By Lisa Graves on July 08, 2014

Today, as announced on Amy Goodman's DemocracyNow!, the Progressive Inc. and the Center for Media and Democracy are publishing new information and analysis documenting that billionaire oil industrialist Charles Koch was an active member of the controversial right-wing John Birch Society during its active campaigns against the civil rights movement.

Many commentators have noted that the father of the controversial Koch Brothers, Fred Koch, was a leader of the John Birch Society from its founding in 1958 until his death in 1967. But, in fact, Charles Koch followed his father's footsteps into the John Birch Society for years in Wichita, Kansas, a hub city for the organization in that decade of tremendous societal unrest as civil rights activists challenged racial segregation.

Charles Koch was not simply a rank and file member of the John Birch Society in name only who paid nominal dues. He purchased and held a "lifetime membership" until he resigned in 1968. He also lent his name and his wealth to the operations of the John Birch Society in Wichita, aiding its "American Opinion" bookstore -- which was stocked with attacks on the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, and Earl Warren as elements of the communist conspiracy. He funded the John Birch Society's promotional campaigns, bought advertising in its magazine, and supported its distribution of right-wing radio shows.

The reactionary ideas learned from his father and stoked by his ideological ally in Wichita, Bob Love of the Love Box Company, were not simply passing fancies of the young scion of an oil fortune. The tools of the trade he absorbed in his late twenties and early thirties appear to continue to animate some of his actions decades later, as with his 2014 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal claiming those who criticize him are "collectivists." The echoes of his past role reverberate along with the millions he and his brother David Koch have spent fueling a John Birch Society-like "Tea Party" peopled with right-wingers like Birchers of decades past who contend against all reasoning that the president is a communist. David Koch himself has claimed President Obama is a scary "socialist." These roots run deep in the Kochs.

In many ways, the playbook deployed by the Kochs today through myriad organizations resembles a more sophisticated (and expensive) playbook of the John Birch Society back then. Even the recent announcement of the Kochs to give a $25 million gift to the United Negro College Fund (with strings attached requiring the recruitment of free market African American college students) echoes that past. In 1964, in the face of criticism for its assault on the civil rights movement, the John Birch Society also funded a scholarship program to give college funds to African Americans who were not active in the civil rights movement, according to documents the Progressive.org/Center for Media and Democracy has obtained.

Below is an excerpt of a new story just published by The Progressive magazine in its newly redesigned summer issue, summarizing some of the long-term research of the Center for Media and Democracy, which is now part of the Progressive Inc. The complete version of that story, which sheds new light on the political activities and environmental record of the Kochs, is available in the digitial edition of the magazine.

Below the excerpt are some key quotes from the John Birch Society's attacks on the civil rights movement and its outlandish claims about the circumstances faced by African Americans in the 1960s. When Charles Koch resigned from the John Birch Society in 1968, he did so along with running a full-page ad taking the opposite position of the John Birch Society on the Vietnam War.  But, he made no similar gesture expressing any opposition to its long-standing, high priority anti-civil rights agenda, which his financial support made possible.

In leaving the John Birch Society, Charles Koch had become enamored with a more anarchical expression of his attachment to unregulated capitalism that at its root opposes government action other than that which is necessary to protect property and freedom of contract, two theoretical "ideals" at odds with the very kind of anti-discrimination laws, labor laws, and social programs that the John Birch Society attacked. Since the 1960s, Charles Koch and his brother David have spent untold millions to move these related theories into the mainstream. And, like the John Birch Society spearheaded in recruiting their father, they too have done so by recruiting other industrialists, as with their billionaire "Freedom Partners," to join them in funding efforts to dramatically change this country by trying to takeover Congress and the states and rewrite the laws to suit their own interests.

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From The Progressive magazine July-August 2014:

In 1961, at the age of twenty-six, Charles moved home to Wichita, Kansas, to work for Rock Island Oil and Refining Company, which was led by his father, Fred Koch, who was on the national council of the John Birch Society. Charles subsequently opened a John Birch Society bookstore in Wichita with a friend of his father, Bob Love, the owner of the Love Box Company in Wichita, according to Dan Schulman’s Sons of Wichita.

The John Birch Society’s “American Opinion Bookstores” were stocked with material opposing the civil rights movement

Birchers had put up billboards in Kansas and elsewhere calling for the impeachment of Earl Warren, the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court who had ordered the desegregation of the public schools in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.

