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Extremism in the Pursuit of Historical Truth

Written by Gary North on January 16, 2016

This week, The New Yorker published an article on the John Birch Society.

It goes into the background of the forgotten missionary to China, John Birch. For this reason alone, the article deserves to be archived in your Evernote files. The article also provides a reasonable summary of the influence of the JBS on the conservative movement, especially in the 1960’s.

The author is a professor. He says that he keeps a poster of the Goldwater campaign on his office wall at the university.

I have several reasons for keeping a half-century-old “Goldwater for President” poster on a wall of my university office. It serves as a reminder of youthful political passion (I turned thirteen the day before Lyndon Johnson crushed the Arizona senator at the polls), and it pays tribute to the plainspoken candidate’s libertarian anti-Communism. It also, I suppose, offers my own bit of micro-aggression toward those colleagues–which would be all of them–who find Goldwater’s world view, if they know it, even more abhorrent than antique.

I voted for Goldwater. He was the only Republican candidate for President I have ever enthusiastically voted for. He was the only political figure in the 20th century to hijack a major political party away from the establishment (singular) that runs both parties. Donald Trump may prove to be the second.

It is interesting that Phyllis Schlafly made her reputation in her famous 1964 campaign book on why people should vote for Goldwater: A Choice, Not an Echo. She is also an enthusiastic supporter of Trump.

The article’s summary of John Birch’s life is based on a recent biography, long overdue: John Birch: A Life, by Terry Lautz. Oxford University Press published it. Birch was a fundamentalist missionary in China. He was shot and then mutilated by Communist Chinese revolutionaries in 1945.

Robert Welch designated him as “the first casualty in the Third World War between Communists and the ever-shrinking Free World.” As a symbol, fair enough. But Western prisoners in Soviet concentration camps better deserve that designation. We just do not know their names.

The article discusses the relationship of the JBS, William F. Buckey, Goldwater, and the liberal media. It is accurate, as far as I recall as a college conservative and early (1960) Goldwater supporter.

(For the rest of my article, click the link.)

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