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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 25. No. 11. 1962

John Birch

John Birch

These organisations differ widely in form, but they all agree that the Communist menace is mainly internal. John Birchers say that the frustrations in such places as Cuba, Berlin and Laos are caused by a Communist plot that involves "subversives" in all areas of American life. For example, a private letter circulated widely by Robert Welch, founder of the John Birchers, labelled former U.S. President Eisenhower as a "dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy." Other people implicated in the "conspiracy" by this Bircher's Bible are Chief Justice Earl Warren, ex-presidents Roosevelt and Truman, former C.I.A. head Allen Dulles, and, believe it or not, his brother the late John Foster.

Some students of the movement say that it can be traced back to traditional anti-European isolationism and ethnic prejudices—a favourite trick of segregationists is to call such Negro organisations as the National Association for the Advancements of Coloured People "Communist-influenced" or "Communist-directed". A psychologist's analysis would be that it is a classic case of substitution; we can't ever hit at the Russians directly, so we invent a dummy we can beat regularly. It is impossible for the Birchers to conceive that the immense wealth and great traditions of America could ever be overcome by any intrinsic Russian superiority, say, in cold-war tactics, or education, or organisation.

Professor A. W. Westin has argued that it is a grass-roots movement, part of a natural American bent for political fundamentalism. The John Birchers started and are strongest in the fundamentalist Baptist churches of the South—which are also segregation's stronghold.