Regional Report; 5; John Birch Society
The following program is from NET, the National Educational Television Network. The two sides to every question syndrome, as you call it, is more than a danger. It's a fraud. There are two sides to every question. This is one of these smart sounding phrases that have been introduced largely by liberals to promote certain ideas. If a man comes into my yard and murders my wife and burns down my house, there's no two sides to the question whatsoever. And if he does so, even more in a more horrible fashion because I have been exposing his doing the same thing to others. If there's a man going around,
burning down people's homes and killing their wives, and I have to expose him, and he comes in and kills my wife and burns down my house even more horribly than otherwise would have been the case because I have been exposing him. There's no two sides to that question whatsoever. That was part of an interview with Robert Welch, the retired candy manufacturer who founded the John Birch Society in 1958 and who runs it with a firm hand. You'll hear more of his philosophy later in the program. National Educational Television presents Regional Report, a program of fact and comment from reporters throughout the country. Tonight's subject, the John Birch Society. Here again is Edwin Bailey, National Editor of Regional Report. The John Birch Society is the best known and best organized of all the rightest organizations
that have cropped up in recent years. It burst upon the political scene in 1960, when the Chicago Daily News published an excerpt from Mr. Welch's book, The Politician, which stated that President Eisenhower was a dedicated, conscious agent of the communist conspiracy. The society has been in the news ever since. It may seem incredible that an organization which could swallow that statement and the recent announcement that communist control 70% of everything of political or economic importance in the United States could survive. But it has survived and it was so successful in infiltrating the Republican Party that at least 100 delegates to the 1964 Republican Convention were a vowed birchers. It is our intention in this program to examine the birch society, its philosophy, its tactics, and its goals. To hear what the birchers have to say for themselves and to hear what some others have to say about them.
Although it remains a secret society, its national leaders have cooperated in this effort to shed light on the group's operations. This attitude does not seem to have seeped down very far, however, and many local birchers were fired from cooperative. Our reporters attended birch meetings in several different localities, and they were all amazingly similar. Here is part of one of these meetings. Seven Sutton Road, Needham, Massachusetts, the home of Mrs. Ray Hall in an exclusive residential area of this suburb of the city of Boston. A meeting of the John Birch Society, not a regularly scheduled monthly meeting, but a meeting prepared staged and rehearsed by the society for our cameras. The participants handpicked, came from seven Boston suburbs.
Elmer and Barry, the chapter leader from Needham, led the meeting from a carefully prepared type of incident. Before we begin the study of our agenda items for this evening, I would call your attention to Mr. Welch's thoughts in this month's bulletin, which center around the theme, keep your eye on the ball. You know, we too are involved in a contest. A contest between freedom-loving human beings everywhere and the forces of communism. This game, if you will allow me to carry that analogy a little bit further, is already in the late innings. And the communists are building up an awesome lead. Just since World War II, for example, the communists have imposed their godless society and slavery to the state over an additional 922 million people.
Here in our own country, there is solid evidence of communist sympathizers involved in the civil rights movement and also in the student riots at Berkeley and other of our great universities. So, now with Mr. Welch's sincere thoughts in our minds, let us discuss our agenda of society projects for this month. Number one, of course, is recruiting. We need more and more people to help sound the alarm. But as Mr. Welch has said, really being patriotic. Every month, Robert Welch, the founder and president of the John Birch Society, writes a bulletin, which is distributed to the membership. This monthly bulletin contains a recurring agenda of items to be covered in the individual chapter meetings. And religious ideals.
The next item on our agenda is the movement to impeach Earl Warren. You know, almost all Americans are aware of the decisions which have set free traders to our country. Almost all Americans are aware of the decision which the Supreme Court handled down, which now prevents our children from saying a simple little prayer in school. Some people may also be aware of the decision in which the Supreme Court reversed 165 years of judicial history and, incidentally, six of its own previous interpretations of the Constitution. When it declared in 1954 that Negro children would be retarded in their development, if they were not mixed with white children in the schools,
we do have some additional copies of the impeachment petitions which we are circulating here. And I don't know whether all of you have an adequate supply or how are you coming on that? I would like another impeachment petition. Mine is all completely filled with signatures. I can do some more to them. Thanks a lot. That's good. Yes, it's a fine one. That's all filled already. Say, Umber. Yes. I just wanted to ask Dicker question. He gave me some of these. Do you remember those matches? Most agenda items are repeated every month, such as the United Nations. Get us out. Let me ask another question. Why is the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights so closely patterned after the Soviet Constitution? Or why, for instance, does the emblem of the United Nations so closely resemble the emblem of the USSR?
By the way, we might stop a moment and think about USSR. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Note please, we hear a lot of discussion in our country today about the differences between communism and socialism and yet the communists don't call themselves communists. They call themselves in their own national name, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. So this is one I think to keep well in mind when we start comparing ideologies or someone says, well, he's not a communist. He's just a socialist. Really, I ask you, is there a difference? I was talking to the friend the other day. Do you seem to feel that as long as we have the United Nations, we can talk out any differences of opinion that we might have? Well, Mr. Slovsky, I imagine that, you know, there are a lot of people that feel that way. However, I sort of doubt if this is the way we can really get many problems solved.
Oh, yes. I got an example for that. I'm with you. All right. They get great big, you see? Let's get small. Let's get down to the family unit. Just individuals. Now, let's take an example like to my wife and I having the lycanist. And you have our names on occasion. And we're sitting in the kitchen. And it gets pretty heated. So we adjourn to the front yard. And then in order to get a real good coverage, we invite the neighbors in. And then we proceed to really get hot. Now, do you think we're going to really solve this thing quickly? The name you'll complete? I should say not. We're going to be sitting there making points, defending our position. And we're never going to get anything solved. We're never going to kiss and make up. I think it's worthwhile always to remind people that the United Nations is not just the... The monthly bulletin urges chapter leaders to place special emphasis on certain agenda items. Civil rights is one of them.
While we're talking on the civil rights area, that none of us would deny that Negroes have been discriminated against, invoting, in job opportunities, and probably in many areas of our country in housing. But the past several years have seen us make some great strides to rectify these wrongs, and certainly this progress will continue. The criminalists, however, continue to incite loyal American Negroes by telling them how downtrodden they are here in the United States. They fail to see, of course, that just the 20 million Negroes in our country have more bathtubs, more TV sets, more automobile, than all the 200 million people in the Soviet Union, whether they are black or white. Remember that. Our 20 million Negroes have more of all of these things that we feel are part of the great society than all the people in Soviet Russia.
And you know, pardon me a second, Milton, finish the point. The people, certainly the communists are not saying to their people at home that they are downtrodden, after all they're living in the workers paradise. But they continue to tell our Negroes how downtrodden they are. So I'm sure that all of you have read the pamphlet of two revolutions and once, in our aware of its effectiveness in establishing why the communists are fomenting civil rights agitation. You see, this serves the communist purpose. I might just go back one second here in the title, the two revolutions at once. The two revolutions that are spoken of in this title are simply the revolution that the communists are trying to inspire again among loyal Negroes in our country and the final revolution which will make a Soviet puppet state out of this land we love, this land of the free and home of the brave. Well, we must move on. The final item on our agenda for today's meeting is our program to support your local police.
It's these local officers that deal with your sons and mine if they begin to err in one direction or another. It's really our local police that protect your home and mine. So for this good cause as a part of our society work, each one of you should have one of our little support your local police stickers on your automobile announcing to everyone that you support your local police and abide by the law. Some people thought that the crushing defeat of Senator Goldwater would seriously weaken the John Birch society whose members supported them. But since the election, the birchers have been campaigning on the slogan, now will you support the John Birch society. And it seems to be working. They seem to be picking up membership among embittered gold water rights. In the New York area, the birchers have concentrated on a recruiting drive in the suburbs. Marion Sanders, an associate editor of Harper's Magazine reports on that development.
