NAME: John Clark
HOME BASE: Napa, CA
At the Morristown, NJ rally on July 28, 2007, a very funny thing happened. Daniel Smeriglio of a Pennsylvania anti-immigration group called Voice of the People (VOTP) was one of the speakers and he went on a crybaby routine about how they are not racists, and how it is wrong, just so damned wrong and unfair that they are being smeared that way. Well that might be true. Danny Boy – and we are only saying this for the sake of argument – might not be a racist. Thing is, a lot of the people he prefers to work with are, so after the rally was done, we decided to ask him why, if he doesn’t like to be hit with the racist charge, would he have John Clark of the American Immigration Control Foundation emceeing VOTP’s rally in Harrisburg on Sept. 1. Danny’s response was “Everyone has an opinion.” and ran away faster than a Stormfront poster in an ARA conference (so we also didn’t have a chance to ask him about the eventually-scuttled plan of anti-Semitic band Pokerface supplying the music). That seems to happen a lot whenever someone addresses the racism within the anti-immigrant campaigns of late by naming names and confronting the folks on that side about those named persons. The problem they have is the fact that some of us will chase them down, and to be real, these characters need to be called to task about this clown. John Clark is somewhat prominent among the hatemongering anti-immigrant crowd, but still manages to keep a low enough profile that few people have asked questions about him, which makes it easy for him to saunter about rubbing elbows with influential people. Let’s see if we can help with a little insight on this guy.
John Clark was born and raised in Napa, CA and was first heard of as one of the original members of Barbara Coe’s California Citizens for Immigration Reform (CCIR). The Southern Poverty Law Center lists this organization as a hate group because it is more about hating Hispanics than it is about fighting illegal immigration. Clark’s first claim to fame was spearheading the “Support Prop 187” effort in Napa. Prop. 187 was a ballot initiative designed to deny government benefits, including education, to undocumented workers. It succeeded in the ballot box in 1994, but a series of court challenges over the next few years killed it dead. In 1995, he gave us the CCIR-sponsored “Immigration Awareness Week”. During this week, he held a press conference with 20 Congresspersons, including Sonny Bono who was the MC, as well as one for Pat Buchanan at the National Press Club. It was also this year that CCIR sent him to Washington to lobby for the anti-immigration effort. Eventually he also hooked up with Americans for Immigration Control (AIC). Again, the SPLC lists this organization among hate groups. This one is run by a Christian Nationalist named John Vinson, a Council of Conservative Citizens member that believes that Hispanics and Haitians coming to America threaten her “generally European” core. Clark became the AIC’s full-time congressional liaison and also their film producer. It was in 1996, one year after Clark came to Washington, DC, that the AIC video “Immigration: Making America Less Beautiful?” was released. This was the video that gave us the reconquista conspiracy theory that says Mexicans are crossing the border to reclaim the Southwestern part of the US for Mexico.
Basically, whomever this guy is associated with, that person’s claims of not being racist or of not cavorting with racist groups are immediately dismissed as bullshit. We first met Clark at a “public meeting” sponsored by Ron Bass’ United Patriots of America in Bridgewater, NJ two months after the Minuteklan started marching around. He was the keynote speaker at the event and passed out copies of Middle America News, a newspaper John Vinson edits that once attacked some conservatives for praising “radical left-wing Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.” We saw him again when Minuteklan co-founder Chris Simcox spoke in Babylon, Long Island, NY, with video camera in hand, taking shots of those opposing the meeting. He was seen yet again with the other Minuteklan co-founder Jim Gilchrist at a rally in Washington, DC. Guess you won’t be surprised to know he started his own Minuteklan chapter in California! He has also appeared on Lou Dobbs’ program as well as on Fox News as some sort of expert on immigration, and neither venue asked him about his questionable leanings.
But we will. The anti-immigration crowd is rife with characters like Clark, but when they are put into prominence, we have to ask the true agenda of that crowd. Danny Smeriglio is right. Everyone does have an opinion, and he shouldn’t expect too many favorable ones if he wants to keep working with the likes of John Clark.