There’s no indication that Fred or Charles objected to the Birch campaign to impeach Warren.

There is no indication they objected when it ran ads in Dallas in 1963 with President John F. Kennedy’s head depicted like two mug shot photos, with the word “Treason” below, shortly before the assassination of the President ...

Or when it opposed the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, based on the Bircher claim that the movement was created as a forty-year front for the communists.

Or when it supported billboards calling Martin Luther King a communist.

None of these things was cited by Charles Koch and Bob Love in their resignation from the John Birch Society in 1968, according to correspondence with Robert Welch, who had launched the organization a decade earlier with Fred and a few other businessmen.

Oddly, it was Welch’s “Win the War” strategy of signing up people to support the Vietnam War that caused the breakup between Charles Koch and the John Birch Society.

In 1968, Charles Koch bought a full-page ad, “Let’s Get Out of Vietnam Now,” based on the isolationism of a competing flank of the far right movement....

Charles also gave public speeches espousing the view that government’s only proper role was to police the interference with the free market—an ideology that inherently rejects child labor laws, minimum wages or safety rules, the protection of union rights, and more....

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Find out more about what happened next (like Charles Koch's call for a Second American revolution and the Senate investigation of a pre-cursor to the Kochs' Freedom Partners operation) in the digital edition of the magazine. Or keep reading below to learn more details about the kind of claims the John Birch Society made that did not provoke a counter-ad by Charles Koch, like the outrageous claim that photos of civil rights protestors attacked by dogs were shams. Select research documents have also been posted below, although more are available. Additional new stories about the Koch empire and activities will be gathered in a new resource for concerned citizens called KochExposed.org.

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TIMELINE OF EXCERPTS: The Koch Family, the John Birch Society, and Civil Rights

1958

Fred Koch attended the initial meeting of right-wing businessmen called by Robert Welch, who proposes creating the John Birch Society to fight the spread of communism in the U.S., after the ignominious death of Senator Joe McCarthy, who was censured. Fred joins the Executive Committee, which met monthly to plan Birch Society strategy.

1961

Charles Koch moved home to Wichita to work for his dad and joins the John Birch Society, which his father, Fred, co-founded. (According to Sons of Wichita, Charles joined the Birch Society when he moved home.)

That year, Fred Koch published and circulated his pamphlet, “A Businessman Looks at Communism,” which claimed the U.S. Supreme Court was pro-communist, that President Dwight Eisenhower (the former allied commander in WWII) was soft on communism, that the public schools used many communist books, and that many teachers were commies.

Also that year, David Koch – a student at MIT –helps incite an anti-communist, anti-Castro protest that turns into a riot where students are arrested.

Also that year, African American and white “Freedom Riders” began traveling between the Southern states to test the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Boyton v. Virginia that the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment barred laws requiring segregated travel interstate. The buses were attacked by white mobs and the Ku Klux Klan.

The John Birch Society announced that its top priority that year was the launch of its “Movement to Impeach Earl Warren,” the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, appointed by President Eisenhower; Warren was previously a Republican governor.

One of the core documents promoted that year and for years afterward was by the founder of the John Birch Society, Robert Henry Winborne Welch (of the Junior Mints/Sugar Babies candy fortune). That document was titled “A Letter to the South on Segregation” (1956). It claimed that the “easy-going colored man” of the South will be “easily misled by agitators,” that the phrase “civil rights” is a communist slogan, and that the push for racial integration “embarrassed” good African Americans.

The John Birch Society’s Movement to Impeach Earl Warren also promoted Rosalie Gordon’s defense of segregated public schools “Nine Men Against America” and the right-wing Regnery publishing house’s book by James Kilpatrick (“The Sovereign States”) defending the Southern States’ “right” “to believe that they were proceeding constitutionally in erecting and maintaining a system of racially separate schools.” The Birch Society also promoted the extremist and segregationist “Dan Smoot Report.”

In 1961, James Meredith, who had served in the U.S. Air Force, asked Medgar Evers for help after he was denied admission to Ole Miss, the University of Mississippi. Evers asked Thurgood Marshall to take Meredith’s case and the NAACP filed a federal lawsuit.

Accordingly to a Time magazine profile that year, the John Birch Society launched reading rooms and book stores “manned … by local members of our organization” promoting the 100 books approved by the Society to be sold, along with membership, posters, pamphlets, and Birch magazines. The approved material included the Bircher monthly magazine, “American Opinion,” and “Dan Smoot’s Report,” which ran numerous pieces attacking the integration of schools. The John Birch Society also pushed many right-wing radio shows.  