I'm Marion Sanders reporting for station WNDT in New York. We are in Rockland County about 20 miles from the heart of Manhattan. This may well be one of the suburban communities to which a birch official was referring recently when he said that the New York metropolitan region is the hottest place in the nation for the growth of the Don Birch society. On Madison Avenue, this sounded like a childish boast. For a New York city itself, the Don Birch society suffers from under exposure. Publicity hungry politicians, movie starlets and debutants have much the same trouble. So much is happening here every day, the local events which would make headlines in Minneapolis or Denver are buried on page 40 of the times or not reported at all. As a result, few New Yorkers were even aware of the massive campaign mounted by the Birch society last year to protest a TV series on the United Nations.
The sponsor, the Xerox Company, was bombarded with thousands of almost identically worded letters denouncing the UN as a communist conspiracy. Nonetheless, the company went ahead with the programs and in the UN clause are the flags of its member nations continue to flutter galey. But in general, New Yorkers aren't aware of much of this activity. The view from Suburbia, however, is different. In West Hempstead, for example, not long ago, some 5,000 people attended a birch rally. The letters to the editor column of Suburbia newspapers are regularly filled with birch manifestos denouncing the so-called sinister UNESCO Halloween trick and treat program, complaining of school budgets and imploring the citizenry to support their local police force. This is Pearl River, a suburb where many New York City policemen make their homes. Here, one of the few American opinion libraries in the New York area is due to open soon featuring a full line of birch literature.
In Suburbia, many birchers take advantage of local radio stations to spread their views. This is station WRKL, run by Al Spiro, a man who believes in free speech. His most popular program is a new time feature known as Hotline, where people phone in and sound off. I think that a lot of people today realize that their children go to school and they realize reading the papers and whatnot that we have increased in crime, a great increase in dope addiction, we have riot, we have pornography. I am not saying that the communists themselves do these things, of course, but I do think that our liberal philosophies and our liberals have brought us to this, they've made everything so easy for these things to happen. Mr. Spiro, is that the place of a typical birchie that we've been listening to? Well, in typical birch fashion, there are no typical birches in Rockland County. There is only one known person who is the known head of the birch society.
But there are lots of radical right organizations, which I think would be operating along the birch lines, along the radical right lines, in the way that has been suggested by Mr. Welch, and they are very active in the county. Have you any evidence that the society is self is functioning? Yes, there is evidence that the society is getting more active in publicity. They are trying to get more members. One of our reporters went to one of their informational meetings. This is not an open meeting. It's by invitation, and the reporter was sworn to secrecy. He could not tell who was there, and approximately 20 people, after having received this information, joined the birch society. Ostensibly, they were not John Birch members before they went to the meeting. And the matter has been kept so secret, you will not tell me who was there. Do you think the birch society always kind of thinking, is that had any real impact on the life of this community?
Based on the front organization technique, which a lot of people assume are birch front organizations, I would say yes. There is a story of a PTA, for example. And as you know, Mr. Welch has suggested that the members go in and take over PTAs. There is one PTA, which was flooded one evening by new applicants who joined right then and there, and voted a slate of offices into office. It was the national PTA rules, which said there had to be members for 30 days, which saved this PTA. This is a PTA right in Rockland County. Right in Rockland County, and there are indications that they are active in another PTA in another school now. They are using the hotline a great deal. They are putting posters up on trees that just opened a, or their opening, a bookstore in Pearl River. And this is a more changed line of coming out in the open. I don't mean to convey the impression that New York is a hotbed of birch activity.
To be sure, the society has gained in strength in 1965, but the sound and fury of its highly vocal followers is no measure of its influence. After all, Rockland County and the other suburban communities where its strength is concentrated voted overwhelmingly for Johnson and against Goldwater last November. And the society has acquired so little respectability that it doesn't know more about birch sympathizers whom we invited to appear on this program all backed out. In an article commenting on the birch society and other writers' groups, John Fisher, editor-in-chief of Harper, has recently wrote that it may be important for the great majority of Americans in the center to wait complacently as we are inclined to do for the extremist fever to burn itself out. The chief therapy, Mr. Fisher, recommends, is knowledge and understanding of the goals and tactics of extremist groups. For the many of New Yorkers who are still scarcely aware that the John Birch society exists, this seems an excellent prescription.
Many of the activities undertaken by Birch society members go far beyond the agenda items distributed each month by Mr. Welch. Individuals sometimes indulge in activities like making threatening phone calls, throwing garbage on lawns, writing anonymous letters, and other acts of terror, which are not sanctioned by Birch headquarters. One such project was undertaken in Milwaukee, Wisconsin by Mrs. John McEwen, a Birch society member. She compiled a list of activities on the part of 182 members of the faculty of the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. In this list, she sent the state legislators and other people with a note. I'll read that note. Dear Assemblyman Kessler, kindly note the one-sided nature of the UWM faculty, also note how far some of these people have gone to help the communist conspiracy. She signed that, sincerely, Mrs. J. McEwen.
One interesting thing about this list is the insight it offers into the thinking of this Birch member. Here are some of the activities listed, signing a nomination petition for Lyndon Johnson. Attending the Unitarian Church. Being a member of a governor's committee on the UN, assisting the Peace Corps, opposing the appointment of Alderman Schmidt as tax commissioner. These things are so far from the usual view of what constituted helping the communist conspiracy that the professor's listed didn't know that the laugh or be angry. Hal Bruno, Chicago Bureau Chief of Newsweek Magazine, reporting for station WTTW Chicago, interviewed Mrs. McEwen in her home. What does this list of 182 names show? This list was compiled not to show anything. It began as an interest on my part because of a program which a local organization had on the UWM campus. On October 23rd, we celebrate United States Day and this particular group had an all-day seminar on the UWM campus which featured among other conservative speakers, Dr. Fred Schwars.
The amount of animosity which was generated because of that program was a very interesting thing to behold. There was a group of small group of professors there who were very vocal in their comments regarding Dr. Schwars and the school in general seemed to be quite adamant that this was a man who was radical. Some of the professors in particular used these particular words as was quoted in the school newspaper that Dr. Schwars was a demagogue, fascist and extremist. Now these are words that most Americans do not use. I have read the communist magazines and newspapers over quite a period of time and this is the only place that I have heard this grouping of words used with any consistency. And therefore you might say this is what prompted my original thoughts of finding out what I could about these professors.
I have had a clipping file for quite a long time and in going through the clipping file I became aware of the fact that there were many professors at UWM who rather consistently got their names in the newspaper and by compiling these, the list was started. Who was the list circulated to and how many copies of it were put out? I can't tell you how many copies have been put out altogether. The list has been circulated amongst interested conservatives and also to the state legislators because these men ultimately are in control of the purse strings. How many people worked on you with the list? There are a number of people in Milwaukee who like I have a clipping file that we have kept over a period of time and from time to time somebody will mail me something and it's really very informal. Were they also members of the John Birch society?
Well, there's some of them were and some of them weren't I really can't say. Well, was this a project of the society? No, this is not a project of the society. This was something that was a purely personal project on my part, the interest stemming as I say from the original controversy over a program which for anyone who had attended would have recognized to be espousing merely the traditional American principles. Well, why would such things as signing a petition on behalf of the candidacy of Lyndon Johnson or being involved in the Peace Corps or being a member of the Unitarian Church? Which why would these things fall into the realm of activities that would qualify a person to get on this list? As I mentioned, this list was not created with the idea of proving anything. It is merely a record of what these professors have done. Now, if someone feels that it is subversive to sign a petition favoring President Johnson, this is his right. It was not my intention in collecting this material. If somebody feels that joining the Peace Corps is undesirable, well, this is their prerogative. The list is not meant to prove anything. It's a mere recitation of the facts as far as could be determined from primarily newspaper reports.
