She was an heiress without a cause — an indifferent student, an unhappy young bride, a miscast socialite. Her most enduring passion was for birds.As if this is news.
But Cordelia Scaife May eventually found her life’s purpose: curbing what she perceived as the lethal threat of overpopulation by trying to shut America’s doors to immigrants.
She believed that the United States was “being invaded on all fronts” by foreigners, who “breed like hamsters” and exhaust natural resources. She thought that the border with Mexico should be sealed and that abortions on demand would contain the swelling masses in developing countries.
An heiress to the Mellon banking and industrial fortune with a half-billion dollars at her disposal, Mrs. May helped create what would become the modern anti-immigration movement. She bankrolled the founding and operation of the nation’s three largest restrictionist groups — the Federation for American Immigration Reform, NumbersUSA and the Center for Immigration Studies — as well as dozens of smaller ones, including some that have promulgated white nationalist views.
Today, 14 years after Mrs. May’s death, her money remains the lifeblood of the movement, through her Colcom Foundation. It has poured $180 million into a network of groups that spent decades agitating for policies now pursued by President Trump: militarizing the border, capping legal immigration, prioritizing skills over family ties for entry and reducing access to public benefits for migrants, as in the new rule issued just this week by the administration.
Why do I say this? Because of this:
A committee organized to welcome the world to Pittsburgh for the September G-20 economic summit has received a donation from a foundation that has, in the past, given millions of dollars to anti-immigration organizations including two listed as hate groups.And:
The Colcom Foundation, founded by Cordelia Scaife May, a now-deceased heir to the Mellon fortune, has been one of the major contributors to a web of groups founded by John Tanton, a Petoskey, Mich., ophthalmologist who has long been at the forefront of efforts to restrict immigration into the United States.
During Ms. May's lifetime, the foundation also underwrote the work of Samuel Francis, a self-described "white nationalist" who edited a newsletter for the Council of Conservative Citizens, a group that has advocated racial separation. Mr. Francis also was a regular speaker at conferences sponsored by American Renaissance, an annual gathering of academics who theorize on racially based differences in intelligence, contending that black people have lower intelligence than whites and Asians.
Heidi Beirich, head of research for the Southern Poverty Law Center who has done extensive studies of the immigration control movement, called the list of Colcom recipients "quite a lineup of haters."Check the date of publication: July 1 2009.
"It's beyond ironic that Colcom would be giving money to welcome the world to Pittsburgh, while simultaneously having bankrolled notorious white supremacists like Sam Francis and some of the most racist anti-immigrant groups in the country," Ms. Beirich said.
Within a few weeks, the Southern Poverty Law Center even commented on Roddy's piece:
Roddy’s article showed how the Colcom Foundation, founded by Cordelia Scaife May, a now-deceased heir to the Mellon banking fortune, had given money to extremists such as Samuel Francis, a white nationalist who edited a newsletter for the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), a group that has advocated racial separation and believes blacks to be a “retrograde species of humanity.” The foundation started by May, who died in 2005, also donated massive amounts of money over several decades to the various anti-immigrant institutions created by John Tanton, a retired Michigan ophthalmologist who is the orchestrator of the modern nativist movement. Two Tanton-linked organizations listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as hate groups — the Social Contract Press and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) — are among those that received funds in the past from Colcom.That was 10 years, 2 months and 3 days before The Times.
How is this news?
Wasn't news to me.
UPDATE: Via an email, Dennis Roddy had a comment:
During the Corbett administration I found environmental groups happily accepting Colcom money all the while knowing that it was being used to essentially “greenwash“ the foundation's anti-immigrant behaviors. Nobody in the Capitol press corps would touch the story.