tv Book Discussion John Birch CSPAN May 30, 2016 6:30pm-8:01pm EDT
this visualworks and the like. so their labor is -- [applause] indispensable to our success , as is the support of a number of individuals and institutions, the story of foreign relations has generously underwritten the seminar for a number of years now, as has the george washington university history department and a number of individual donors. their support is crucial for this programming. feel free programming. feel free to join their ranks should you see fit. after our session today they're will be a reception outside of his doors.
there are books for sale. i recommend you pick one up and perhaps get a signature on it. with that, i will turn over the introduction of our speaker today. >> thank you. good to be here. welcome to the seminar. it is wonderful to have them back. he is an alumnus. spent part of the work on his book here. we are delighted to have them come back with the final product. let me just say by way of introduction, he is entering director of the east asia program at syracuse university, and the former vice president of the foundation.
in that capacity he has done a lot of good work and research and is also a trustee, us china relations. he graduated magna cum laude from harvard college concert with the u.s. army in vietnam, holds ma and phd degrees from stanford. his book is already been reviewed, and we are very much looking forward to his presentation today. >> thank you very much. it is a special privilege to be here. this is where the project started. i wanti want to take this opportunity to not only thank you for being here to express my heartfelt thanks to all the staff of the wilson center, to christian for his encouragement and
support for this project and other work, to hamilton, director is a public policy fellow in 2010, hathaway who is zero with us today, former director of the asia program. i also want to express appreciation to bill brown, the person who introduced me the chinese colleagues in the city of xuzhou where john birch was laid to rest. more on that a little bit later, but it is a great privilege to be here today for all of those reasons. when i started this project back in 2010 i had no idea who john birch was.was. like most americans, his name to me was synonymous with right-wing
anti-communist politics in the us. when i was a kid growing up part of the time in michigan , the sets are the society, and there was a line that we only hailed the hero from whom we got our name. we are not sure what he did, but he is our hero just the same. so that made me kind of curious, but never enough to actually dig into it and find out. lo and behold i stumbled on information that he had been a missionary for military intelligence officer in china. i was quite astounded and curious. one of my 1st trips was up to the national archives in college park, and there was
a fake oss file that have been declassified on the death of john birch. a lot of interesting information. that much more curious. the question was, could i bring him to life. they were very generous with letters and memories and photographs. i found materials in a variety of archives. the let me provide just a little bit more context for the society which was established, john birch on the left and robert wilson on the right. slogan was less government
or responsibility, responsibilit y, and with god's help a better world. robert wells was a business executive for a company based out of boston and was quite successful.successful. was able to retire at the age of 60 and decided to get involved in politics. he, politics. he, however, decided not to run for political office. he tried that from 1949, 1949,1949, 1950, lieutenant governor of massachusetts and did not do well. decided to set up an advocacy group that was very effective, popular, widespread at the grassroots level. his agenda was opposition to not only communism but to big government. two sides of the same coin, if you will, and if you were driving around the highways
of the united states during the late 50s early 60s you might very well have noticed signs, billboards saying save our republic. you would also see signs saying get the united states out of the united nations. so this is why they opposed to warrant, because of his support for brown be -- v board of education. he defended himself. you may there are -- there
is a line, continuity between the origins of the society and a contemporary tea party, not to mention libertarian. interesting to note that the father was one of the founding members of the society on the national council. the birch society was effective at the grassroots level, but when it was revealed that dwight eisenhower, hero of world war ii, president of the united states have been accused by robert welch, written what he said was a private letter to about 350 people. eisenhower was a dedicated,a
dedicated, conscious agent of communist conspiracy. he said eisenhower knowingly accepted and was abiding by communist orders and he went on, i think something like 350 pages to prove his thesis. well, needless to say, this is what led to the society becoming so notorious. it became an explosive topic in the us media, magazines, newspapers, commentary, and so forth. it also became the subject of that same group and their son if you are, you have to turn her in.
keep in mind, of course, this is still in the throes of the height of the cold war. the 2nd crisis was august of 1958. castro's on the move in cuba , sputnik was launched about a year earlier. a concern, a sense of anxiety if not fear. this led a lot of americans who are respectable middle-class americans, could have been your neighbors, my grandfather was a member of the birch society. it is not uncommon. and so there are many advocates. but the question i wanted to i want to get to my book was who was john birch.
