Monday, June 15, 2009

Previews of Coming Detractions

"We know there's going to be an attack piece on the John Birch Society coming out in the New York Times," intones Art Thompson in his most recent vlog. When it comes, he insists, it will demonstrate that The Powers That Be are "afraid of our potential" and provoked by the "growth" and successes of the JBS.

I've been aware of the impending
Times piece on the JBS for about a week, since I was contacted by a reporter for the paper and spent more than an hour being interviewed by him. I answered his questions as candidly and completely as I could.

I'm fairly confident that I know the general contours of the piece he intends to write. It will not be flattering. Nor will it be a simple "attack" piece, as Thompson maintains. It will almost certainly place the JBS squarely in the center of the constellation of "right-wing hate groups."
And for this, Art Thompson and Jack McManus have nobody to blame but themselves.

After I was fired, the current JBS management attempted -- briefly and unpersuasively -- to make the case that my supposedly defamatory treatment of certain abhorrent people (i.e. the repulsive Mark Levin) exposed the organization to a potential libel action. In fact, someone in upper management quietly circulated the story that I had actually been sued for libel. The first claim was ridiculous on its face. The second was a puerile lie.

What really rankles about all of this, of course, is that the decision to fire me as a supposed liability of that sort was made by Jack McManus, a person who spent years propagating anti-Semitic theological and political theories, which were captured on audio and videotape, for the edification of schismatic Catholic groups.
His eagerness to propagate those views eventually came to the attention of ... Art Thompson, at the time Director of Field Activities, who played a pretty significant role in the events that led to Jack's ouster as JBS President.

In one frantic memo, in fact, Art seemed to suggest that Jack was actually preparing to attack the JBS in collaboration with its detractors. He also pointed out that Jack had been evangelizing on behalf of anti-Semitism for about at least 3 1/2 years, and perhaps as many as ten years, "on our nickel."

Art's recommendation was to put together a short collection of clips from Jack's anti-Jewish diatribes, and document carefully JBS management's effort to get him to "do the right thing" -- namely, to resign "as a retirement move."

That's more or less what happened. Mind you, Jack wasn't
fired; he was forced to play a reduced role and take a reduced salary, and a position on the JBS Council. His letter actually said, in almost so many words, that he was resigning in order to spend more time with his family.

No, really.

A few years later, Art -- who was working behind the scenes to bring down Vance Smith -- was pre-emptively fired by Vance. Somehow Art ended up making common cause with ... Jack McManus, most likely out of shared antipathy for Vance. Just prior to Vance's ouster, his supporters began to circulate a compilation of video clips I call "Jack McManus Sings the Nuremberg Variations" -- that is, conspicuously ugly excerpts from those same anti-Semitic speeches.

I was among those lobbied by Vance's side. I was asked, "How would this look on the evening news? On CNN? What use would Morris Dees make of this kind of thing?" My question in reply was two-fold: Where did they get the clips, and what use did they plan to make of them?

I didn't get an answer, but it's obvious: The idea of blackmailing Jack actually began with Art Thompson.

Repulsive as Jack's speeches were, I found blackmail to be even worse. So when it looked as if Vance's effort to use the
compromat against Jack would succeed, I resigned from the JBS; I simply couldn't be associated with an organization in which personnel disputes were settled through blackmail. (That sort of thing, I had winsomely supposed, might take place in the Mirror Universe JBS, but not in this dimension's version.)

Two days later, Vance was gone, and I was entreated back on staff. The supplicant who persuaded me was ... Jack McManus.

Almost exactly a year later, Jack -- the guy whose vulnerability to blackmail had left the organization in critical jeopardy, the one whose anti-Semitic track record presently imperils the organization -- was among those who decided to fire me for the supposed offense of maintaining a personal blog they didn't control.

I've recounted this before. It's worth reviewing again now, even if the Times never publishes its envisioned JBS profile. I've anticipated that the JBS would find itself in serious trouble, both from a PR perspective and potentially from federal scrutiny, owing to the current management's myopia about the unsavory correspondences it has cultivated in recent years.

As I've pointed out previously, it almost seems as if the people running things in Appleton have set out to validate the "sandwich smear" -- the old rhetorical tactic of squeezing a reference to the JBS between two slices of ugliness (as in the phrase, "radical groups like the Ku Klux Klan, the John Birch Society, and the National Socialist Movement").

I began this blog as a way of protecting my reputation against the scurrilities Appleton routinely deploys against those who have left the staff under less-than-favorable circumstances; it also serves as my "Correction, Please!" column for dealing with sundry pieces of official dishonesty from JBS management.

Should the
Times publish the article, and my quotes feature prominently therein, I fully expect that Art and his homies will insist that I've consummated my fall from grace, that I'm now an amalgam of Judas, Maleagant, and Benedict Arnold, that I've joined the ranks of the Raizgul, that I'm an apostate and sinner and sell-out. They will pile on my shoulders the sum of all the rage and hate against the Establishment Media felt by Birchers from Robert Welch down.

