How Anti-Amnesty Groups Created China's One Child Policy

At some point during tonight’s debate, you might well see a commercial about immigration. It will sound perfectly reasonable and feature people of all different races talking about how immigration policy isn’t about race; it’s about the numbers. It will appeal to your sensibilities about immigration and probably strike a chord with exactly how you feel about immigration in the United States. And it will be funded by a leftist Malthusian group whose philosophy was responsible for China’s adoption of its brutal one child policy.


I am not talking here about all anti-amnesty groups, and I am definitely not talking about all American conservatives who are opposed to amnesty, or who feel strongly about immigration. I am talking about the professional groups like NumbersUSA and CAPS and FAIR. These groups look like conservative think tanks who are focused on immigration, which is an issue that conservative activists care about. They frequently advertise when they know conservatives will be watching, like during Republican Presidential debates. They use rhetoric they know will appeal to conservatives, and it works. Conservatives who focus on immigration cite NumbersUSA as a good conservative source with valuable information about immigration policy.

The reality, of course, is that they are population control liberals of the worst sort. Our own Neil Stevens has done yeoman’s work cataloguing the ways that NumbersUSA and FAIR are fronts for extremist leftist environmentalists whose goal is not sound immigration policy for the United States, but rather population control for the whole world in the service of insane and discredited environmentalist doctrine.

Many conservatives might find it surprising, but many of these groups were actually pissed when China ended its one-child policy, given how universally reviled this policy was on the right. It should not be – they were responsible for the policy in the first place:


When China finally scrapped its one-child policy after more than three decades of brutality, almost no one lamented its passing. But Paul R. Ehlich, a Stanford-educated biologist and author of the 1968 fear-baiting classic The Population Bomb, was upset. On Oct. 30, Ehrlich took to Twitter and in a comment on the decision, wrote (in all caps): “Gibbering insanity – the growth-forever gang.”

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Under Chairman Mao Zedong, China rejected the population panic spreading in the West. But after he passed, his successors shifted course and embraced it wholesale. The panic in the West was best exemplified by Ehrlich, among the most outspoken of the western doomsday forecasters of the late 1960’s, who had warned that hundreds of millions were set to die from starvation due to overpopulation. A regular guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Ehrlich once warned the talk show host that America was in for a catastrophic population wake up call that would be similar in impact to Pearl Harbor. In 1969, Ehrlich told an environmental conference in San Francisco: “Our first move must be to convince all those we can that the planet Earth must be viewed as a spaceship of limited carrying capacity.” He argued that the population in the United States ought to be reduced by 50 million.

In the wake of the post-World War II baby boom, Ehrlich’s apocalyptic visions easily gained traction. The United Nations declared 1974 World Population Year and that summer, representatives from 137 countries gathered for the first global meeting of government officials to discuss population policy. The meeting was held at the Sala Palatului, a massive Soviet-style concert and conference hall in the Romanian capital of Bucharest. Battles lines were quickly drawn: wealthy world powers advocated aggressive population control measures, while developing nations felt the overpopulation threat was being exaggerated and were resentful of attempts to set a world population limit.

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But China performed a 180-degree turn between the time of the Bucharest meeting and the next major UN conference on population in Mexico City in 1984, ten years later. Mao had died, and his successors were determined to make up for the late chairman’s failure to embrace family planning. People who had advocated for family planning in Mao’s era suffered consequences. The U.S.-trained economist Ma Yinchu, who argued in 1957 that a two-child policy was best for China, lost his job as a university dean for his “rightist” views. But as Mao aged and weakened, there were low-key but highly successful efforts by other top leaders to encourage smaller families. The non-coercive “wan, xi, shao” or “later, longer, fewer” campaign that preceded the one-child policy had dramatically curbed China’s fertility without fines and punishments. In the post-Mao era, China decided “wan, xi, shao” wasn’t ambitious enough.

China’s goal, which it had set in 1980 as it embarked on a headlong push toward prosperity, was to push per capita income from about $700 at the time to about $2,880 by 2000 (calculated in 2015 dollars), but that seemed unattainable without curbing births. The “Four Modernizations” economic program devised by Mao’s successor Deng Xiaoping would never work if China’s population remained unchecked. It was decided: The government had to take active responsibility and aggressive institutional control of the national fertility situation.


The anti-amnesty movement should know who they are getting in bed with. NumbersUSA, FAIR, CAPS and the like are not good conservative folks who want the sovereignty and fiscal health of the United States to succeed – they are extremist environmentalist whack jobs who oppose immigration to the United States primarily because they know that America is wealthy enough for immigrant families to support more children; their hope is to keep them in poverty and hopelessness so that they will be more aggressive about “family planning.”

That is why, before founding FAIR and becoming a hero of the anti-amnesty movement, John Tanton was the founder of Northern Michigan Planned Parenthood and was a Sierra Club organizer. That is why, before realizing that the Democrat party was abandoning the immigration for good, NumbersUSA President Roy Beck repeatedly and openly groused about the need to embrace “population control” as an environmental issue.

If you’re a conservative anti-amnesty activist who wants control over the border, respect for United States laws and sovereignty, but doesn’t want forced abortions, sterilizations, radical environmentalist wackoism and anti-Catholic bigotry, then NumbersUSA, FAIR, and CAPS are not your friends. To them, the former are only useful as incidents to the latter, and you are only useful to the extent that you support their leftist ends, not your own conservative means.




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