(Jewish Telegraphic Agency) Jewish historian, Matthew Dallek — while researching his new book on the John Birch Society — came across archival documents which showed how the Anti-Defamation League illegally spied on, infiltrated and subverted the JBS — nefarious actions which Dallek claims were justified and praiseworthy because of the threat the JBS posed to Jewish self-interests:
…The discovery of the Anti-Defamation League’s covert operation targeting the John Birch Society is the basis of a chapter in a new book by political historian Matthew Dallek of George Washington University. Published in March, “Birchers: How the John Birch Society Radicalized the American Right” is Dallek’s fourth book. It examines the roots of today’s emboldened conservative movement in the United States.
“Birchers” is a history of a group that at its height numbered as many as 100,000 members and “mobilized a loyal army of activists” in a campaign against what it saw as a vast communist conspiracy. He also examines how the Birchers’ mission to defend Christianity and capitalism morphed into a radical anti-civil rights agenda that groups like the ADL saw as an existential threat.
Dallek, who grew up in a Reform Jewish household in Los Angeles, recently sat with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency to discuss the rise of the Birchers, how the ADL infiltrated their ranks and whether such tactics are justified in the name of fighting extremism.
[The conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.]
“The John Birch Society was a household name in the 1960s, becoming the emblem of far-right extremism. It didn’t have huge numbers, but it did penetrate the culture and the national consciousness. Its leader, Robert Welch, had argued at one point that President Dwight Eisenhower was a dedicated agent of a communist conspiracy taking over the United States. Welch formed the John Birch Society to educate the American people about the nature of the communist threat.
In its heyday, the group had about 60,000 to 100,000 members, organized into small chapters. They sent out literature trying to give members roadmaps or ideas for what they could do. They believed a mass education of the public was needed because traditional two-party politics was not going to be very effective at exposing the communist threat. They would form front groups such as Impeach Earl Warren [the Supreme Court’s chief justice] or Support Your Local Police. They tried to ban certain books that they viewed as socialistic from being used in schools. Some Birchers ran for school board seats and protested at libraries.
(((Critics))) feared that the Birchers were a growing fascist or authoritarian group and that if they were not sidelined politically and culturally then the country could be overrun. The Nation magazine wrote that Birchers essentially had given their followers an invitation to engage in civil war, guerrilla-style. Those fears sparked a big debate about democracy. How does one sustain democracy and, at the height of the Cold War and in the shadow of World War II, Nazi fascist Germany, and the Holocaust?
These papers are a goldmine. They’re this incredible and often detailed window into the far-right and, in particular, the John Birch Society. They show the ADL had an extensive, multi-dimensional counterintelligence operation that they were running against the Birch Society.
People knew at the time that the ADL was attending events where Birchers were speaking. But the ADL also had undercover agents with code names, who were able to infiltrate the society’s headquarters in Belmont, Massachusetts, and various chapter officers. They dug up financial and employment information about individual Birchers. And they not only used the material for their own newsletters and press releases, but they also fed information to the media.
Another layer is about a debate that’s been going on: Were the Birchers racist and antisemitic? The Birch Society always insisted that they did not tolerate white supremacy and didn’t want any KKK members. They said they accepted people of all faiths and races. And it’s true that they did have a handful of Jewish and Black members.
So, a few things: It’s the late ’50s and ’60s, and a civil rights coalition is emerging. Benjamin Epstein, the national director of the ADL, was friendly with Thurgood Marshall, the Supreme Court justice, and Martin Luther King. John F. Kennedy went to an ADL event and praised the ADL for speaking out very strongly in defense of democracy and pushing for the equal treatment of all Americans.
Isadore Zack, who helped lead the spy operation, at one point wrote to his colleagues that it was only in a democracy that the Jewish community has been allowed to flourish and so, if you want to defend Jewish Americans, you also have to defend democracy.
There certainly were other threats at the time, but the Birch Society was seen by liberal critics, including the ADL, as a very secretive group that promoted conspiracy theories about communists who often became conflated with Jews.
They were successful. They used surreptitious and in some cases underhanded means to expose the antisemitism and the racism and also interest in violence or the violent rhetoric of the Birch Society in the 1960s.
The ADL was at the tip of the spear of a liberal coalition that included the White House, sometimes the Department of Justice, depending on the issue, the NAACP, Americans for Democratic Action, labor unions, the union-backed Group Research Inc., which was tracking the far-right as well. The ADL was one of the most, if not the most effective at constraining and discrediting the society.
Clearly, however, the Birchers’ ideas never died. They lived on and made a comeback.
It’s important to remember that in the mid-20th century, law enforcement in the United States was often led by antisemites or people who were much more concerned with alleged internal communist threats — the threat from the left.