According to Time magazine’s profile, Wichita was designated a “pilot” town for the John Birch Society and it mentioned Fred Koch’s leadership of the organization. Professors at the city college, Wichita University, reported being harassed by Birchers for their books and what they taught. At a major Birch event there, Fred Koch introduced the John Birch Society founder, Bob Welch, at a town hall meeting of 2,000 people. Friend of the Koch family and fellow Bircher, Bob Love of the Love Box Company shut down a news filming of the speech in which Welch was tape recorded claiming “The Protestant ministry is more heavily infiltrated by Communists than any other profession in America.” The Wichita Eagle-Beacon editorialized that “Welch is selling snake oil, and that a lot of people are buying it.”

1962

In 1962, based on the reasoning in the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education, a federal appeals court ordered that the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) admit African American student James Meredith. Mississippi’s segregationist governor, Ross Barnett, responded by trying to stop the integration of the state college.

When James Meredith sought to enroll in Oxford, Mississippi, Governor Barnett personally blocked his entrance and was joined by World War II veteran Major General Edwin Walker, who issued this statement: “I am in Mississippi beside Governor Ross Barnett. I call for a national protest against the conspiracy from within. Rally to the cause of freedom in righteous indignation, violent vocal protest, and bitter silence under the flag of Mississippi at the use of Federal troops….” Riots ensued and two people were killed.  Only President John F. Kennedy’s executive order for the National Guard to escort Meredith allowed him to enroll in the state university and he had to have ongoing protection from federal agents.

The John Birch Society hailed General Walker as a hero for standing up in Oxford to what it described as the communist creation of the civil rights movement. The Dan Smoot Report promoted by the John Birch Society claimed the desegregation order was illegal and equated the whites protesting Meredith’s admission to the students protesting in Hungary in 1956. It also defended General Walker as standing up to American “tyranny.”

The John Birch Society promoted a pamphlet by Alan Stang called “It’s Very Simple” attacking the civil rights movement.  Among other things, Stang called Martin Luther King, Jr., a communist and claimed that his goal was to pressure Congress “to install more collectivism.” Stang, in John Birch Society publications, claimed Rosa Parks was trained by communists before she refused to move to the back of the bus in Montgomery in 1955.

The John Birch Society also announced that it had erected more than 100 billboards calling for the impeachment of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. Birch leader Bob Welch noted “We believe that the Warren Court is gradually destroying all the safeguards which made this a republic instead of a mobocracy.”

1963

Martin Luther King helped organize demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama, was arrested, and wrote on non-violence and injustice in “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (which was published by The Progressive along with other of his writings).

The John Birch Society claimed that its “detailed study of ‘the life and lies’ of Martin Luther King … will convince any reasonable American that this man is not working for, but against, the real welfare and best interests of either the Negroes in the United States, or of the United States as a whole.” (Robert Welch, “Two Revolutions at Once” published in 1965) In its publications of Alan Stang’s writings the John Birch Society claimed Martin Luther King was the “biggest” “liar in the country” and what “he really wants is to be a black plantation boss giving orders to ‘his people.”’

Medgar Evers, the NAACP’s Mississippi field staffer, is assassinated at his home.

Bull Connor directed Birmingham, Alabama, police to use attack dogs and high-pressure fire hoses on civil rights marchers, including children.  

The John Birch Society claimed that “The truth is that the infamous picture of a dog attacking a Negro, while the dog was held in leash by a Birmingham police officer, was so carefully rehearsed until the ‘civil rights’ agitators got exactly the picture they wanted, that the leg of the Negro victim’s trousers had even been cut with a razor in advance, so that it would fall apart more readily at the first touch by the dog. Yet this picture was shown on the front pages of newspapers all over the United States – most of which did not know it was a contrived phony – and became an extremely important part of the Communist propaganda about ‘civil rights.’” (Robert Welch, “Two Revolutions at Once” published in 1965)

In July 1963, the John Birch Society launched the “Support Your Local Police” Movement providing bumper stickers, window stickers, and flyers through its bookstore and by mail. The posters often appeared with “Impeach Earl Warren” billboards and touted the need for “law and order” in Birmingham, Alabama, and other cities.

