In a column calling for conservatives and Republicans to distance themselves from racists and anti-Semites, neoconservative columnist Jonathan Tobin deceived readers of the New York Post and the fringe left-wing Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Writing about the dispute between the John Birch Society and National Review founder William Buckley, Tobin got the facts exactly backwards. In addition to lying about and demonizing the JBS with blatant falsehoods, Tobin praised Buckley as “conservatism’s intellectual leader,” completely ignoring Buckley’s controversial writings calling for whites, as the “advanced race,” to use force to keep blacks from voting in order to preserve “civilization” in the face of “Negro backwardness.”
At first, it was not clear whether the blatant factual errors and the total reversal of reality by Tobin and the publications that picked up his smears were a result of mere ignorance or deliberate dishonesty. However, Tobin, along with his editors and associates, have all been repeatedly contacted by multiple people explaining and documenting the facts. Instead of running an immediate correction or letter mitigating the damage, as virtually every newspaper did in 2017 after a Washington Post columnist made a similar error, Tobin simply blocked the truth-tellers on social media and hung up the phone on concerned callers. One of the editors, Esther Solomon at Haaretz, responded with the most outlandish answer imaginable.
The version of the column picked up by the New York Post on November 29, under the headline “An utterly, unspeakable wrong new ‘right,’” claimed that in the early 1960s, “extremists from the John Birch Society peddled racism, anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories like those of today’s alt right.” The Birchers were also “establishing a foothold in the GOP,” Tobin wrote. Almost identical smears were made in the version of the column picked up by Haaretz, a notoriously left-wing Israeli tabloid with a reputation for publishing fake news. The original version, which appeared on a handful of fringe blogs, was even worse.
In reality, though, the truth was just the opposite of what Tobin claimed, and the historical record is absolutely clear on the matter. As Tobin would have known with even the most basic research, one of the members of the original National Council of the JBS, Alfred Kohlberg, was a prominent Jewish businessman. The JBS has had Jews on its National Council since its founding in 1958, and continues to have leading Jews on it today. National Council member Andy Dlinn, another Jew, even contacted Tobin and his editors seeking a correction and offering to submit a response — an offer that was ignored.
Far from peddling racism or anti-Semitism, the record demonstrates that the JBS has been fighting those scourges since its founding in 1958 — an era in which racism was not just mainstream across much of America, but enshrined in law across the South. Indeed, the only official investigation into the Society, undertaken by the California Senate in 1963, found that not only was JBS not racist or anti-Semitic, it specifically opposed racism and anti-Semitism. “Among other unjustified criticisms against the society is the charge that it is anti-Semitic,” the report found. “Our investigation leads us to the opposite conclusion. The organization is open to people of all religions, all races, all political persuasions except those deemed subversive.”
The official California investigation, undertaken at the request of JBS founder Robert Welch, also confirmed that fact that unlike the Democrat or Republican parties, the JBS has always had a policy of expelling any racists and anti-Semites who managed to infiltrate the Society. “There are many Jews on the Birch committees, many in the society; some members have been asked to resign because they were found to be disruptive with their anti-Semitic attitude,” the investigation found, adding that JBS founder Welch and various JBS coordinators were working with prominent Jewish groups to “squelch anti-Semitism.”
Jews quoted in the official report said they felt more welcome in The John Birch Society than in American society at large. The report quoted a Jewish member of the Society in Southern California, Jerome E. Linz, who explained his affection for JBS. “As a member of the John Birch Society and also a member of the American Jewish League Against Communism, I vehemently deny the allegations of persons or groups claiming that the John Birch Society is a fascist, or any other un-American, collectivist organization,” he testified. “It has been my experience, as a member of a so-called minority group, that I have felt in the society a very great sense of mutual co-operation and respect — a conviction of belonging far above the actual circumstance to be found in daily life outside the society.”
The report went on to discuss Welch and his views, too. “Welch is unquestionably not anti-Semitic, and wishes his organization to be open to people of all faiths,” the investigation concluded. The investigators also found, as Tobin and his editors know well, that Welch “has already acted to oust anti-Semites from the movement.” They also found that JBS as an organization rejected and opposed all racism. “At any rate, our investigations have disclosed no evidence of anti-Semitism on the part of anyone connected with the John Birch Society in California, and much evidence to the effect that it opposes racism in all forms,” the report concluded.
Incredibly, Tobin then went on to imply that Buckley attacked JBS as a result of the non-existent racism and anti-Semitism Tobin falsely claimed JBS was peddling. “It was at that moment that conservatism’s intellectual leader, the late William F. Buckley, made it clear that Birchers wouldn’t be welcome in the movement or the GOP,” declared Tobin. “Buckley ultimately succeeded, as the Birchers were forced to retreat to the fever swamps of American politics.”
