Exposing the John Birch Society

Rachel Tabachnik just published an article on the Political Research Associates website about the John Birch Society and their long history of calling everything “communist,” from the civil rights movement to labor unions to environmentalists and, today, President Obama and the Democrats. This ridiculous scare tactic continues despite the fact that their perpetual warnings of a communist takeover never actually happened, and never will.

The first example of the JBS campaign to oppose the Civil Rights Movement is an advertisement in the October 31, 1965 issue of the Palm Beach Post titled, “The John Birch Society Asks: What’s Wrong With Civil Rights?”

The half-page advertisement begins with the statement that nothing is wrong with civil rights, just with the Civil Rights Movement. According to the JBS, it constituted a communist plot to build a “Negro Soviet Republic” in the United States. The “average American Negro,” according to the JBS in 1965, “has complete freedom of religion, freedom of movement, and freedom to run his own life as he pleases.” Moreover, “The pursuit of happiness enjoyed by the average American Negro has been far superior to that of any race or any people among at least ninety percent of the earth’s population.”

The ad continues, “So what is all the complaining about?” The problem, according to the JBS, is that communist agitators are beginning to see the results from “patiently building up to this present stage for more than forty years.” The reader is informed that this Soviet strategy in the U.S. is a continuation of anti-colonialism fermented by communists in Africa and Asia and conducted by those who have no interest in civil rights. According to the John Birch Society, both the push for civil rights in the U.S. and anti-colonialist activism in Africa and Asia are a communist plot to destroy all that is good and holy—namely, capitalism.

The advertisement then seeks to expose the “big-lie” of anti-colonialism: “Its specific core of falsehood has been that the colonial peoples of Asia and Africa wanted and deserved their ‘independence’ from the nations of Europe which were oppressing and exploiting them. Actually, by 1926, the French in Indochina or Algeria, the Dutch in Indonesia, the Belgian in the Congo, and other ‘imperialistic’ powers, were giving their colonial subjects a very enlightened and benevolent rule.”

The next step in this communist plot, as stated in the ad, is the formation of a “Negro Soviet Republic” in the U.S. that would include the major cities of the South. JBS claimed this to be the real intent of American civil rights leaders. The ad continues, “A careful study quickly reveals that every part of the civil rights program has been designed, and in is being carried forward, as a step in the Communist strategy for these purposes. And the current leaders of the nationwide civil rights campaign have such extensive records of affiliating with Communists of Communists, of being guided, trained, and supported by Communists, and of themselves supporting Communists agents and causes, as to make their real purposes as obvious a sunrise to anybody who will simply use honestly the intelligence that God gave him.”

And guess who else was in on this? Fred Koch, father of the famous Koch brothers and one of the founders of the John Birch Society:

Published by the Farmville Herald (VA) in 1963, A Businessman Looks at Communism was written by Fred Koch and provides an account of his work in the Soviet Union in the 1930s. The pamphlet provided support for JBS’ claim to insider knowledge of the communist agenda.

Page sixteen of the pamphlet sums up Koch’s attitude about labor unions. “Labor Unions have long been a Communist goal,” Koch asserts. “The effort is frequently made to have the worker do as little as possible for the money he receives. This practice alone can destroy our country.”

On page 25, Koch explains his fear of the Civil Rights Movement: “You may be sure the Communists are fishing furiously in the troubled waters of integration on both sides. The Communists are not interested in the aspirations of the negro except as a means to stir up racial hatred … The colored man looms large in the Communist plan to take over America.”

Koch continues, “I have been told by the ex-Communists that the Communist Party has been influential in changing the relief laws of New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Detroit, and Chicago to make it attractive for rural Southern Negroes and Puerto Ricans to come to those cities. In the first place, the Communist Party intends to use the votes of these people to swing the balance in these populous states; secondly, when the Party is ready to take over these cities it will use the colored people by getting a vicious race war started.”

That anyone could believe this in 1965 is bad enough; that anyone could believe it now, when communism is utterly irrelevant and consigned to the dustbin of history everywhere other than Cuba and North Korea, is absolutely ridiculous.

