"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.
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.