he is pointing to his portrait and his headquarters in massachusetts. and i wanted to try to understand why his name was used after his death, was he really a hero, a martyr? would birch of been a member of the john birch society? what might be the commentary over the lessons learned. born he himself in the middle here, the eldest of seven children, born in india where spirits are missionaries for three years , europe than in new jersey, his mother some, and then moved to macon georgia when he was a teenager i graduated from mercer
university, baptist institution in 1939, very bright young man at the head of his class nominated to be a rogue scholar candidate, but following the footsteps of his parents he decided early on that he wanted to be a missionary. end so many aspired to go to china's missionaries. it was the largest country that received missionaries, both men and a significant number of women as missionaries, and inland large in the emotional imagination of americans who aspired to do something great with their lives, looking for some kind of adventure. so birch i decided that he wanted to go to china, and
in order to accomplish this he hooked up with an evangelical preacher by the name of frank noris, not in this picture but he is the 2nd from the left. there he is graduating from a small bible institute in fort worth, texas. a man named frank noris kind of the billy graham of his age. and noris had met birch in georgia that it promised and that he could send them to china. he was recruiting young men to go to china. here is john birch on the right with oscar wells, his colleague from the forward bible institute, and they just arrived in shanghai in july of 1940. looking at this photograph you would never imagine that china had been at war from
1937 on, and showing i was still the refuge at this point. it had not been attacked and occupied.occupied. that wouldn't happen and softer december 1941. by looking at this picture, you would imagine there were just getting ready to go out on a picnic or something with their white shoes. the reality, of course, was quite different, which they soon learned. but they were full of idealism and totally unprepared. he really did not know what to expect. his job was as a fundamentalist evangelical independent missionary to
convert the chinese and here he is right about their with a congregation in shanghai. and to his credit, unlike a lot of foreign investment is he did not isolate himself. he did not remain shanghai for more than a few months. but he moved on. birch was independent, stubborn, very dedicated to what he was doing and really quite courageous. so he started off in
shanghai and move down for about a year and then on joe was occupied by this time and he decided to strike out on his own and go to the city the on japanese lines, quite removed and isolated from the rest of china. initially he did all right, but subsequently he was not getting enough to eat, he was suffering from malaria, he was not getting any money from his mission at home, and after pearl harbor, the japanese attack on pearl harbor in december 41 he wrote a letter to the american military mission and volunteered for the u.s. army. end he wrote a letter which i quote in full in the book
and said, i'm willingsaid, i'm willing to do anything if you will take me on. it was necessary to defeat the japanese he could not be effective in his mind command youhe could do more if you were to join the military and some capacity. his -- while he was waiting for a reply from the u.s. army, he was on a small river in the province and was told by the chinese were he was eating lunch that there were some americans tied up in a small boat. how could it possibly be americans in the boat.
lo and behold it was none other than jimmy doolittle with his crew of men who had just bomb tokyo. in april 1942 john birch was the 1st white man that any of them had seen. and because birch spoke chinese asked birch if you would accompany them and help them out, which he did for a few weeks. this was his introduction to the military and this was the transition from missionary life to military life. birch was helpful to doolittle and his men who as you may know launched be 25
bombers, 16 planes, total of 80 men from the uss hornet. about 500 miles to the east of tokyo. that is not just bomb tokyo, by the way, they bought five or six different cities in japan. no one had ever launched a bomber from an aircraft carrier. no one imagined it could be done, but doolittle was fearless and figured out how. the problem was you could not lend an airplane, the sizable bomber on an aircraft carrier. so the plan was to fly from japan to judge on province there was a miscommunication they arrived inthey arrived in the middle of the night in a rainstorm instead of the day, as was scheduled.
