At Salon's War Room, Alex Koppelman runs down David Frum's objection to Fox News host Glenn Beck's affection for the John Birch Society (JBS), exemplified by his peddling a book by anti-communist activist Cleon Skousen, who had ties to the JBS.
Frum objects that Skousen was one of the "legendary cranks of the conservative world, a John Bircher, a grand fantasist of theories about secret conspiracies between capitalists and communists to impose a one-world government under the control of David Rockefeller." But that's not an unusual view for a hardcore conservative movement player like Skousen, as much as it embarrasses conservatives like Frum.
According to a 1985 article published in the Review of Religious Research, "Mormonism and the New Christian Right: An Emerging Coalition?" by Anson Shupe and John Heinerman, Skousen had ties to the JBS and the relatively new religious-right political apparatus, which was at that time nestling itself within the broader conservative movement. Skousen, a Mormon who founded what is now the National Center for Constitutional Studies while affiliated with Brigham Young University, was described in the article as the "lynchpin" in an emerging effort to form a coalition between the LDS church and groups like the late Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority.
Shupe and Heinerman described Skousen's institute as "a right-wing ideological think tank opposing (among other things) the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Communication Commission's fairness doctrine in editorial broadcasting, the federal government's change of the gold standard in currency, all subsidies to farmers, all federal aid to education, all federal social welfare, foreign aid, social security, elimination of public school prayer and Bible reading, and (that familiar right-wing nemesis) the United Nations.”
That litany sounds strikingly familiar to rhetoric at last month's Conservative Political Action Conference. A crank, or representative of conservative-movement thinking?
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