Resurgence of the Birchers

I’ve often said that the bulk of the people on the Republican side are not the Republicans we grew up with, and perhaps even agreed with from time to time. The sane people have been driven out of the party, and the current conservative movement is dominated by the extremists who would have been with the Birchers, or perhaps the Klan, in the past.

Sometimes when talking about this with younger people I get blank stares as it seemed nobody had mentioned the John Birch Society for quite a while and not everyone is aware of such groups. Suddenly they are coming up again.  First it was with Ron Paul who, while certainly right when he took on the other Republicans on Iraq in the debate, does have a number of nutty right wing ideas. The recent profile of Paul in the New York Times Magazine reported:

In his office one afternoon in June, I asked about his connections to the John Birch Society. “Oh, my goodness, the John Birch Society!” he said in mock horror. “Is that bad? I have a lot of friends in the John Birch Society. They’re generally well educated, and they understand the Constitution. I don’t know how many positions they would have that I don’t agree with. Because they’re real strict constitutionalists, they don’t like the war, they’re hard-money people. . . . ”

I have trouble with someone like Ron Paul who does not even believe in the separation of church and state hiding behind the Constitution, and the Birchers were far better known for their paranoia than their support of the Constitution. Ron Paul’s connections to the Birchers might be overlooked as not being representative of other conservatives, but now Think Progress has posted a clip of Glenn Beck of CNN. Beck says he used to think the Society members were “a bunch of nuts,” but that they are now “starting to make more and more sense” to him.

Tim Grieve helps bring those who don’t recall the John Birch Society up to date:

It is, let’s face it, pretty shocking to see a group that has been a pariah since the 1960’s given credence on a mainstream television network, especially when the group is as far out as the JBS. The JBS is, after all, the group that believed fluoridated drinking water was a Communist mind-control plot. Oh, and its founder, Robert Welch, once accused Dwight Eisenhower — and no, we are not kidding — of being “a dedicated conscious agent of the communist conspiracy.” It even inspired Bob Dylan to write a satirical song, “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues.

I find it hard to believe that CNN still has a reputation for being a liberal network when they air conservatives from Wolf Blitzer to Glenn Beck but perhaps having Glenn Beck on does serve a purpose.  Let the conservatives talk enough and we can see how they really think.

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26 Comments

  1. 1
    Flo says:

    Must be a new spoof site I hadn’t seen before. Intelligent
    debate wouldn’t consist of so much name calling.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    There was a time when those who engaged in intelligent debate wouldn’t consider the ideas of the Birchers, and would see this as a realistic description, not “name calling.”

  3. 3
    G says:

    Everyone ranted about communist conspiracies in the 60s. Not that these Birchers sounded terribly reasonable, but that was 50 years ago?

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    No, not everyone ranted the way the Birchers did.

    I thought they were something out of the distant past, but as I say in the post they seem to keep coming up lately. Ron Paul would be a lot smarter to disassociate himself from such groups if he hopes to be taken serioulsy by enough people to stand a chance at winning.

  5. 5
    Alice says:

    Take out the name calling and labeling and the substance or value of this article/post goes to less than zero. Generally, when one
    can only resort to these tactics, they don’t have any valid issue to speak of and this is the best they can do. For what it’s worth,
    when I was in college a decade ago, I went and did a great deal of research on the John Birch society. The reason for the research was I was attempting to find out why there was a negative connotation associated with the name and how it originated. Guess what, I wasn’t able to dig up one single negative thing or incident. Near as I could ascertain was that those that politically didn’t agree with them, (they’re Constitutionalists) figured they’d throw some mud and see if any stuck. Just to let you know, I am
    not, nor have I been a member of the John Birch Society, however, I am a Constitutionalist and appreciate greatly that this is the foundation that they stand. (as should any American citizen) Additionally, your comment about fluoridation in water shows just how ignorant you are or you wouldn’t have included it in your less than zero piece of written verbiage. Me thinks doing a bit of research on the subject might do your gray matter some good. Truthfully your mocking about the fluoridation reminded me a bit of
    those flat worlders that mocked those that believed the earth was round.

    At any rate, if this is your best shot at a smear job of trying to connect Ron Paul with ‘Birchers’, I’d say you actually brought to
    light there isn’t any negative to be found so you had to resort to name calling.