the chinese did not know there coming. they turned off the runway lights. and so this was birch's introduction to the army, and was turned into a famous movie. spencer tracy playing the role. so robert welch who founded the birch society, the john birch society subsequently claimed that john birch had single-handedly rescued doolittle and his men. this is one of the ways in which his name was misused and inflated. as i mentioned, birch then went to challenging, introduced to the army,
quickly made the transition. in hisin his mind there was no contradiction between his former life as an evangelist enjoying the army. no need to reject or deny his past. he substituted one all-consuming passion for another, a tyranny that happened to be temporal and seven spiritual. he quite naturally expected to be a chaplain which would've for the double opportunity to serve god and country as he put it. little did he imagine that he was about to assume an entirely new identity, not that of a preacher, but as an intelligence officer. general claire chennault, famous commander of the flying tigers painted china quite well be recruited men
like john birch to the field intelligence officers to live and work in the countryside with chinese armies. people who can adapt to those conditions, new language, new territory, could eat chinese food and chinese food was not necessarily great food. and birch was the 1st of these intelligence officers recruited by chennault command he did this quite effectively, quite well command here is chennault decorating john birch with the legion of merit for exceptional service. they were quite close. people were drawn to the john birch. despite the fact that he was a hard line evangelical
baptist, those who knew him and met him in china were attracted to him. arthur hopkins, the roguish looking guy in the upper middle of the pipe in his mouth and amazing grasp of the chinese language and understood the people, people,people, fearless, unselfish, never thinking of his personal discomfort or danger. i should add that it is clear from letters that birch wrote and from people who knew him that he matured during the course of the war the two men to grow up, and young women as well to grow quickly. so he developed a more open view of the world and other
people, including the chinese. ernie johnson who was a guy was shown on the right here. right after the death of birch of birch was not a bigot, not a political person. did not drink, smoke, or drink, smoke, or sleep with women, he also did not self righteously criticize those who did. now, he never had time for romance or for that matter much money. his family was really quite poor. face a lot of hardship. but he never had time for romance when he was in college or in this bible institute in fort worth. when he got to china decided it was time to settle down, get involved, meet somebody who he could marry. and he was engaged to audrey mayor shown here, a scottish
nurse who arrived the british red cross in 1943 where birch was based, radio intelligence team. he had a romance with the chinese-american woman who worked with the 14th air force. and he also had a very close relationship with marjorie tucker, a nurse with yield china, video china association. tooker, shown on the left as a nurse and on the right after the japanese occupation in june of 44 she decided to join the u.s. army and serve as a nurse. she was in the philippines at the end of the war.
later photos much attracted to this young man with his devotion to china and his burning missionary zeal to say nothing of his charm. birch worked with radio intelligence teams. here he is right there. at this point he is a captain in the u.s. army. he coordinated bombing missions for us pilots. he and his men assisted with the rescue of downed us pilots from us wires. recruiting coordinated with chinese agents intelligence agents, provided weather reports, gathered intelligence information, and while birch was not in combat, it was nonetheless risky and dangerous kind of work, often close to,
in contact with communist forces from time to time. the policy of the united states government is a very pragmatic policy, and that is to cooperate with the communist forces if necessary and there was a good reason to do so. he and have any particular sympathy for the communists of their cause for minority have any sympathy for the nationalists. his loyalties really were with the chinese people. there was great relief on his part at the end of the war, here he is in a province right there in the middle of the back row. and he was ready to go home. he had been in china for five years. he had suffered from malaria
, refused to 45 daily to return home, he wrote when the 1st wild thrill swept through this little river town where i was last night, japan was trying to surrender. i realized for the 1st time how utterly weary and heartsick this war is made me. the same mixture of excitement, exhaustion, and relief mark the us effort in general, almost no one could imagine that are in the civil war would result in a communist victory within the next four years. birch, however, was not permitted to just turn around and go home. but he is working for the oss, the office of strategic services which is the forerunner of the cia. the oss asked him or told
him, ordered him i should say to take a final mission from his base in conway up to the city of xuzhou where his grandparents and parents were missionaries, presbyterian missionaries. and on the way there he and his team of ten chinese, to koreans who presumably spoke japanese that could help translate and three other americans were intercepted and detained by detachment of chinese communists from a drought army. birch's mission was to proceed through shootout, together intelligence on the condition of the airbase
