"If we're attacked by [Morris] Dees [and the Southern Poverty Law Center, or SPLC], many Birchers will rally but some will question leadership. It may be [that] Dees quietly shows McManus material around without a major public outcry....
.... Dees needs something solid with which to fully demoralize the membership. Does the [anti-Jewish] language of McManus do that? Maybe....
More than likely, Dees will hint that some Birchers are less than tolerant, not all, but some, while showing the McManus material to key locals: police, D.A., etc...."
Excerpts from Art Thompson's memo to G. Vance Smith and Tom Gow regarding John McManus's career as an anti-Jewish agitator, October 22, 2000.
"An ultraconservative Roman Catholic, [Jack] McManus has been accused of anti-Semitism, a charge he has denied. In 2005, according to The New York Times, Birch staffers who were ousted amid internal turmoil leaked recordings of McManus saying that Judaism was a dead religion and that militant Jews have influenced the Freemasons, who were `Satan's agents' and part of the Illuminati conspiracy to cause world upheaval."
Excerpt from the SPLC's recent screed attacking "right-wing extremists."
It takes a certain gift to identify a potentially fatal problem and address it in a timely fashion. That gift is one dimension of the combination of traits called "leadership."
It takes a different and much less commendable set of attributes to recognize that problem, prescribe a responsible solution to it, and then permit that problem to grow into a crisis because dealing with it candidly would be contrary to one's self-interest. That's a species of hypocritical opportunism.
When one is the innocent victim of deliberate misrepresentation, he make a legitimate claim of persecution. When that criticism is rooted in truth, the word "persecution" doesn't apply. If one belongs to an organization the "leaders" of which have done disreputable things -- and then covered them up -- that individual may find himself a collateral victim of criticism he didn't earn, but that is quite properly directed at those who claim to lead him.
It is a testimony to Art Thompson's unique collection of gifts that he has managed to put the membership of the John Birch Society into the predicament described above.
Jack McManus, the most prominent spokesman for the JBS, is an incorrigible bigot whose career as an anti-Semitic agitator is being used to damage the reputation of the organization. This was made possible by Art Thompson, who anticipated what is happening now -- and who, for self-serving reasons, set aside his concerns about Jack for the sake of "Survivor"-style coalition politics during the 2005 leadership dispute.
Given the escalating campaign to vilify, marginalize, and -- most likely -- criminalize "right-wing extremism," this is more than merely a matter of social inconvenience for members of the JBS. It may prove to be something akin to a matter of life and death. And while Art will try to portray this as a case of the JBS being persecuted because of its effectiveness, this is actually an indictment of his own cynical dishonesty: He's directly responsible for creating this mess.
Ten years ago, Art Thompson recognized that Jack McManus was a potentially fatal liability to the JBS. He pointed out that as of October 2000 Jack had "for well over 10 years been speaking for and to Catholic organizations as the President of the JBS with most of this info on our nickel. (It has not been uncommon that he arranges these talks while in the area while on JBS business let alone the special trips he has taken[...])."
For at least the previous "3 1/2 years," Art observed, Jack had been haranguing audiences with "anti-Semitic dialog," in presentations during which he "refers to himself as representing the JBS."
At the very least, Thompson wrote, McManus would likely become "an embarrassment to the public at large reflecting on the JBS in conservative circles." At worst, McManus's anti-Semitic evangelism would precipitate an attack on the JBS, most likely involving Morris Dees "convincing local authorities to not interfere in a federal crackdown" against "extremists." Another possibility Jack listed would be that "McManus launches the attack" against the JBS himself.
It was Art's idea to "Put on a video [of] short clips of various speeches by McManus" and use it as part of an attempt "to get McManus to do the right thing" -- that is, to resign.
Five years later, the "right thing" for McManus to do, from Art's perspective, was to support Art's campaign to unseat Smith and Gow. What had changed in the interim? Certainly not the nature of McManus's anti-Jewish diatribes, or the vulnerability of the JBS to the kind of demonization Art described in his 2000 memo.
The only thing that changed was Art's calculation of his own self-interest, which he placed above the good of the organization he now "leads."
And the JBS is now facing exactly the scenario Art outlined in 2000 -- because of Art's own cynical, hypocritical, self-serving actions. This included compiling the very clips now being cited by Dees as ammunition against the JBS.
Jack is currently on a 40-city speaking tour on the subject of illegal immigration. This comes several years after the immigration bubble burst (roughly the same time that the Fed's housing/mortgage re-fi bubble collapsed), so it's hardly a timely subject.
Given Jack's involvement and his unique, self-inflicted vulnerabilities, this tour is a profoundly bad idea. This would have been even if it weren't for the fact that somebody (most likely on the payroll of a three-letter agency) hadn't started pulling COINTELRPO-style stunts designed to defame the JBS as a Klan-style hate group.
Folks, things are just going to get worse from here. False-flag operations, embedded provocateurs, Orwellian hate sessions, indoctrination of law enforcement about the "extremist threat" -- all of this can be found in play right now, and we can expect much more of the same.
In this environment -- one in which the JBS is dealing with blood libels linking the organization to groups like the Klan -- the Society simply cannot afford to be represented by a committed, impenitent anti-Semite like Jack McManus, nor can it continue to be "led" by a CEO who saw this problem with clarity a decade ago and allowed the wound to fester for so long that it may prove fatal.
A couple of additional thoughts....
In the current environment, I'm concerned that people -- well-intentioned, conscientious, patriotic volunteer members of the JBS -- are likely to get hurt because of Art and Jack.
Here in Idaho there's a really decent young man -- father of a large family -- who is running for elected office while working as a volunteer member. He is a principled fellow with very little patience for the petty hypocrisies that typify politics. He has the potential to be a Ron Paul-type statesman.
All it may take to snuff that promising career would be for his political opponent to point out that the patriotic group he belongs to is fronted by a career anti-Semite who was put in that position by a CEO with detailed, guilty knowledge of the problem who chose to cover it up rather than deal with it.
There are volunteer JBS members who suffer socially because of their commitment to the organization. Some of them might suffer professionally and economically as the effort to demonize the "radical right" deepens and accelerates -- and Jack's tainted background and current prominence make this all the more likely.
Anticipating one of Appleton's likely objections, I point out that what I've described regarding Jack's background, and Art's duplicity, is already a matter of public record -- in no small measure, once again, because of Art's eager efforts to compile the damaging dossier on Jack ten years ago. I didn't invent this problem. As someone who stuck his neck out for Jack in October 2005 I'm entitled to resent not being made aware of all the facts Art had at his disposal at the time.
On another subject ....
JBS field coordinator Kip Webster quite sensibly dismissed the execrable Mark Levin as "at best a useful idiot" during an interview with columnist Paul Mulshine.
Levin turned down an invitation to speak at this year's CPAC event because he didn't want to be associated with the Birchers.
Ah, the agony of unrequited love: One of the reasons I got fired was a blog post I published four years ago lampooning Levin's pseudo-tough guy act. Little did I know that Alan Scholl apparently had something of a man-crush on the adenoidal propagandist for the neo-fascist GOP.
In any case, it's no longer a firing offense for JBS staffers to speak ill of that wretched, scrofulous fascist troll. That's an improvement, albeit a very modest one.
Oh, and it's no longer a firing offense for staffers and TNA contributors to have their own blogs and websites, either, given that all of them -- including the JBS's chief on-line editor -- self-publish on the web without supervision or prior approval from JBS management.
It becomes ever clearer that the guys who stabbed me in the back in October '06 were simply trying to find a "problem" to justify the pre-ordained solution -- namely, getting rid of me.
Nemo me impune lacessit