  6. 6
    Bill O. Rights says:

    Ron Paul has a wide variety of supporters just like any other candidate. Anyone being honest would define the typical Ron Paul supporter as believing strongly in freedom, liberty, small government, and the Constitution.

    Ron Paul will help restore a proper balance of power between the Federal and State governments, as the Constitution requires. And if he can just say ‘No’ to congress’ overspending for a few years then he will have done a great service for our country.

    Ron Paul is 1st in YouTube, Meetup, MySpace, Facebook, Technorati, Alexa, Google, etc. The old media is just too slow to realize what is happening.

    Ron Paul places 1st or 2nd in every straw poll, debate, and active participation survey.

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    ‘Scientific Polls’ at this stage only measure name recognition. Over the next six months Ron Paul will gain name recognition and people will learn about who Ron Paul is. Most people who learn about Ron Paul become major supporters.

    Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were doing about the same in the ‘Scientific Polls’ at this stage in their elections. Ron Paul has tremendous momentum and his support is growing exponentially. The other candidates are stagnant. Only Ron Paul’s support is growing and will continue to grow!

    70% of Americans want us out of Iraq and want change.

    Ron Paul is only republican candidate against the war.

    Ron Paul only needs about 30% vote from republicans sick of the war and abuse of powers to win in republican primaries.

    Ron Paul is the man of integrity and courage that America needs at this time.

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  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    Alice,

    You can believe what you want to believe but you are hiding from reality when you claim there is nothing negative about the Birchers. This is hardly simple name calling. Examples of their beliefs are given in the post.

    Association with such organizations will prevent Ron Paul from ever being taken seriously by most who were actually around in their day.

    “At any rate, if this is your best shot at a smear job of trying to connect Ron Paul with ‘Birchers’, I’d say you actually brought to light there isn’t any negative to be found so you had to resort to name calling.”

    This was not intended to be a smear job against Ron Paul and hardly means that there is not anything negative about him. This was a post purely on conservatives bringing up the Birchers, not a post looking for Ron Paul’s negatives. I’ve gone into some of his negatives in other posts, but also pointed out that I did not intend to spend much time on Paul’s negatives as there is no point. He has virtually no chance of winning the Republican nomination, but I do enjoy watching him take on the Republicans regarding Iraq.

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:

    Bill O. Rights,

    If Ron Paul is the guy you really want, you certainly should campaign for him and ignore those of us who predict he has no chance. I’ve already debunked all the claims you make for Paul in other discussions so there is no point in repeating them. Besides, it doesn’t really matter–if he is the candidate you want you should back him regardless of the odds.

    As for some of your other points:

    “Ron Paul has a wide variety of supporters just like any other candidate.”

    True, but the problem with Paul is that he embraces far right groups such as the Birchers far too much, and should people start paying more attention to him, many of his writings could doom him.

    “Anyone being honest would define the typical Ron Paul supporter as believing strongly in freedom, liberty, small government, and the Constitution.”

    For the most part, but Paul is also a social conservative who doesn’t believe that the Constitution calls for separation of church and state, and he opposes abortion rights. These positions make him unacceptable to me, and keep me from considering him a consistent defender of either individual liberty or the Constitution. Ron Paul simply uses the Constitution when convenient, and ignores it when it conflicts with his conservative beliefs.

  9. 9
    Rick says:

    Ron, I don’t think anyone is “hiding” from the fact that the Birchers have issues. But on this topic, and particularly on your post on this topic, what some people are pointing out is that you don’t bother to explain anything about WHY Beck and the Birchers are wrong. Every organization has good things and bad things about it. You just call names and try to associate the Birchers with negative impressions that others have. It’s a way to try to dismiss their viewpoint without ever having to add any substance to your argument.

  10. 10
    Ron Chusid says:

    Rick,

    “what some people are pointing out is that you don’t bother to explain anything about WHY Beck and the Birchers are wrong.”

    First of all, I did explain briefly in the post and included a link with further information as to their views. I am not just calling names as you claim. It is not name calling when the descriptions are accurate. Those familiar with the group know how absurd their beliefs are, and there is information provided for those who are not aware of the group.