there, see if there were documents that the japanese had left behind, see what was going on. but on the way there in the town of congo right there he is -- he runs into this detachment of chinese communists have orders to detain and disarm any intruders. birch refuses to be disarmed. he is carrying a 45 pistol on his hip. not heavily armed, not expecting trouble. the war is over. birch says in chinese to the communists, why are you trying to disarm me? what are you, bandits? the united states of america has just won the war. i'm not going to do my weapon. and one thing leads to another, tempers flare,
birch is shot and killed. this is ten daysten days after the surrender of japan in august 1945. it is a tragic incident. no one expected this to happen. lieutenant william miller who got news about the death of birch, arranged for his funeral in the city of xuzhou, just a couple of weeks after birch lost his life, the funeral site is on the hillside close to the city. colleagues introduced my wife and i thought took us to the site, chinese medical dr. take us there on the
1st morning and said, i know exactly where birch was buried. my father was a presbyterian missionary, and he was there at the burial service, and he took us right there. there is no evidence, nothing but a few cement slabs now that exist. there is no memorial, no sign or anything, but we were able to locate the site as well as the catholic church where the funeral took place. the funeral which william miller describes quite remarkably is attended by japanese officers and others who have just surrendered to the americans at the end of the war. this very curious collection of people, japanese as well as chinese who have been
working for the japanese attending the funeral of this american officer. the death of john birch came as a shock to americans in china. general albert leader meyer who succeeded stillwell was commanding officer, received news just a few days after radio telegram, and he was deeply concerned that the death of an american soldier, the detention of americans with birch who were the three americans with him as well as the chinese and koreans taken by the communist detachment and eventually made their way to the communist headquarters, took about two months. and leader meyer was deeply concerned about what this
meant comeau where the chinese communists shifting their policies after they have been cooperating with the americans. what did this mean? with a trying to send a signal to united states? it turned out by coincidence that the chairman of the chinese communist party had arrived in judging with ambassador william hurley, the guy with the bow tie and a handlebar mustache on the right. hurley was colorful and erratic and problematic for us china relations, but hurley arranged for mouth to fly on an american plane, the c 47, i think it was.
this was his 1st trip on an airplane, the 1st time in his life. and you can see this quizzical look on his face wondering what to make of all of this. i think it is worth noting that this is not just a photo op. he stayed, remained for 43 days to negotiate some kind of compromise with the nationalists. nothing much came of it, but both the communists nationalists at this very delicate point at the end of world war ii are hoping to avoid civil war. hoping that they might be able to arrange some sort of accommodation, and it is a very sensitive period in their relations. but he takes advantage of the presence to arrange for a meeting at the home of
ambassador hurley on the evening of august 301945, 5 days after the death of birch. andy says kamal that he has information about the death of an american officer. he points to a map command he says that this is a very serious and grave incident. why was he there? he was sent there by me several weeks ago to obtain information about the japanese. ii feel i can and must send americans anywhere in china to carry out my mission. immediately place? yes. now is caught by surprise. we cannot say chinese communist troops kill them
or not. if this is true, i extend my deepest apologies. i would like assurance that this will not occur again. i would like assurance that this will not occur again. i cannot have americans killed. and directed by the pres. president of the united states to use whatever force require to protect american lives in china. you can see, this is a tense conversation. the record of this is in the national archives. mal as apologetic of the time, but we learn from other sources that subsequently he was angry. he felt emit -- felt humiliated about the way you have been lectured. at this point in time the united states position is to try to maintain some
neutrality which of course is impossible because the united states recognizes the nationalists, republic of china, the us is trying to not get enmeshed, mired in what is a looming civil war in china. so he says he very much hope china will not become involved in the civil war and that the various political factions can settle their differences without resorting to warfare. republican and democratic parties, violent differences. but they do not resort to the use of armed force, armed forces. [laughter] will see. [laughter] back in fort worth, texas, george birch attending a
memorial service for their son. frank norris is on the right. this service was attended by claire chennault, and birch had been informed by us military authorities that her son had been shot on august 251945 in route to shoot joe, long high railway and was killed as a result of stray bullets. well, that wasn't the full story, of course. and as ethyl birch dug into the story, tried to find out what had happened to her son, her eldest son, she became increasingly skeptical and increasingly frustrated about the real issue. she was also angry because she felt her son have been denied recognition.
she came to believe as the cold war develops, as a debate over velocity china takes hold after 1949, that her son deserved recognition, deserved credit , but that never happened. so she was open to the idea of a conspiracy. open to the idea that her son have been wronged. this leads us to center william noland, prominent senator from california, seven majority leader for a time. afterafter the outbreak of the korean war in 1950 to 1950 he stands up on the floor of the senate and delivers a speech that breathes fresh life in the story.
