The largely discredited Southern Poverty Law Center, a self-styled “civil rights” group based in Alabama described by critics as ultra-leftist, just released its latest so-called “Intelligence Report,” warning of an alleged surge in right-of-center organizations concerned about an out-of-control federal government. Among the prominent “Patriot” groups attacked in the SPLC report was The John Birch Society, with an entire article about the JBS devoted largely to complaining about the liberty-minded organization’s supposed growing influence in the conservative movement and the Republican Party.
In its report on the JBS, entitled “Bringing Back Birch,” SPLC commentator Don Terry, perhaps trying to add some credibility to his piece, does help dispel some of the more absurd accusations hurled at the organization over the last five decades by its critics — that it is secretly racist, or anti-Semitic, for example, both easily debunked. JBS CEO Art Thompson explained to Terry in an interview that members who are found to harbor racist or anti-Semitic views are immediately expelled from the society.
However, the SPLC report goes on to mock the group in a half-baked attempt to discredit its mission using sarcasm. “The arch-conservative John Birch Society is still waging its Cold War-era crusade against the Red menace and American ‘insiders’ who, in the society’s view, are hell-bent on handing the country over to the socialists at the U.N.,” the writer notes, apparently oblivious to the fact that communism and tyranny are flourishing throughout much of the world, even as elements of the American establishment continue their bid to erode U.S. sovereignty.
“At least some Americans appear to be buying what the Birchers are selling,” the report continues. “Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney raised more than a few eyebrows during the 2012 campaign when he said that Russia — not Iran, not North Korea — was, without question, America’s No. 1 geopolitical foe. Anxiety about Russia is straight out of the John Birch Society playbook of fear.” It should be noted that, despite the SPLC’s insinuations, Romney’s positions were largely at odds with the constitutional values promoted by the JBS, as this magazine documented extensively.
The report also claims that, at one point, the JBS was exiled from the conservative movement by establishment figure and National Review editor William Buckley — an allegation that even one of the sources interviewed for the SPLC piece helped debunk. “Being banished from the conservative movement and being banished from the National Review-approved conservative movement are not the same thing,” noted senior editor at the libertarian-leaning Reason magazine Jesse Walker in the SPLC’s piece.
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