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John Birch Society

John Birch Society
Logo of the JBS
Abbreviation JBS
Formation 1958
Type Political advocacy group
Legal status Active
Headquarters Appleton, Wisconsin, U.S.[1]
Region served
United States
Arthur Thompson

The John Birch Society (JBS) is an advocacy group supporting anti-communism and limited government.[2][3][4][5][6] It has been described as radical right.[6][7]

Businessman and founder Rick Perlstein, "comprised monthly meetings to watch a film by Welch, followed by writing postcards or letters to government officials linking specific policies to the Communist menace".[8] After an early rise in membership and influence, efforts by people like conservative William F. Buckley, Jr. and National Review led the JBS to be identified as a fringe element of the conservative movement, mostly in fear of the radicalization of the American right.[9][10]

Originally based in The New American.[12]


  • Values 1
    • Characterizations 1.1
  • History 2
    • Origins 2.1
    • 1960s 2.2
    • Eisenhower issue 2.3
    • 1970s 2.4
    • After Welch 2.5
    • 2009–present 2.6
  • Officers 3
    • Presidents 3.1
    • CEOs 3.2
  • In popular culture 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
    • Scholarly studies 7.1
    • Primary sources 7.2
      • Criticizing the John Birch Society 7.2.1
  • External links 8


The organization supports limited government and opposes Old Right rather than the New Right.[13]

The society opposed the 1960s civil rights movement and claimed the movement had communists in important positions. In the latter half of 1965, the JBS produced a flyer titled "What's Wrong With Civil Rights?", which was used as a newspaper advertisement.[14][15] In the piece, one of the answers was: "For the civil rights movement in the United States, with all of its growing agitation and riots and bitterness, and insidious steps towards the appearance of a civil war, has not been infiltrated by the Communists, as you now frequently hear. It has been deliberately and almost wholly created by the Communists patiently building up to this present stage for more than forty years."[16] The society opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, claiming it violated the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and overstepped individual states' rights to enact laws regarding civil rights. The society opposes "one world government", and it has an immigration reduction view on immigration reform. It opposes the United Nations, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), and other free trade agreements. They argue the U.S. Constitution has been devalued in favor of political and economic globalization, and that this alleged trend is not accidental. It cited the existence of the former Security and Prosperity Partnership as evidence of a push towards a North American Union.[17]


The society has been described as "ultraconservative",[18] "far right",[19] and "extremist".[20] Other sources consider the society part of the patriot movement.[21][22] The Southern Poverty Law Center, for example, lists the society as a "'Patriot' Group".[23]



The society was established in John Birch, an American Baptist missionary and military intelligence officer who was shot and killed by communist forces in China in August 1945, shortly after the conclusion of World War II. Welch claimed that Birch was an unknown but dedicated anti-communist, and the first American casualty of the Cold War.[24] Jimmy Doolittle, who met Birch after bailing out over China following the Tokyo Raid, said in his autobiography that he was certain that Birch "would not have approved" of that particular use of his name.[25]

Harry Lynde Bradley, co-founder of the Allen Bradley Company and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation,[26] Fred C. Koch, founder of Koch Industries[27][28][29][30] Robert Waring Stoddard, President of Wyman-Gordon, a major industrial enterprise, were among the founding members.[31] Another was Revilo P. Oliver, a University of Illinois professor who later severed his relationship with the society and helped found the National Alliance. A transcript of Welch's two-day presentation at the founding meeting was published as The Blue Book of the John Birch Society, and became a cornerstone of its beliefs, with each new member receiving a copy.[13] According to Welch, "both the U.S. and Soviet governments are controlled by the same furtive conspiratorial cabal of internationalists, greedy bankers, and corrupt politicians. If left unexposed, the traitors inside the U.S. government would betray the country's sovereignty to the United Nations for a collectivist New World Order, managed by a 'one-world socialist government.'"[32][33] Welch saw collectivism as the main threat to western culture, and American liberals as "secret communist traitors" who provided cover for the gradual process of collectivism, with the ultimate goal of replacing the nations of western civilization with a one-world socialist government. "There are many stages of welfarism, socialism, and collectivism in general," he wrote, "but Communism is the ultimate state of them all, and they all lead inevitably in that direction."[33]