long forgotten had it not been for noland. noland -- and here i quote --i quote -- told the simple story of a loan american officer who is willing to sacrifice his life so that this nation might find out whether this communists were friends or enemies. the incident claim noland was one of the least known and most significant indications of communist intentions in china. the senator went on in his speech to ask rhetorically if members of congress had had this information in august or september of 1945, the end of the war, is there any person here who feels that they would have tolerated the subsequent activity of the state department trying to force a
coalition between the government of the republic of china and the same communists represented by the man who shot john birch, captain john birch in cold blood. birch was willing to sacrifice his life according to nolan to test the communist you pretended to be cooperating with the united states. his noland's attempt to say history would've been different if only the truth of the death of this officer have been revealed at the time. he gave a speech in, i believe, it was october. >> exactly. >> actually, it was september. a couple of months before the chinese into the korean conflict. of course relations are already badly frayed.
he is not -- well, communists in general, but the chinese communists is a real threat. nolan was sometimes called the senator from formosa. he gave so many speeches that and defense hearing that, and it was not robert welch who came up with the story of john birch. it was because robert welch read a speech in the congressional record of all places, reading the congressional record, it was in the congressional record three years later robert welch read the speech. speech.speech. did not get much attention in september 1950. americans were dying by the hundreds and eventually thousands in korea at this
point. it did not give much attention. this was something happened in 1945. a loan american officer. the robert welch read the speech and latched onto it. he went to make -- macon, georgia visited with parents, told him that he believed the sum was a great patriot, compared and the nathan hale, the revolutionary war hero and said that he would bring recognition to their son that he deserved despite the fact that the us military and government had refused even to award birch a purple heart because the us was not at war with the communists in 1945. robert welch never met birch and never visited china. but george and ethyl birch
and they are with their children, holding a portrait of john, open to this proposition. ethyl birch gave welch material that she had been collecting for her home biography of her son. welch wrote a sort of a yahoo which was as much a political platform as it was a biography. it is a frustrating book. welch calls him a heroic young patriot who recognize the dangers of communism on before others. just echoing what no one had already said, the death was deliberate and unjustified killing and claimed that birch at sacrifice his life as a warning to others about the true intentions of the communists.
so with the enthusiastic permission of parents who hasmust establish the john birch society in 1958. as i mentioned, it became one of the most influential and controversial organizations of its time periods platform was the anti- communism and anti- big government. welch have decided that john birch was the ideal symbol for his new movement founded in late 1958. he did so for three reasons. birch represented the mind, the epitome of values, missionary, military officer , helps to rescue jimmy doolittle, he was described by noland and then welch as the 1st casualty of world war iii, the 1st
casualty of the cold war, the 1st victim at the hands of the communists. but equally important to welsh was the idea, his belief that there was a conspiracy to cover up the death of john birch. the secret file, the top-secret file was not released until after nixon's visit to china in 1972. robert welch realized it was the geopolitical context that gave his story greater significance. he noted the birch commanded no armies, headed no government, converted nominations to its creed, but his murder at the hand of communists eliminated the crossroads of civilization leading in one direction
toward slavery, stagnation, darkness, and the other direction toward greater freedom for further growth, and more enlightenment. with his death and in his death the battle lines are drawn. it birch had sacrificed his life in some other country, this is me now, say grease or india, it would have mattered far less. the fact that he was murdered by chinese communists imbue the event with much more meaning. so dismaying and disorienting to americans. china's rejection of capitalism and democracy in favor of marxism as a representative of her profound failure of us leadership, accusations blaming the truman administration ranging from poor judgment to appeasement and even treason transforming a complex foreign policy problem into
a potent political issue. so the name is caught up in all of this. and robert welch is in his belmont, massachusetts headquarters with a portrait believed that the story of welsh as a missionary and patriotic soldier and selfless martyr would inspire and instruct americans about conspiracy and communism. instead, his memory was misappropriated and made synonymous with extremist politics. let me into their and thank you for your interest. [applause]
>> now it is time for discussion and questions and answers. the hands are already going out. let's just say the rules are, please wait for the microphone to reach you, please identify yourself when you get the mic and use the mic please. the gentleman here on the left side of the table. >> my name is stephen sage, formerly american vice counsel, and my question concerns the chinese sources for the death of john birch, surely given the high profile there must have been some kind of investigation. >> yes. in response to this confrontation between now and we are meyer the chinese did investigate the circumstances of the death. the commander of the
communist military forces wrote a letter and gave report based on information he had been able to gather from the field. the communist report said the birch was responsible for his own death, that he had pulled his weapon and had threatened the local communist commander and that the communists have retaliated in self-defense. i think that is hard to imagine because it would have been suicidal to actually pull out your weapon, but it is clear that birch had lost his temper, he was angry, and the us investigation of the incident does come to the conclusion that birch did
bear some responsibility, that he had been provocative. nonetheless in the final analysis is classified as a murder and is no justification for his death at the hands of communists. i tried to get into some archives. it was not possible. the archives and china have become much more restrictive ballot for foreigners but for chinese as well. so i was not able to obtain any further information, but what we do know is that this incident, there was a follow-up, as you suggest, and as a result of this incident may also know that the chinese communist party reversed it standing order to detain and disarm any intruders. they said specifically, if any if any americans, and the contact with your forces, treat them carefully.