I was interested in a cover letter that went with some of the copies in which it was stated that the list showed how far some of these people had gone to help the Communist conspiracy. What's your reaction to that? I think that anyone who reads over the list will see exactly what that means because some of these professors have written four Communist publications or have signed petitions which have appeared in the Communist press. And if this is not eating and abetting the Communist, I don't know what is. Mrs. McEwan was very careful to point out that her list was not intended to be a blanket indictment of everybody on it. And that only some were supposedly helping the Communist conspiracy. However, here on the campus where we talked to faculty members, we found that they did not draw such a fine line of distinction. This is Dr. Carol Baumann of the Political Science Department whose activities on the list include being a speaker, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, a panelist for the Great Decisions TV and Radio shows. A member of the committee to real like Mayor Mayer is Mayor Milwaukee.
She was co-sponsor of a conference at which Walt Rostow of the State Department was a featured speaker. And according to the list, she signed a petition for Lyndon Johnson to be president. My initial reaction to this whole thing was that the matter was simply too ridiculous to dignify it with any serious concern. After some further consideration, however, I do feel that it matters how the list is utilized and for what purposes. If, for example, it is used by the society to influence various individuals and groups as to their appraisal of members of the UWM faculty and to identify them, simply on the basis of the material on the list as pro-communist, communist sympathizers, left-wing people, I would object rather strenuously. If, however, it is used by the society, by the John Burke Society, for purposes of internal concern, to delineate the good guys and the bad guys, then I would feel rather bad not to be included. George Danemark, Dean of the School of Education, is on the list because he signed a petition to abolish UAC and because he signed a petition supporting Lyndon Johnson for the presidency.
As I have looked down the list, I see many of my associates who are people without question having made important contributions, not only in the freedom of ideas, but in many ways, community development and so on here. And I think it's a disgraceful thing that a group would develop such a list and imply that somehow these people are eating the communist conspiracy in the nation. Engineering professor James Van Vleet is included because according to Mrs. McEwan's list, he was a Peace Corps director. I have never had any connections with the Peace Corps. I've been in the engineering department here for many years. On my name right on this list, I do not know. I'm very sorry to see lists of this sort, such recordable individuals, as I see on this list, prepared for the purposes of the Virtua Society. As such, his name was taken out of alphabetical order to occupy the number one position on Mrs. McEwan's who's who list, his activities to qualify him for that spot include such things as being a member of the Milwaukee World Affairs Council, urging balance in a U.S. Day seminar, being a member of the governor's committee on the United Nations, attending a governor's conference at which the Soviet ambassador was a featured speaker, and signing a petition for opposing Governor Wallace in the Wisconsin State.
Dr. Clatchy, how do you feel personally occupying the number one position on this list? Well, it's true that I'm a member of the World Affairs Council of Milwaukee. I also urge balance in a U.S. Day seminar that we had here. I am a member of the governor's UN committee. My answer is, so what? I belong to a lot of other groups that aren't listed there too, and I make no apology for these. I'll let my record speak for itself. If this is subversion, and I would consider this a new definition of subversion, after all, it is officially United States policy for us to be, we are a member of the United Nations as a matter of fact. I find it hard to believe that this is subversion to be identified with an organization that is promoting and better understanding the United Nations.
Are you planning any action at all because of the names published on this list? No, as a matter of fact, I've been aware of the existence of the list for over a year. I'm planning no action at all. I find that there are many inaccuracies in the list. People who retired, several who were dead, misspellings, wrong identifications. I'd have no basis for wanting to carry on any action here. When the list was circulated, in some cases, there was a note accompanying it saying that this was evidence of how the University of Wisconsin-Mawaka faculty was helping the Communist conspiracy. Do you feel that any of your faculty members are indeed helping the Communist conspiracy? I think this is an absurd charge. I think this is nonsense. We have a very fine faculty here in Milwaukee, they're well trained, they're outstanding teachers, they're scholars in their own particular fields. They're alive, they're alert. Yes, they're engaged in controversy. We have a wide variety of opinions on many subjects on this campus. We encourage this.
We feel that this is a part of university life. We wouldn't want it any other way, as a matter of fact. It's not surprising that the John Birch Society is strongest in Southern California, where all sorts of exotic political movements have flourished. Senator Thomas Kiko just recently won a two-year legal battle to clear his name of some vicious personal charges brought by right-wingers. The Senator has earned a reputation for standing up to the Birch Society and other rightist groups. It is distressing and disillusioning to find persons of normal education litigments or any educational level falling hysterically and emotionally without reservation for the unadulterated venom spewed out by procbots for paranoia and for profit. It is disgusting to find self-appointed saviors, whether infantile or cunning, trained profitably and psychotically on fears of Americans in the name of anti-communism.
Indeed, the ugly labors, which they perform, are a service to the Kremlin itself. That was the senior senator from California, Thomas H. Kiko. He said that in the summer of 1963, when he was being snowed under by what he called hate mail sent by the fright peddlers. I'm Cecil Brown reporting from one of the strongholds of the John Birch Society, Southern California. It took courage, where a United States senator from California and a Republican, to be as contemptuous and ironic toward the John Birch Society as Senator Kiko wise. Many of his constituents were and are birchers. But Senator Kiko felt that the time had come to speak out and to speak against some of his constituents.
He put the birches in the category to use his words of those self-appointed saviors of our land who find conspiracy, treason, and sell out in almost every act or pronouncement of government or a government official. This is the Western headquarters of the John Birch Society at San Marino. San Marino is a very small, extremely rich and highly conservative community 10 miles from downtown Los Angeles. Its next door neighbor is Pasadena, another haven of the wealthy and the conservative. This is Republican territory more than that this is goldwater country better than 10 to 1. And the John Birch Society feels comfortable having its headquarters here. But the energy, inspiration, and guidance that flow from this headquarters are having their greatest impact and success about 20 miles away in Orange County in the County Seat, Santa Anna. That's partly because of the Santa Anna Register and aggressively conservative and powerful newspaper that nourishes the highly conservative atmosphere of Orange County.
In Santa Anna, the Birch Society made spectacular inroads in the police force. 23 policemen became members of the Birch Society chapter QXTZ. Police Chief Edward Allen charged that Birchers and power-seeking zealots were out to get his job. They very nearly did. Police Chief Allen, the City Council and the policemen who are Birch Society members, are now operating under a shaky armistice. After agreeing to tell his story for this report, Police Chief Allen suddenly found himself unavailable when we appeared at the Santa Anna Police Station with microphone and camera. The Birch Society was eager to have a policeman who is also a bircher, appear on this program, but Police Chief Allen would not give permission. The best explanation appears to be that the battle for control of the Santa Anna Police Force is not yet resolved.
In nearby Anaheim, the Outer Conservatives won, but then they were banquished. The Outer Conservatives gained control of the Board of Education of the Magnolia School District. Here's Mrs. Lewis Stacker who read the anti-conservative forces to describe the Ding Dong battle. In 1961, a recall election created an ultra-conservative majority on our school board. While the school board members didn't admit to being Birchers by their policy, they showed that they were in line with the Birch philosophy. They replaced the superintendent and his staff. They began to send home literature that many parents found objectionable. For example, religious and patriotic messages at a time when more essential items, such as workbooks, were in short supply. They instituted a reading program based on sounds as opposed to a balanced reading program.