The society's activities include distribution of literature, pamphlets, magazines, videos and other material while sponsoring a Speaker's Bureau, which invites "speakers who are keenly aware of the motivations that drive political policy".[34] One of the first public activities of the society was a "Get US Out!" (of membership in the UN) campaign, which claimed in 1959 that the "Real nature of [the] UN is to build a One World Government".[35] In 1960, Welch advised JBS members to: "Join your local P.T.A. at the beginning of the school year, get your conservative friends to do likewise, and go to work to take it over."[36] One Man's Opinion,[37] a magazine launched by Welch in 1956, was renamed American Opinion,[38] and became the society's official publication. The society publishes The New American, a biweekly magazine.[12][39]


By March 1961 the society had 60,000 to 100,000 members and, according to Welch, "a staff of 28 people in the Home Office; about 30 Coordinators (or Major Coordinators) in the field, who are fully paid as to salary and expenses; and about 100 Coordinators (or Section Leaders as they are called in some areas), who work on a volunteer basis as to all or part of their salary, or expenses, or both". According to Political Research Associates (a progressive research group that investigates the far right), the society "pioneered grassroots lobbying, combining educational meetings, petition drives and letter-writing campaigns.[33] One early campaign against the second summit between the United States and the Soviet Union generated over 600,000 postcards and letters, according to the society. In that same year Welch offered $2,300 in prizes to college students for the best essays on "grounds of impeachment" of Chief Justice Warren, a prime target of ultra-conservatives.[40] A June 1964 society campaign to oppose Xerox corporate sponsorship of TV programs favorable to the UN produced 51,279 letters from 12,785 individuals."[33]

In 1962, William F. Buckley, Jr. editor of the main conservative magazine the National Review, denounced Welch and the John Birch Society as "far removed from common sense" and urged the GOP to purge itself of Welch's influence.[41]

In the late 1960s Welch insisted that the Johnson administration's fight against communism in Vietnam was part of a communist plot aimed at taking over the United States. Welch demanded that the United States get out of Vietnam, thus aligning the Society with the left.[42] The society opposed water fluoridation, which it called "mass medicine"[43] but never purported that it was a communist conspiracy.[44]

The JBS was moderately active in the 1960s with numerous chapters, but rarely engaged in coalition building with other conservatives. It was rejected by most conservatives because of Welch's conspiracy theories. Ayn Rand said in a 1964 Playboy interview, "I consider the Birch Society futile, because they are not for capitalism but merely against communism ... I gather they believe that the disastrous state of today's world is caused by a communist conspiracy. This is childishly naïve and superficial. No country can be destroyed by a mere conspiracy, it can be destroyed only by ideas."[45][46]

Former Eisenhower cabinet member ecumenical, and evolutionary ideas.[48][49][50] Welch rejected these accusations by his detractors: "All we are interested in here is opposing the advance of the Communists, and eventually destroying the whole Communist conspiracy, so that Jews and Christians alike, and Mohammedans and Buddhists, can again have a decent world in which to live."[51]

In 1964 Welch favored Barry Goldwater for the Republican presidential nomination, but the membership split, with two-thirds supporting Goldwater and one-third supporting Richard Nixon, who did not run. A number of Birch members and their allies were Goldwater supporters in 1964 [41] and some were delegates at the 1964 Republican National Convention.

In April 1966, a

Eisenhower issue

Welch wrote in a widely circulated statement, The Politician, "Could Eisenhower 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." He went on. "With regard to ... Eisenhower, it is difficult to avoid raising the question of deliberate treason."[53]

The controversial paragraph was removed before final publication of The Politician.[54]

The sensationalism of Welch's charges against Eisenhower prompted several conservatives and Republicans, most prominently Goldwater and the intellectuals of

  • John Birch Society
  • The New American, JBS biweekly publication which publishes the Freedom Index congressional scorecard twice a year
  • John Birch Society at Political Research Associates
  • Report of the California Senate Fact finding Subcommittee on Un-American Activities on the John Birch Society
  • "What is the John Birch Society?", short excerpt of a film, released c. 1965, of Robert W. Welch Jr., explaining why he founded the John Birch Society and its aims.
  • FBI Files on John Birch Society
  • Profile at NNDB
  • Rating group positions by year at Project Vote Smart