From the ADL’s vantage point, one could not rely on the government entities that were by law and by design supposed to protect Jewish Americans. There was a sense that this work had to be done, at least in part, outside of the parameters of the government.
When I first discovered the ADL’s spying, I didn’t quite know what to make of it. But I realized they weren’t just spying to spy, they exposed a lot of scary things, with echoes in our own times — like easy access to firearms, a hatred of the government, a denigration and defamation of minority groups. And this was all happening in the shadow of the Holocaust and World War II. I became much more sympathetic; they were very effective, and they had a vision of equality of treatment for all Americans.
It’s obviously controversial. I try not to shy away from it. But they had a lot of good reasons to fight back right and to fight back in this nonviolent way.
…[The] Jewish Defense League, led by Meir Kahane. He was a Bircher. Toward the end of my book, I mention that he was a member for a while, under his alias Michael King.
A lot of liberals in the 1960s and a lot of the leadership at the ADL grasped the axiom that things can always get worse…
…The sense that democracy is incredibly fragile is not just a theory or a concept: It’s an actuality, the sense as well, that the United States has only been a multiracial democracy for not very long and a haven for Jews for not that long either…
…The last thing I’ll say is that one of the admirable things in the 1960s about the ADL and the liberal coalition it belonged to is that it built support for landmark legislation like the Immigration Act of 1965, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of ’65. And a coalition eventually fell apart, but it was powerful, reminding us why Jewish American groups should care about or focus on issues that don’t directly affect Jewish people.”
Note how this article characterizes the Birchers who opposed the Civil Rights Movement as “radical” — rather than the radical movement itself — or the radical, communist-affliliated Jews who financed and orchestrated it for their own self-interest.
There was nothing “radical” about the John Birch Society — they were merely a continuation of a long conservative tradition which fought against communist subversion of America in the wake of the genocidal Judeo-Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.
However, after World War II under the leadership of William F. Buckley — the self-described “responsible conservative” and outspoken critic of the John Birch Society — the conservative “movement” made a tacit agreement with powerful Jewish interests to no longer discuss the Jewish Question or defend White racial interests — you could talk about liberal hypocrisy and incompetence while dismissing the “exaggerated” communist threat, but you could not mention the Jewish or racial elephant in the living room — and the JBS got the memo loud and clear and fell in line.
By 1965, not only had the ADL infiltrated and subverted the John Birch Society, Jewish interests had taken de facto control of it, as one of the original founding members, Revilo P. Oliver, had discovered after launching his own investigation — writing,
“I was not astonished, although I was pained, by the discovery that [Robert] Welch was merely the nominal head of the Birch business, which he operated under the supervision of a committee of Jews, while Jews also controlled the flow, through various bank accounts, of the funds that were needed to supplement the money that was extracted from the Society’s members by artfully passionate exhortations to ‘fight the Communists.’
As soon as the investigation was complete, including the record of a secret meeting in a hotel at which Welch reported to his supervisors, I resigned from the Birch hoax on 30 July 1966 with a letter in which I let the little man know that his secret had been discovered.”
One of Oliver’s close associates in the JBS agreed with his conclusions, describing what happened as a “Bolshevik take-over” which “…served the purposes of the very forces that it professed to be fighting.”
Oliver concluded his expose of the John Birch Society with the bitter truth that “American conservatism is dead” — reduced to an ineffectual, toothless form of nostalgia for what America used to be and what could have been — which culminated in Donald Trump’s disingenuous “Make America Great Again” sloganeering — a phenomenon anticipated by Oliver with his concluding remarks:
“But such nostalgic aspirations for the past are mere romanticism. They are dangerously antiquarian illusions today, when the only really fundamental question is whether our race still has the will-to-live or is so biologically degenerate that it will choose extinction — to be absorbed in a pullulant and pestilential mass of mongrels, while the triumphant Jews keep their holy race pure and predatory.”
In his book, The Judas Goats, the late investigative reporter, Michael Collins Piper, devoted an entire chapter (Chapter 22) to exposing the John Birch Society as controlled opposition — when Robert Welch allowed his company to be bought out by those who wished to steer the JBS away from its original purpose.
In fact, The Judas Goats confirms Revilo Oliver’s conclusions about the so-called “conservative” movement in America — that it has become infiltrated and subservient to Jewish interests — and all of its nominally “White” leaders and political pundits are nothing more than controlled opposition who have taken the Jews’ “thirty pieces of silver.”
As Matthew Dallek freely admits above, “only in a democracy that the Jewish community has been allowed to flourish” — which tacitly implies that democracies are antithetical to White interests and the preservation of our posterity — confirming Ezra Pound’s observation, “Democracy is now currently defined in Europe as a ‘country run by Jews.’“