This was in violation of the State Education Code. This arbitrarily took teaching out of the hands of the teachers. Matters came to a head when all eight principals in the district resigned because they couldn't ethically support the policies of the school board. This motivated a group of us who had been studying the whole problem to begin a recall action against the ultra-conservative majority. We are very gratified that we won the election, and even though it was only a school board election, 60% of the voters turned out. Now we have a school board that a majority of the parents can live with. The political prize of the John Birch Society in California is John G. Schmitz. He is the only admitted Birch Society member who is in the California legislature. Schmitz was considered the Birch candidate.
The Birch Society members supported him in a turbulent campaign, and he won. We ask Senator Schmitz to tell us how it is to be the solitary bircher in the California legislature. He said he did not want to appear on the television program where the implication might exist that he was a spokesman for the Birch Society. And this political shyness about his membership in the Birch Society extended to this point. Senator Schmitz's office in Santa Ana refused to give out his campaign photograph. The John Birch Society is calm, we're confident about its prospects in California. Republican politicians who have their eye now on the governorship are not yet bold enough to embrace the Birch Society. But they are respectful and careful enough not to spurn or offend the Birch Society. Robert Wells came to Los Angeles last March to say he anticipates adding 38,000 new California members.
That seems entirely possible, but how the membership drive is going is another one of the Birch Society secrets. We pause briefly for station identification. This is National Educational Television. The heart of all Birch operations is a headquarters building in Belmont, Massachusetts. Reporter Jim Fleming, speaking for WGVHTV Boston, tours this building. Belmont, Massachusetts, a quiet old suburb of the city of Boston. 395 Concord Avenue, the National Headquarters of the John Birch Society, a rather unimposing building, shared with an insurance company. The Home Office of the Society opened in 1958 with a staff of eight.
Today the 117 employees occupy the basement, one half of the first and second floor, and part of an adjoining building. Type letters, telephones, adding machines, piles, office girls, like any other busy organization. But the John Birch Society is not like any other organization. In the words of its founder, Robert Welch, the Society is a buddy, not an organization. There's a huge difference. An organization is a collection of individuals held together loosely and temporarily by a common interest. A buddy is an organic entity. 395 Concord Avenue is the center of all activity dealing with the national membership. The local chapters pinpointed on this map. The paid staff, which supervises existing chapters and recruits new members, is the responsibility of Thomas Hill, director of field activities. You have under you 10 major coordinators and 55 coordinators in the field. Perhaps you could tell us about what these gentlemen do.
Are they all men, by the way? Yes, they are. These men are primarily responsible for recruiting. They build new chapters. They stay in touch with the chapters that are established. These men have come onto the staff after serving usually in some volunteer capacity. So they are familiar with the duties and responsibilities actually before they come on to ask that. These men are situated throughout the country in many states, and they cover usually in the neighborhood of, anywhere from 75 to 100 chapters. In chapters, I would guess, and I can't tell you right off hand, because things change so rapidly. We have somewhere in the neighborhood between 4 and 5,000 chapters. So that would mean a John Birch Society membership, and you're reckoning now, or about how many? Well, in membership, I would say, we were anywhere between 65 and 100,000 members.
Well, I may have guessed you could have, that's a pretty wide spread there. That's true. I couldn't pin it down any more simply because we are changing so rapidly. Especially over the last six or eight months, the group has been quite explosive. The processing of new applications is one of the responsibilities of the five home office coordinators. Parker Richards, an ex-marine and former math teacher, is the home office coordinator for the southeastern section of the United States. Now, can anyone join the John Birch Society who wishes to? I know the application comes in with the end of Mr. Welch's book. No, we want associated with us now, and in the future, only men and women of goodwill, good conscience, and religious ideal. So obviously, this does not include everybody. But looking at the second paragraph, the application here, and noting that a membership may be revoked without the losing being stated, have you ever done that? Oh, yes.
But that was, tell us about some of those. In fact, in my own area, the southeastern part of the country, we've found that we've accepted people into the society. We thought there were people that would like his members, but we found afterwards that they were members of the Ku Klux Klan, and groups that we want no association with. So we've had to invoke that second paragraph and revoke their membership. In your part of the country, the southeastern United States, what other reasons? Other than membership of the Ku Klan, would you invoke that? Immorality. There are a few reasons. It doesn't happen that often. Well, how many times do you suppose it's happened in my history? I wouldn't say more than a couple dozen times. Western island books are not official publications of the John Birch Society. The publishing company is part of Robert Welch Incorporated, an independent corporation. But the John Birch Society is the major stockholder. Western island's publishing company supplies ten book titles, which are used to recruit new members. Another Birch Society enterprise is a monthly magazine.
This is American opinion, one of the major publications of the John Birch Society, although I understand Mr. Scott Stanley, you're the managing editor. This is not really an official Birch Society publication. Is it? It's a publication of Robert Welch Incorporated. And what does that mean in relationship to your, well, Robert Welch is the editor of American opinion. He is indeed. You are the managing editor, so I assume that the chief of the John Birch Society has a good deal and say about what it goes into American opinion. We share Robert Welch with the John Birch Society. Yes, it is. This was formerly a magazine, a smaller magazine called One Man's Opinion. It was. Robert Welch founded One Man's Opinion in 1956, January of that year. Well, what do you concede to be the mission of this magazine? Well, we're of course in business to publish the truth. And to deal with the truth as honorable men must always deal with the truth. To try and find out what it is and to express it objectively and honestly.
Well, for example, here's the June 1965 issue. Perhaps you could summarize some of the articles. I'll read them from the table of contents. Here's an article, Sound of the Mingo, by Harold Lord Varney. That for some of you is about the current trouble. Yes, indeed. The most specifically discussing a role there of a man named Antonio Imbeiro Barredas, who is the man selected by President Johnson's any boy there, John Martin, to head the coup government. Mr. Imbeiro is of course the man who assassinated Rafael Trujillo and was a professional thug rapist and murderer in the pay of Trujillo. And Mr. Walsh's publications he fought very highly of the government of Trujillo and the Dominican Republic. The point of course is that the government of the Dominican Republic was a staunch anti-communist government.
And two paraphrase Franklin Delano Roosevelt. They were rascals, perhaps animals. But they were our rascals and our animals. They were not Fidel Castro's. They were not Juan Bosch's. They were not communists. Wasn't there a great to do with an Westbrook pedler contributed to the American opinion? I understand that he had a short ride here with you on this. Well of course Westbrook pedler is a very good friend of mine, one of mine. He had my last child, his name after his name after a peg. He was the most widely read columnist in America for many many years. He did write for us. He's now working on his autobiography. He's a splendid fellow. Well, didn't he have a difference of opinion with Mr. Welch as a result of the... Oh, I don't think so. No, the difficulty here was that Westbrook pedler is a satirist. And our people, the conservatives, the anti-communists in this country, don't think that there's anything funny about what's going on in this country right now. They think the rest of the republic is a tragedy. And they don't think that satire is a proper approach. And so reacting to our subscribers, we eliminated the satirical form from the American opinion.
A national public relation spokesman of the Burt Society, John H. Russelo, doesn't consider the organization autocratic. In authoritarian society, that means it's appointed from top to bottom. It means it's monolithic, as he says in the blue book. That means that we have one harmonious hole in purpose. Is monolithic is described in the dictionary as a monolith of one harmonious hole of purpose and body. And that's exactly what we are. And we're appointed by positions we're appointed. So that we will not be penetrated by all kinds of radical elements. People with a bit of extreme anti-Semitic banter and anti-Negro banter. We don't want those kind of extreme prejudices in our organization. And so we make our positions appointed to assure a strong, firm, positive leadership. But Mr. Roach is still the ideological chief, the old Roach chief. He's the boss here.
