an archive of unsettling histories, mythistories, and mystories
from U.S. & Mormon settler colonialism, white supremacy, and imperialism
from U.S. & Mormon settler colonialism, white supremacy, and imperialism
Ezra Taft Benson, John Birch Society, & J. Edgar Hoover: a history of anti-Communism & white-supremacist criminalization of nearly everyone
“The John Birch Society (JBS) is an American right-wing political advocacy group. Founded in 1958, it supports anti-communism and social conservatism and opposes collectivism, big government, one-world government, and a New World Order. Critics and academics have called the JBS an ultraconservative, radical right, or fár-right organization.”
Politico has asserted that the JBS began making a resurgence in the mid-2010s, while the JBS has argued that it shaped the modern conservative movement and especially the Trump administration. Huffington Post called the JBS "the intellectual seed bank of the right." Right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, called Trump a "John Birch Society president" and claimed Trump was "more John Birch Society than the John Birch.”
The JBS opposed the 1960s civil rights movement and claimed the movement had Communists in important positions. In the latter half of 1965, the JBS produced a flier titled "What's Wrong With Civil Rights?" and used the flier as a newspaper advertisement.
Here’s a video in which the JBS lays out this conspiracy theory.
Ezra Taft Benson echoed these anti-Black/African conspiracy theories in his 1967 General Conference speech, “Civil Rights: Tool of Communist Deception.”
The John Birch Society, along with other conservative groups such as the Eagle Forum and the Christian right, successfully opposed the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s. JBS accused the ERA's supporters of subversion, asserting that the ERA was part of a Communist plot "to reduce human beings to living at the same level as animals.”
In their 1980 Ensign article, “The Church and the Proposed Equal Rights Amendment: A Moral Issue” this church also took a stand against the Equal Rights Amendment stating that it could “endanger time-honored moral values by challenging laws that have safeguarded the family and afforded women necessary protections and exemptions.” and “extend legal protection to same-sex lesbian and homosexual marriages, giving legal sanction to the rearing of children in such homes.”
The John Birch Society also campaigned against the ratification of the Genocide Convention, arguing it would erode U.S. national sovereignty.
Now why would a Genocide Convention erode the sovereignty of the genocidal US settler-colonial project?
Benson's activities within the John Birch Society came under the scrutiny of the First Presidency of the LDS Church for using its meeting houses for recruiting and political meetings, issuing a statement in January 1963 directly condemning the activities of the Birch Society. Ezra Taft Benson complained to McKay that the statement seemed to be directed against him, and "his son, Reed, and Brother Skousen," McKay confirmed that it was. The LDS Church called Ezra Taft Benson on a mission to Europe in late 1963 in the hopes that his political zeal would subside.
In July 1965 the NAACP called for all Third World nations to refuse to grant visa to missionaries of the LDS Church for its "doctrine of non-white inferiority," and planned to protest the churches October general conference. In response, Benson wrote a memo to all Birch Society chapters instructing them to spread rumors that the protesters planned violent riots.
Benson gave this speech after the first presidency condemned the John Birch Society.
In 1968, the John Birch Society made an effort to nominate Benson as a presidential candidate, with segregationist Senator Strom Thurmond as Vice President, for which Benson sought and obtained approval from LDS Church president David O. McKay. Several months later, Benson flew to Alabama to meet with segregationist Alabama Governor George Wallace, who asked Benson to become his vice presidential running mate for the presidency. This time McKay refused Benson's request, even after Wallace himself wrote to McKay.
Benson's son Reed Benson, along w other Birchers, spied on BYU students & faculty hoping to out potential communists on campus.
Ezra wrote a letter while mission president in Europe (where he was sent to discourage his extremism) to his friend J. Edgar Hoover expressing his gratitude for all the anti-commie work Hoover has done in the FBI. He marked this letter "Personal-Confidential"
Hoover was currently operating COINTELPRO, the illegal program thru which the FBI spied on feminists, homosexuals, Black people, civil rights organizers, anti-war activists, & any other leftists. Oh & a lil bit on the KKK.
Of this work, Benson wrote, “I realize that only in the next life will we fully appreciate all you have done to preserve freedom In this country. - am most grateful for your exposure of the communist conspiracy and for the wonderful organization you have established in the F.B.I, I pray that your courage will continue and that your hand will be blessed and prospered in all that you do to preserve our Constitutional Republic.”
