Largest funder of Nashville's failed English-only amendment had links to hate groups

Nashville voters rejected a proposal last Friday that would have made English the city's official language and prevented government workers from communicating in other languages. It turns out that Nashville English First, the group that pushed for the English-only measure, received more than 90 percent of its funds from an organization that has been linked to hate groups.

Nashville English First raised $89,722.76 for its campaign, reports the Tennessean. Of that, ProEnglish of Arlington, Va., contributed $82,500.  The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups around the country, has linked ProEnglish to such activity through other organizations founded by ProEnglish's founder, Dr. John H. Tanton.

As the Tennessean reported:
The man who founded the Virginia nonprofit paying for the push to make English Nashville's official language also is behind several organizations that have been labeled hate groups.

Dr. John H. Tanton, a retired eye surgeon, started both ProEnglish and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

The Southern Poverty Law Center identified FAIR as a hate group last winter based on its acceptance of $1.2 million from a white supremacist organization, employees' ties to other such groups and a history of "anti-Latino and anti-Catholic attitudes."

The Southern Poverty Law Center is a Montgomery, Ala.-based civil rights group that monitors extremist activity. It took a second look at FAIR in 2007 after learning that a senior official of the federation met with leaders of a Belgian political party known for its racist views, said Mark Potok, director of the law center's Intelligence Project.
SPLC also points to letters stored at the University of Michigan that show Tanton's correspondence with Ku Klux Klan associates, Holocaust revisionists and other sympathizers with the notion of white racial superiority as evidence that he has long been involved in the white nationalist movement, reports he Nashville Business Journal.

Nashville voters rejected the English-only charter amendment with about 57 percent opposed to the measure and 43 percent in favor.The proposal needed 50 percent to pass.

According to CNN, Nashville saw an increase of 210 percent in the immigrant population of the Nashville metro area between 1990 and 2000. During that decade, immigrants accounted for 45 percent of the overall population increase in the city.