THE INFLUENCE OF THE JOHN BIRCH SOCIETY ON FAR RIGHT POLITICS AND HOW IT BEGAN...(Part 1)
Before they fell from favor, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin shared the spotlight as the darlings of the fanatical far right political movement. They were so popular in fact that the Tea Party actively promoted them for President and vice-president in 2012.
" On the July 25, 2007, edition of his CNN Headline News program, Beck hosted John Birch Society spokesman Sam Antonio to discuss the Security and Prosperity Partnership, an economic and security initiative of the United States, Canada, and Mexico that the John Birch Society believes is a vehicle "to stealthily merge the three North American nations." [John Birch Society press release, 8/7/09], Glenn Beck moved to Fox News where his show quickly became a favorite of the extreme far right.
Sarah Palin, during her run for vice-president on the GOP ticket, quickly exhibited her rogue politics by questioning Barak Obama's religion, his birthplace, his loyalties to American, and his ties to former militant weathermen of the 60's. She began claiming that Obama was perpetrating a series of conspiracies to get elected.
The conservative states of the South, not thrilled at the prospect of a black President, quickly jumped on the bandwagon. Then, in 2008, Beck began his stint on Fox News. He built his entire agenda around the groundwork Palin had laid. But he took it a step further: He began preaching the philosophy of the John Birch Society and tying it directly to Barak Obama, now the President of the United States.
The John Birch Society: On The Fringe
Extreme Anti-Communism. Businessman Robert Welch founded the John Birch Society in 1958. A rabid anti-communist, Welch accused several prominent government officials of being communists, and once described Dwight Eisenhower as a "dedicated agent of the Communist conspiracy." [Media Matters, 12/16/09]
Rampant Conspiracy Theorism. A 2009 New York Times profile of the group noted the various conspiracies it subscribes to, including "a conspiracy to merge Mexico, Canada and the United States" into the "North American Union," and "a larger plot by an amorphous, amoral group of powerful elite [...] to take over planet Earth," both of which are the doings of "a secret, insidious brotherhood called the Illuminati, and with most American presidents among its many dupes and abettors."
The Times also noted that in 2005, former John Birch Society members released "recorded snippets" of President John McManus "lecturing to Catholic groups that Judaism became a dead and deadly religion after the establishment of the Catholic Church," adding: "Mr. McManus is also heard to say that militant Jews have influenced the Freemasons, who are 'Satan's agents,' 'the enemies of Christ Church' -- and, in the view of the John Birch Society, part of the Illuminati conspiracy to cause world upheaval."
The Times noted that the group's chief executive "said the John Birch Society has Jewish and black members and has never tolerated anti-Semitism or racism, notwithstanding its notorious opposition to much of the civil rights movement." [New York Times, 6/25/09]
" In a September 2009 Salon.com article, Alexander Zaitchik documented Beck's connections to W. Cleon Skousen, a '60s radical anti-communist who is "Beck's favorite writer and the author of the bible of the 9/12 movement, 'The 5,000 Year Leap.' " According to Zaitchik, Skousen "was too extreme even for the conservative activists of the Goldwater era, but Glenn Beck has now rescued him from the remainder pile of history, and introduced him to a receptive new audience." [Salon.com, 9/16/09]
A promoter of New World Order conspiracy theories, Skousen claimed that there "exists a relatively small but powerful group which has succeeded in acquiring a choke-hold on the affairs of practically the entire human race." Skousen also published an American history book, The Making Of America, which presented a "story of slavery in America" that cast slaveowners as the "worst victims of the system." [Media Matters, 10/16/09, 9/30/09]
Skousen Heavily Influences Beck's Thinking. Beck frequently promotes Skousen's books on his television and radio programs, as well on his website. He authored the foreword to the 30th anniversary edition of The 5,000 Year Leap, in which Beck wrote, "I beg you to read this book filled with words of wisdom which I can only describe as divinely inspired." The 5,000 Year Leap was an integral part of the launch of Beck's 9-12 Project. Announcing the project on the March 13, 2009, edition of his Fox News show, Beck gave away free copies of the book to his studio audience, telling them: "It is fantastic. [...] The 5,000-Year Leap -- it is the 29 principles that our founders put together, and how they put this genius country together." [Media Matters, 9/30/09]
Skousen Closely Tied To Birchers, Welch. Skousen was a staunch defender of the John Birch Society. He authored a 1963 pamphlet titled "The Communist Attack on the John Birch Society," in which he alleged that people who criticized the group "usually did so without realizing they were promoting the official Communist Party line." ["The Communist Attack on the John Birch Society, 1963] In his September 2009 Salon.com article, Zaitchick wrote that Skousen "aligned himself" with Welch's accusation that Eisenhower was a "dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy."
Beck Defends, Channels Birchers
John Birch Society: Beck Presents History "In The Way That The John Birch Society Has Been Doing It For Over 50 Years." In a June 25, 2010, article for the John Birch Society website, member Larry Greenley praised Beck's treatment of American history, writing: "I've been fascinated to see how Beck has been getting progressively (sorry for the bad word choice) closer to presenting American history in the way that The John Birch Society has been doing it for over 50 years."
Greenley focused specifically on Beck's June 24, 2010, program, which he claimed "was the ultimate in complete agreement between the Beck and JBS presentations of American history." As Media Matters documented, Beck's June 24 program was devoted to red-baiting, communist fearmongering, and Sen. Joseph McCarthy, whom Beck had previously claimed was "absolutely right." [Media Matters, 6/24/10
(To Be Continued)