter @Tiger_Speak.

In June, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips after he had refused to make a custom cake for a same-sex wedding. So, the Left is after him again.

Phillips says that on the same day of the Supreme Court decision, he received a call from an attorney asking him to make a cake that fades from blue to pink to celebrate his gender transition. Phillips again refused. He has also been harassed by the same attorney with multiple requests for cakes celebrating everything from drug use to Satanism. Naturally, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission is going after Phillips for discrimination. Again.

RELATED: The 'Masterpiece Cakeshop' ruling is actually a win for LGBT rights

Well, Phillips has understandably had enough. This week he filed a lawsuit against the state of Colorado. In the lawsuit, Phillips says his family lost 40 percent of its income due to the harassment he has received. He also says he and his employees were forced to complete a "reeducation program" about not exercising his faith at work.

In the Declaration of Independence, just before the list of specific grievances against King George III, Thomas Jefferson wrote:

"To prove this [talking about the king's tyranny], let Facts be submitted to a candid world."

The Left isn't interested in liberty and justice for all.

I wonder, do candid citizens in the U.S. notice that the tyranny against personal liberty, and religious liberty is not coming from the Right? Really, you would think that the Left would be all about the anything goes, to each his own kind of philosophy. "You do you," that's the typical Leftist philosophy, isn't it? It's certainly the spirit of postmodernism.

But the Left isn't interested in liberty and justice for all. They're interested in liberty and justice only for their vetted list of oppressed groups.

The Left is also pretty confident in its ownership of the "bigot" label to slap on whomever it deems necessary. But let's just go ahead and say it since no one else will – the Left is bigoted toward Christianity. This has nothing to do with the state of Colorado defending LGBT rights, and everything to do with their contempt for Jack Phillips' religious beliefs.

You know you're in for trouble any time an article begins with the following words: "These have been challenging times to be white in America."

Oh. I see where this is going:

People who aren't white may find this surprising. After all, it has been decades since white people could feel so free about loving their whiteness, or so openly celebrate whiteness, or talk about how much they relish being white and doing white activities.

RELATED: Redemption of a Grand Dragon: Can such a hateful person actually change?

Those are the opening lines of a recent NBC News op-ed- titled "Are 'white people' jokes racist? Let a fellow white person explain." I mean, it would make for incredible satire. I mean, if it were mocking the outrageous postmodern mental gymnastics of the modern Left, this article would be awe-inducing in its satirical prowess. Alas, it is not. It's real. The author, somehow, means what he's writing.

You know the routine: Racism against white people isn't a real thing. It's a clever mechanism which allows that racism against white people is purely linguistic, based on the idea that power determines who can say what.

You know the routine: Racism against white people isn't a real thing.

The idea is embodied by the entire article, but one sentence in particular smacks of it: "one of the great things about being white is that you'll never have to know what racism feels like (on the receiving end anyway)."

I think I know what it feels like. It feels like someone is judging based entirely on my skin color. Kinda like this entire article about how white people cannot be judged based entirely on their skin color. How does that not make sense?

The great censorship jihad continue'ith. And maybe one of the most bizarre developments in this war is how members of the media have formed a Caliphate to wage this jihad. There are actually beat reporters from the mainstream media, hanging on every word Alex Jones says with the hopes of catching him violating social media terms of service rules.

If these mainstream media jihadis catch Jones in the act of saying anything haram - or forbidden - they instantly charge the battlefield and pummel companies like Twitter with examples of how their rules are being infringed upon. Their strategy bared more fruit yesterday. Twitter, one of the last platforms Alex Jones still had, slapped him with a seven-day ban.

RELATED: Alex Jones BANNED?!

I just can't understand where the Media Caliphate is coming from here. When you're in the business of and count on, the free flow of information, is it not counter-productive to your business model to advocate for censorship? Do you not see the slippery slope you're on? Look, I get it. You think Alex Jones is looney tunes and maybe even dangerous, but silencing ideas and information should never be the answer.

Countering crazy and dangerous speech with rational and sane speech should be your mission… not censorship. You're helping Jones get silenced and cheering it on, but what will you do when someone comes to censor you? Because that's where this is headed.

But while the call for jihad was raised for Alex Jones, and silence now falls on his Twitter account, these accounts still have full access. The Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan, Beverly Hills Antifa, Antifa Philadelphia… there are more Antifa twitter accounts than I have time to mention.

The radical Left is so well represented on Twitter, you'd think they have their own private office at Twitter headquarters right next to Jack. The Revolutionary Communist Party of America is but one still posting and calling for things like - you know - just the violent takeover of the U.S. government.

I hope the advocates for censorship enjoy these early victories because it won't be long before the monster they're unleashing turns on the master.

But the Media Caliphate isn't calling for their social media heads. They just want people like Alex Jones and Gavin McGinnis to shut up. I sure it doesn't have anything to do with - no it couldn't be - this is crazy talk, but both Jones and McGinnis work for rival media outlets and deliver rival narratives to the mainstream media.

I'm sure that has nothing to do with it. If smaller outlets like CRTV and Infowars are cutting into their viewership and stealing their YouTube and Social Media clicks, would it benefit the Caliphate to come at them full bore on a digital battlefield where they're currently getting their butts kicked? You bet it would, but that's just crazy talk.

I hope the advocates for censorship enjoy these early victories because it won't be long before the monster they're unleashing turns on the master.

How could you say no to that face?

WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images

Do you trust your own ability to unplug from technology? Some people born before the 1990s are wearing it as a badge of honor now – that they quit Facebook, or they do a regular technology fast.

We like to think we're not overly dependent on technology, while posting on social media about how old-school we are. That's all well and good until the technology starts giving you puppy dog eyes and producing digital crocodile tears. What if your robot begs you not to turn it off? Will you still do it?

RELATED: Glenn's Predictions on Technology and AI for 2018

This isn't science fiction anymore. It's right around the corner. And if you're skeptical whether humans will treat robots like a family member, a new study might alter your view.

Researchers in Germany set up an experiment to examine how people treat robots when the robots act like humans. Each human participant was asked to work with a robot named Nao to create a weekly schedule and answer a series of questions.

What the participants didn't know was that completing the tasks was just a way for the researchers to find out what they were really interested in – how the participant's interaction with Nao would affect their ability to shut down the robot when asked.

Half of the participants were asked to shut down Nao without the robot protesting. But the other half of the participants heard Nao plead with them, saying: "No! Please do not switch me off! I am scared that it will not brighten up again!"

Of the 43 people who heard Nao's plea, 13 chose not to turn him off. Some said they felt sorry for him, others that they didn't want to act against his will.

The other 30 people did turn him off, but they took twice as long on average to do so than the group that did not hear the robot's plea.

Our 2018 problems will suddenly seem very quaint.

The experiment confirms previous research demonstrating that humans are prone to treat technology, especially robots with human-like traits, as living beings.

Now, take this human tendency, and fast-forward a few years in the future when robots will look, sound, and act human, and know everything about us. Our 2018 problems will suddenly seem very quaint.