External links

  • Buckley, William F., Jr. (2008) "Goldwater, the John Birch Society, and Me". (March 2008) onlineCommentary
  • De Koster, Lester. (1967). The Citizen and the John Birch Society. A Reformed Journal monograph. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans.
  • Epstein, Benjamin R., and Arnold Forster. (1966). The Radical Right: Report on the John Birch Society and Its Allies. New York: Vintage Books.
  • Grove, Gene. (1961). Inside the John Birch Society. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett.
  • Grupp, Fred W., Jr. (1969). "The Political Perspectives of Birch Society Members". In Robert A. Schoenberger, ed., The American Right
  • Hardisty, Jean V. (1999). Mobilizing Resentment: Conservative Resurgence from the John Birch Society to the Promise Keepers. Boston: Beacon.

Criticizing the John Birch Society

  • Robert W. Welch Jr. The New Americanism and Other Speeches. Boston: Western Islands, 1966.
  • Gary Allen. None Dare Call It Conspiracy. G S G & Associates, Inc., 1971.
  • Conner, Claire (2013). Wrapped in the Flag: A Personal History of America's Radical Right.  

Primary sources

  • McGirr, Lisa. Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right (2001), focus on Los Angeles suburbs in 1960s
  • Schoenwald, Jonathan M. A Time for Choosing: The Rise of Modern American Conservatism (2002) pp 62–99 excerpt and text search, a national history of the party
  • Stone, Barbara S. "The John Birch Society: a Profile", Journal of Politics 1974 36(1): 184–197, in JSTOR
  • Wander, Philip. "The John Birch and Martin Luther King, Symbols in the Radical Right", Western Speech (Western Journal of Communication), 1971 35(1): 4–14.
  • Wilcox, Clyde. "Sources of Support for the Old Right: a Comparison of the John Birch Society and the Christian Anti-Communism Crusade". Social Science History 1988 12(4): 429–450, in JSTOR
  • Wright, Stuart A. Patriots, politics, and the Oklahoma City bombing. Cambridge University Press. June 11, 2007. ISBN 978-0-521-87264-5

