Response to Think Progress

By:  Bill Hahn
Response to Think Progress

On Friday June 10, at 6:00 PM, Think Progress’s Lee Fang posted an article calling The John Birch Society a hate group in response to a recent article posted on The New American website.

On Friday June 10, at 6:00 PM, Think Progress’s Lee Fang posted an article calling The John Birch Society a hate group in response to a recent article posted on The New American website.

Think Progress’s “John Birch Society Celebrates Koch Family For Their Role In Founding The Hate Group” details several falsehoods and fact twisting that merely demonstrate their proclivity to demonizing any one or group who does not support its agenda. Telling is their name-calling tactic that helps cement in the minds of readers the particular smear they employ.

The opening taint begins with the headline and while the rest of the article is supposed to contain facts to make the case supporting the headline, it doesn’t. Rather the article uses general unproven assertions and tries to pass them as facts, while at the same time parroting familiar bogeymen that fellow like-minded political activists will instantly recognize. The first paragraph demonstrates this well, as they list in the second sentence that donations went toward organizations “dedicated to lobbying for corporate and upper income tax cuts, as well as to groups responsible for mobilizing Tea Party rallies against President Obama.”

Notice how they pull out the first bogeyman: those corporations and Americans who take significant risks in the business world and provide jobs for fellow Americans. The political left is intent on class warfare by defining success as an evil, not to mention driving a wedge between the relationship of employer and employee to promulgate discontent. And the latter part of the second sentence plants a lie. The Tea Party rallies were organized not against the President, but were organized in direct response to the big government policies coming out of the administration that trample individual liberty.

Their next sentence begins the name calling with “fringe right-wing groups” and goes on to list JBS in the next paragraph. They then state that “Fred helped engineer a hysterical wave of attacks on labor, intellectuals, public education, liberal clergy members, and other pillars of society he viewed as a threat” as a “board member ” of the JBS. Fred Koch was not a board member, but a member of the National Council. Think Progress never states what these attacks were, so readers conclude that they should merely trust Fang’s “reporting.”

They state JBS has “decried everyone” for being pawns in a global communist conspiracy. Of course, their proof in this is a link to another over-the-top Think Progress article that bolsters its stance from similar political activist organizations.

Another falsehood comes in the next paragraph stating JBS “published a piece this morning celebrating Fred and the Koch family’s pivotal role in developing the group.” Then they offer an excerpt, actually a combination of sentences spanning five paragraphs, that they try to pass off as indicative of the scope of the article. However, readers can see that the article is a history article about Fred Koch, his fight against Communism, and the journey he took to build a successful business. This is the second installment of our Americanist Entrepreneurs series that we began last month with JBS Founder Robert Welch.

Next they claim Fred had a history of bigotry and tried to back this up by pointing to evidence that the reader is once again just supposed to trust them on. One piece of evidence of this bigotry is that he was against the “civil rights leaders” and that JBS believed that “integration would lead to a ‘mongrelization’ of the races.” So readers are to believe that if one does not agree with the proposed big government solutions of the 1960s that they will be labeled as bigots. And the latter part of their above sentence makes some pretty hefty charges, but again, is not substantiated. In fact, JBS has never advocated for forced segregation or forced integration, both unconstitutional. Our documentary from the 1960s, Anarchy USA, depicts the Communist influence in the 1960s that resulted in dividing the people, setting up crisis and proposing and passing sweeping big government changes. The “mongrelization” comment in this documentary occurred in a film clip of a white racist's rant and was included to show how the divided people were fighting against each other and how extremism on both sides enflamed racial tensions. This section of the video ended with the voice-over comment: "And so the seeds of dissension were sown among both the black and white races." To portray the "mongrelization" comment as JBS policy is completely irresponsible and wrong.

The motives of Think Progress are clear here: to continue the smear campaign against the JBS that began decades ago by others and to use the guilt-by-association smear to their advantage to cast a negative light on those involved in the Tea Party. Think Progress chose to ignore facts and embrace falsehoods that only further its political agenda.

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