A Major Disappointment: The American Conservative Union Brings Back the John Birch Society

William F. Buckley, Jr. led the campaign to remove the John Birch Society from the conservative movement, but now ACU has invited them back in. The Board of Directors of the American Conservative Union has just voted to allow the John Birch Society (JBS) to once again be a co-sponsor of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). 2010 was the first time JBS was invited to CPAC, and now they will be coming back as a 2011 co-sponsor.

ACU rejected complaints from several conservative leaders regarding JBS. They all said the decision gives ammunition to enemies of the conservative cause. In discussing the JBS, the late Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) said “We cannot allow the emblem of irresponsibility to attach to the conservative banner.”

Now the American Conservative Union has brought them to the head table. The Libertarian Party often works in cooperation with JBS, and they are both isolationist organizations which promote a wide range of unproven conspiracy theories. They accuse Ronald Reagan of being a “warmonger.”

The 2010 CPAC presidential straw poll was won by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) who was loudly cheered when he denounced Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson. The strong Libertarian influence at ACU has been apparent for quite some time. ACU’s official definition of conservatism includes working with Libertarians “in bold harmony.”

ACU joined the American Civil Liberties Union and the Libertarian “Republican Liberty Caucus” to form a group called “Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances” in order to oppose the USA Patriot Act.  ACU Vice Chairman Don Devine has been a vocal critic of former President George W. Bush.

Below are quotes from various conservative leaders on JBS’ co-sponsorship of CPAC 2010.

Mark Levin, author, “A Conservative Manifesto”:    

I was invited to be the opening speaker at Saturday’s CPAC session. I had accepted but then, to my amazement, I learned the John Birch Society would be one of many co-sponsors. This takes the big-tent idea many steps too far for me.    So, I withdrew. Apparently, others were not so moved. That’s fine. But it wasn’t for me. Bill Buckley and Barry Goldwater, among others, chased the Birchers from the movement decades ago. And they’re not a part of the movement. So, to give them a booth at CPAC was boneheaded.

Rich Lowry, National Review:   

The John Birch Society is co-sponsoring the American Conservative Union’s big annual conference. The Society’s paranoia has outlived the Cold War that inspired it: A recent perusal of its website turned up the same old dreary theories about David Rockefeller and the New World Order, denunciations of the ‘American colonial enterprise,’ and hints that maybe our soldiers should not follow orders in the pursuit of that enterprise. We have no idea what the ACU is thinking but assume that the Birchers are eager to ferret out any Communists in its ranks.

Scott Johnson, The Weekly Standard:    

ABC’s Jonathan Karl reports that this year’s CPAC event was co-sponsored, unbelievably to me, by the John Birch Society. Karl quotes some of William F. Buckley’s characteristically vibrant denunciations of the JBS. ‘Two years after Buckley’s death,’ Karl observes, ‘the John Birch Society is no longer banished; it is listed as one of about 100 co-sponsors of the 2010 CPAC.    Karl reasonably asks: ‘Why is the Birch Society a co-sponsor?’ ‘They’re a conservative organization,’ according to Lisa Depasquale, the CPAC Director for the American Conservative Union, which runs CPAC. ‘Beyond that,’ she told Karl, ‘I have no comment.’ Additional comment is required, and if Depasquale will not provide it, I will. This is a disgrace.

John Hawkins, Right Wing News: 

I visited the JBS booth at CPAC and was told the Council on Foreign Relations is engaged in some sort of secret, bipartisan effort to build a one world government. Then, I asked about the North American Union. Not only do they buy into it, he gave me some sort of movie to watch. Honestly, a group like the John Birch Society shouldn’t be allowed to be a sponsor of CPAC. . . I suspect the kookier fringe brings in so much money and energy for a group the size of the Birchers that they can’t bear to give it up. Conspiracy theorists and fringe groups are death for any mainstream group.

Ryan Mauro, Pajamas Media: 

CPAC is being co-sponsored by the John Birch Society. Every liberal commentator needs to send a thank-you note to CPAC’s organizers for that monumentally stupid decision. . . CPAC has made a major PR mistake in forming this alliance with JBS. It won’t be long until the media puts all those taking part on the defensive, forcing the organizers to spend precious time explaining this move. From now on, when I hear the acronym ‘CPAC,’ I won’t think ‘Conservative Political Action Conference.’ I’ll think ‘Consciously Providing Ammo to Critics.’

Erick Erickson, Red State:   

I think the JBS’ers are insane and I was dumbfounded that they had a booth.

The JBS was established in 1958 and reached its peak in 1965 with 60,000 members. The founder was candy maker Robert Welch and his brother’s company is best known for the “Sugar Daddy.” Welch often spoke of the dangers of fluoridated water which he claimed was a Communist-backed plot to weaken the minds of the American public. The organization was long headquartered in the birthplace of Joe McCarthy, Appleton, Wisconsin.

For the past five decades they have attacked and defamed practically every major political figure in the United States. In his book “The Politician,” Welch said President Dwight Eisenhower was “a dedicated and conscious agent of the international communist conspiracy,” and the U.S. government was “under operational control of the Communist party.” He later amended this statement to say Communists only had “50-70 percent” control of the government.


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