William F. Buckley, Jr. passed away more than four years ago, but the organization he founded is carrying on his attacks on The John Birch Society.
Buckley founded National Review in 1955, and in an article published August 28 by National Review Online, Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan, Robert Welch, and The John Birch Society (JBS) were all pilloried for their commitment to the cause of traditional conservatism.
The authors, Jamie M. Fly and Evan Moore, argue that the Republican Party made a “mistake in honoring” Ron Paul at the Republican National Convention being held in Tampa this week.
In lieu of letting Ron Paul speak to the delegates, the Republican National Committee (RNC) chose to produce its own “video tribute” to the Texas congressman and leader of the liberty movement.
Given the RNC’s shameless rigging of the presidential nomination process through the violation of its own rules, it is little wonder that they couldn’t afford to let Paul address party members.
In fairness, convention planners (read: Mitt Romney) offered Dr. Paul a spot on the schedule if he would allow Romney’s people to approve his speech and if he would endorse Romney without reservation. Paul refused to accept these conditions. What Paul endorses are the principles he has consistently supported over his long political career, and he was unwilling to compromise those principles in order to gain a speaking slot at the convention.
Furthermore, given the tone of the convention and its conversion into a coronation of Mitt Romney, anything Dr. Paul would say from the podium would likely be the casting of pearls before swine.
As for NRO’s attacks on The John Birch Society and its founder Robert Welch, this latest NRO article is nothing new.
In an email to The New American, JBS CEO Art Thompson recounts the decades long effort by National Review and Buckley to damage The John Birch Society and anyone who dares challenge the Establishment. Thompson writes, "The recent article attacking Ron Paul posted online by the National Review Online is the latest chapter in an ongoing saga that NR has waged against anyone who is not a neo-conservative."
Thompson recalls how in the October 19, 1965 issue of National Review, Buckley published a “vicious attack against everything The John Birch Society stood for” prompting Thompson to cancel his subscription to the ersatz chronicle of conservatism.
The John Birch Society's President John F. McManus (who is also publisher of The New American, a JBS affiliate) agrees with Thompson and says that “the JBS never had a worse enemy than Buckley.” McManus says that Buckley’s sniping and labeling of Robert Welch as a kook kept many good conservatives from taking a serious look at The John Birch Society.
The more things change...
In their article Fly and Moore continue waging National Review’s war against all anti-Establishment voices, describing them as “far outside the mainstream” of the Republican Party.
The accusation of extremism, however, fails to take into account the millions of Americans who voted for Ron Paul in the primaries and caucuses, not to mention the thousands nationwide who belong to The John Birch Society and voluntarily contribute time and money to the furtherance of its educational mission.
Since its inception the goal of The John Birch Society has been to improve the world by reinforcing constitutional limits on government and encouraging everyone to take personal responsibility for their actions.
On Sunday Dr. Paul made a similar appeal to the nearly 10,000 people gathered at the Sun Dome to hear him speak. “A free society provides an opportunity to seek virtue and excellence,” Paul proclaimed. He identified this as his personal goal and recommended it to all who love liberty.
At the conclusion of his remarks, Dr. Paul sounded the call of personal responsibility and liberty, predicting, “We are now moving into a new era. A new era where we’re going to concentrate on liberty and freedom and property and peace. I believe that is the cause that we should lead.”
These are hardly the words of a leader of a pack of “conspiracy-minded” fanatics.
It is likely these remarks, however, that prompted NRO to remind readers that Dr. Paul has refused to “disassociate himself from the Birch Society.”
Why would he want to? No matter how much the authors try to conflate the two, the JBS is not Ron Paul and Ron Paul is not the JBS. They do, however, share an interest in returning this Republic to its historic and constitutional foundations and restraining the government with the chains forged in Philadelphia in 1787.
For its part, NRO insists that the views of Ron Paul and his kind are “not reflective of our history and values.” Assuming they refer to the history and values of the Republican Party, perhaps they have a point. Men of Ron Paul’s and Robert Welch’s stature value principle over party and will never sacrifice faith to the former for the convenience of the latter.
If on the other hand the “our” in that statement refers to the United States of America then there is no position more faithful to traditional American values than that of strict adherence to the Constitution and the timeless principles of individual liberty and enumerated and separated powers it protects.
Despite the ad hominem attacks on Ron Paul, Robert Welch, and Pat Buchanan (I refer to the authors’ use of epithets such as “racist” and “anti-semite” to describe these men), most of the lines in their article are reserved for recriminating Paul’s foreign policy.
“In his floor remarks, the congressman echoed the worst rhetoric of the conspiracy-minded” when he dared oppose sanctions against Iran. NRO quotes Paul’s statement that the bill proposing the sanctions was “beating the war drums” and that the United States was “over there poking our nose ... in other people’s affairs, just looking for the chance to start another war.”
It is unlikely that the authors could beat those drums louder than by disparaging a man whose message of peace has not only attracted millions of young conservatives to his cause, but also reflects the tone of George Washington’s farewell address. Therein, Washington used elegant language to advise against the beating of war drums:
The Nation, which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests.
How many would deny that the chicken hawk neocons perpetually praised by the NRO, the now-defunct Project for the New American Century and its progeny, the Foreign Policy Initiative (of which both Fly and Moore are members) have promoted “habitual hatred” against Islam as an excuse for the commitment of American troops into “bloody contests” in the Middle East?
Fly and Moore deny it. In fact, they claim that Ron Paul’s “worldview is based on pure fiction.”
Are the more than 8,000 flag-draped coffins of American servicemen killed in Iraq and Afghanistan fictional? Are the physical and mental wounds suffered by thousands more of their comrades fictional? Is it fact or fiction that the governments of both of those nations are now in the hands of the very “extremists” that our military was deployed to overthrow?
It is journalistically lazy and intellectually dishonest to accuse Ron Paul, The John Birch Society, and like-minded conservatives of leaving “a trail of factual errors and conspiracy mongering” on these critical issues without providing readers with a single syllable of evidence.
Readers of National Review should demand that the authors of the NRO hit piece print specific examples of factually inaccurate and wildly theoretical statements made by Ron Paul.
Then again, perhaps the legion of conservatives who support Ron Paul should heed NRO’s suggestion and leave the Republican Party. John McManus recalls a time when some accused Robert Welch of stealing the GOP. "That is the first time I've ever been accused of petty larceny," Welch wittily responded.
If NRO’s article and the actions at the convention of the monied cabal now in control of the GOP do nothing else they demonstrate persuasively to friends of liberty that the Republican Party is no place for those advocating for peace, property, and personal responsibility.
Photo of Ron Paul at Republican National Convention: AP Images