treat them diplomatically. dodiplomatically. do not attempt to disarm them. basically they are saying we cannot afford to risk another birch incident. delicate parts she's of this time. bobby. >> bob hathaway. can't wait to read the book. by the wilson center had a small part of it. able to track down how no one got a hold of the story? >> absolutely. new orleans papers, university of california berkeley, and it turns out that he was informed about the incident by william miller, miller being a young lieutenant arranged for the funeral of birch. miller was convinced that birch of been wronged,
they're should have been more attention given to his death. he did deserve recognition. test that had not happened he wrote to nolan and nolan then was actually able to gain access to the secret files. but no one chose to interpret it as kind of a revision of history, rewriting of history saying that we would have -- hatley only known about the incident we would've known better. >> thank you. since we're talking about archives, maybe you can talk for a moment about what kind of documents and sources you used for the book.book. he already alluded to the fact that access in china is difficult these days. and what to you was the most
challenging thing about writing a biography? >> putting this book together was a detective story. there are so many different pieces to it, different aspects to it. so as i mentioned before, i was fortunate fortunate to meet three of birches surviving brothers. the papers of william noland that uc berkeley always are meyer at the hoover institution. the 14th air force archives in montgomery, alabama, maxwell air force base, that was really an exciting trip, and exciting find because buried in those materials is a 2425 page interview, oral history interview with john birch
that was conducted about five months before his death arrange this interview because birch was the 1st of these field intelligence officers, matt doolittle, let a colorful life, and so there are wonderful details in that interview. the -- another source was extremely helpful, newspaper called the fundamentalist which was published by the bible baptist institute in fort worth. i went down there. and vickie bryant, the curator of that archive was extremely helpful in showing me different sources. birch had written letters not only to his parents, but also to the fundamental or the independent baptist back in texas command they
publish these letters. detailed accounts of how he traveled from ponto across japanese lines or how he encountered doolittle. so it was really quite a remarkable experience to be able to identify these different sources and peace them together. i went to new jersey and found information about the marriage of birches parents, made trips to worchester college or ethyl birch was a graduate, found alumni information. ship and the president of the ywca. so on and so forth. greatest challenge in putting the book together, aside from trying to find a publisher because people here the name john birch, and it is fascinating to
tell people, well,, well, i have written a book about birch. and the ice cube wide and the apposed bill of. and then i say yes, but he is not who you thought he was. so probably for that reason it was not easy to find a publisher. i was fortunate that oxford press was going to take it on. i think just getting insight into who he really was to the c had written to these three women and his letters home, i entered this project skeptical plan of this project believing that john birch may well have been a member of the john birch society. ..
