A Former John Birch Society Member Describes Life in the Movement and Warns that the Ideology Is Again on the Rise03/16/12 Robert Lorei
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Good morning, welcome to Radioactivity. Iâ€™m Rob Lorei. Today weâ€™ll hear from Claire Conner who is writing a new book about growing up in a prominent John Birch Society family in Chicago.
During itâ€™s hey day in the late 1950â€™s and early 1960â€™s the Birch Society was an influential right wing group. It saw traitors and communist conspiracies everywhere, even accusing Republican President Dwight Eisenhower of being a communist sympathizer. The group wanted the US to leave the UN and thought water fluoridation was an effort by communists to control the minds of young people. The group was satirized in songs by Bob Dylan and and the Chad Mitchell Trio and in such films as Dr. Strangelove and The Manchurian Candidate.
Claire Connerâ€™s father was a leader in the John Birch Society working closely with itâ€™s founder Robert Welch and Fred Koch- father of the now famous Koch brothers.
Over twenty-five years, Claire evolved from a loyal Bircher into an outspoken critic of the society. And she is alarmed by the mainstreaming of Birch Society ideology today by some politicians and talk show hosts. She joins us now in the studio.
Her upcoming book is Wrapped in the Flag: What I Learned Growing Up in Americaâ€™s Radical Right and Why It Matters Now. She'll speak at the Open Issues Forum at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 2470 Nursery Road, Clearwater, at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 18, 2012.