TPM has dug up a 2012 interview in which North Carolina House Speaker and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis contrasts the growing black and Latino populations with the more stagnant “traditional population of North Carolina and the United States.” (The exchange starts about 2:45 into this video.)
Tills made the remarks while discussing the need for the Republican Party to reach out to and appeal to non-white voters — but the phrase “traditional population” as a euphemism for white Americans was lifted right from the racist, anti-immigrant fringe.
The Social Contract, the journal founded by anti-immigrant movement godfather John Tanton frequently uses the phrase “traditional Americans” to mean non-immigrants, and specifically white non-immigrants. One example, from an essay by Brenda Walker in the Fall 2012 issue: “The idea of diversity has been used like a club, to force obedience to the utopian multicultural state, as traditional Americans are assailed by affirmative action and benefits for illegal aliens, which are not available to citizens.”
The phrase is also a favorite of William Gheen, the leader of the anti-immigrant hate group Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, who warned earlier this year that immigration reform would “lead to a situation where traditional Americans, like those that have been here for hundreds of years in descendancy, will no longer govern our own nation.”
Eagle Forum, the group founded by Phyllis Schlafly, hinted at the same idea when it lamented that “non-whites, non-Christians, and non-marrieds vote Democrat out of group identifications. That is, they see it as being in their group interests to tear down traditional American culture.”
Famously, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly made the same connection when he lamented that changing demographics mean “it’s not traditional America anymore.” Pat Buchanan’s 2009 column, “Traditional Americans Are Losing Their Nation,” got at the same point.
Even if Tillis meant what he said about reaching out to black and Latino voters, his use of the phrase “traditional Americans” as a euphemism for white people shows that he has a long way to go.