Anti-Immigration Group to Meet in Herndon
Friday, February 24, 2006
About 300 followers of an organization labeled a "hate group" will gather at a Herndon hotel today for a conference at which speakers will expound on what they see as the global threat of immigration to whites and the moral and intellectual differences among races.
American Renaissance, a Fairfax County-based journal, will hold its seventh biennial conference at the Hyatt Dulles hotel. Its focus will be the "defense of Western civilization," organizers said.
Immigrants are "changing [white] societies in ways that most white people don't like," said Oakton resident Jared Taylor, the journal's editor.
The three-day conference has been held in Northern Virginia before. But some observers fear its presence in Herndon -- where recent controversy over a day-laborer hiring center spawned protests -- could bring trouble.
"Herndon suddenly has become a hotbed of discontent for anti-immigration groups," said Mukit Hossain, founder of Project Hope and Harmony, which runs the laborers' hiring center. "I am concerned with the potential for hate crime which may be generated by events like this."
The workers' center will dispatch extra volunteers to help deal with any conflict that might arise, director Bill Threlkeld said. Police in Herndon and Fairfax County said they are aware of the conference but have no special plans for it.
Activists plan to protest outside the Hyatt and counter-protest at the job center if necessary, said Marco Del Fuego of the Olive Branch Community, a District group that advocates for immigrants.
Taylor said fears of confrontations are unfounded. He said the conference is being held in Herndon because it is convenient for many participants, whom he called "middle-aged white guys in coats and ties."
American Renaissance, founded in 1989, promotes two policies, Taylor said: stopping immigration and reversing all anti-discrimination laws.
The New Century Foundation, which publishes the journal, is considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, said Mark Potok, editor of the center's intelligence report.
"Basically, this is a batch of gussied-up white supremacists, but they are very much the button-down crowd," Potok said.
This year's conference has attracted more registrants than ever, Taylor said. He attributed interest in part to speakers, who include Nick Griffin, chairman of the anti-immigration British National Party, who was acquitted this month of inciting racial hatred during a speech in which he called Islam a "wicked, vicious faith." Taylor also credited it to what he called an awakening by whites to "the crisis they face as a group."
Barry Mehler, a professor at Ferris State University in Michigan and executive director of the Institute for the Study of Academic Racism, said the journal attracts arguments linking race and intelligence that have been "overwhelmingly rejected" by most scholars.
Still, Mehler and Potok said a more conservative political climate and a mounting public backlash over immigration in recent years have provided fertile terrain for opposition to multiculturalism.
"The idea that America is losing its cultural identity because of immigration -- those are ideas that they have embraced for a long time," Mehler said. Now, he said, the ideas "resonate with a larger audience."