NAME: Virginia Deane Abernethy
HOME BASE: Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
Since 1997, Virginia Abernethy, a professor emeritus at Vanderbilt University’s Medical School, has been active in the Council of Conservative Citizens, and she has used her academic credentials to prop up the white supremacist group. Abernethy’s main thing is anti-immigration. She is the director of Population-Environment Balance, the Carrying Capacity Network and the former editor of Population and Environment Journal, an academic journal dedicated to legitimizing anti-immigrant and population control policies.
According to the Center for New Community, Population Environment Balance views the relationship between population and immigration through the lens of “carrying capacity.” It is a concept that employs biological constructs in a social Darwinist fashion to understand cultural and social phenomena. The emphasis on biology allows Population Environment Balance and others like them to move easily between the world of environment-based concerned for population growth and the cultural nationalism of anti-immigrant groups.
Abernathy serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Council of Conservative Citizens’ newspaper the Citizens Informer In writing about immigration, the Citizens Informer has complained that minorities were turning the U.S. population into a “slimy brown mass of glop” – an act likened to “genocide.” In the March 2001 issue of the rag, Abernathy wrote an article entitled “What No One Will Say About the Power Crisis” blaming the California power shortages on immigrants.
We have to quote her here. We just have to. We have to because we have seen stretches by people when they wanted something to accommodate their politics, but this attempt is one for the record books. Now bear with us, because this one is really fucking contrived. Her logic is that in 1979 Californians used less power than they do now. In that same period the population increased 43%. “The flow of new arrivals and their children accounted for over 95 percent of California’s population in the (1990s),” she wrote, not citing any sources. “Two-thirds of the annual flow is from legal immigration, that is, resulting from laws passed by the federal government.” So despite the fact that there has been more job opportunities all over for all Americans in California since 1979, the power shortage the state experienced is because of all those immigrants she hates in the first place.
But Abernethy gets even funnier. It never ceases to amaze how much right-wingers who are anti-choice will make an exception if they think it can be used to curtail populations of those they despise. Abernethy managed to get some of her filth published in Atlantic Monthly, and there she wrote of making birth control more accessible – in non-white countries only. She wrote that some countries, especially Zimbabwe, “felt that family planning was a ‘white colonialist plot’ to limit black power.” In her case, that would be true, but she would not want you to think that. In fact, Abernethy also suggests that efforts to curb population growth through family planning programs and economic aid actually increase population growth. Furthermore, she writes, “The mantras of democracy, redistribution and economic development raise expectations and fertility rates, fostering population growth and thereby steepening a downward environmental and economic spiral.”
How’s that for a spin? Democracy and economic development are bad things!
Since November 2001, six known incidents of racist graffiti have occurred at Vanderbilt University, where Abernethy works. The first three, took shots at African Americans, but the language did not threaten physical harm until the two most recent incidents, occurring Jan. 29 and Jan. 30, 2002. In addition to African Americans, the graffiti discovered Jan. 30 in a restroom on the 14th floor of the residence hall mentioned Hispanics and Asians and contained such phrases as “Kill diversity” and “More whites.”
Meanwhile, as Vanderbilt tried to come to terms with this bit of turmoil, Abernethy wrote an open letter to President Bosh that was published on the racist Vanguard News Network website regarding the Senators who asked the President not to hamper Israel as they fight against the Palestinian uprisings in the Middle East. In it she called for him to “please release the names of the craven 89 Senators who put the interests of Israel ahead of the interests, integrity, and security of the American people. We need to know.” She has never really gone after Jewish persons before, and since this was published on a neo-nazi webpage, it was only a matter of time before her nonsense was dealt with – sort of. In 2004, she hit the big time.
That year, Arizona had the anti-immigrant Proposition 200 up for a vote on Election Day. Proposition 200 would require individuals to produce proof of citizenship before they may register to vote or apply for public benefits in Arizona. It would also make it a misdemeanor for public officials to fail to report person who don’t provide that documentation, and citizens would also be able to sue those public officials that give undocumented persons benefits. This ballot measure was authored by the Project Arizona Now (PAN) committee, and opponents who considered the proposition a move by racist whites trying to engage in social engineering, had ample evidence of that when it was revealed that PAN’s Chair of the National Advisory Board was Abernethy. All hell broke loose, and all of a sudden PAN was on the hot seat. Abernethy didn’t give a shit, however. “I’m in favor of separatism — and that’s different than supremacy,” she said. “Groups tend to self-segregate. I know that I’m not a supremacist. I know that ethnic groups are more comfortable with their own kind” Later she would contest the reporting of her in the right-wing Washington Times as a “self-described ‘racial separatist'” by noting that in fact she is an “ethnic separatist”. She further wrote that “The goals of the multicultural game are ethnic separatism, ethnic privilege and ethnic power.” European-Americans are “late on the playing field” and need to catch up because if they don’t play the game “my family and kin will lose out”. By this time, other anti-immigration groups were on damage control, one of them, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), issuing a statement that called for Abernethy’s resignation from PAN because of her “repugnant, divisive” views, including separatism. Of course, the anti-immigration scene is the only area in this country where white supremacists can be prominent in the mainstream without getting cut down, and PAN was no exception for Abernethy. The referendum passed with 56% of the vote.
Abernethy ran for vice-president on the American Third Position (now known as the American Freedom Party) ticket, the white supremacist political party whose board she joined in June 2011. She has also spoken at a few American Renaissance conferences, one of the few women asked to do so. Donald Trump’s little boost to neo-Nazis notwithstanding, as the years rolled on things have gotten pretty bad for her ilk, given how much she rails against diversity, so if anything it would be interesting to watch how Abernethy, a woman who believes that democracy steepens a downward spiral, uses that democracy to defend herself.