In the real world, Buckley's attacks on JBS had nothing to do racism or anti-Semitism, something that Tobin would have known if he bothered to read Buckley's own writings on the subject. In reality, Buckley attacked Welch for holding opinions on Eisenhower that he disagreed with. What Tobin also failed to mention is that it was Buckley who had the racism problem, not JBS. In fact, in 1957, Buckley argued in his magazine National Review for denying voting rights to the “backward” blacks of the South in order maintain the supremacy of whites, whom he termed the “more advanced race.” Keeping blacks from power would help “preserve civilization,” Buckley wrote. This is just one of many such examples. Buckley did not repent of these writings until a few years before his death.
Tobin, the editor of a fringe blog styling itself the “Jewish News Syndicate,” initially published his diatribe on his own website, JNS.org. Slightly modified versions of the libelous column were then picked up by other outlets. One of the outlets that picked it up was the Christian Post, but after being made aware of the errors, the column was taken down.
Also picking up the column was the New York Post, part of Rupert Murdoch's “News Corporation” empire, which has a history of attacking the John Birch Society and promoting Buckley. The company, which also owns Fox News, is a corporate member of the globalist Council on Foreign Relations, where Buckley and, more recently, pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, were both leading members, along with multiple top Democrats. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted during a speech to the global government-promoting CFR that the organization told her what she should be doing and how she should think about the future.
The Post, which in serious circles has a reputation as a trashy tabloid, often runs columns by Jonah Goldberg, a neoconservative “Never Trump” activist who has a peculiar obsession with JBS and Buckley. In February of last year, the Post even ran an editorial on “rebuilding conservatism” that cited Buckley's attacks on the “conspiratorial” JBS. But until the piece by Tobin, approved by Opinion Editor Sohrab Ahmari from Iran, the paper had not overtly lied about JBS. Ahmari did not respond to requests for comment. It was not clear whether he agreed with Buckley's rants from the 1950s and ’60s. Post staff told this writer that a letter setting the record straight was being considered for publication in the Sunday edition. However, by press time, it was not available online.
Haaretz, a left-wing Israeli newspaper that also picked up Tobin's column, ran a piece last year that included a similar error on JBS. However, after being made aware of it, editors promptly updated the article to avoid misleading readers too blatantly with outright falsehoods. Not opinion editor Esther Solomon, though.
“In his piece, Mr Tobin notes: ‘In the early 1960s, extremists from the John Birch Society — who peddled racism, anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories…’,” she wrote in an e-mail sent to a concerned reader. “In your letter, you note, regarding the same period: ‘some members have been asked to resign because they were found to be disruptive with their anti-Semitic attitude.’ [Note: This was taken from the California investigation that explained that JBS opposed anti-Semitism]. Therefore, the comment that there were anti-Semitic extremists ‘from the John Birch Society’ is clearly a matter of record, and one that you yourself endorse.” She then provided links which she said supported Tobin’s view, but not a single one made any accusation of racism or anti-Semitism.
In a statement provided by the John Birch Society, Chief Strategy Officer William Hahn responded. “Unfortunately, Mr. Jonathan Tobin, editor of the Jewish News Service, has a history of labeling The John Birch Society as racist, anti-Semitic, and extremists,” he said. “He seems to have bought into the false narrative of Mr. William F. Buckley booting out Birchers of the mainstream conservative movement. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth.”
“For 61 years, the JBS has been advocating for the protection and restoration of American liberties and independence for all Americans, something that all Americans should be concerned about,” Hahn continued. “Our organization has been used as a punching bag for those that flout the Constitution and seek to divide the American people using common Communist tactics. The membership of JBS has been continuously blessed to include a diverse number of Americans from all walks of life, colors, and creeds. Haters have never been welcome in the organization. Our longtime policy of revoking and blocking membership to haters is very well-known to members.”
Hahn concluded by encouraging readers to learn about JBS for themselves. “We hope this intrigues others to learn the truth about JBS and to work with us in furthering less government, more responsibility, and — with God’s help — a better world,” he said.
Despite their well-known liberal bias, legitimate newspapers including the Denver Post, the Miami Herald, the Omaha World-Herald, Canada’s National Post, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, and many more all acted promptly to set the record straight after inadvertently printing errors about the John Birch Society. However, the New York Post and Haaretz ignored basic journalistic ethics and common decency. They have proven themselves to be dishonest, and willing to deliberately mislead readers, by refusing to correct the record. Readers of those publications deserve to know the truth, but it is clear they will have to search elsewhere if they hope to find it.