Scholarly studies

Further reading

  1. ^ JBS Newspaper Nov, 2014
  2. ^ Principles of the John Birch Society, 1962. "We believe that a Constitutional Republic, such as our Founding Fathers gave us, is probably the best of all forms of government"
  3. ^ LectLaw "We believe that our system of government, a Constitutional Republic, is the finest yet developed by man."
  4. ^ "The JBS Mission". The John Birch Society. Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
  5. ^ Eatwell, Roger (2004), "Introduction: The new extreme right challenge", Western Democracies and The New Extreme Right challenge (Routledge): 7,  
    Potok, Mark (2004), "The American radical right: The 1990s and beyond", Western Democracies and The New Extreme Right challenge (Routledge): 43,  
  6. ^ a b Bernstein, Richard (May 21, 2007). "The JFK assassination and a '60s leftist prism Letter from America". International Herald Tribune (Paris). p. 2. 
    Jordan, Ida Kay (August 26, 2001). "Voters Admired N.C. Senator's Independent Streak, Southern Charm". The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.). p. J.1. 
    Brinkley, Douglas (February 10, 1997). "The Right Choice for the C.I.A.".  
  7. ^ Webb, Clive. Rabble rousers: the American far right in the civil rights era. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2010 ISBN 0820327646 p. 10
  8. ^ Rick Perlstein (2001). Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus. Hill and Wang. p. 117.  
  9. ^ Regnery, Alfred S. (2008-02-12). Upstream: The Ascendance of American Conservatism. Simon and Schuster. p. 79.  
  10. ^ Chapman, Roger (2010). Culture Wars: An Encyclopedia of Issues, Viewpoints, and Voices. M.E. Sharpe. p. 58.  
  11. ^ Dan Barry (June 25, 2009). "Holding Firm Against Plots by Evildoers".  
  12. ^ a b "The New American". 
  13. ^ a b "Larry McDonald on the New World Order".  
  14. ^ Epstein, Benjamin R.; Forster, Arnold (1966). Report on the John Birch Society, 1966. Random House. p. 9. 
  15. ^ What's Wrong with Civil Rights?. Belmont, MA: American Opinion. 1965.  
  16. ^ "The John Birch Society Asks: What's Wrong With Civil Rights?". The Post-Times (West Palm Beach, FL). October 31, 1965. p. A10 cols. 1–6. Retrieved January 30, 2011. 
  17. ^ Farmer, Brian (2007-09-17). "The North American Union: Conspiracy Theory or Conspiracy Fact?". The John Birch Society. Archived from the original on 2007-10-20. Retrieved 2011-09-20. 
  18. ^ Lunsford, J. Lynn (February 4, 2009). "Business Bookshelf: Piles of Green From Black Gold". The Wall Street Journal. p. A.11. 
    Haddock, Sharon (March 21, 2009). "Beck's backing bumps Skousen book to top". Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah). 
    Byrd, Shelia (May 25, 2008). "Churches tackle tough topic of race". Sunday Gazette-Mail (Charleston, W.V.). p. C.5. 
  19. ^ Burch, Kurt; Robert Allen Denemark (1997). Constituting international political economy. Lynne Rienner Publishers. p. 125.  
    Oshinsky, David (January 27, 2008). "In the Heart of the Heart of Conspiracy". The New York Times Book Review. p. 23. 
    Danielson, Chris (February 2009). "Lily White and Hard Right: The Mississippi Republican Party and Black Voting, 1965–1980". The Journal of Southern History (Athens) 75 (1): 83. 
    Lee, Martha F (Fall 2005). "Nesta Webster: The Voice of Conspiracy". Journal of Women's History (Baltimore) 17 (3): 81.  
  20. ^ Liebman, Marvin (March 17, 1996). "Perspective on Politics; The Big Tent Isn't Big Enough; By allowing extremists to flourish openly, the GOP forces out those who represent the party's moderate values.". Los Angeles Times. p. 5. 
    Tobin, Jonathan S. (March 9, 2008). "The writer who chased the anti-Semites out". The Jerusalem Post. p. 14. 
    Gerson, Michael (March 10, 2009). "Looking for conservatism". Times Daily (Florence, Ala.). 
  21. ^ Thomas, Jeff (February 13, 1995). "Determined `patriots' say their time has come/ Reduction of government sought". Colorado Springs Gazette – Telegraph. p. A.1. 
  22. ^ Junas, Daniel (March 14, 1995). "Disaffected Citizens Forming Armed Militias". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. p. A.9. 
  23. ^ Patriot' Groups"'". Southern Poverty Law Center. Spring 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-31. Generally, Patriot groups define themselves as opposed to the 'New World Order' or advocate or adhere to extreme antigovernment doctrines. ... Listing here does not imply that the groups advocate or engage in violence or other criminal activities, or are racist. 
