April 04, 2008
Not content with having lost hundreds of subscribers due to their priggish and intemperate attacks on Ron Paul for not measuring up to the Beltway’s strict standards of political correctness, the staff of Reason magazine is busy inspiring thousands more defections with their latest: David Weigel reprints in full a congratulatory message from Ron to the John Birch Society, and then, in a horrified tone, avers: “Why’s he doing stuff like this?”
He’s doing it because the Birch Society has been the unfair target of a smear campaign for many years—and yet, without it, arguably, Barry Goldwater would not have secured the Republican nomination in 1964, and the Reagan Revolution would never have happened. The Birchers were excommunicated by the late William F. Buckley, Jr., in a series of articles in National Review, which focused not so much on Founder Robert Welch’s infamous suggestion that Dwight Eisenhower was “a conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy,” but on the incorrigible Welch’s conclusion that it was time for the US to get out of Vietnam. For a long time, the Society’s book service was the largest and virtually the only source for free market books, and the only real organized movement in favor of limited government. Ludwig von Mises, the libertarian economist and fountainhead of the Austrian School, was a contributing editor of the JBS magazine, American Opinion, and the Society promoted his works.
Paul and the Birch Society have always been close. I’ll never forget attending a JBS dinner, which featured Ron as the speaker: I sat at a table with half a dozen proverbial “little old ladies in tennis shoes” watching them coo and fuss over Yoshi, my “friend” of the past decade or so. Nobody told Yoshi we were having dinner in a den of notorious “homophobes,” and everyone got along splendidly.
I should also point out that one of the founding members of the John Birch Society was Fred G. Koch, the father of Charles Koch, whose family fortune has done much to fund Reason magazine, the Cato Institute, and a brace of other free-market institutions down through the years. Without the Society’s influence on Koch senior, it’s quite possible Weigel wouldn’t get to post ill-informed posts on the Reason blog—and basically bite the hand that feeds him.