Claire Conner at 13 years of age became the youngest member of the JBS and her brother became a member at 14 years of age. The JBS society became the lifetime obsession of Claire’s parents, Stillwell and Laurene Conner who were among the first people to join the JBS and anted up $2,000.00 (the equivalent of about $15,000 today) to become life members. The entire Conner family lived and breathed the JBS and nothing was allowed to interfere with the next JBS meeting, the next project or the next mailing.
Birchers were schooled in the evils of creeping socialism, Communism, Marxism and the sins of welfare and Social Security. Birchers believed Communists were all over the place serving on school boards, teaching in universities, holding positions of influence, organizing labor unions, served in Congress and led the civil rights movement.
Based on her many years as a member of the JBS, living in a family who were leaders in the JBS, and from the official JBS records and the records of her parents Claire has written a book entitled “Wrapped In The Flag” which sets out in detail her activities and the activities of her family and other JBS members on abortion rights, gay rights, gun control, labor unions, environmental protection, immigrants rights, social and welfare programs, the United Nations and water fluoridation.
In the preface to her book Conner states today’s Tea Party is a rewrite of the JBS, bankrolled by the Koch brothers, and the Tea Party is merely repeating the following old Birch slogans:
Immigrants are the enemy
Gays are ungodly
Unemployed people don’t want to work, and poor people keep themselves poor on purpose. If we cut the minimum wage and eliminate unemployment compensation, everyone will have a job.
Unions caused the economic collapse by shielding lazy, incompetent public employees.
Rich folks are “job creators” and we need to protect their wealth.
Abortion is murder and must be outlawed.
The government can’t create jobs. Cutting taxes creates jobs.
The government can’t limit the right to own or carry guns. If guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns.
America is God’s chosen nation, but our president can’t understand our exceptionalism.
After all he’s not a “real” American; he’s a Marxists, Socialist, Muslim racist who hates America.
Claire’s parents established and funded the Wanderer Forum Foundation which fused Catholicism with Birchism and created an anti-Communist, anti big government pro-business Jesus and Claire said while her dad was “birching” her mother was “churching.”
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Stillwell Conner’s rallying cry was “we’ve come to take our country back” and he served 32 years as an advisor to Robert Welch Jr. founder of the JBS. Stillwell said “ I swore my life and sacred honor to save freedom and as long as there is breath in my body, I’ll keep on fighting.”
Laurene Conner devoted over 30 years to the JBS and after the Oklahoma City bombing said “Timothy McVey was defending the rest of us from the government” when he set off bombs which killed 168 innocent people (19 children) injured over 680, destroyed or damaged 324 buildings causing an estimated $652 million in damage.
On January 3, 1963 after George Wallace made his “segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” speech Stillwell and Laurene Conner said Wallace was a “true statesman.”
The John Birch Society and the Ku Klux Klan (www.kkk.com) claim to be established on Christian principals and opposed to Communism and big government.
The language in the platform for The State’s Right Democrat Party in 1948 and the American Independent Party in 1968 promise Americans freedom and liberty in language similar to the language used by the KKK and the JBS
In 1965 the JBS boasted it had more than 100 chapters in Birmingham, Alabama and the New York Times reported the JBS was capitalizing on white supremacy sentiment and in general on the social, religious and political conservatism in the south.
In 1948 a majority of the voters in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina cast their votes for Strom Thurmond for President and in 1968 a majority of the voters in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia voted for George Wallace for president. Yes more than 10 million American, voters in 1948 and 1968, mostly in the solid South, cast their votes for the fear and hate Presidential candidates of Thurmond and Wallace.
Will Americans ignore our past history and join organizations claiming to be founded on Christian principals while teaching fear and hate? Will Americans continue to vote for politicians who use the same fear and hate tactics used by Thurmond and Wallace?
(Paul Rawlings of Heber Springs contributes each week to the editorial pages of The Sun-Times)