Oh, there's no doubt about that, and we're proud of his leadership. And what he says in the blue book is what the John Burt Society is all about. It's certainly it. Well, the man who created the John Burt Society. The man who in many ways is the John Burt Society. Reporter Jim Fleming interviews Robert Welch. Mr. Welch, this blue book of the John Burt Society is not only the basic document of your organization. It's also, I believe, a statement of your personal philosophy. How did you come to write it? Well, I don't know that it's exactly all of those things. But how I came to write it is fairly simple. I had decided that something more had to be done than simply making speeches and publishing a small magazine for my part of the battle against communism. I decided that probably the best step, necessary step, was to form an organization which would bring people into concerted effort in exposing the communist advance.
I decided to invite a number of my friends to meet me in Indianapolis for two four days to give me a chance to tell them how bad I thought this picture was and what needed to be done. And I prepared the notes for the meeting. The blue book is nothing in the world, but the notes that I prepared for this two day meeting in Indianapolis in December 8 and 9, 1958. For example, on page 158, you say the John Burt Society is to be a monolithic body. On page 159, the John Burt Society will operate under a completely authoritative control at all levels. Well, of course, monolithic and authoritative and the 20th century are words we don't much care for. Perhaps you have a reason for using them. Yes, because we wanted to be completely frank. And of course, we have been smeared the great deal because of the structure of the society.
Many times by people who innocently thought there was something wrong but frequently by people who were trying to make trouble for us, the whole point there is the protection we needed. We set out to fight the communists. And they infiltrate and divide and bog down every organization that becomes effective against them. And we would determine that that should not happen in this case. Now, the thing that comes to mind is the possible suppression, oppression of individuals. And of course, none of that is at all possible in the John Burt Society. The rules that apply to a government have no bearing on a completely voluntary organization from which anybody can resign at any time. Anybody in the John Burt Society that doesn't like what we are doing can resign with an entire goodwill on our part. And if he's paid any advance dues, he gets his dues back.
You can't resign and get out from under government. If a government is completely authoritative by the tyranny of what individuals is necessary. Now, in the John Burt Society, we cannot get anybody to do anything for the society except by persuasion and we don't want them to. We want to know other means whatsoever. If we have a member who disagrees with the two or three out of the twelve items, say, on a month's agenda, we've told him in advance, just skip it. In fact, we've put right in our bulletin about, once every three months, an admonition to our members, never do anything for the John Burt Society, whether it's requested in the bulletin or in any other way. You never do anything for the society that is contrary to your own conscience or judgment. Now, if a man disagrees with two or three things out of a month's agenda, he just skip it. If a man who's coming to the society disagrees with a major part, six or seven out of twelve items of what we're trying to do, month after month, then obviously he's not happy in the society.
He doesn't agree with our major principles and he ought to resign and go ahead and get out. And in most cases, they will. But if what's in a while, we have somebody who's not in the society for sound reasons or good purposes. And he does disagree, but he still wants to stay in and then begin to try to create the two sides to have the question fiction and create dissension. We go along unless it becomes really serious. If it becomes serious, the point is, this is the whole point to this statement, we do have the right to ask the man out or drop him from membership. If he becomes a troublemaker of serious proportions. The two sides of every question syndrome, you see, is a danger. Well, the two sides to every question syndrome, as you call it, is more than a danger. It's a fraud. There are two sides to every question. This is one of these smart sounding phrases that have been introduced largely by labels to promote certain ideas. If a man comes into my yard and murders my wife and burns down my house, there's no two sides to the question whatsoever.
And if he does so, even more in a more horrible fashion, because I have been exposing his doing the same thing to others. If there's a man going around, burning down people's homes and killing their wives, and I have to expose him, and he comes in and kills my wife and burns down my house, even more horribly than otherwise would have been the case. Because I have been exposing him, there's no two sides to that question whatsoever. I'm putting it rather extreme. Yes, I was going to say it's quite a serious adventure, Mr. Ross. But of course, there are occasions when, well, I mean, that point of view would take the word options out of the language, wouldn't it? No, it sure wouldn't, because we, and not for us, because we completely believe in the right of choice. What we are objecting to that's happening so much in this world today, is the destruction of the right of choice on the part of the individual. But we say that there are not two sides to every question at all. You say, as you lay out the basic principles, democracy is merely a deceptive phrase, a weapon of demagoguery and a perennial fraud. Could you explain that to us? Oh yes, we explain that, and gladly understand behind it 100%, it's absolutely true.
I could give you an hour explanation, I'll try to make it a three minute or five minute one. Please do. But anyway, there is nothing that our founding fathers feared more than a democracy. They did their best to give us a constitutional republic that could be maintained as such. In Franklin, you may remember, was leaving the convention hall, and some lady said, what have you given us, Mr. Franklin? He said a republic, not him if you can keep it. You will find in the writings of many of our founding fathers how much they feared a democracy. The American people, until as recently as in the 1920s, realized that we were supposed to have a republic. Although the two-pronged drive was already on, the libousness used as an all-intrusive word here, began at the turn of the century to do two things, to try hard to accomplish two things. One is to convince the American people that they were supposed to have a democracy, and the second was to convert this republic into a democracy.
They've been working very hard on that ever since. Now, we were not supposed to have a democracy at all. As I said, the founding fathers feared nothing worse. They thought it was as the Romans had come to learn from the result of the Greek experience and the early Roman Republic experience that a democracy was probably the worst of all forms of government. Let's consider our republic. Would you have universal suffrage in this ideal republic? Well, I don't know. That's a long question. I've never started it enough to discuss it. I would think I would be inclined to agree with our founding fathers in having some limitation on suffrage. That's not the difference with regard to republican democracy at all. The difference is the amount of safeguards you have for individual rights, for the rights of minorities, for property rights, for the rights of the people themselves against the wild swings of mob rule. The basic difference comes right down to the fact that in a democracy, a vote of 51% can do anything. It could decide that all red-headed men must give up all their property to all bullheaded men.
And actually, things of silly as that have been decided in some of the democracies of the past. Whereas in a republic, there are constitutional protections and safeguards against any such rapid results of the decisions of majorities. They have to be implemented through a period of deliberation. Isn't majority rule the way we elect a president, the way we make decisions? We're supposed to have elect a president by majority rule and make decisions. But not but subject to some prominent safeguards, subject to some rights of the individuals. If you are going to adopt the 51% vote as immediately all powerful with regard to everything, then nobody has any rights except what the state gives him. And the state depends on who's running it at the time. The whole American philosophy of government is based on the fact that we have certain God-given rights, if you want to call it, put it that way. Man has, in any society like the American society, man has certain rights that can't be taken away from him by government at all. They are given to him by government.
But if you go all the way with a theme of democracy, then the only rights man has of whether it is of individual action, of property, or of anything else is merely what the government allows him to have. And this is completely contrary to what our founding fathers believe. They said, man has certain inhalation of the rights. And you get a democracy and man has no innate of the rights, there's nothing to keep the 51% vote from taking everything away from him it was. Dynamic overall personal leadership. Now that's another phrase the 20th century has had a lot of trouble with. Dynamic personal leaders. Why do you feel there must be a dynamic overall personal leaders? Because otherwise you get interminable splits that break us down. When I started this society, it was with the idea that our first great urgent problem was to oppose communism and do what we could to stop the advance, which was going right on all of the time. Before they had taken over the United States and the whole world. And I was familiar with the way the communists have been able to get into, split up, break down, all groups, I gave an illustration right in the blue book as to how they do it.