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  • Chiroptera

    Exposing the John Birch Society

    “Exposing”? It’s not as if the John Birchers make any real effort to hide their wackalooniness.

  • kevinalexander

    Koch continues, “I have been told by the ex-Communists that the Communist Party has been influential in changing the relief laws of New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Detroit, and Chicago to make it attractive for rural Southern Negroes and Puerto Ricans to come to those cities.

    I can’t believe he didn’t mention the free watermelons.

  • http://www.thelosersleague.com theschwa

    “This ridiculous scare tactic continues despite the fact that their perpetual warnings of a communist takeover never actually happened, and never will.”

    No, no. The JBS was just so effective at warning us that we were able avert numerous Commie plots! Obviously.

  • http://drx.typepad.com Dr X

    What amazes me is that after a relatively quiet couple of decade, wackaloon communist hysteria has made a resurgence at a time when communism has been so thoroughly defeated and discredited. I don’t recall even during the Reagan years, when we had an outspoken anti-communist president, the level of hysteria we see today. The funniest part is that these histrionic ninnies are given to dismissing liberals for letting emotion drive policy beliefs.

  • colnago80

    Robert Welch, founder of the John Birch Society: “There can be little doubt that Dwight David Eisenhower is a conscience Communist conspirator and that John Fitzgerald Kennedy is an unconscience tool of the International Communist Conspiracy.”

  • Abdul Alhazred

    William F Buckley no less dropped them back in the 1950s when they called Eisenhower a Commiunist.

    Is there really any more exposing to do?

  • Synfandel

    Labor Unions have long been a Communist goal.

    Au contraire, ending the need for labour unions by the elimination of the capital-owning class was a goal of communism.

  • kevinalexander

    Eisenhower was a communist. He was the head of a government and all government by JBS definition is communist.

    QED

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Actually, by 1926…the Belgian in the Congo…[was] giving their colonial subjects a very enlightened and benevolent rule.

    Well. Unless switching from rubber plantations to mining counts as “ennlightened and benevolent rule”, that will come as a surprise to all the native laborers “recruited” against their wll and forced to fill quotas or face (and have their village face) gratuitusly violent punishment.

    Also, I’ve started reading “Communism” (and Socialism*) as “any change in the status quo that benefits people I don’t like (but when those people are me, I earned it and it’s not Communism then, for some reason).

    * SOCIALISM!!!

  • Michael Heath

    Ironically, Fred Koch made a fortune doing business with the Soviet government.

  • latecomer

    Around the time of the anniversary of the JFK assassination, there was the usual articles about JFK’s legacy, specifically about his “it’s not what the government can do for you” speech. Some conservatives were using those words to claim that JFK would have been aligned with their ideals of individualism and hard work, as opposed to Obama and liberals. Given the extreme invective lobbed at JFK by conservatives in his day, I found that to be absolutely hilarious. I would give a million dollars to anyone who can show me the difference between the accusations JBS made against JFK, and the typical conservative rhetoric against liberals today.

  • David Marjanović

    Ironically, Fred Koch made a fortune doing business with the Soviet government.

    what

  • Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    I gotta say, as a resident of the socialist communist cesspool (for Birch society values of “socialist” and “communist”) that is Canada, it’s actually quite nice. Not nearly as terrifying as they would want you to believe. Join us! Give in to your dirty filthy commie desires!

  • pocketnerd

    “Labor Unions have long been a Communist goal,” Koch asserts. “The effort is frequently made to have the worker do as little as possible for the money he receives.

    Of course, making sure the employer pays as little as possible for the labor he receives is only right and proper.

  • magistramarla

    I see the very same rhetoric used by the tp faithful in my local paper every day.

    All they have done is substitute “Muslim” or “Illegal” and Obama and his administration for some of the groups and people in the above quote. And then they accuse the Liberals of being “programmed”!

