The John Birch Society: Its History Recounted By Someone Who Was There, by John F. McManus, Wakefield, Massachusetts: Overview Productions, 2018, 472 pages, hardcover.
For more than half a century, John F. “Jack” McManus has been a central figure in The John Birch Society, and in America’s fight to preserve morality, national sovereignty, and limited, constitutional government. Following his honorable discharge as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1960, he worked as an electronics engineer before accepting a position on the Birch Society’s staff in 1966 as a field Coordinator for five New England states. In 1968, Jack was transferred to the Society’s headquarters office, which was then located in Belmont, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. Thus began his close working relationship and long friendship with Society founder Robert Welch.
As the Society’s national director of public relations (and president from 1991-2016), McManus served for decades as the public face of the organization, appearing on numerous radio and television programs, as well as in speaking engagements throughout the country. His weekly newspaper column The Birch Log, together with his six books and countless pamphlets and articles, established his reputation as an authoritative spokesman on a wide array of topics. His famous presentation An Overview of Our World, which debuted in 1972 as a two-hour filmstrip and was later released in an updated video format, has introduced several generations of Americans to a proper understanding of the political spectrum, the basic principles of American government, and the subterranean subversive forces that are striving to undermine our civilization and our freedom. His similar Overview of America, a 28-minute DVD released in 2006, has joined the original Overview as a hugely popular civics lesson on many Internet sites.
Now serving as president emeritus of the Society, Jack McManus continues to keep an active writing and speaking schedule. Among those living today, none has had a longer and more intimate association with the founding generation of the JBS and the organization’s membership at large. That being the case, McManus is the person most naturally qualified to present a history of the Society, including a behind-the-scenes look at many of the events that have shaped our modern world.
Nearly 500 pages in length, The John Birch Society: Its History Recounted By Someone Who Was There is a treasure trove of information not only on the JBS, but also on the crucial battles and key personages of our age. McManus has chosen to structure his book chronologically, devoting the first five chapters to a brief biography of Robert Welch, then, beginning with the launch of the Society in 1958, devoting succeeding chapters to a year-by-year account of the organization’s campaigns, challenges, and accomplishments.
When Robert Welch founded the JBS, communist revolutions were sweeping the world and Soviet spy rings and agents of influence were being exposed in the highest levels of our national government. China and the countries of Eastern Europe had fallen to communism, and Soviet-backed movements were surging throughout Latin America. Alger Hiss, Klaus Fuchs, Harry Dexter White, the Rosenbergs, Nathan Silvermaster, Lauchlin Currie, and other communist traitors operating inside federal agencies had inflicted incalculable harm on this nation and hundreds of millions of victims worldwide. Sensible people were rightly alarmed and angered, but the leftists in the media, academia, and the political arena portrayed this eminently reasonable concern as paranoia and extremism. Anti-communists were being subjected to media smears, while the mass-media organs defended and, as often as not, lionized the communists.
Welch fully expected that he and the organization he was founding would be subjected to the same type of vicious smear tactics that had greeted Senator Joseph McCarthy, Congressman Martin Dies, and other anti-communist patriots. However, the sustained intensity of the attacks and the rank mendacity and absurdity of the charges undoubtedly exceeded even Welch’s expectations. McManus deals with all of these underhanded attacks and provides important details that the Society’s critics and their media enablers kept from the American public. Consider, for instance, the oft-repeated smears attempting to link the JBS with the racist Ku Klux Klan. Not only is this charge patently false, but, says McManus, “the Society’s various efforts had diminished Klan influence more than all other anti-Klan organizations combined.” He points, for instance, to the heroic efforts of JBS member Reverend Delmar Dennis, who risked everything, including his life, to infiltrate the Klan for the FBI. He provided the key testimony that convicted Sam Bowers and other top Klansmen in the infamous “Mississippi Burning” case. Reverend Dennis continued to risk his life by going on a speaking tour for the JBS exposing the KKK’s plans for racial warfare, while black JBS members Julia Brown, Lola Belle Holmes, Gerald Kirk, and others went on tour exposing the Communist Party’s similar schemes using black radicals to create racial turmoil.
