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

Jack: I know that it is very common for people on the left to make your assertion that the JBS and Tea Party are essentially the same -- but I respectfully suggest that you are succumbing to lowest-common-denominator reasoning...... With respect to the Tea Party Movement............. I am aware that the JBS likes to take credit for the growth and success of the TPM. ALL political extremist organizations exploit whatever controversies or trends or new political developments they think can be used to advance their interests. You could find virtually identical statements in Communist Party publications which assert that the CPUSA was responsible for all of our advances in civil rights, for opposition to anti-labor proposals, or for peace and anti-war activities....BUT....It is dangerous to adopt the Birch Society mentality -- i.e. believing that there are no materially important distinguishing characteristics among all the people and groups whose views we disagree with......The reason why Robert Welch and the JBS lumped together actual Communist Party members and supporters with virtually all prominent liberal politicians and groups -- is precisely because Welch wanted his members to accept the reductionist JBS premise that there were no significant differences in objectives or behavior or ideology between and among left-wing personalities and organizations, i.e. they were all varying degrees of "collectivists"......This is also why Birchers attempt to change the usual understanding of a political spectrum by placing fascism, communism, socialism, and liberalism on the left-side of the spectrum versus conservatism and libertarianism on the right side. This is merely a ploy to identify and place all "enemies" on one-side of the political spectrum and all "good guys" on the opposite side.....That is also why Welch told his National Council (in 1960) that there was "no practical difference" between a Communist Party member, a Communist sympathizer, or a Communist "agent" (i.e. someone who enabled Communists to achieve their goals). Quoting Welch directly......"In the Senate, there are men like Stephen Young of Ohio, and Wayne Morse of Oregon, McNamara of Michigan, and Clifford Case of New Jersey and Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota and Estes Kefauver of Tennessee and John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts, whom it is utter folly to think of as just liberals. Every one of those men is either an actual Communist or so completely a Communist sympathizer or agent that it makes no practical difference..." .........Unfortunately, there is not enough space here for me to address all the ideological differences between JBS and TPM but as an introduction...........The TPM is primarily concerned with fiscal matters--i.e. spending money which we do not have and the related matter of size/scope of government.....By contrast, the JBS has always had a much more highly developed ideology which focuses upon what they consider a massive conspiracy which has existed inside the U.S. for many decades. Furthermore, they believe that "agents" of that "conspiracy of gangsters" (their words) include many very prominent Americans (Republicans and Democrats) and, especially, a wealthy elitist group whom they describe as "Insiders" which the JBS previously described as "Communists", "Communist sympathizers" and their supporters/enablers (aka "agents"). Polling data and comments made by TPM leaders make it evident that they respect and admire many conservative politicians, intellectuals, and political activists. BY CONTRAST: The JBS describes many prominent conservatives as "phony conservatives" who cannot be trusted. [See below for more details.] Furthermore, the TPM has never bought into the conspiratorial JBS arguments about matters such as our civil rights movement (CRM). The JBS believes that both our CRM and the KKK were staffed and run and controlled by "Communists". When I discuss this matter, I often point this out: All humans have blood, but if you are given the wrong blood type you die! Similarly, many persons, organizations, and movements may superficially appear to share similar ideas or objectives -- but, in reality, upon careful examination they have irreconcilable differences which render them incompatible with each other. That is the case with respect to the JBS and the TPM. Yes--it is true that if you use lowest-common-denominator reasoning, you can assert that the TPM and JBS are similar. But you have to look closer. The predicates of JBS ideology are NOT shared by most TPM adherents---based upon polling which has been done such as NY Times/CBS News poll and based upon comments made by TPM leaders. TPM adherents often respect and admire conservative politicians and conservative activists. The JBS does not believe that people like Ronald Reagan, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller, Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Henry Kissinger, John McCain, George Bush, William F. Buckley Jr and the National Review crowd, plus many prominent right-wing intellectuals and pundits are actually genuine conservatives. In fact, the JBS often refuses now to use "conservative" as a descriptive term because it prefers "constitutionalist" or "Americanist" -- and by JBS lights most GOP Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates plus most GOP cabinet-level appointments and GOP Senators/Congressmen since World War II have NOT been "constitutionalists" or "Americanists". A recent issue of the JBS "Freedom Index" (which scores the voting behavior of all members of Congress) reflects that, from the JBS perspective, many GOP Senators score only 50% to 70%. In the JBS scheme of things, 50% is a