    Secondly, such explanation is hardly necessary with regards to groups such as the John Birch Society. The fact that Republicans are now willing to connect themselves to such groups is of significance and it really isn’t necessary to say more for those familiar with the group. Their views are just too absurd to waste the time to debunk. If anyone really thinks that putting floride in water is a Communist plot, or that President Eisenhower was part of a Communist conspiracy are not going to be convinced otherwise, and other people hardly need further discussion of this.

    It is the Birchers, and those who now speak well of them, and not me, who are presenting an argument lacking substance.

    The purpose of the post was not to prove any case against The John Birch Society, Beck, or Paul. The purpose was to point out what was once believed to be extremist and unacceptable is being accepted by some conservatives, indicating how much further to the right they have moved. The comments here demonstrate my point.

  11. 11
    Rick says:

    You missed what I said, sir. I referred specifically to this topic. You failed to explain exactly why you believe the things you do on this post. As I pointed out, every group has good things and bad things about them, that doesn’t mean they are wrong about this topic. If you are using names in general, they don’t necessarily apply to this topic. Broad brush strokes of demonization are ruining civil discourse in this country. Address what is being said, name calling doesn’t accomplish anything.

    If the Birchers truly aren’t providing any substance to their arguments, it should be embarrasingly easy to refute everything they say without having to resort to blanket name calling.

    You claim:

    The purpose was to point out what was once believed to be extremist and unacceptable is being accepted by some conservatives, indicating how much further to the right they have moved. The comments here demonstrate my point.

    Really? Which ones? I mean, other than the Ron Paul supporter. The position of the Birchers on this topic and the position of conservatives on this haven’t changed, so it would be rather hard for them to have moved anywhere.

  12. 12
    fred says:

    isn’t it obvious what the dems and reps have in store for us? isn’t it obvious that we need a constiution party? isn’t a vote for the dems or reps a vote for the corrupt status quo? are you that happy and proud of todays america, that you would even concider dignifying it’s perpetuation? stop these lawyers and their corruption. reduce constant government control of your freedom. go with leaders you respect the individual, who, by the way, is you. stop propaganda and open socratic dialogs. isn’t it obvious?

  13. 13
    Ron Chusid says:

    Rick,

    I suggest you actually read what I have written as opposed to repeatedly mischaracterizing it and responding with such banal responses which hardly apply. I’ve already answered the issues you raise in your second comment. It certainly would be a major change for mainstream conservatives to accept the exremism of the Birchers.

  14. 14
    Ron Chusid says:

    Fred

    If by “sn’t it obvious that we need a constiution party?” you mean Ron Paul, no it isn’t obvious. A candidate who argues that the Constitution does not provide for separation of Church and State, and who would allow the state to interfere in individual’s lives with regards to prohibiting abortion is not the candidate of either the Constitution or of freedom for individuals.

  15. 15
    Rick says:

    On the whole, Ron, you are correct about it being a major change for conservatives to accept all of the Bircher’s extremism. But we’re not talking about all the Bircher’s positions, we’re talking specifically about immigration. You’ve done nothing to explain your claim of how the conservative position and the Bircher’s position are different or have ever been different. I’m simply asking for the specifics you claim you have made about this particular topic. But instead of providing that information, and yes I’ve read what you actually wrote, you choose to attack my response. Wouldn’t it be better for the purposes of discussion for you to actually provide the substance which could show you are correct beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead you outright state, “such explanation is hardly necessary with regards to groups such as the John Birch Society”. But that’s the point, you are making claims about what they believe without ever explaining what they believe, why it is wrong, and why the conservatives would be moving to the right if they agree. These are your claims, you are doing nothing to add any veracity.

  16. 16
    Ron Chusid says:

    Rick,

    I have provided information as to what they believe, and I have provided an additional link. My point has been made and you have said nothing to dispute it.

    You are being particularly dishonest in your attacks on my post by arbitarily excluding anything linked elsewhere (as you totally ignore the evidence provided in the post). Linking to other sources is commonplace in the blogosphere, and is desirable as it allows blogs to present a variety of viewpoints without having to all repeat the same data. Blog posts are intended to be brief and make limited points, which this has done. They are not intended to be a complete review of all related subjects. My post made the point that was intended. Beyond that I see no need in a full review of the Birchers when enough evidence is provided to show that the organization is out of the mainstream.

  17. 17
    Rick says:

    You’ve provided a link of what they believe on this topic? The topic is illegal immigration, BTW. Unless you knew that, you’ve probably been confused by my requests for information. I watched what Beck actually said, got the quote in context, and I don’t see you address any of what was actually said on the show.