McManus also provides a window with a unique view into the historic 1964 Republican National Convention in San Francisco, which nominated Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, and the malicious media campaign against Goldwater in the presidential race that year. A notable feature of that GOP convention was the KKK-Nazi smear leveled against the JBS from the podium by New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, who was himself hoping to be nominated. The Rockefeller family, particularly Nelson and his banker brother David, were top targets of the Society for their funding and promotion of communism, socialism, “progressivism,” and globalism.
The JBS promoted (and later re-published) the important book by constitutional scholar and former FBI agent Dan Smoot, The Invisible Government, which, in 1962, exposed the role played by globalist organizations such as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Foreign Policy Association, the Atlantic Council, and others, in assisting communism and the goal of world law and world government under the United Nations. The Smoot book, along with John Stormer’s eye-opening best-seller None Dare Call It Treason (1963), Gary Allen’s None Dare Call It Conspiracy (1972), Jack McManus’s The Insiders (1980), and James Perloff’s The Shadows of Power: The Council on Foreign Relations and the American Decline (1987), along with many other materials, introduced millions of Americans to what is now popularly known as the Deep State, the organized globalists who have taken control of our federal government and both major political parties.
In his 1964 speech “More Stately Mansions” and his 1966 speech “The Truth in Time,” Robert Welch more clearly explicated the globalist “conspiracy above Communism.” Anti-communists had been stymied for years to explain the obvious, but seemingly contradictory, symbiosis between leading communists and many of the world’s richest capitalists. Welch adopted the term “Insiders” to refer to those high-level conspirators in government, business, finance, and philanthropy who were not identified as communists, but who, nevertheless, were aiding, abetting, defending, and covering for the communists and promoting their goals.
The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) was (and is) the most important visible organization carrying out the pro-communist, pro-world-government objectives of these Insiders. The above-mentioned materials identified many of these CFR Insiders, including David Rockefeller, Secretaries of State Dean Rusk and Henry Kissinger, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, Secretary of the Treasury C. Douglas Dillon, CIA Director Allen Dulles, and many more. Among the many photographs and documents McManus reproduces in this book is an article from USA Today of January 6, 2006, featuring President George W. Bush in an Oval Office photo with 16 former Secretaries of State and Defense, every one of whom was a member of the CFR.
Even well-informed Birchers, including veterans of the 1960s and ’70s, will find themselves amazed at the chronicle of the Society’s many accomplishments: the hundreds of book stores and reading rooms established, millions of books sold, millions of pamphlets distributed, millions of letters written and petitions circulated, tens of thousands of speeches held, billboards erected, films and videos shown, ad hoc committees formed, and innumerable other activities that greatly affected the course of history. The JBS not only mass-distributed copies of the U.S. Constitution, The Federalist Papers, Frédéric Bastiat’s The Law, and other classic texts of political economy, but also popularized the books and essays of conservative, libertarian, and anti-communist authors such as John T. Flynn, Henry Hazlitt, Ludwig von Mises, Hans Sennholz, Leonard Reed, Phyllis Schlafly, Barry Goldwater, Dan Smoot, Whittaker Chambers, Ralph de Toledano, Elizabeth Bentley, Bella Dodd, W. Cleon Skousen, and many others.
This handsomely bound book, which also boasts 24 pages of photographs, will be an informative, enlightening, and inspiring read for patriots young and old alike. It not only gives valuable insight into crucial battles of the Cold War era, but demonstrates the Society’s continuing, indispensable leadership role today, especially in areas such as defending our Constitution and our liberties against the advances of the surveillance state and the efforts to destroy our national sovereignty through mergers via regional and global schemes.
This article originally appeared in the October 8, 2018 print edition of The New American. The New American publishes a print magazine twice a month, covering issues such as politics, money, foreign policy, environment, culture, and technology. To subscribe, click here. To order John F. McManus's book, click here.