The John Birch Society, since its founding, has promoted reading of its literature as the best way to enlighten others and advance its cause. It has expanded its message from books, magazines and pamphlets to DVDs and the Internet.That's it.
The society is opposed to economic intervention and wealth distribution. It calls for America to get out of the United Nations and wants to bring our troops home.
But it has always been a minority voice. And sometimes, because of stands it has taken, the Birchers have been seen as paranoid believers in radical conspiracy theories.
So let's take a look at some of that literature, shall we?
Here's a Bircher essay from 1965 that was published in newspapers across the country. While the writers of the essay do admit that "there are injustices to our Negro population" that should be eliminated and that "a huge majority of the American people of both races, who now give their support to the civil rights movement are good people, with idealistic motives" they go on to oppose the civil rights movement on a couple of bases. First is that the problem is "exaggerated". Some points to ponder (and these are direct quotes from the JBS essay):
- The average American Negro has a tremendously higher material standard of living than Negroes anywhere else; and far higher, in fact, than at least four-fifths of the earth's population of all races combined.
- The average American Negro not only has a far higher standard of literacy and better educational opportunities than Negroes anywhere else; and far higher, but a higher level of literacy than the average for all races on at least four-fifths on the earth.
- The average American Negro complete freedom of religion, freedom of movement, and freedom to run his own life as he pleases. [emphasis in original]
Back to the Birchers. They followed their glowing assessment of America in 1965 with this:
- So what is all of the complaining about? Basically, the answer is very simple. It is through the opportunities originally provided by the economic enterprise of the American whites, through emulation by the American Negro of his white neighbor's ways, and through gradual adoption and absorption of the various spiritual, material, and political elements of the white American's culture, that the American Negro has been able in a brief hundred years to raise himself to this level so far above the vast body of mankind. With the inevitable result, under the circumstances, that he has not yet achieved a par with the very leadership he was emulating; and that there still remain differences, as a general rule, in the economic, literate, and social levels of the two races.
In Majors' piece John McManus, head of the JBS, responded to the charge that the society stoo by some "radical conspiracy theories" with a clear:
They're not conspiracy theories when they're facts.Really? So when Robert Welch, then head of the JBS, said that President Eisenhower was a tool of the communists and guilty of treason, that was a fact? Or when Welch wrote that it was "beyond any reasonable doubt" that Eisenhower was "a conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy" that was a fact, too?
That triggered the more or less wholesale separation of the Birchers from mainstream, rational conservatism. That separation, no surprise, has been bridged in part by the Tea Partiers. Lucky us.
William F Buckley thought that and his National Review long ago pointed out some of the Birchers' weirder tales. It's worth a read. Also of note: he wrote in 1965:
The John Birch Society is engaged in a nationwide drive to convince the skeptics of its respectability.I guess that's still going on.
Front page, P-G? THE FRONT PAGE??