Why I Left the Right, John Birch Society at CPAC Edition

The Hatewatch blog has a report on this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), probably the most extreme right wing version of the event ever held, featuring creationists, Birthers, nativists, militias, Glenn Beck, the re-ascendant wackos of the John Birch Society — and many top Republican politicians: Conspiracy Central: Beck, Birchers to Converge at Conservative Conference.

The John Birch Society, whose conspiracy theories eventually became so fantastic that it faded into irrelevance, has edged back toward the mainstream – or at least the mainstream of conservative thought. It’s listed as one of 87 co-sponsors of next month’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference [CPAC] in Washington, D.C. The conference is “the year’s must-attend event for the Republican establishment,” says politico.com. Speakers at the Feb. 18-20 conference include Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty – all potential GOP presidential candidates in 2012.

The fanatically anticommunist John Birch Society was founded in 1958 by Robert Welch, who declared that President Dwight Eisenhower was a “dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy.” By 1961, when John F. Kennedy was president, the U.S. government was 50 to 70 percent communist controlled, Welch claimed. The Birchers have long maintained that the United Nations aims to establish a “one-world socialist government.” Today’s conspiracy zealots call it the New World Order.

The Birch Society also opposed the civil rights movement in the 1960s, in part because of a belief that communists had infiltrated it. The organization was against fluoridation of municipal water systems, claiming it was a communist plot to poison America. …

The Birch Society isn’t the only far-right, conspiracy-minded group or individual invited to CPAC. Another co-sponsor is Oath Keepers, the antigovernment organization composed mostly of active-duty law enforcement and military, as well as veterans. Its members pledge to defy 10 orders, including orders to place U.S. citizens in detention camps and orders to confiscate food or property.

Another CPAC sponsor is Eagle Forum, founded by Phyllis Schlafly. Among other things, she has promoted the North American Union conspiracy theory that claims the United States will forsake its sovereignty in a merger with Canada and Mexico. She also wrote a book, A Choice, Not an Echo, that suggested a conspiracy theory in which the Republican Party was secretly controlled by elites who were dominated by members of the Bilderberger banking conference. [The annual, secretive, invitation-only Bilderberger conferences are attended largely by politicians, bankers and business moguls].

Yet another CPAC sponsor is Accuracy in Media, a far-right media watchdog that claimed Vince Foster, deputy White Counsel to Bill Clinton, was murdered and that it was covered up. Many prominent conservatives who were hardly fans of Clinton said there no evidence of murder. Foster’s death was ruled a suicide. AIM also has asserted that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has Marxist ties and that the United Nations is planning to impose a one-world government. More recently, AIM’s editor, Cliff Kincaid, promulgated the unfounded theories of the “birther movement.” The birthers claim President Obama is not a U.S. citizen and is, therefore holding office illegally.

Then there is CPAC’s keynote speaker: Fox News personality Glenn Beck.

And still people try to tell me that the bad craziness hasn’t gone mainstream.

When leading GOP politicians aren’t concerned about political damage from associating with extreme groups and ideas like this, it’s more evidence that the fringe really has become the base.

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