Win Lose or Draw just finished reading a book entitled Wrapped in the Flag by Claire Conner. Claire Conner’s father and mother, when they were alive, were members of the John Birch society at the executive level. The saga of her life, as portrayed by her in her book, depicts her lifelong struggle to maintain her personal relationship with her parents while, at the same time, being unable to accept their world view.
John Birch Society
The following is largely stol….I mean borrowed from Wikipedia with some additions and slight revisions by Win Lose or Draw.
Main Wikipedia article: John Birch Society
The society was established in Indianapolis, Indiana, on December 9, 1958, by a group of 12 led by Robert Welch, Jr., a retired candy manufacturer. Welch named the new organization after John Birch, an American Baptist missionary and United States military intelligence officer who had been shot and killed by communist forces in China in August 1945, shortly after the conclusion of World War II. Welch claimed that Birch was an unknown but dedicated anti-communist, and the first American casualty of the Cold War.
The John Birch Society is an American political advocacy group that supports anti-communism, limited government, a constitutional republic and personal freedom. It has been described as radical right-wing.
In the beginning, monthly meetings were held and lots of postcards or letters were written to government officials linking specific policies to the “Communist menace.” The group exercised considerable influence in the Joseph McCarthy heyday. During the Eisenhower administration the Birchers went way too far when they began to say that the Republican war hero was under the influence of communists. Both William F. Buckley, Jr. and Barry Goldwater had been associated with the group, but they and other prominent conservatives began to repudiate the group’s more radical views.
The group is generally far right of the conservative right. In 1983, Congressman Larry McDonald (D-Georgia), then its newly appointed president, characterized the society as belonging to the Old Right rather than the New Right.
The organization identifies with Christian principles, seeks to limit governmental powers, and opposes wealth redistribution, and economic interventionism. It opposes collectivism, totalitarianism, and communism. It opposes socialism as well, which it asserts is infiltrating US governmental administration. The society opposed aspects of the 1960s civil rights movement and claimed the movement had communists in important positions. In the latter half of 1965, the JBS produced a flyer entitled “What’s Wrong with Civil Rights?” which was used as a newspaper advertisement. In the piece, one of the answers was: “For the civil rights movement in the United States, with all of its growing agitation and riots and bitterness, and insidious steps towards the appearance of a civil war, has not been infiltrated by the Communists, as you now frequently hear. It has been deliberately and almost wholly created by the Communists patiently building up to this present stage for more than forty years.” The society opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, claiming it violated the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and overstepped individual states’ rights to enact laws regarding civil rights. The society opposes “one world government”, and it has an immigration reduction view on immigration reform. It opposes the United Nations, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). They argue the U.S. Constitution has been devalued in favor of political globalization, and that this alleged trend is not accidental but insidious.
The society has been described by some as “ultraconservative”, “far right”, and “extremist”. Others describe the group a “patriotic” or “ultra-patriotic.”
The group currently has members in all fifty states.
Here’s an applicable description of a cartoon that Win Lose or Draw has seen: Picture a man stretched out on a sofa and a psychiatrist sitting next to him. The caption reads, “You’re the fifth doctor to tell me I’m paranoid. What is this, a conspiracy?”
Here’s another one that Win Lose or Draw saw back in the sixties. It was probably a Jules Feiffer cartoon: Picture a man walking down a street. Then he drops to one knee and sprays bullets behind him. Blam! Blam! Blam! The caption reads, “Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get me.”
Claire Conner’s parents were never institutionalized. They were demanding parents, but good parents. They weren’t crazy. They were just paranoid.
Claire Conner admits to herself, and to us at one point in the book, that there was absolutely no possibility of getting her parents to recognize any of the inconsistencies in their opinions.
Generally speaking, Win Lose or Draw has found that most people believe what they believe in spite of any and all evidence to the contrary. In the 1700’s Alexander Pope said the same thing. Here is a bad paraphrasing of what Pope said: Our opinions are like our watches. Everyone believes his or her own to be True.
Never argue with people. It doesn’t get us anywhere.
While reading Wrapped in the Flag Win Lose or Draw came across a principle which originated in the Catholic church, but which is generally applicable to the organization of any governmental hierarchy. The concept is called Subsidiarity, and it is a concept whereby decisions should rightfully be made by the lowest and least centralized element within a hierarchy that can effectively deal with the situation or problem.
It occurs to Win Lose or Draw that ardent State’s righters might find this approach appealing.
Stay tuned for Win Lose or Draw’s next posting, which will put this concept into a historical perspective (in terms of the government of the United States), and will speculatively assess the strengths and weaknesses of such an approach.