Just Being Black Was Enough to Get Yourself Spied on by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI
COINTELPRO, far right, Christian, militant, & End-Times conspiracy theorists all have in common a fear of a supposed "New World Order" which has deep roots in anti-Communism & anti-semitism
“Before the early 1990s, New World Order conspiracism was limited to two American countercultures, primarily the militantly anti-government right, and secondarily the part of fundamentalist Christianity concerned with the end-time emergence of the antichrist scenarios. Political scientists are concerned that mass hysteria over New World Order conspiracy theories could eventually have devastating effects on American political life, ranging from escalating lone-wolf terrorism* to the rise to power of authoritarian ultranationalist demagogues.” *Lone-wolf is code for acts of terror inducing violence by white men
New World Order is anti semitism is anti-communism is Red Scare is anti-union is anti-immigrant
A Red Scare is the promotion of a widespread fear of a potential rise of communism, anarchism or other leftist ideologies by a society or state. It is often characterized as political propaganda.
“During the Second Red Scare, both secular and Christian-right American agitators increasingly embraced and spread dubious fears of Freemasons, Illuminati and Jews as the alleged driving forces behind an ‘international communist conspiracy.’”
“The threat of ‘Godless communism’ in the form of an atheistic, bureaucratic collectivist world government, demonized as the ‘Red Menace’ became the focus of apocalyptic millenarian conspiracism. The Red Scare came to shape one of the core ideas of the political right in the United States.
First Red Scare
Fueled by labor unrest and the anarchist bombings, and then spurred on by the Palmer Raids – attempts by United States Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer to suppress radical organizations–the First Red Scare was characterized by exaggerated rhetoric, illegal search and seizures, unwarranted arrests and detentions, and the deportation of several hundred suspected radicals and anarchists. In addition, the growing anti-immigration nativist movement among Americans viewed increasing immigration from Southern Europe and Eastern Europe as a threat to American political and social stability.
In April 1920, concerns peaked with J. Edgar Hoover telling the nation to prepare for a bloody uprising on May Day. Police and militias prepared for the worst, but May Day passed without incident. Soon, public opinion and the courts turned against Palmer, putting an end to his raids and the First Red Scare.
J. Edgar Hoover had been lying & hunting leftists for decades before COINTELPRO
This “first” Red Scare really more of a second red scare as noted in Nick Estes’s, Original Red Scare: The Criminalization of Indigenous Resistance, in which he shows how the settler-project focused on breaking up collective land stewardship practiced by many Indigneous nations turning the land into private property through the Dawes Act and reservation system.
Even Dr. William F. Russell acknowledges communism in Indigenous cultures in his “"How to Tell a Communist, and How to Beat Him,” in which he writes, “There have been forms of Communism since earliest times, even in America. Note the tribes on the Indian reservations”
So back to the so-called First Red Scare. This Scare led to the popularization of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in the Western Hemisphere. This text, which J. Reuben Clark handed out on his mission in Germany, also appeared in the 1919 Philadelphia Public Ledger newspaper. Called the “Red Bible,” it took “Protocols” and replaces all references to "Jews" with references to Bolsheviki (Leninist communism).
Similarly, David D. Cole has written that the Patriot Act "in effect resurrects this philosophy, simply substituting 'terrorist' for ‘communist.’”
The Second Red Scare, or McCarthyism, was characterized by heightened political repression and persecution of left-wing organizers along with a campaign to spread fear of alleged communist and socialist influence on American institutions. After the mid-1950s, McCarthyism began to decline, mainly due to Joseph McCarthy's gradual loss of public popularity and credibility after several of his accusations were found to be false.
Suspected homosexuality was also a common cause for being targeted by McCarthyism. The hunt for "sexual perverts", who were presumed to be subversive by nature, resulted in over 5,000 federal workers being fired, and thousands were harassed and denied employment. Many have termed this aspect of McCarthyism the "lavender scare"
Homosexuality was classified as a psychiatric disorder in the 1950s. However, in the context of the highly politicized Cold War environment, homosexuality became framed as a dangerous, contagious social disease that posed a potential threat to state security. As the family was believed to be the cornerstone of American strength and integrity, the description of homosexuals as "sexual perverts" meant that they were both unable to function within a family unit and presented the potential to poison the social body. This era also witnessed the establishment of widely spread FBI surveillance intended to identify homosexual government employees.