Thousands travel to Washington, DC, for the March on Washington for Jobs where Reverend King delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

As segregationist Senator Strom Thurmond spoke out against civil rights and the “collectivist” menace on the Senate floor, the John Birch Society invites him to join its council, but he declines to retain his “independence.”

Four little girls are murdered in a bombing at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

A John Birch Society front group runs advertisements in Dallas before President Kennedy’s arrival, depicting his head in mug shots with the word “TREASON” below, along with claims that Kennedy is guilty of treason for purportedly being soft on communism.

President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.   

Fred Koch then helped spearhead a national advertisement in the New York Times blaming Kennedy’s assassination on the communists.

1964

John Birch Society ads blaming communists for the assassination of President Kennedy run nationally. The Society also promotes material called “Marxmanship in Dallas.”

The Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) organizes voter registration drives in Mississippi and plans for “Freedom Summer” demonstrations.

James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, three civil rights workers investigating the firebombing of a church where they were organizing voter registration, were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan.

Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 over the objections of South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond and other racists.

That year, the Supreme Court also issued its ruling in Reynolds v. Simms, which is famous for its principle of “one person, one vote.”

The John Birch Society created a “scholarship” fund for anti-communist/capitalist African American students, and its first recipient received $1000 in September 1964.

1965

The John Birch Society touts that 26 million Americans voted for a conservative, Barry Goldwater, even though Goldwater criticized the Society.

Jimmy Lee Jackson, an unarmed African American who was protesting the arrest of civil rights worker James Edward Orange, was killed by police. Hundreds of SNCC activists, including John Lewis, marched from Selma to Montgomery in protest, and were stopped on the bridge by police wielding fire hoses, clubs, and tear gas. Martin Luther King joins them.

The John Birch Society’s main publication claims that “the march from Selma to Montgomery led by Martin Luther King” was a “sham and farce.”

Congress passes the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The John Birch Society claimed that the few “handicaps to Negro voting” “could be and were being corrected” without federal legislation and that “To tear a whole great nation to pieces, and to try to plunge a large part of it into civil war, over the few such injustices as do exist, is on a par with sinking a mighty ship in order to get a rat out of the scupper.” (Robert Welch, “Two Revolutions at Once” in American Opinion and then published as a stand-alone John Birch Society pamphlet in 1966.)

Among other things in 1965, Charles Koch helped promote the John Birch Society bookstore in Wichita, which was managed by Bob Love. The bookstore peddled John Birch Society pamphlets like Earl Lively’s “The Invasion of Mississippi,” which claims the racial integration of Ole Miss was unlawful and sides with the white racist protestors.  Other titles included Robert Welch’s pamphlet, “A Letter to the South on Segregation” and a tract titled “Is the Supreme Court Pro-Communist.” It also offered “Support Your Local Police” stickers from the campaign begun in 1963.

Charles Koch’s confidante and assistant George Pearson joined the John Birch Society and began volunteering at the American Opinion Bookstore in Wichita, too.

The John Birch Society also promoted its new “What’s Wrong with Civil Rights” campaign in its bookstores and newspapers. The campaign claimed African Americans are better off in the U.S. than in other countries and have personal security on par with whites:

“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; but a higher level of literacy, in fact, than at least four-fifths of the earth’s population of all races combined.”

 

“The average American Negro has complete freedom of religion, freedom of movement, and freedom to run his own life as he pleases.”

 

“His security of person, and assurance of honorable treatment by his fellow citizens in all of the utilitarian relationships of the living, have been exactly on par with those of his white neighbors.”

 

“[T]he agitators behind the civil rights movement demand complete and absolute disregard for those differences [‘in the economic, literate, and social level of the two races” and “the natural or human-natural results of these differences”], and a pretense that they do not exist, must be forced by federal law upon the total population everywhere, and with respect to every activity of human life.”

 

“[T]he civil rights movement in the United States, with all of its growing agitation and riots and bitterness, and insidious steps towards the appearance of a civil war, has not been infiltrated by the Communists, as you frequently hear. It has been deliberately and almost wholly created by the Communists …”

 

“[T]he American Negroes as a whole did not plan this, have not wanted any part of it, and are no bigger dupes on yielding to the propaganda and coercion of the comsymps among them, than are the white people of the United States in swallowing portions of that propaganda labeled idealism.”

 

Also, in 1965, the riots in Watts in Los Angeles over the treatment of an African American and his family by a police officer resulted in more than 30 deaths, primarily of African Americans.

