Clockwise from top left: CAPS media director Joe Guzzardi, board member Judith Smith, board member Kenneth Pasternack, executive director Jo Wideman, and board member Marilyn Brant Chandler DeYoung
Santa Barbara Anti-Immigration Group Hit with ‘Hate’ Label
Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) Previously Employed Two White Nationalists and Recently Hired a Neo-Nazi
Originally published 8:30 p.m., February 27, 2017
Updated 9:36 a.m., February 28, 2017
Santa Barbara anti-immigration organization Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) was labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in its new report on the rise of radical right extremism under the candidacy and presidency of Donald Trump.
According to SPLC senior fellow Mark Potok, the listing was based on troubling statements made by CAPS founders and former members about race and eugenics, the group’s recent hiring of two white nationalists as senior writers, and the fresh revelation that for six months last year CAPS employed a closeted neo-Nazi as its director of public affairs.
Headquartered on lower State Street and with thousands of followers across the country, CAPS is a 31-year-old nonprofit organization that advocates for stricter immigration laws in the name of environmental sustainability and economic equity. According to its 2015 tax filings, the most recent available, CAPS collected $1.2 million in public contributions that year. It spent $416,000 on advertising and $195,000 on lobbying.
CAPS executive director Jo Wideman rejected the “hate group” label as a misnomer perpetuated by an organization pushing an open borders agenda. “CAPS has been effective at getting its message out,” she said. “As a result, our opponents want to silence CAPS and millions of Americans that share our views.” Wideman said the SPLC and other left-leaning organizations can’t win the immigration debate with facts. “So, they resort to divisive name-calling,” she said. “They go low. It’s an old tactic that Americans now understand and reject.” CAPS, Wideman declared, is dedicated to creating a better quality of life for all Americans, regardless of race, gender, or religion.
The Southern California portion of the SPLC’s nationwide Hate Map
The SPLC report ― released February 15, soon after CAPS media director Joe Guzzardi spoke to The Santa Barbara Independent about his group’s revitalization under Trump ― lists 79 hate groups in California, up from 68 the year before; 917 exist nationwide. “All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics,” the SPLC states on its website. That includes organizations openly critical of minorities, such as the Golden State Skinheads outside Sacramento and Jihad Watch in Sherman Oaks, as well as militant separatist groups, such as the Nation of Islam in Oakland and the New Black Panther Party in Los Angeles. SPLC says its hate index is created using publications, websites, citizen and law enforcement reports, field sources, and news stories.
In an article published February 23 supporting the CAPS “hate group” designation, SPLC research analyst Stephen Piggott describes CAPS cofounder and Malthusian philosopher Garrett Hardin as a “white nationalist” who laid the foundation for today’s U.S. nativist movement. Hardin stated in a 1997 interview: “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.”
Hardin taught at UCSB and also served on the board of directors for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which, like CAPS, received funding from the now disbanded Pioneer Fund, whose original mandate was to ensure “race betterment” by preserving the genetics of those “descended predominantly from white persons who settled in the original thirteen states prior to the adoption of the Constitution.”
In 2013, CAPS hired John Vinson as a senior writing fellow. According to Piggott, Vinson is a founding member of the neo-Confederate group League of the South credited with drafting the “Kinism Statement” that espouses a white supremacist interpretation of the Bible. CAPS currently publishes Vinson’s blog posts on its website. It does the same for the posts of Frosty Wooldridge, a former CAPS senior writer who frequently blames immigrants for the country’s financial woes. He also identifies Muslims as a source of violence and disruption in communities across the globe. “Wherever Muslims immigrate, they create havoc in their host countries,” he wrote in a December 2015 article for the conservative news site NewsWithViews.com, later declaring, “[A]nyone who follows the Qur’an must ultimately convert or kill all non-believers.”
CAPS director Wideman, who collects $106,000 a year in salary, claimed Vinson and Wooldridge no longer write for CAPS. Of Hardin, Wideman said he “has not been involved in CAPS for decades.” Still, she went on, his environmental writings are celebrated for their insight on topics ranging from climate change to ocean acidification. His 1968 article “The Tragedy of the Commons” about overpopulation and resource depletion is “the most cited article ever in the history of science,” she stated. (That distinction, according to Nature magazine, actually belongs to a 1951 chemistry paper about a new method of measuring protein in a solution.)
“CAPS is not aware of any intolerant rhetoric espoused by Dr. Hardin, and our organization unequivocally and without exception condemns any form of intolerance,” Wideman continued. She also said it’s difficult to believe CAPS’s other founders ― including David Brower, the first executive director of the Sierra Club, famed biologist Paul Ehrlich, and birth control pill inventor Carl Djerassi ― would condone such views. CAPS-sponsored op-eds regularly appear in the Santa Barbara News-Press and on the website Noozhawk.
Wideman, however, expressed deep regret over hiring 26-year-old Parker Wilson last year as her organization’s director of public affairs. Wilson was outed earlier this month as a neo-Nazi with a criminal history in a lengthy exposé published by the El Tecolote bilingual newspaper out of San Francisco. El Tecolote reporter Alexis Terrazas uncovered a long history of Wilson’s association with white supremacist and alt-right groups.
Wilson used aliases to post xenophobic comments on Twitter and the popular white nationalist website Stormfront. He participated in anti-immigrant demonstrations and has more recently voiced support for Trump and his promise of mass deportations. In 2011, Wilson was arrested for punching a man with brass knuckles in a Safeway parking lot in Alameda. A search of his home turned up white pride paraphernalia, firearms, ammunition, and pipe bomb components. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail and placed on probation for three years. Police arrested Wilson 14 months later for violating probation when they found a nightstick in the trunk of his car during a traffic stop.