So from the first red scare, to J. Reuben Clark, to McCarthyism, to Benson & Skousen, to Civil Rights & New World Order, to COINTELPRO–the US, leaders of the Mormon Church, the FBI, & J. Edgar Hoover have essentially made it deathly illegal to be a leftist (or homosexual, Black, Indigenous, Brown, Muslim, Communist, Jewish, etc)
& these connections & collaborations are ongoing
Why Mormons Make Great FBI Recruits
“The F.B.I and C.I.A. recruit heavily from the Mormon population because they are usually cheaper to do a security clearance on, they often speak another language from their mission trips and they usually have a low risk lifestyle.”
“But there's at least one place in American society where Mormons have found an unusual degree of acceptance--in agencies like the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the CIA, which see Mormons as particularly desirable recruits and have a reputation for hiring a disproportionate number of people who belong to the church. There have been Mormon FBI agents since early in the bureau's history. Some accounts allege that J. Edgar Hoover had a particular interest in recruiting Mormon agents: one well known Mormon leader, J. Martell Bird, served in Hoover's heyday, from the 1940s through the end of the '60s”
“But it Wasn't until the 1970s that outsiders started paying close attention and turning up connections between prominent Mormons and the CIA, Watergate conspiracy, and other government activities. One 1975 report on. the CIA, for instance, included the tidbit that one Mormon-owned PR firm made some "overseas offices available…as cover for Agency employees operating abroad." And in the 1980s a BYU professor told the authors of The Mormon Corporate Empire, a 1985 social science study on the church and its power, that "we've
never had any trouble placing anyone who has applied to the CIA."
Similarly, when Mormons aren't allowed to proselytize in certain nations they'll usually go in as English teachers instead
Not long before Miller's Soviet dalliance came to light, Perez, a Latino FBI agent, had filed his first discrimination complaint with the equal employment opportunity office. In the course of the next few years, he, along with more than 300 other agents, would file a class action suit against the FBI for racial and religious discrimination. Part of their complaint was that their Mormon higher-ups had favored agents of their own religion, which isn't known for its diversity. Even after its Hispanic officers won that discrimination case and after other lawsuits over similar issues of hiring practice, most people working for the FBI are white men. What is known is that agencies like the CIA and FBI still recruit at BYU, looking for students with language skills and an interest in public service, although even the university doesn't know how many…
Often, after a long career in the FBI, agents will join the Latter Day Saints' Security Department. Bird, the FBI agent who worked with Hoover, became head of church security; Richard Bretzing, the L.A. bureau chief who was so key in the spread of the idea of a Mormon Mafia, left the bureau in 1988-and became managing director of the same office.
This church is also invested in private land in so-called Central and South America through AgReserves. AgReserves' three divisions operate in more than 30 states and international operations in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The three divisions include Cattle, Permanent Plantings, and Row Crops .
These are 3 of the main causes of deforestation in so-called Central & South America.
And this church has been politically involved in establishing imperialist policy via The Clark Memorandum on the Monroe Doctrine or Clark Memorandum, written on December 17, 1928 by undersecretary of state and Mormon President, J. Reuben Clark, concerned the United States' use of military force to intervene (i.e. overthrow democratically elected socialist governments in favor of capitalism) in Latin American nations.”
The Clark Memo is a piece of U.S. imperial policy which basically says the U.S. can “coup whoever we want” as this is the right of the U.S. to “protect” its “sovereignty.” Which really means the U.S. can destroy any country on this continent because it views its hemespheric dominance as an extension of its sovereignty
“The Clark memorandum rejected the view that the Roosevelt Corollary was based on the Monroe Doctrine. However, it was not a complete repudiation of the Roosevelt Corollary but was rather a statement that any intervention by the U.S. was not sanctioned by the Monroe Doctrine but rather was the right of America as a state.”
I wonder how much the myth of the Lamanite & the centrality of so- called Latin America has to do w/ the white supremacist Clark writing constitutional legislation on the US's right to distrust those nations?
Even tho John Birch Society & Ezra Taft Benson (in his private letter to J. Edgar Hoover) called Eisenhower a tool of the Communist conspiracy, Benson worked as Sec. of Ag. in the Eisenhower admin. which led to the major shift to industrialized ag & monocrops (see also: AgReserves by the LDS church)
Dwight D. Eisenhower promised to take a harder line against communism and made good on his promise by allowing the Central Intelligence Agency to engage in covert actions, such as the 1953 Iranian coup d'état, the 1954 Guatemalan coup d'état, and the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba.