1966

James Meredith is shot during the “March against Fear” to register African American voters.

The John Birch Society continued its campaign to Impeach Earl Warren and also pushed to raise $12 million to take over Congress through launching political action in 325 districts.

Charles Koch sent out a fundraising letter with Bob Love to raise money for the John Birch Society. They said they had contributed $3500 toward the goal of $5000 (the average annual wages of an American worker that year).

The John Birch Society also promoted its “Liberty Amendment,” opposing graduated income taxes as a marxist plot to impose collectivism. It also took out “Support Police” ads and opposed “Civilian Review Boards” that would impose citizen oversight against police brutality.

That year, with his father ill, Charles Koch took on the leadership of the family corporation that would become Koch Industries.

1967

The Supreme Court struck down laws against inter-racial marriage in Loving v. Virginia.

Thurgood Marshall was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Martin Luther King begins the “Poor People’s Campaign.

The John Birch Society calls President Johnson’s “War on Poverty” a scam to promote collectivism and promoted Dan Smoot’s claim that it would create a socialist dictatorship.

Fred Koch died on November 17, 1967. Donations in tribute were requested by the family in his name for Wichita’s John Birch Society American Opinion Bookstore.

Charles Koch became Chairman of the family business.

1968

Martin Luther King came to speak during the Memphis sanitation workers strike, and he was assassinated.

April 11, 1968, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968 barring discrimination in housing.

The John Birch Society promoted opposition to anti-discrimination legislation, with publications like “Open Occupancy v. Forced Housing,” which extolled “freedom of choice” and property rights.

On May 19, 1968, Charles Koch and Bob Love ran a full-page ad in the Wichita Eagle headlined “Let’s Get Out of Vietnam Now,” calling for an unconditional pullout because it was too expensive. Love also stated that pulling out necessary to prevent the U.S. from adapting to communism philosophically through wage and price controls and taxes to pay for the war: “This country will surely vote for a dictator, if the chaos and confusion of inflation continue to mount.”

Charles Koch resigned his “life membership” in the John Birch Society and also withdrew his advertising from the John Birch Society’s “American Opinion” monthly magazine and from supporting its radio programs. Robert Welch wrote to ask him to reconsider, but he did not do so.

Charles Koch announced he was renaming the family company “Koch Industries.”

Section: 