And it was our determination to see that we had some ultimate protection against what the communists do to all opposition. And certainly a loyalty to an individual leader is much harder to break down to the third of pieces. Now then are a set of policy rules or principles on the part of an organization. Therefore you became the dynamic personal leader. I tried, I've done the very best I could and somebody comes along and can take the job over. I can assure you they would be very, very welcome. You seem to be challenged in 1962. I noticed the members monthly bulletin has letters from General Walker saying there are many rumors. You will be, or this is dated February 15th 1962, I suppose you remember those events. Well, he writes to you then there are many rumors that you will be or are being placed under great pressure to step out or up. Either would be equally detrimental. Do not do it. You are the birch society.
You are the armor and outpost of every other society. The value of which is unprecedented and valuable to all of the causes signed Ted that would be General Edwin and Walker. What was the particular place? It's not as nearly as these, you know, rumors as you are aware, exaggerate and grow become grandiose as they go along. So I don't know exactly what rumor, how much reach Ted Walker. I see. Well, let me say that there have been times when maybe anywhere from one to five members of our council, for instance, would disagree with something we were doing. And I would be in tune with the majority or the majority would be in accord with my thinking and there would be disagreement and you inevitably, when you're dealing with human beings, would therefore have comments and reports of various kinds. There have not been any serious. Well, there have been some changes, of course, in the council. Oh, there are changes in the council because some have died and some have resigned and we've added new people on.
But I don't know of any changes in the council, Mr. Plumbing, that have come about for the reasons that you would indicate there. Allow me to continue with the overview. Let's get down to the specific program that you've under the outline. First, reading rooms. The second is increased the circulation of conservative periodicals. Then listen to radio and television. To for most junior and Clarence Manion, you recommend. Instantly, you have a quite a low opinion, I see, in many of your writings of the mass media, as it relates to you today. Well, don't you think if you had been hammered and budgeted the way we have that you would too? Well, I don't know. You haven't delighted you've let us in here. We do. We cooperate all that we can and the kind of treatment we sometimes get when we cooperate is just incredible. I'll give you an illustration that I don't think you ever going to allow to go on this film, but when the real attack really got underway in the spring of 1961,
I had a call from Time Magazine. They were going to write an article about us so they wanted to come to see me. Well, I was as busy as could possibly, but I think if you don't give people the facts, you can't blame them if they don't tell the truth. So I said, sure, come on. So the time man came, he sat right in that chair for three hours. Now, he gave him all the facts you can think of, including the list of the council. Now, what had started all this? What had set off? This very, very wide spread attack on us was an article in the Communist People's World. There was also a previous one that you covered earlier. You know, that had been about eight months before and had died out. It was only picked up by a book, a journal in the capital times about one more paper and disappeared and hadn't done a thing. That was the whole attack against me on one particular issue. Well, this was what finally happened with you all right. The attack that finally started here that I'm coming to was begun by the Communist People's World in February and picked up a few days later by papers all of the United States.
And so I'm coming to the point on time. I said, now, look, this article in the Communist People's World has started all of this. Takes only four members of all a council and lists only four and talks about them. And one of them is not a member of the council, only three are. Now, I'm sure that you want to get that right. He said, oh, yes, Mr. Ross, that's one reason out here. We want to get the facts right. So I said, now, here is the list of the council. When the article in time came out, they ignored everything I had told them. They not only listed only those members of the council that had been listed in the Communist People's World article, but they did so, including the one man who wasn't even a member of the council. They followed the exact errors in that article. And this is somewhat typical of the kind of thing we run into, Mr. Freeman. Well, but, of course, you have to be available to answer difficult questions. I have done the very best I could. And now, fortunately, we have Mr. Rusalo as the head of our Public Relations Department with three or four men under him who are very good, and he has the time and the energy that he can spare for the purpose.
I have over the years done the utmost that I possibly could to cooperate with the press and media communication, even when they were being anything but kind or fair to us. Well, now, let's continue with the program of action that you outlined radio and tell us letters to people, fronts. So what kind of fronts did you have in mind? Any and all kinds. You see, the Communists have a peculiar quirk. The worst thing they think they can say about you is that you're just like them. Do any of the rest of us to say that somebody else would like us, we'd think, was a compliment, not by them. The Communists do an incredible smear job against us in many ways, and one thing they use is that we have fronts just like the Communists. Well, of course, front is a colloquial word used there as such to refer to what is more elegantly, perhaps, called ad-hope committee. And it's a grand dollar American custom. In an ad-hope committee or a front, you've got a hundred people to work for something in which they all believe that don't agree with each other probably about anything else on Earth. And we like them and we've set them up. It's a good American custom. What's wrong with the Communist Front is the purposes for which they are organized and the methods they use.
There's nothing wrong with the front of all. So we have many of them. Some of them have been national. We had the committee against summit entanglements in which we published full-page ads over the edge in the whole United States in which we had 80 great Americans on the letterhead. This was a national front to get people to work against one specific thing, which was the second summit conference and the visit of crucial. We have had other fronts. We have to die, for instance, many, many committees to support your local police around the country. Most of those signs when one sees come from the John Birch Society. Many of them are. And the committees have been set up all over the country. There are great many committees to try to educate people in local communities as to the reasons why Warren should be impeached. And you can call those fronts. That's what we were referring to. The kind of things we were referring to there. As we make clear, right in the blue book. Well, now that impeach or Warren, many people, I think that's rather a tasteless venture on your part. Now, isn't it true, Mr. Wells, that civil rights seems to figure in many of the enterprises of the John Birch Society. For example, the impeach or Warren movement seemed to come into being in its power after the school desegregation decision in 1954.
No, because the John Birch Society wasn't informed until the fall of 1958 and didn't start the movement to impeach Warren until as I remember the spring of 61. And the grounds for the impeachment of Warren are going right back to the thing with which we started this discussion that really the differences between a Republican or democracy. The grounds we've always given for wanting Warren impeached was that the Supreme Court under his leadership has been punching huge, ragged holes in the Constitution of the United States and breaking this republic down into a democracy. Now, many of our members and friends have come out with all kinds of statements about Warren that go into other matters. Well, these are the bases right on our petition and everything else on which we've asked for his impeachment. And what comes of all those petitions that come here? We have them here. They just stay here, is that it? They'll stay here until the time comes to yours.
The American opinion is one of your publications here, which you are the editor, Mr. Wells, and a number of people were very shocked. Or you quote, but I think you're picking up an issue that we never distributed. I think this is one that we never sent out. I'm not sure what's the number of it. Well, it's the date is November, 1963. Is that never? I think so. Well, in any event, you have a preface to the article and article was written, approved and printed. Westbrook Pegler begins by saying, I am one of the few declared American bigots. And he goes on to say, that's bigotry is often laudable, calling for courage and contempt toward the herd mind of school teachers, publishers, ill taught and queasy clergy. Let me save your trouble by pointing out that we, as you know, discontinued all relationships with Mr. Pegler, largely over that article and wanted to like it, neither of which I had ever seen before they were printed. I've never seen the article before. You were the actor. Yes, this is just right out now that we are very proud of. Mr. Fleming, there are seven divisions of this operation with several hundred employees. And I have a managing editor there who is very, very good, but who in these days was a bit young and ambitious, I think, to be sensational, perhaps.
And we took one issue completely of this magazine and dumped it, what have you called it, chopping it up. And we took another one and held out completely from ever distributing. And they were just quite largely over some articles by the very writer you were talking about, whom we could not yet to come down to earth and write the kind of history we wanted. The items you suggest your membership that you, they use in recruiting is a letter, a long letter you wrote entitled the politician. I see in the May 63, although this is not, I understand the John Burke Society publication by the Belmont publishers, which I believe is, is that your own company, is it right? They're not associated. That book is, of course, available for one dollar from anybody. And all we have to say about it now is buy it and read it and judge it for yourself. Yes, sir. We've had no trouble with anybody that read the politician all the way through. It's only where they pick out certain extracts. Well, we have lots of time here today, and I want you to put it in context for me.