This Guatemalan coup was enacted by the CIA (wit's Mormon agents) in support of the United Fruit Company (Chiquita Bananas) of which Dulles, the head of the CIA, was on the payroll.
“The links that his staff members John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles had to the UFC also predisposed them to act against the Guatemalan government. Additionally, with its power being challenged by the new democratic government, the United Fruit Company looked to the US government for support. Luckily for the company, the Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles' law firm represented the UFC. In addition, his brother Allen Dulles was the director of the CIA and owned shares of the UFC and formerly sat on its Board of Trustees.
With all this in mind, I want to note the Geneva Office of Human Rights Education which is owned & run by this Church thru the J. Reuben Clark BYU law school's International Center for Law & Religious studies seems very suspicious & dangerous. I certainly don’t think this church, with its history of fighting nearly every civil rights movement in this country in the last century, should be teaching anyone about human rights.
Thus U.S. imperialism & its ongoing global extractive-capitalist violences that led us to the collapse of the climate & biological life IS MORMON DOCTRINE
Now for some resistance:
JUVENILE INSTRUCTOR Boycotting General Conference 40 Years Ago: The Lamanite Generation, the American Indian Movement, and Temple Square
“In 1973, a group of over one hundred members of the American Indian Movement boycotted the church’s annual conference, beating drums and demanding that the church donate one million dollars to Indian social programs. The event was covered in local newspapers like the Salt Lake Tribune and the Church News and in national outlets like the New York Times. The following year members of AIM issued a challenge from the gates of Temple Square to the Mormon Church to donate ten million dollars to Indian self-help programs and to return native skulls from the church’s history museum.”
Remembering Black Protests of the 1960s-70s
"By the 1960s Utah civil rights activists started to demonstrate against the Mormon church itself, in their efforts to secure favorable civil rights legislation…. The Utah legislature did repeal the state’s long-standing antimiscegenation law, but failed to enact other desired legislation. In response, the NAACP decided to organize a protest against the Mormon church leaders, whom they perceived as blocking civil rights measures in the state legislature.
"The Salt Lake NAACP chapter made tentative plans to picket Temple Square during the LDS General Conference in the fall of 1963. In addition, NAACP chapters across the country announced plans to picket local Mormon mission headquarters in support of the Salt Lake chapter.12 The threatened NAACP demonstrations, however, were averted when Apostle Hugh B. Brown of the Church First Presidency released a statement outlining the “position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the matter of civil rights.” This statement let it “be known that there is in this Church no doctrine, belief, or practice that is intended to deny the enjoyment of full civil rights by any person regardless of race, color, or creed.”
“In lashing out at black priesthood denial these advocates initially concentrated their fire on the church-owned Brigham Young University. Militant black and white protesters demonstrated during athletic contests between Brigham Young and other colleges and universities. In the spring of 1958, eight members of the University of Texas-El Paso track team refused to compete against Brigham Young University because of their belief that the Mormons considered “blacks…inferior and…disciples of the devil.””
“By January 1970, Sports Illustrated observed that ‘“the protests [against BYU] have grown in intensity to the point where they have almost transcended all else.’”
Even Putin's youth think this church is an oppressive totalitarian org
“Young supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin have staged several protests this month outside Mormon meeting houses, claiming that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is an "authoritarian sect" with connections to the CIA and FBI. The protesters are members of the Young Guard, a youth organization of Putin's United Russia Party. They insist their actions have nothing to do with Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate and Mormon who called Russia the "No. 1 geopolitical foe" of the U.S.”
FINAL THOUGHTS: These white-supremacists are very well organized.
Find an abolitionist, anti-racist, anti-capitalist, anti- imperialist organization in your area & work with them. find the radical BIPOC-led orgs in your area & learn if/how you can be an accomplice
in their work. DO THE WORK. LEARN FROM THOSE WITH THE MOST EXPERIENCE RESISTING & EXISTING BEYOND THE US SETTLER-EMPIRE
I am nicholas b jacobsen, an artist, researcher, historian, educator, and organizer. I am a trans-non binary Euro-settler raised in the Nuwu lands of so-called Utah. My family has been Mormon and Utahn for as long as either of those concepts have existed. My ancestors sacrificed everything--their identities, homelands, jobs, health, & safety to become Mormon, Utahn, U.S. American, & white--to settler their Zion. I take it as my personal responsibility to unsettle what my ancestors settled. and to help my fellow settlers do the same through writing, art, and community building.