Comments

Thanks for verifying what we've so long known -- the neoliberal assault mimics the JBS created plan of hiding behind "fronts" to optimize sneak attacks.
Interesting. I have myself discussed the Koch brothers links to the John Birch Society, the Tea Party, and particularly, Grover Norquist's efforts in the last 30 years to achieve the Koch brother's goals. http://goo.gl/tHhetV http://goo.gl/NgNj3x http://goo.gl/D9v1Z5 http://goo.gl/ubmfBq http://goo.gl/Ni1a5n What the Koch brothers are trying to accomplish is to re-write the constitution (via supporting candidates willing to carry their water) to match their Randian worldview, which is, in fact, their religion. The scary part is that it seems to be working, just look at open-carry laws and recent supreme court rulings that favor the 'free market' and the establishment of religion over science, workers rights are under attack all over the country (in part, due to ALEC's boilerplate approach to writing laws), and that's merely one more plank in their platform.
I don't mean to rain on Lisa Grave's parade, but the "new docs" she references (re: Charles Koch being a JBS member) are NOT new. I posted them online and shared them with many people almost one year ago. For example, see: https://archive.org/details/WilliamGredePapersReCharlesKochRobertLove ..............To my knowledge, I was the first person to discover the documentary evidence that Charles Koch joined (and eventually resigned from) the John Birch Society. I am also the first person to discover that Birch Society founder (Robert Welch) asked Charles to consider becoming a member of the JBS National Council (after he had already resigned from the JBS). I also have posted other documentary evidence pertaining to Fred Koch and Charles Koch and their connections with the JBS on my webpages which are devoted to "Documentary History of the JBS" at following links. Most of these documents have never previously been publicly available: CHAPTER…..Time Period……………….URL JBS 9-1 / 01/58 thru 08/11/60 = https://sites.google.com/site/ernie1241/ JBS 9-2 / 09/60/60 thru 12/15/61 = https://sites.google.com/site/ernie1241a/ JBS 9-3 / 01/62 thru 12/31/64 = https://sites.google.com/site/ernie1241b/ JBS 9-4 / 01/65 thru 12/31/65 = https://sites.google.com/site/jbs9004/ JBS 9-5 / 01/66 thru current = https://sites.google.com/site/jbs9005a/
Dear Mr. Lazar: Thank you very much for writing to us. We did not realize you had posted information about Charles Koch being a Bircher before now, or we would most definitely have given you credit for your research. The fundraising letter we posted was identified in reviewing paper files in archives , not online, and to our knowledge it appears nowhere else, besides on Progressive.org/PRWatch.org, in electronic form. I do wish I had seen your work before now because it is indeed illuminating. Your site specifically references Charles Koch with the following note: "JBS National Council member Robert D. Love sends a letter to Robert Welch advising him that he and Charles Koch anticipate meeting with Scott Stanley Jr., the editor of the JBS magazine, Review of the News. According to Love: 'Charles Koch can, if he desires, finance a large operation, however, he must continually be brought along, as he has many duties now as head of the company.' About a year later, Love and Koch place a full-page advertisement in the Wichita KS Eagle newspaper calling upon our national leaders to withdraw U.S. forces from Vietnam. Both Love and Koch subsequently resign from the Birch Society." Thank you again for finding and sharing the letter quoted above from Love to Welch. We are happy to help share that information with our readers. We hope you find our independent research re Charles Koch's fundraising letter -- and our analysis of the context of that support for the John Birch Society in the midst of its top-line public campaigns against civil rights -- helpful in educating the public about his roots. Lisa P.S. If you would contact our office, I'd love to discuss your work with you!
Dear Mr. Doyle: Thank you for writing in about our article and thank you for introducing us to your research and writing. We had not been aware of it before, but I am very interested in looking into your examination of Grover Norquist's history. I see from the links that you mention that David Koch was also part of the John Birch Society. If you could send me a note or give me a call at the office, I'd love to learn more about what you have on that. In the meantime, for our readers, here is the link to your mention of the Koch brothers and the John Birch Society: http://hintswithhunches.blogspot.com/2014/04/grover-norquist-and-john-birch-society.html
Lisa: As an interesting historical note, Fred Koch's wife stated after her husband died, that he had "resigned" from the JBS shortly before his death because he thought the views of Robert Welch had become "too extreme".
I wonder if Charles and David Koch have given more money to gay marriage and to the United Negro College Fund than all Progressive writers, readers and donors combined?
Thank you, Ernie! She made that claim but the actually historical record contradicts the self-serving assertion she made in the midst of the public controversy the family faced in the early 1980s. Beyond his own letters that rebut such a claim there is also the fact that the family chose only a few organizations for mourners to send financial memorials, one of which was the John Birch Society to support its bookstore which promoted all the extreme views described in this article, plus many many more. Also, as you and others have noted, at an earlier point, Fred Koch wrote to Bob Welch to note that perhaps he was not extreme enough....
Lisa: I generally agree with your suspicions but there is one aspect which needs be considered and should be researched further. In November 1966 Robert Welch published an article in the JBS magazine (American Opinion) entitled "The Truth In Time" which introduced the concept of a "Master Conspiracy" which existed long before the Communist movement and which was comprised of a more secretive and fiendish control group---including prominent and very wealthy American businessmen and bankers! According to Welch, the Communist movement was only one tool of this "Master Conspiracy" which began with the 18th century Bavarian Illuminati. Welch proposed that this higher and more secretive "ruling clique" should be referred to as "INSIDERS". I suspect that many Birchers thought that the JBS could never sell such an esoteric and bizarre idea and this may help explain why there was such a sudden departure of key figures from the JBS during 1966 and early 1967. One of the problems which serious independent researchers confront with respect to the JBS, is that the JBS does not permit independent scholars to have access to its archives for historical research -- despite the fact that the JBS was incorporated as "an educational organization". BUT, the personal papers of many JBS National Council members are archived in colleges, universities, and state historical societies around our country and if they were carefully examined, they might help us determine whether or not people like Fred Koch resigned from the JBS because they actually did believe that Welch's ideas really had become "too extreme" and his leadership could no longer be productive within the anti-communist and conservative movements.
It should be re-iterated that today's Tea Party is just the old John Birch Society with a new name. The radical-right ideology, the extremism, the funding source and even the dynastic leadership is the same. The only difference is that the militant kooks and know-nothings of the old JBS were kept outside of government. Now they're inside -- and using the tools of government to wreck our democratic institutions, our national infrastructure and our economy.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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