In April 1942, Jimmy Doolittle and his crew crash-landed in China after their Tokyo raid. After bailing out, they were rescued by sympathetic Chinese and smuggled into Zhejiang province. A young Baptist missionary from Georgia, John Morrison Birch, helped them to friendly territory.
Col. Claire Chennault, leader of the Flying Tigers commissioned Birch as a 1st Lt., and in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) he built a formidable intelligence network of sympathetic Chinese informants. He was promoted to Captain and received the Legion of Merit in 1944.
On August 25, eleven days after V-J Day, Birch was shot and killed by Chinese Communists. Posthumously awarded a Distinguished Service Medal, he never heard of the radical right-wing John Birch Society (JBS) which would be named after him. I doubt he would have approved!
Formed by Robert Welch in 1958, JBS was originally based in Massachusetts and is now headquartered in Grand Chute, Wisconsin. They have local chapters in all 50 states. The organization owns American Opinion Publishing, which publishes the journal The New American.
Although many conservatives agree with their concern about a "One World Government" conspiracy, and stances on dismantling the Federal Reserve System, and ending United States membership in the United Nations, the organization is rejected by most conservatives because of their conspiracy theories.
Its activities have included the distribution of literature critical of civil rights legislation, and petitions to impeach United States Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren.
In their most recent 'voter index,' Ron Paul (R-Tex) was the only member of Congress with a 100% voting record supporting the JBS. Steve King came in at 79%, Chuck Grassley 70%.
Their web site states "Membership is open to all ethnicities and freedom loving individuals, the membership and Speakers Bureau of The John Birch Society is composed of individuals of many ethnicities, such as African-Americans, Native-Americans, Filipinos, Chinese, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, etc." However, their governing body, the National Council, consists of 26 old, white, guys!
I was, from a distance, aware of JBS activities in Lyon and Sioux Counties in the 1970's and '80's, and of Birch types in Plymouth County. Although I am sure the organization has some redeeming qualities, they do an excellent job of hiding them. I have attempted contact with them, asking about a Le Mars chapter, with no response.
Welch, the president of JBS once wrote, "Could Eisenhower (President Dwight David) really be simply a smart politician, entirely without principles and hungry for glory, who is only the tool of the Communists? The answer is yes," Welch wrote.
It was the fall of 1964. I was building a brick house for Fred Fick, a paraplegic, on the east side of Greenwood Avenue in Le Mars. Art Black and I were taking a break from laying oak flooring and discussing the LBJ versus Barry Goldwater presidential campaign with painter John 'Jack' Timmins. Jack was a great guy, a fine Irish painter, and a very Irish Democrat, but with a short fuse. Art and I delighted in, 'pulling' Jack's chain.
It was a watershed campaign of sorts, because it laid the foundation for the ultra conservative movement. Festering, fermenting, slipping and sliding, but growing through the years, the movement has turned the Republican Party into what it is today.
Art and I had read the late J. Evetts Haley's (a member of the John Birch Society) bestselling book, "A Texan Looks at Lyndon: A Study in Illegitimate Power." That book lambasted LBJ's early Texas election tactics, and we could get Jack's dander up just by mentioning it.
It took me two trips to Des Moines meeting with the VA to get approval of the house plans that Fred Fick, who now lives in Colorado, his wife, and I had drawn. It was one of the first such built in the area.
Remembering friends Jack and Art, both deceased. Don Paulin, email@example.com, 7557 30th Av, Norwalk, IA 50211 - 515-201-7236