Based on my memory of where we lived at the time, remembering our living-room as the site, in 1973 I hosted a meeting of the John Birch Society (JBS). I only did that once, and my reasons for never doing it again, never participating again, had more to do with a lack of moral courage than anything about them. In my youthful and naive political state, I felt they were on to the right messages, but that I would be stigmatized by belonging and participating. For a brief while I had a bumper sticker supporting JBS, but when my older brother Steve snickered at it and me, it went away.
First, a brief history of JBS from Wikipedia. Surprisingly, it is littered with usual suspects and spook markers. The Society, founded in 1958, was named after John Birch, the “first American casualty of the Cold War.” During World War II, he was a military intelligence officer under General Claire Chennault. He was part of the “Doolittle Raid,” a subject that rings a bell but is off-topic here. In 1942, Birch, who spoke Chinese, became an Army Intelligence officer. In 1945, Birch was promoted to Captain and worked for the OSS, Office of Strategic Services, forerunner of the CIA. He led confrontations against renegade groups of Chinese Communists ordered to surrender. In one such confrontation, Birch was ordered to give up his sidearm, and refused. He was beaten and then shot, and his corpse was bayoneted.
It does not read well, as at every level Birch is part of Military Intelligence, and then OSS. He is an admitted spook. His death and that of an aide were supposedly witnessed by his men, who were later released. The entire affair is covered in the following footnote:
McGowan, Sam, WWII History Magazine (September 6, 2016). “For God and Country: The Story of John Birch”. Warfare History Net. Retrieved March 10, 2021.
By chance, that document is footnote #33, and that number appears ten times in the two paragraphs of the description of the man whose name the organization adopted.
In searching for his image, Wikipedia shows only a painting of him as shown to the left. I looked for other images, and a photos of him is shown in a collection at DuckDuckGo search engine, but oddly, there seems to be only one pose. It is used in the painting, and in all the other images. It is shown to the right. It is suspicious due to the darkness under the chin, a shadow that would allow placement of a head on a body in a darkroom, but I am by no means certain of that. It is odd that the entire right side of his face is darkened, with a dark outline on the left. It is looking odder and odder as I view it, and note that if you go to the DuckDuck link and find this photo, the officer next to him does not suffer the same effect.
My conclusions? No certainty, to be sure, but I suspect the following in order of likelihood:
- There was no John Birch. He was an invented character.
- There was a John Birch, but he was military intelligence, and he faked his death and assumed new duties.
- There was a man whose appearance is that of the painting and photo shown here, but we have no idea his true identity.
- The whole story of John Birch is true as told by Sam McGowan, above. (McGowan? McGowan?)
That is a bit of a diversion. What was JBS, and its mission? First, let’s look at its founders.
- The primary one was Robert W. Welch, Jr., who in case you don’t know, was the man behind the candies Sugar Babies and Junior Mints. I always assumed he was behind Welch’s Grape Juice and Jelly,, but there is no mention of that at Wiki. It is said that Welch retired a rich man in 1956.
- Harry Lynde Bradley, co-founder of the Allen-Bradley Company, maker of factory automation equipment, eventually sold to Rockwell International.
- Fred C. Koch, founder of Koch Industries. Yes, that one, father of David and Charles, who were said to be JBS members who left before 1970.
- Robert Waring Stoddard, President of Wyman-Gordon and a member of one of the oldest and wealthiest families in Worcester, MA.
- Revilo P. Oliver, professor of classical philology, Spanish and Italian at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Oliver speculated that JFK had been killed by Soviet agents, and was called to testify before the Warren Commission. Communists were the second earliest rabbit hole after Lee Harvey Oswald in that event.
So JBS was founded by industrialists and one academic, Revilo, who would later edit American Opinion, the official magazine of JBS. He sounds more like a hire. The others are juiced to the gills. What was up?
I am going to go through a chronological list of all JBS causes here, so get ready for MEGO, my eyes glaze over. I assure you that I, the writer, have that same effect.
- Get US Out! of the United Nations, saying that the “real nature of the UN is to build a One World Government.
- Anti-communism, for which the Society provided grassroots lobbying, educational meetings (one at my house, mentioned at the opening), petition drives and letter-writing campaigns.
- Impeachment of Chief Justice Earl Warren. I remember billboards to that effect.
- Opposition to Xerox Corporation sponsorship of TV programs favorable to the UN.
- Advocacy of the position that the war in Vietnam was part of a communist plot to take over the United States.
- Opposition to water fluoridation.
- Split support (within JBS) over support of Barry Goldwater for president, and Richard Nixon (who was not running).
- Opposition to the US Civil Rights movement, saying it was not infiltrated by Communists, but rather created by them. It was really in favor of creation of a “Soviet Negro Republic” in the Southeastern US. JBS opposed passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
- Opposition to sex education in the schools.
