Level One: Introductory
Level One

What is the “Battle of Ideas?”

Updated Nov 19, 2014

In the early 1980s, John Tanton, the architect of the modern-day anti-immigrant movement, termed the fight to legitimize his movement within public and political discourse as the “Battle of Ideas.” In 1985 he outlined a plan to advance partisan ideas coded in academic language rather than neutral research than served the public interest.

The following is an excerpt from a Tanton-authored memo in September 1985:

“The Immigration Reform Movement is loosing (sic) ground in the Battle of Ideas. We realized on starting FAIR in 1979 that the immigration reform battle would be won in the end by the side that had the best ideas…If we do not successfully meet this challenge, we’ll surely loose (sic). After careful and prolonged study, the FAIR Board has concluded that a ‘Think Tank’ on the scale of Worldwatch Institute is needed. For credibility, it will need to be independent of FAIR, though the Center for Immigration Studies, as we’re calling it, is starting off as a project of FAIR.”

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