Let me say, for example, that with regard to this third man, you referred to President Roosevelt President Truman before, Eisenhower. It's difficult to avoid raising the question of deliberate treason for his known actions and apparent purposes, certainly suggest the possibility of treason to the United States, no matter how he may rationalize it to himself as loyalty to an international dream. Those are shocking words. Well, you want me to put it in context, Mr. Fleming, in a few minutes. And there are 400 and some pages there, including around 70 pages of documentary notes in order to put those statements, several like it in context. For instance, just with regard to the last sentence, you find two or three pages in that book explaining what we mean by loyalty to an international ideal as superseding or overriding, loyalty to the United States, and so that many people can think of themselves as being loyal to an overriding ideal that includes their country, even though it may involve doing things which would seem to be disloyal to the particular country. And you'll find many, many other parts of the book that are necessary before I can try to take one paragraph or one part of a paragraph and put it in proper context.
The book was published on March 10, 1963, a hundred different newspapers that were quoting it, misscording from it every week, and smearing me over it immediately dropped it like the hot potato it wasn't even mentioned. There's never been a single review of it. The book, they tried to smother it. The last thing in the world they wanted was to have everybody or anybody read it and judge it for themselves. And that's all we have to say about the book today. Read it and judge it for yourself. Of course, I think we should tell our viewers that what is the reason that it is shocking to many of us. You say, for example, on January 20th, 1953, Dwight Eisenhower was inaugurated as the 34th president of the United States. He thus became automatically an immediately captain and quarterback of the free world team and the fight against communism in our firm opinion, your own, I believe. He had planted, he had been planted in that position by communist for the purpose of throwing the game.
What about it? What about it? If anybody wants to know what about it, I ask them to spend one dollar and read 400 pages of history. Mr. Fleming, may I point out there are 400 pages there and nobody has ever found an error in it. Nobody's ever tried to argue with the facts. Nobody has ever tried to dispute anything that's in there at all. They nearly tried to smear me for having said them. And I say, right in the book itself, you don't have to agree with me. You don't have to believe this explanation or that explanation. You don't take any one of several explanations for what's done. That's usually not said either. But the point is that the history there is unquestioned. And I would love to have everybody and anybody who has sufficient interest read the book and judge it for themselves and that's all we can say about it. In your view, the history is unquestioned. Now, the history. There's plenty of disagreement as to any conclusions. That's all right. We're perfectly willing. We don't mind the disagreement. You've changed the wording a little bit in the various decisions. Mr. Fleming, I'm not going to comment any more or answer any more questions on the politician. I'm breaking a rule. I've taken a rule on national networks and otherwise.
That the politician has nothing directly to do with the John Birch Society. It does with me. If anybody wants to know about the politician, take it and read it for themselves and judge it for themselves. And I believe that the strength we have is the viability of this free society, which has made a lot of decisions. Social security. And viability, would you define that for me? Yes. I mean a live and vital and going and ongoing with freedom of choice for the individual citizen within it and with an informed communication system, which brings him his needed information. Freedom for the individual within it is the great key to what we are talking about because the freedom of choice of the individual is being restricted all of the time in America more and more and more all of the time. When you say freedom of choice, you are often referring to items such as the income tax, the federal income. That is a very excellent illustration for the simple reason that by the way, it is not developed and the whole taxation program has developed. Government is assuming the right to take from the people and spend for them more wisely than they can, the money which we think it'd be far better for the people to spend for themselves.
We think it's far better for people to set up and run their school systems themselves in local groups so that the teachers really are agents of the parents. And the responsibility for education is with the parents, then to have it get completely out of their hands and have a federal government take away from them three or four times as much money for education as it might be necessary otherwise and have the federal government decide what the students are going to be taught. What kind of education the pupils are going to get. In every area you have the federal government deciding for the people so the people no longer have choice. It's the loss of the right of individual choice that we are talking about in all kinds of fields. The strength of this country is the way we cope with the social agenda that is before us. The strength of this country is in the productive work that people do and the efficiency with which it is done and not in a lot of argument over sociological questions which is what we've been thrown into more and more since 1912. Well to take a major sociological question the blot of slavery on this nation has been a great problem that has hung over us over the years isn't it since the 14th Amendment since the 15th Amendment?
Since the 14th Amendment right. Have the Constitution. Yeah, but since you didn't put any verb with it. Since the 14th Amendment was passed. What do you mean by that? Because the 19th Amendment was completely unauthorized by the history and by the legal situation behind it. You can go to any good constitutional law and find this to be true. It's been accepted and stayed in existence but the 14th Amendment was never legally passed and it's all right in the record. So let's go ahead with your point. Well the 14th Amendment says all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States. You feel that there's not a legal amendment?
Oh, that's so right. I don't look Mr. Fleming. I do not doubt that there have been injustices, illegalities in connection with what is now called civil rights as in connection with everything else in America. But they have the residue of such injustices is so small that what we have now and they were being weeded out so well. So what we have now is an attempt to sink a great ship, the great ship of state in order to get a rat out of the scupper. And in fact it's being done by people who don't actually care about getting a rat out of all. Their real purpose is to sink the ship. And they're using a very, very tiny amount of injustice to stir up an incredible amount of trouble, to tout a great nation apart. So what few remaining injustices in this particular area of American life there were when they were being eliminated anyway is due to a, actually due to an international criminal conspiracy. We make no bones about Mr. Fleming and we can show you and prove to you that the whole civil rights program today was inaugurated inspired by communist and has been following communist purpose.
I'd like to get your comments on that in a moment. You said a monthly bulletin and we've gone to some of your meetings on the basis of each meeting is that monthly bulletin. You say in the August 1964 bulletin the truth is that the American Negroes as a whole have been so satisfied and even happy over their steadily improving conditions, position and opportunities in America that has taken a mammoth effort on the part of the communist to convince any appreciable percentage of them that they were being oppressed. Many of us remember that March on Washington that seemed a much on Washington was this completely funny and inspired and how much goodness knows how much they had to pay people to get them there as you can possibly imagine you've got a few that can be stirred up but 95% of the American Negro must of Fleming want no more to do with any dry for a Negro Soviet Republic to be carved out of the South or for a proletarian. The Soviet America and the communists will tell you that all of this is for one of those two causes or one of those two purposes. They wave up back and forth as to which way they're heading it. 95% of the American Negroes want no more part of that than the ordinary Algerian Muslim one of the independence of France.
It would be totalized and brutally driven into appearing to support a drive for the independence of Algeria from France by the uproar and communist. Exactly as the American Negro is going to be totalized and coerced into appearing to support a drive for these things. Well, let's look at the record who is J. Edgar Hoover masters of deceit. He says about the American Negro and the Communist Party page 228. It became obvious that the party despite great efforts had failed to win over even a significant minority of Negro. The puzzles me Mr. Welch is that nowhere in your writings or statements is there any suggestion that the civil rights movement as we see it in America today in Congress the passage of the civil rights law and just now the voting rights bill. You seem to see no evidence that this is a genuine. Realization of a human aspiration and successfully coping with our basic cause basically it is not Mr. Fleming. It is artificial synthetic and phony as was the agrarian with throw movement in China which is the exact pattern for it.
You had millions of Americans idealistic Americans believing that March II was leading an honest idealistic approach to solve some of the troubles of China and some of the causes of poverty and suffering with his agrarian reform. Of course, he wasn't at all. It was a complete phony as a slogan, as a drive, as propaganda and everything else. As he took over land from the peasants from the landlords at on 10 or 15 acres, he chopped their hands and freed off and dropped them by the roadside but the land never went to the peasants. It was taken over collectivized by the state. Well, the civil rights program in America is following the exact pattern. It gets an awful lot. Millions of idealistic people believe in the some basis behind it. There is nothing but a communist drive extending over 40 years to try to use this particular anti-colonialism they call it, effort in America, the same as they've used it in some 40 other countries. In fact, if the people have been fooled, they've been fooled in every country. The communists have taken over. How can 3% take over the country? Otherwise, unless by deception of the majority. And you have the same thing here. People are being deceived as they were about Castro, as they were about March II, as they were about Ben Ballot and many others.