- “Could Eisenhower really be a smart politician, entirely without principles and hungry for glory, who is only the tool of the Communists? The answer is yes.” (Robert Welch, unpublished statement in 1954.
- Accusations that, in response to a free-speech case in Chicago caused by a young man killed by police, that part of the Communist conspiracy was to merge all police agencies in the country into one large force.
- Opposition to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
- Opposition to establishment of diplomatic ties to the People’s Republic of China.
- Opposition to transfer of the Panama Canal from American to Panamanian control.
- Opposition to passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.
- Promotion of laetrile as a cure for cancer.
- Opposition to ratification of the Genocide Convention.
- Calls to Bring Our Troops Home in every US conflict.
- Opposition to UN Agenda 21.
- Allegations that Bill Clinton was part of an Anglo-American conspiracy ruled through the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission.
- “Trumpism” is essentially Bircherism.” (Trump advisor Roger Stone said that Trump’s father, Fred Trump, was a financier of JBS and friend of Robert Welch.)
- Trump is a “John Birch Society President.” (Alex Jones)
Sidebar: Larry McDonald: Once head of JBS, this congressman from Georgia was a staunch anti-communist. He is thought of as a “martyr” by many conservatives, as it is reported that he was aboard Korean Airlines Flight 007 that was shot down by Soviet interceptors on September 1, 1983. McDonald, if still alive somewhere, would be 85.
So take a look at the list above. What do you see? Other than on the Equal Rights Amendment (which I never understood – it was an idea, sex equality, something that needed a popular movement rather than an amendment), and with the Genocide Convention, not ratified by the US until 1988, I see the following with this outfit: Lose, lose, lose. They have not succeeded in anything of note. Every position they advocated got away from them. It is as if failure was anticipated, internalized, and accepted as a necessary part of success … that would never arrive.
If only it were that simple. What to make of an organization founded and funded by wealthy industrialists that cannot seem to tie its own shoes? Could there be some other purpose? I think this question is answered in the lose lose lose pattern of behavior. Perhaps it was meant to lose. In looking over its list of activities and causes over the decades, I see in there many good things.
For instance, fluoride is an industrial waste product that is not good for humans. But when the Birchers got involved, it became a “Communist plot,” and attempts to stop its use, real attempts by real people, were stigmatized. Fluoride is now all around us.
Support for Barry Goldwater … I wonder if he even wanted it. It certainly helped the cause of Lyndon Johnson, though in retrospect he didn’t appear to need any help.
As can be seen by the unveiling of power around Covid-19 on March 11, 2020, the United Nations on that day uncloaked a one-world government. That has always been its goal but they had to work quietly, behind the scenes, to put all of the parts in place prior to 3/11/20. JBS operated as a distraction, saying that the UN was a Communist conspiracy rather than one of raw industrial and aristocratic power. Being against the UN on the basis that it was a plan to install one-world government was stigmatized by the Birchers. Now that it is fait accompli, Birchers can say “See, we were right all along!” But their mission was to hinder opposition to the UN, not help it.
Chief Justice Earl Warren was surely a man worthy of impeachment because he led the official coverup of the fake Kennedy assassination. Because Birchers got out ahead and accused him of being a Communist, he was given political cover and served a full 16 years as Chief Justice.
A Communist plot to merge all police agencies in the US into one large force? I cannot know on this one, as I don’t know if the town of Belfry, Montana (population 218, and whose official school mascot is, yes, the Bats) has been so merged, but I suspect most police departments of any town of any size have been militarized now, and are under control of the Pentagon. After all, what is SWAT, which exists in every town of note, other than militarized police? Birchers stigmatized that issue and gave political cover while it was in the works.
As with every issue, go down the list above! We are looking at an organization that was founded to stigmatize legitimate movements, in effect, blackwashing the good people who have real and reasonable objectives, aligning them with crazy conspiracy theorists. Yes, that is all anti-Communism was, a crazy conspiracy theory used to hide a real and dangerous conspiracy of industrialists and aristocrats like Robert W. Welch and Fred Koch. (I know that the people of the USSR suffered under a brutal totalitarian regime, but it was not “Communist.” That was just a name tag. It was 1) brutal, and 2) totalitarian. At least part of the Bircher agenda had to have been to legitimize Communism as something real and dangerous, and which offered a nice contrast to the “good guys” of the Free World.)
The true art of control of the herd is misdirection. There is always a subset of the population that is more alert, more suspicious, maybe even more intelligent than average. When I was looking into 911 years ago, I got snookered by Dr. Judy Wood, who might easily have been a Bircher three decades earlier. Her goal appears to have been sophisticated misdirection rendering the stigmatism of tinfoil-hattery on true inquiry into the events of 911. That is my point, perhaps invoking Occam, that the more complicated an issue presented to small groups of erstwhile and open searchers for truth, the more likely it is to be misdirection.