  24. ^ Schoenwald, Jonathan M. (2002). "3 – A New Kind of Conservatism: The John Birch Society". A Time for Choosing: The Rise of Modern American Conservatism.  
  25. ^ Doolittle J and Glines CV. I Could Never Be So Lucky Again: An Autobiography of James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle. Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. (1994), p. 166. ISBN 0887407374
  26. ^ Horwitz, Jeff; Bauer, Scott (June 12, 2015). "Before Walker run, a conservative foundation set the stage". Retrieved October 21, 2015. 
  27. ^ Davis, Jonathan T. (1997). Forbes Richest People: The Forbes Annual Profile of the World's Wealthiest Men and Women. Wiley. p. 138.  
  28. ^ Hoover's 500: Profiles of America's Largest Business Enterprises.  
  29. ^ Wayne, Leslie (December 7, 1986). "Brothers at Odds". The New York Times (NY). Sec. 6; Part 2, p 100 col. 1.  
  30. ^ Diamond, Sara (1995). Roads to Dominion: Right-Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States. NY: Guilford Press. p. 324 n. 86.  
  31. ^ "Robert Stoddard Dies at 78; A Founder of Birch Society". The New York Times. December 16, 1984. Retrieved 2012-05-07. 
  32. ^ Welch, Robert E. (1961). The Blue Book of the John Birch Society. American Opinion Books.  
  33. ^ a b c d "John Birch Society".  
  34. ^ John Birch Society Speakers Bureau
  35. ^ Matthew Lyons; Chip Berlet (2000). Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort. New York: The Guilford Press. p. 179.  
  36. ^ French, William Marshall (1967). American Secondary Education. Odyssey Press. p. 477.  
  37. ^ OCLC 1713996
  38. ^ ISSN 0003-0236 OCLC 1480501
  39. ^ ISSN 0885-6540 OCLC 12618341
  40. ^ Barck, Jr. and Blake, Oscar Theodore and Nelson Manfred (1969). Since 1900 A History of the United States in Our Times. New York: Macmillan Company. p. 754. 
  41. ^ a b William F. Buckley, Jr. (March 1, 2008). "Goldwater, the John Birch Society, and Me". Commentary. Retrieved March 9, 2008. 
  42. ^ Stephen Earl, Bennett (1971). "Modes of Resolution of a 'Belief Dilemma' in the Ideology of the John Birch Society". Journal of Politics 33 (3): 735–772.  
  43. ^ Coates, Paul (April 28, 1966). "It's a Day of Decision". Los Angeles Times. p. 3. 
  44. ^ "Myths vs Facts - The John Birch Society". 
  45. ^ "Who was Ayn Rand? – a biography, Playboy interview, 1964". Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  46. ^ """The Atlas Society: "The 'Lost' Parts of Ayn Rand's Playboy Interview. 
  47. ^ Prince, Gregory A. (2004). "The Red Peril, the Candy Maker, and the Apostle: David O. Mckay's Confrontation with Communism". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 37 (2): 37–94. 
  48. ^ Bryant, John. "The John Birch Society – Exposed!". Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  49. ^ "A Spectre Haunting Mormonism". Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  50. ^ Bove, Nicholas J., Jr. "The Belmont Brotherhood". Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  51. ^ Robert Welch (1963). The Neutralizers. John Birch Society. p. 20. 
  52. ^ Ronald Sullivan, "Foes of Rising Birch Society Organize in Jersey", The New York Times, April 20, 1966, p. 1
  53. ^ Quoted at "Glenn Beck talks with JBS President John F. McManus" Aug. 15, 2006.
  54. ^ Welch, Robert (1975). The Politician. Boston: Western Islands. cxxxviii–cxxxix.  
  55. ^ John B. Judis, William F. Buckley, Jr.: Patron Saint of the Conservatives (2001) pp. 193–200
  56. ^ a b Confounding Fathers: The Tea Party’s Cold War Roots by historian Sean Wilentz, The New Yorker, October 18, 2010
  57. ^ Haiman, Franklyn Saul; Tedford, Thomas L.; Herbeck, Dale (2005). "Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc". Freedom Of Speech In The United States. Strata Publishing.  
  58. ^ Guthrie, Andrew (1999-11-24). "Is Panama Canal Falling Under Chinese Control?". Voice of America. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  59. ^ The Ross Institute.
  60. ^ see short biography from Claremont Review of Books
  61. ^ "Federal Reserve". 
  62. ^ Just, Sara. "Far-Right John Birch Society 2010". ABC News. Retrieved February 11, 2012. 
  63. ^ Sam Tanenhaus (October 19, 2010). The Death of Conservatism: A Movement and Its Consequences. Random House Digital, Inc. p. 121.  
  64. ^ "GOProud and Birchers ousted as CPAC co-sponsors (David Horowitz survives vote)". The Daily Caller. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  65. ^ Bob Dylan walks out on The Ed Sullivan Show. archive. Retrieved May 12, 2015.