i asked about getting access to the archives apparently they are available to members i did not take out a membership. [laughter] i don't know the numbers there may have spent as many as 100,000 members paying their dues being on a regular basis. and to see those extended'' but the birch society was not inclined to give me permission to act of which i declined to for chile for my purposes he was prolific and was the brilliant man from
the age of 17 the u.s. naval academy, attended harvard law school two years and decided to become a businessman after getting married. but welch produced reams of materials. to have a monthly magazine to produce no end of lectures or videos for local numbers to discuss and review. all of this is pretty widely covered so there is plenty of material about the birch society itself that i do we
then to the society. >> i am surprised of the difficulty to find a publisher because it is an absolutely engaging story. really. from start to finish did you do recover of a john bircher very different from the one that was put to political use. another way of reading this is about his brilliance to appropriate this to impress into political servitude after his death so maybe not john birch but mom was so she is the facilitator providing material to do his
version of the biography and even if the brothers expressed doubts later she gives the goldenseal of approval. it could re-read slightly different as the brilliant political act betake raw material and embellish and along the way by family members even the baptist to work chronicling in the exaggerated way his own activities earlier so there was a fictionalized john birch to accompany the real one. >> i'd thank you put that so well and to his mother ethel as i mentioned earlier that
first was a greek and bought into the idea there was a conspiracy of her son's death but i think the a other reason that welsh latch dahlin was simply because the story was not widely known because he was so anonymous he was not a major symbol or a household name so for the purposes of robert welch the image was malleable and could be appropriated used for the anti-communist purposes and nobody would know the difference so i think that was part of the strategy in
addition to the fact with the china connection. has this pointed to evidence of conspiracy. why pick somebody who was so un known? and in reality it should be called robert welch not john birch. [laughter] but the fact he was unknown was attractive than when welch establishes the society in indianapolis in 1958 he told the group but i will not talk much about john birch basically go read the biography i have written
and you will understand why i amusing his name. >> by retired from cia in do consulting work out there every now and then you have probably seen in the lobby the memorial hall to people who have died on one side there are cia people died in action from the other side is one big star and a little book under need listing the oss people who died in action called the cold war period so after talking about this project i ask the
historian i looked at the books it is just one page and john birch is not listed so i said why isn't john birch john this sheet? she said you mean john birch ? [laughter] she said i don't know. i thank you should investigate so she did an e-mail to be back about two weeks later and said i think you're right do want us to play john birch at the top of our list? after all the first casualty of the war i said that is not my business but yes you put in a form and it might have been i settled think i am the person to put in the form you should talk to the family this was two years
ago i was there a few weeks ago and still lot of the list i said why? she said it is political and just the second to commentary in october they were interviewing me about my grandparents i was following a tv crew and i stopped at a grave site the tv crew says wire you looking here? with is the grave site of john birch they said you want to talk about that? they said please. [laughter] cry said it is too political [laughter] >> go wonderful idea to write this story a share from the state department
when we were teenagers it was a very big deal to be the john birch society to remember the song? we are the john birch society. ♪ ♪ [laughter] they are such a symbol where would they stand now? >> there was a lot of consistency with today's teapartier politics if you look at the website today you will see it is still very much about strict interpretation and states' rights opposition to gun control opposition to
abortion and an income-tax and conservative issues i think in interesting connection although we live in very different times but what is intriguing the way the birch society is treated at the time by william buckley with "the national review" and barry goldwater who felt it had become so notorious that welsh had to be written out of the conservative movement as goes mr. trump because of the conservatives today like "the national review" has said donald trump is not a real conservative he should not represent the conservative movement so
en what about those three americans they were taken to yemen ended to two months for them to make the journey pretty arduous with a detailed report with the territory they were passing through. one of them had some very positive comments the other was more negative when they reached their today apologized for the death of john birch we're sorry it is an accident and then we went
to india and back to the united states we were told not to talk about this incident was too sensitive at the time. >> i remember driving across the country event you said it was popular? and with the welsh and massachusetts was that a stronghold? andy at the center for the birch society for the right
meeting in their home and stand up every couple weeks and would say ago allegiance to the flag or discuss articles or even some of the day so it was widespread. >> i was teaching a congressman was a member of the john birch society. [laughter] there were to a the have been able to identify i forgot one but i think he was also zero california and birch did not believe in institutional politics and thought it was the part of what he came to describe as the insiders that were conspiratorial in he that many were communist but he
did believe the most effective thing was to advocate at the grassroots level to infiltrate the parent teacher associations and investigate books in public libraries to operate at the local level. >> cry of a trade lawyer but i began with the estate you mentioned the million man and john birch was the he and his wife involved with the committee of 1 million and supported those in peru they involved in any way to support the john birch society and the legend of
this lot young man? >> issue suspect they're very close to you birch there is a mutual admiration as far as the two were concerned but as you also say was very close to lou chang kai-shek in was a strong supporter of the nationalist anti-want he never joined the birch society largely because he died of lung cancer read about the time the birch society was established in 1958 so he was not around to take part i'm not sure he would have. but and i was very active for many years and the china lobby she was not a member of the birch society nor was
william noland to my knowledge but there was an advisory council for robert welch but he came to believe his misuse or misrepresented the facts of birch he felt there was no conspiracy and no cover-up as a hero to very testy letter to say i don't want anything more to do with the birch society i am read signing my position as the in adviser. >> we have been talking about birch's memory in a political context but the missionary communities is that an important figure for them? >> there was a biography
written in the early '80s by a conservative christian couple they did have if new material no footnotes or documentation but they did go into more detail about birch however settlor there is virtually no connection between john birch and the john birch society so there are conservative christians who do feel that birches in important person as a missionary as part of that larger movement i don't think there are a lot that know this but there are some better appreciate his history as a religious figure rather than as a political symbol.