  • Nick Gotts

    now, when communism is utterly irrelevant and consigned to the dustbin of history everywhere other than Cuba and North Korea – Ed Brayton

    That depends on how you look at it. The economy of the Peoples’ Republic of China, a one-party state ruled by the Communist Party, while it has certainly been shifted some way toward a market orientation, is still heavily dependent on state-owned enterprises. As the wikipedia article on “Economy of China” puts it:

    As of 2014, large state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are the backbone of China’s economy, producing over 50% of the nation’s goods and services, and employing over half of China’s workers. Sixty-five of the Chinese companies in the 2012 Fortune Global 500 list were state-owned, including State Grid Corporation of China, which operates the country’s power grid, and oil companies China National Petroleum Corporation and Sinopec. Profits of the largest state-owned enterprises were much greater than the largest firms in the private sector, which were largely small- and medium-sized businesses.

    Moreover, 98% of banking assets are state-owned, allowing the state to direct investment. The country has been highly – indeed, stunningly – successful in economic terms over the past three decades, averaging around 10% annual growth in GDP, and lifting hundreds of millions of its citizens out of poverty. Technological and scientific progress has been rapid, urbanisation and industrialisation have taken place on an unprecedented scale, and China isa the world’s largest creditor nation. As a result of these successes, there is little doubt that the ruling Communist Party enjoys great popular support. Of course, there are serious social and environmental problems, and considerable repression, inequality and corruption, but there is no doubt at all that a country which still calls itself communist, and which has not gone nearly so far toward a capitalist market economy as many believe, is the world’s rising power.

  • bones

    I miss the old John Birch Society, the harmless loons in the ’60’s on the post office steps or at the county fair with petitions (like to get out of the UN), or ‘Support Your Local Police’ flyers… And that’s usually as far as it went, they were fairly innocuous. The outliers, just an oddity.

    But that was before the internets, and we know that suspicion, resentment and paranoia are easier to sell than sober rational analysis. Now the extreme right have entirely become a movement of what they’ve historically imagined seeing everywhere: an ideology based on resentment, deceit, scheming, false accusation, and suppression of others whenever they get the chance.

  • dogmeat

    You know what else causes Communism?!?!? TAXES!!!!

    See when you tax those great American job creators, baby free market cries, which scares freedom, causing it to go back into its hole causing six more weeks of communism!

  • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    …when communism is utterly irrelevant and consigned to the dustbin of history everywhere other than Cuba and North Korea, is absolutely ridiculous.

    The People’s Republic of China? Vietnam? Cambodia?

    Okay, there’s communist in theory / ideology (which has never worked) versus Communist in name (Communist parties ruling in one party states or supposedly multi-party ones even) but still.

    Yes,pedantic a bit however worth noting all the same IMHON.

  • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    PS. I see #16. Nick Gotts actually makes a similar point and also notes the PRC as an example. Hah! Chalk it up – the two of us kinda agreeing on something!

    Communist like Fascist and a few others is a word that has rather lost most of its actual meaning and degenerated into an all-purpose insult “meaning” essentially just “U bad!!! Hate you!!!”

  • caseloweraz

    Dr. X: What amazes me is that after a relatively quiet couple of decade, wackaloon communist hysteria has made a resurgence at a time when communism has been so thoroughly defeated and discredited. I don’t recall even during the Reagan years, when we had an outspoken anti-communist president, the level of hysteria we see today. The funniest part is that these histrionic ninnies are given to dismissing liberals for letting emotion drive policy beliefs.

    Here’s how I read it: Real Communism, as practised in the Soviet Union, was never much of a threat to the American Way of Life (as opposed to the influence of America in the world.) It was, however, a convenient boogeyman for fearmongers like the JBS. Now that Communism has been discredited and largely vanished from its erstwhile strongholds, the fearmongers find it convenient to conjur up its ghost.

  • caseloweraz

    Abdul Alhazred: William F Buckley no less dropped them back in the 1950s when they called Eisenhower a Commiunist.

    Is there really any more exposing to do?

    Not for anyone over the age of fifty. Thanks to their persistence, however, the need to mock them remains. And that is why this mocking song never gets old.