After a decades-long struggle, a multi-millionaire eugenicist with ties to right nationalism finally gets his man into the White House. Soon, he has the opportunity to place his vision of racial purity into practice, beginning at the border. It sounds like science fiction, but Splinter, a project of Univision and Gizmodo, has the story of one John Tanton and his campaign to give us his personal dystopia, the America that locks children in cages.
While the Center for Immigration Studies bills itself as an independent, non-partisan research organization, it is in fact a key node in a small network of think tanks and nonprofits, founded and directed by a man whose private correspondence contains praise for anti-Semites, fascists, and race scientists of various ideological backgrounds, many of whom would go on to figure prominently in today’s so-called alt-right and financed largely by one of the oldest and wealthiest families in America. That man is John Tanton, an aging ophthalmologist from Michigan; his benefactor was Cordelia Scaife May, heir to the Scaife family fortune, a branch of the Mellon family. Neither were world-historical political masterminds, but they were vectors for world-historical forces: The institutions they created together show more clearly than most how capitalism and white supremacy are mutually constitutive; how the ruling class uses racial resentment to reinforce its rule; and how the spoils of imperialism are redeployed toward maintaining the internal colonies, racial hierarchies, and economic order of our age.