  18. 18
    Ron Chusid says:

    Rick,

    No the topic of my post is not illegal immigtration. It is the acceptance of fringe groups by modern conservatives–regardless of topic. I am referring to what Beck actually said on his show. I also provide a link to the video of what he said if anyone wants to verify the accuracy of my post. Today The Carpetbagger Report also added a transcript and made the same point as I did yesterday.

  19. 19
    Rick says:

    The topic of what they discussed on the show was illegal immigration. I watched the show, Ron, I know what it was about. The comments were about illegal immigration, if you are taking things out of context to simply bash people, that is wrong.

  20. 20
    Ron Chusid says:

    Rick,

    Read what I wrote. As I have repeatedly explained to you,k II am only discussing one aspect–the reference to the Birchers. I have taken nothing out of context, and I have provided the links to prove that.

    This nonsense from yuu has gone on long enough. You are welcome to make comments which are relevant to the discussion, but your attempts to distract from the topic of the post in this manner are getting quite tedious. I have proven the topic of my post, and for you to respond by saying I have not proven a totally different argument is quite specious.

    It is quite common for conservative pundits to attack liberals by trying to tie them to fringe leftists they have little in common with. Here we have a case where a conservative pundit connects himself to a fringe right wing group, and all of a sudden it is unfair to bring this up?

  21. 21
    Rick says:

    But you referred to Beck’s show, and the topic on the show that the Bircher was there talking about was illegal immigration. If you’re not addressing that, then you’re taking what was said out of context, nothing could be more plain.

    In this case, a conservative pundit is talking about one specific topic on which they happen to agree with the Birchers. One topic, but that’s not how you’re trying to present it. You haven’t proven anything, since you’re not talking about the actual context of the comment. I’m not saying it in unfair to bring it up, I’m saying you are talking things out of context.

  22. 22
    Carl G. Oehling says:

    Ron Chusid says in several of his replies he is interested in WINNING, and Ron Paul has no chance of WINNING if Birchers are in his corner. To me it displays Ron Chusid’s personal integrity.

  23. 23
    Ron Chusid says:

    Carl twists what I have said, and therefore this actually reflects upon Carl’s integrity as opposed to mine.

    How exactly does it show a lack of integrity to point out that endorsing a group which claims that Eisenhower was part of a Communist conspiracy is not a wise move to make by someone who wants to be taken seriously by voters?

  24. 24
    Ron Chusid says:

    I almost missed Rick’s last comment until I came back to this for a post I’m now writing which shows more of Beck’s extremist views.

    Rick, again you are ignoring the significance of links in blog posts. My post had nothing to do with immigration. I wanted to stay focused on the increased acceptance of the Birchers by the right and not get into that issue. That context is totally irrelevant to what I was writing about, but a link is given for those who want more details.

    You are incorrect in your characterization of this as “a conservative pundit is talking about one specific topic on which they happen to agree with the Birchers.”

    Beck chose to have the Birchers on his show. There are many other people who could be speaking on immigration. Also, Beck did not say “I disagree with much of what you say, but I agree with you on immigration alone.” He made a more general statement of the group making more sense.

    Take any extremist group and I’m sure that people could find a specific topic they agree on. That is not the same as granting them legitimacy as Beck has attempted to do.

  25. 25
    Rick says:

    But Ron, you referred to a quote from Beck which was about immigration in order to make your case. If you are not taking things out of context, then you must admit that it is about immigration. If you are not taking things out of context, you’d know that Beck was talking about this one specific issue. Beck wasn’t giving them blanket legitimacy, no matter how hard you try to spin it and take things out of context.

  26. 26
    Ron Chusid says:

    No Rick, I am not spinning anything. You are just bringing up an irrelevant point to try to distract from the real point.

    I have not taken anything out of context as the context you bring up is irrelevant (but I did include the link in case anyone wanted to see the context.) Beck gives them legitimacy by having them on his show. His statement about the Birchers making sense was not made about one specific issue as you erroneously claim.

    You argument just makes no sense. Several blogs have reported on the same thing and I have not seen anyone else come up with such a lame rational for Beck’s comments. If there is any doubt about what an extremist Beck is, also see the quote in my more recent post on him.

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