See also

  • In 1961 the society was lampooned in a song named "The John Birch Society" by the Chad Mitchell Trio.
  • In 1962 Bob Dylan recorded "Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues", which poked fun at the society and its tendency to see Communist conspiracies in many situations. When he attempted to perform it on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1963, however, CBS's Standards and Practices department forbade it, fearing that lyrics equating the Society’s views with those of Adolf Hitler might trigger a defamation lawsuit. Dylan was offered the opportunity to perform a different song, but he responded that if he could not sing the number of his choice he would rather not appear at all. The story generated widespread media attention in the days that followed; Sullivan denounced the network’s decision in published interviews.[65]
  • The 1973 single "Uneasy Rider" by Charlie Daniels includes a line: "I'm a faithful follower of Brother John Birch," reportedly spoken by Southern local man attempting to re-establish his bona fides among his neighbors after he was accused of being a hippie, communist, and an FBI agent.

In popular culture

  • G. Allen Bubolz (1988–1991)
  • G. Vance Smith (1991–2005)
  • Arthur R. Thompson (2005–present)


  • Robert W. Welch, Jr. (1958–1983)
  • Larry McDonald (1983), a U.S. Representative who was killed in the KAL-007 shootdown incident
  • Robert W. Welch, Jr. (1983–1985)
  • Charles R. Armour (1985–1991)
  • John F. McManus (1991–2004, 2005–present)
  • G. Vance Smith (2004–2005)



The JBS was a co-sponsor of the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference, ending its decades-long exile from the mainstream conservative movement.[62][63] In 2012, the American Conservative Union board voted to not invite the JBS to the conference.[64]

The Society has been active in supporting the auditing of, and aims to eventually dismantle, the Federal Reserve System.[61] The JBS holds that the United States Constitution gives only Congress the ability to coin money, and does not permit it to delegate this power, or to transform the dollar into a fiat currency not backed by gold or silver.


William P. Hoar has been active as a writer for the Society. He is noted for very strong attacks on mainstream politicians from Franklin D. Roosevelt to George W. Bush. He publishes regularly in The New American and its predecessor American Opinion. He coauthored The Clinton Clique with Larry Abraham alleging that Clinton was part of the Anglo-American conspiracy supposedly ruled through the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission. The Birch Society publications arm, "Western Islands" published his Architects of Conspiracy: An Intriguing History (1984) and Huntington House Publishers published his Handouts and Pickpockets: Our Government Gone Berserk (1996).[60]

The second head of the Society was Congressman KAL 007 was shot down by a Soviet interceptor.

By the time of Welch's death in 1985, the society's membership and influence had dramatically declined. The society continues to press for an end to United States membership in the United Nations. As evidence of the effectiveness of JBS efforts, the society points to the Utah State Legislature's failed resolution calling for United States withdrawal, as well as the actions of several other states where the Society's membership has been active. Since its founding, the society has repeatedly opposed United States military intervention overseas, although it is strongly supportive of the American military. It has issued calls to "Bring Our Troops Home" in every conflict since its founding, including Vietnam. The society also has a national speakers' committee called American Opinion Speakers Bureau (AOSB) and an anti-tax committee called TRIM (Tax Reform IMmediately).[59]

Political sign in white background advocating for removal of United States from the United Nations
A sign advocating America's withdrawal produced by the John Birch Society

After Welch

The society was organized into local chapters during this period. Ernest Brosang, a New Jersey regional coordinator, claimed that it was virtually impossible for opponents of the society to penetrate its policy-making levels, thereby protecting it from "anti-American" takeover attempts. Its activities included the distribution of literature critical of civil rights legislation, warnings over the influence of the United Nations, and the release of petitions to impeach United States Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren. To spread their message, members held showings of documentary films and operated initiatives such as "Let Freedom Ring", a nationwide network of recorded telephone messages.

Key society causes of the 1970s included opposition to both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and to the establishment of diplomatic ties with the People's Republic of China. The society claimed in 1973 that the regime of Mao Zedong had murdered 64 million Chinese as of that year and that it was the primary supplier of illicit heroin into the United States. This led to bumper stickers showing a pair of scissors cutting a hypodermic needle in half accompanied by the slogan "Cut The Red China Connection". The society also was opposed to transferring control of the Panama Canal from American to Panamanian sovereignty.[58]

The society was at the center of a free-speech law case in the 1970s, after American Opinion accused a Chicago lawyer, Elmer Gertz, who was representing the family of a young man killed by a police officer, of being part of a Communist conspiracy to merge all police agencies in the country into one large force. The resulting libel suit, Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., reached the United States Supreme Court, which held that a state may allow a private figure such as Gertz to recover actual damages from a media defendant without proving malice, but that a public figure does have to prove actual malice, according to the standard laid out in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, in order to recover presumed damages or punitive damages.[57] The court ordered a retrial in which Gertz prevailed.


[56] had promoted."National Review wrote that "Buckley was beginning to worry that with the John Birch Society growing so rapidly, the right-wing upsurge in the country would take an ugly, even Fascist turn rather than leading toward the kind of conservatism John B. Judis In fact, Buckley's biographer [56]

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