failing score, 60% is poor, and 70% represents unpredictable behavior from someone who may be an opportunist and not sincerely committed to "constitutionalist" principles. According to a recent JBS Freedom Index, the average score for the House of Representatives was 47% and the average score for the Senate was 43% -- which means, from the JBS perspective, the Congress (even the GOP-controlled House) is a total failure! Specifically, the JBS gives POOR or FAIL SCORES (equivalent to D or F if you were in school) to such prominent Tea Party movement heroes as: Cong. Michelle Bachmann (MN) = 50% Cong. Jason Chaffetz (UT) = 67% Cong. Paul Ryan (WI) = 60% Cong. Marsha Blackburn (TN) = 60% In the Senate, the JBS gave a POOR or FAIL SCORE to many prominent conservatives, including: Marco Rubio (FL) = 70% Saxby Chambliss (GA) = 67% Scott Brown (MA) = 20% Roy Blunt (MO) = 60% Rob Portman (OH) = 70% Lindsey Graham (SC) = 60% The JBS thinks that our government (no matter which party wins elections or controls Congress) has been captured by an elitist cabal of "enemies" whose allegiance is to a one-world socialist dictatorship which will eviscerate our Constitution and destroy our freedoms. Another area where you can see profound differences between the TPM and the JBS concerns our civil rights movement. I doubt that many TPM adherents would agree with the JBS predicate that our civil rights movement was begun by Communists, was staffed by Communists, was controlled by Communists, and "served only Communist purposes" -- which is the JBS position. [Many prominent conservatives (such as Sen. Barry Goldwater) endorsed and financially supported the NAACP or other national civil rights organizations. BY CONTRAST: The JBS described those groups as Communist fronts!] Furthermore, I doubt many TPM adherents would agree with the following JBS position (as stated in its May 2008 JBS Bulletin): "Just as the John Birch Society showed in the 1960's that the communists basically ran both the civil rights movement and the KKK, the strategy was nothing new. The former was used to transfer power to Washington DC in the name of civil rights and the latter provided a pretext for transferring power to Washington. You cannot get a really good conflict started unless you control both sides of the argument." Furthermore, the current CEO of the John Birch Society and the JBS magazine have explicitly stated that people like Sarah Palin and Cong. Paul Ryan CANNOT be trusted. The JBS magazine published an article stating that Cong. Paul Ryan IS NOT a genuine conservative nor a fiscal hawk nor a serious genuine government reformer! The Tea Party Movement is, by and large, concerned primarily with fiscal matters and especially growth of government. By contrast, the Birch Society has a much more highly developed ideology which is based upon their conspiratorial arguments about the motives of the persons who have run our country (and our large institutions) since Woodrow Wilson was in office. The Birch Society DESPISES neo-cons (including major officials of the George Bush administration along with many pundits represented in The Weekly Standard magazine). The JBS DESPISES most establishment Republican politicians. They DESPISE the National Review crowd (Bill Buckley's magazine; in fact, the current President of the JBS, John McManus, wrote a scathing book attacking Buckley). Mrs. Robert Welch terminated her membership in the Birch Society because she was so angry over how the new leaders of the JBS (after her husband Robert died) were savaging Ronald Reagan in the pages of the JBS magazine, The New American. The JBS described Reagan as a "phony" conservative. The current JBS President, (John McManus) once said that if the Republican Party nominated Reagan for President, it would be indisputable evidence that he was "a lackey of the Communists" !! By contrast: see if you can find many Tea Party adherents who think Reagan was a phony conservative! OR who despise Bill Buckley, John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney or his daughter Liz, Bob Dole, and who think Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and other politicians like them are NOT genuine conservatives The Birch Society's current CEO (Art Thompson) wrote an article years ago questioning the bona fides of Tea Party favorite, Sarah Palin, as a "constitutionalist". In addition, Palin's unwavering support for Israel and her support for our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was evidence (in the JBS scheme of things) that she could not be trusted and probably was just a pawn of neo-cons whom the JBS despises. It probably is human nature to pretend that all of our perceived political opponents are allies of each other -- but superficial appearances can be, and often are, deceptive.
Why is someone you like who opposes a war (e.g., the Vietnam War) a peace activist and someone you don't like who does the same thing an isolationist?
The John Birch Society is still highly relevant to today's more extreme Republican Party. While the mainstream media was ignoring the JBS, it was recruiting at gun shows an militia meetings, on campuses and in conservative circles. The Society enjoys tremendous influence within state Republican parties. http://www.breitbartunmasked.com/2014/02/04/how-the-john-birch-society-changed-oklahoma/
It'd be news if Charles Koch was a member of the Democratic Party or civil rights activist. Now let's take a closer look at the author's past life, and especially youth, for the sake of disclosure and balance. Oh yeah, that's what I thought, bully!
And your proof is....?

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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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