As long as this blog is available, people will have access to the truth. They'll be able to see the unalloyed hypocrisy of a group of people who would fire me for writing a blog, but merely demote Jack McManus for having a full-time sideline as an anti-Semitic demagogue. Readers will have access to my warnings about
the repellent figures who have adhered to the JBS during the two years or so that it was devoted monomaniacally to dealing with the "Brown Peril" from Mexico.

Jack is finishing an extended speaking tour for the JBS. Right now,
he is the public face of the John Birch Society. He is also their largest liability, although Art Thompson has to be considered at least a respectable second in that category, given that he was the one who appointed Jack to be JBS president -- just a few years after doing everything he could to remove him as a threat to the organization's well-being.

The JBS is not threatened by the New York Times; negative publicity would be an improvement over being consigned, ala Spinal Tap, to the "Where Are They Now?" file. The persistent dishonesty and bad judgment of the organization's upper management represents a far graver threat.

I've lived and worked in Washington, D.C. and spent a lot of time in the company of Establishment journalists. I know better than to assume that I know a stranger based on a single phone call, of any duration. That being said, I will offer this defense of the reporter from the New York Times who interrupted my workday a week ago: The first thing this fellow, a two-time cancer survivor, did when he called me was to ask after Korrin's health.

This offers a very commendable contrast to the conduct of the former friends who fired me in October 2006: Since that time, they've offered not a single syllable of sympathy for Korrin, or anyone else in our family.


Anonymous said...

Boy the JBS really knows how to self destruct. What a shame. As a former member it really makes me sad. They had/have a good model for making effective change - unfortunately the leadership is corrupt and hopeless. I have had chances to educate both current and former members of the organization on the reprehensible treatment shown to you and your family. The knowledge for this has been gleaned for the most part by this website. Keep up the good work. Maybe someday real leadership will one day replace those currently in charge - or maybe not. It seems that the internet has really leveled the playing field making groups like the JBS irrelevant.
Stuart B.

David said...

When I first went to the RWU summer camps in highschool, they had already begun to shrink from the 130 or so annual attendees they once had to a mere 70. Now, three years after my last camp, they are no more, and the last year that they ran, the camp I attended had only 50 attendees. It's sad, really, how self-important they can be in their irrelevance. I remember thinking Art was an arrogant windbag, and being unimpressed with Alan (can't remember why, just didn't find what he said all that inspirational or thought-provoking), though most of the other instructors and counselors taught me a lot.

The camps were a good thing, but they fell short. I always wanted to go back after college and teach a class on surviving in the real world (something they never quite seemed to touch on), and maybe try to explain to those kids what it meant to understand life and thought rather than just parroting fascinating bits of ideology without critical understanding. Oh well, I probably would have fouled it up anyway, or gotten myself banned for undermining the Prime Philosophy of "we're right, they're wrong, analytical thought be damned".

Anonymous said...

Is Jack McManus and John F. McManus the same person?

William N. Grigg said...

John F. McManus is called "Jack" by those who know him, and identified by that name in some JBS literature.

traitor2tyranny said...

"Boy the JBS really knows how to self destruct."

I am glad I never joined up with the JBS.

I did benefit from subscription The New American Magazine for several years.

It seems that the JBS has serious problems like the Constitution Party.

Anonymous said...

Where on line can we find a transcript or video or audio of the anti-Jewish speeches of McManus?

William N. Grigg said...

As far as I know, the only people who have the McManus "greatest hits" video are the folks running the Freedom First Society, which is Vance Smith's attempt to start a para-JBS organization --

If you contact them and specify what you're after they might be willing to provide you with a DVD of the video they showed to me.

Jack would deliver his speeches to "Feenyite" Catholic groups under the name "Brother John Berchmans"; the only talk I can find available for purchase on-line under that name is "The Un-Godly United Nations" --

Once again, it might be worth contacting them to find out if they have any other talks by "Brother John Berchmans" in stock; the ones I referred to were actually marketed on VHS.

Don Fotheringham's website has some audio clips of Art Thompson, Gary Benoit, Larry Waters, and Tom Hill expressing concerns over the content of Jack's speeches --

Art's comments are particularly blunt:

“Vance, this is not simply an aberration. This is [Jack McManus’] religion to be anti-Semitic and anti-Mason. That’s all there is to it — through and through, up and down, sideways. [Art stammers for a second or two and then says]: [My daughter] says that [Jack’s church has] a website called St. Benedictine something or other and she’s downloaded some stuff called `Neutralizers.' It’s basically: everybody but a Moslem is a neutralizer and a liberal and out of salvation because they are not Catholic. And it’s all Masonic and Jewish control…. So you know it’s amazing the more you dig the more widespread you realize all this is, and it’s been probably a problem for us for years and we didn’t even know it."

Jack's penchant for promoting anti-Semitism was a "problem for years" -- and yet he stayed on the payroll, and is now president of the organization and its most conspicuous public representative.

Anonymous said...

The JBS: Going the way of the New York Times