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Right-Wing Groups Use Decline of White Birthrates to Stoke Fear of Homosexuality, Feminism and Abortion

Right-wing groups warn that Western civilization is facing a ‘demographic winter,’ risking the destruction of what they call the natural family.

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Boston told AlterNet that Feder “did not explicitly connect these dots [nor did he] espouse racism directly, and [he] tended to portray falling birthrates as a worldwide problem. But anyone who follows population trends knows that third-world birthrates remain high, and obviously the world’s population is far from being in decline. The implication seemed clear to me: Birthrates are up in the ‘wrong’ places (poor, mostly minority countries) and down in the ‘right’ ones (affluent, mostly white countries). I found his talk to be distasteful and xenophobic.”  

In 2008, Feder wrote a piece about the Family First Foundation-produced documentary called Demographic Winter: The Decline of the Human Family, in which Feder pointed out that the film was “the first to explore the most overlooked crisis of our times: the rapid, worldwide decline in birth rates.”     

On July 1, the producers of Demographic Winter, will be releasing a sequel called Demographic Bomb: Demography Is Destiny. According to Barry McLerran, the executive director of Family First Foundation and a producer of both documentaries, the new film “explores the history of the modern population-control movement -- how it persuaded the public that there are too many people in the world, and how these fallacies became institutionalized." The documentary “shows what happens when countries comprising 80 percent of the world's economy have plummeting numbers of workers, consumers and innovators -- leading to falling consumer spending, and too few workers to support the elderly," McLerran said. 

Rachel Tabachnick has found that “Conspiracy theorists, including those in the Religious Right, are claiming that liberals are using abortion, birth control, etc. to intentionally reduce the population of the earth by several billion people.”   

Like Rob Boston, Tabachnick was careful to point out that the debate about so-called birth dearth and overpopulation are serious ones, and that not all of those engaged in the debate, or who use such terms as demographic winter should be viewed as racists, homophobes or anti-immigrant.  

Nevertheless, Tabachnick pointed out, “The claims of the ‘dearthers’ are strikingly reminiscent of the last century when there was also a wave of hysteria about the decline of Western civilization. For instance, Oswald Spengler's book Decline of the West , originally published in German in 1918 about the twilight of Western civilization, was popular in the 1920s and greatly admired by Nazi theorists. (Late in his life, and before he died in 1936, Spengler rejected Nazism.)”  

In 2008, in a piece about the film Demographic Winter,’s John Jalsevac pointed out “that the only and most obvious solution to the demographic winter facing the world is to strengthen the place of the family in society.” Strengthening families may indeed be a desirable prescription for dealing with demographic winter. It is however, the constriction of the definition of family by such organizations as the Ruth Institute and the Howard Center's World Congress of Families, that may be slowing down the efforts to combat the cataclysms they are trying to avoid.   

Bill Berkowitz is a freelance writer covering right-wing groups and movements.

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