>> do revenue since the his image in china? i suspect the direction is not so much different has there been an interest to rediscover john birch based on your book? werke have been in correspondence with a china scholar who is extremely curious about the details of the story but up to this point the name and even the society is even less known in china banned in the united states which isn't surprising although the name of mccarthy may be well known or pretty well known in china the name of the
birch society did not reach that same level as mccarthy who was in political office who had a different platform from robert welch i think if the book were to be translated and published in china every be more interest and would be extremely interesting to note there is more informations in the archives so as far as i know the communist party of the '50s and '60s while they followed american politics at a distance with the civil-rights movement and quite interested in the oppression of african-americans in the u.s. society by evidence from capitalism not to
mention and imperialism but partly it is also because the birch society was so heavily focused on the conspiracy in the united states there were not that interested in the threat from abroad welch imagined conspiracies where everywhere he thought the kennedy administration invasion of the bay of pigs the actual purpose was to reinforce the purpose it -- the power of castro to reinforce the communist regime he had a way of "alice in wonderland" he calls it the principle of reversal it was not what it appeared to be but was the opposite the vietnam war he
thought was fought has said distraction to communism so he opposed the vietnam war which led to another falling out with conservatives. >> on that note. [laughter] we will drop to a close but first next week we will talk about cuba and american in history there'll be books for purchase and signing outside the storer join us for a reception and. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
discuss his latest book reviving america's. >> we're in today has a profound implications around the world eating too bad politics everywhere around the world the nice thing about policy error is it can be corrected that is why we wrote the book to focus on three big reforms obviously a lot of things have to be done bayou have to have priorities sorry prioritize health care and a new tax code and getting the monetary system back contract for the first time in almost half a century. >> his routine to show this to regulate what is called
indecent speech it was not of scene that was a new category that had been created but indecent. [laughter] hardy feel that his routine and technically it produces point but in another way that free speech side lost how did they feel about that? >> he called the day accident of history he did not played the album in the middle of the afternoon the way my dad describes the moment is a professional moralist was in the car with his 14 year-old son when he played the seven dirty words
in my dad's argument was there are two buttons often changes the station if you don't like the speech change the speech this gentleman decided to complain to the ftc ending up in the supreme court my dad's biggest joy around the case was all nine justices had to listen. [laughter] to the album and the piece that was played in the actual routine is in the books of the supreme court right now. [laughter] you can go to the local what brought -- library is typed out for everyone to see for ever he took great pride in that but he does deal as an active history of back to get my bachelor's with a communications major at 25 i had to take a first amendment class which was my
favorite class almost it became the first amendment lawyer i am in a classroom may be a little bigger than this the first day of class talks about how he loves teaching the class and said my favorite thing about teaching this class is we will study the ftc case and i get to do george carlin seven dirty words for you know, this was a regular occurrence that may indeed this is my business and my father had intruded on my life. [laughter] . .
>> could your dad come? would he come? could he do the seven dirty words first? so i went to my dad and i said, so i am taking this class and i had to had to explain the thing to them. i said works studying the case and my dad was so cute and interesting. his reaction to that was, oh, no i cannot do that. cannot do that. i do not know anything about the case. it is just an accident of history that it was me, and blah, blah, blah, and he was going on and on and about it. and i set dad i don't think they are asking you to know the law. i think they want you to come and be george carlin and say the seven dirty words. but words. but he was so darling about it. that really showed