Well, that would suggest that you think we are being that President Johnson is deceiving us. I don't know about President Johnson at all. I've said nothing about him. I will say that the communist influences within our government, within our press, within our communications media, within our educational system are very, very powerful, despite the small percentage. Now, to exert our influence in the world, certainly economic threats on our part are quite important, but you take a very firm stand on 40, 408. You're a guillot. Yes, because 408 is a matter of handing out money by one government to another, usually to pro-communist or socialist politicians in that government, to help them to maintain themselves in power, and to be able, therefore, to disparage and demoralize. And if the statesman or the politicians in that country who are trying to save it from communism is not a matter of really helping the people at all. This is something from governments to governments.
What America used to do in the old days, which was go into various countries of the world with a know-how in the capital and the technological ability to start building up industries was wonderfully valuable. This was done by people who knew what they were doing in the business world, the commercial world, the economic world, and we were Americanizing the world to its own advantage. But along comes this fallen aid in which it's a matter of governments handing out money to other governments. It's no help to the people. It's been just the opposite. You don't agree with the United States Chamber of Commerce, suggesting we trade with China? Do you not? Now do I agree with the United States Chamber of Commerce's recommendation that we withdraw the Conley Reservation? And as a matter of fact, there have been other times in the past when we have disagreed with the U.S. Chamber. Well, it seems to me, as well, that in a time when the world is so small, that due to communications, such as the one we're on, and many, many others, that you're suggesting that this country withdraw onto itself. Well, we're suggesting that this country go back to become a great example and a great leader for the rest of the world as it used to be in actuality and instead of in a lot of phony language.
That this country set the pattern in production and the know-how in production to have it spread over the rest of the world and it become a moral leader, as well as a leader in production, by example, by action instead of, as I say, in a lot of words. Well, Mr. Roch, if I may close by suggesting that it's the impression of many of us, that you are at war as much with the United States of America as with your conception of communist conspiracy. Indeed, you are against every measure that most Americans have called progressive over the last 33 years. The only favorable reference I found in your works about presidents was a favorable reference to the Harding Administration, cleaning up, you said, Woodrow Wilson's conspiratorial tactics. Now, I don't remember that one. I presume you were referring to Mr. A. Mitchell Palmer, the attorney general. I don't remember. Well, now, isn't everybody out of step but you and...
By the way, how many members are there in your John Birch? Well, we give it to you pretty close. Between 60 and 100,000. Well, that's a pretty big story. Well, that's close enough because people have thought we had a million or a half million or 10,000. One of our ardent critics, not long ago, were saying we had 8,000 members. So, we brought it down. In the beginning, we'd evident how many members we had at all because it was a custom in America for organizations not to. We figured we didn't know it all. So, the only reason we had the rule was, since it was customary, we ought to go by experience. In the course of a few years, it became obvious that for us, because of the criticism, it was probably better, despite the fact that most other organizations, that have even any remote summons to us, do not tell how many members they have. So, we started telling, I issued a bulletin in January, which made it clear that our membership was somewhere in that range. And so, since then, in answer to questions, we've backed it up and said, between 60 and 100,000. Do you see your membership increasing at present time? Oh, yes. It's increasing quite rapidly at present time.
It's all right. It has been increasing quite rapidly, especially since last summer. Thank you for the opportunity to talk to the dynamic personal leadership of the John Bird Society. Thank you, sir. Okay. Mr. Welch gives an impression of great sincerity. And he seems far from a sinister figure. Yet in his philosophy, there are sinister implications, as there are many birch activities. The society is engaged in an effort to discredit government leaders and policies by impugning the integrity and patriotism of those who are important in our country. To pull them down as communists, communists, sympathizers, or dooms. The society seems to stand somewhere between the out and out hate groups and the respectable right. They are now attempting to move, or at least to shift their image, toward respectability. They are trying to shed the label of extremist, but the deeds of their activist members cast doubt on the words of their leaders. It is hard to tell whether the birch society is growing as an organization, and whether it is growing an influence. I have none as he feeling that they are exerting more influence.
Others disagree and say that they are losing their able members. It seems likely that very goldwater's new free society association will draw off a good many potential birch supporters. How worried should we be about the birchers? Senator Robert F. Kennedy was quoted in 1962 as saying, I think they are ridiculous. I don't think that anybody should pay too much attention to them. It is an organization that is in the area of being humorous. Senator Stephen Younger will hire, on the other hand, says that the John Birch Society, in my opinion, is the most dangerous organization in the United States today. If the birch society ever did become a major influence in the United States, we would be in terrible trouble. But I can see no reason to doubt that the good sense of the American people will prevail, and that Mr. Welch and his followers will slip off to well-deserved oblivion. This is NET, the National Educational Television Network.
- Regional Report
- Episode Number
- John Birch Society
- Producing Organization
- National Educational Television and Radio Center
- Contributing Organization
- Library of Congress (Washington, District of Columbia)
- AAPB ID
- NOLA Code
- Episode Description
- This month REGIONAL REPORT makes an extensive examination of the ideals, influence and activities of the John Birch Society. Highlights of the program is a 45-minute interview with Robert Welch, founder and director of the controversial right wing organization. The NET interviewer is James Fleming. In the interview, Mr. Welch talks about his personal philosophy, the Society?s structure, program and goals, the nation?s mass media, Chief Justice, Earl Warren, foreign aid, US trade with Red China, and alleged communist influence within the civil rights movement. In addition, the program probes the activities of the right wing organization across the nation through reports from regional editors in New York City, Milwaukee, and Los Angeles. To round out the special report, cameras focus on the seldom-seen central headquarters of the Birch Society in Belmont, Massachusetts, and also on a typical meeting of the Society at its Needham, Massachusetts, chapter. REGIONAL REPORT #5: THE JOHN BIRCH SOCIETY: a 1965 National Educational Television production. (Description adapted from documents in the NET Microfiche)
- Series Description
- A series of bi-monthly interpretative regional reports focusing on local aspects of important national issues. For the series, a network of regional editors made up of experienced newspaper and magazine reporters was set up at key places throughout the United States to examine the specific nature of the problem in their localities. The 19 episodes that comprise this series varied in length from 60 to 90 minutes and were all originally recorded on videotape, except for the first episode, which was originally recorded on film. (Description adapted from documents in the NET Microfiche)
- Broadcast Date
- Asset type
- Politics and Government
- Media type
- Moving Image
Editor: Bayley, Edwin
Executive Producer: Weston, William
Interviewee: Welch, Robert
Interviewer: Fleming, James
Producing Organization: National Educational Television and Radio Center
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
Library of Congress
Identifier: 2296546-1 (MAVIS Item ID)
Format: 2 inch videotape
Library of Congress
Identifier: 2296546-2 (MAVIS Item ID)
Format: 1 inch videotape: SMPTE Type C
Library of Congress
Identifier: 2296546-3 (MAVIS Item ID)
Generation: Copy: Access
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- Chicago: “Regional Report; 5; John Birch Society,” 1965-07-28, Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed November 30, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-512-ft8df6m068.
- MLA: “Regional Report; 5; John Birch Society.” 1965-07-28. Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. November 30, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-512-ft8df6m068>.
- APA: Regional Report; 5; John Birch Society. Boston, MA: Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-512-ft8df6m068