Wrapped in the Flag chronicles the radical right-wing world of the 1960s, when conspiracy ruled and the John Birch Society made national headlines. The daughter of a John Birch Society leader, Claire Conner introduces us to the extreme ideas of a powerful political fringe group dispensing radical solutions to America's problems. Following in the footsteps of its hero, Senator Joseph McCarthy, the John Birch Society believed that an international Communist conspiracy was on the verge of taking over the government of the United States. Top politicians, including President Dwight Eisenhower, were labeled as Communist operatives. John F. Kennedy was deemed a Socialist traitor. Birchers fought civil rights, labor unions, environmental protections, Medicare, welfare programs, the United Nations, and even water fluoridation. Today, the society continues many of those same campaigns from its national headquarters in Appleton, Wisconsin.
Claire Conner's intimate account - based on records, documents and her firsthand knowledge - takes us deep inside one of the most radical right-wing movements in U.S. history. Moving seamlessly between memoir and history, humor and pain, past and present, Wrapped in the Flag serves up keen insight into the impact of extremism on one woman, her family and, if unchecked, on our country.
©2013 Claire A. Mork (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
I'm a non-fiction sort of guy, but not 100%.
Clare Conner's book recounts her childhood and early adult experiences of growing up in an extremely conservative, Catholic family who helped establish the John Birch Society. Her book was published only after the extreme far-right world view of the JBS -- with it's fear, anger, and hatred -- were resurrected by the "newly formed" Tea Party, following the 2008 financial meltdown and election of Obama. I was astounded to learn that VIRTUALLY ALL of the views and "solutions" now being proposed by the Republican leadership in the U.S., particularly the extreme love of America combined with the extreme hatred of government, were crafted by Robert Welch and the JBS back in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
I can't say this book was 'enjoyable' for me so much as it was informative. The author is just a bit older than I, but we share childhoods in the same era. The events she relates are very familiar, even though I was just a kid blithely going about my kid-business while my parents dealt with the headlines and ideas. While her parents were highly politically active, mine were not. Yet within this narrative I hear shades of my own parents attitudes. Thankfully, though my folks indicated some social beliefs that I'd rather ignore, they managed to teach me many of the principles that led to my liberal world-view in spite of themselves! It's unnearving to think that if they were bent just a little more to the right; my early experiences might have been similar to hers. Enjoyable? Not so much. Enlightening? Very much.
The trajectory of this ultra-right wing mindset of which the author writes makes me want to weep daily. The same talking points, the very same, are trumpeted in all national media without the slightest shame. At least, back in the years when the author and I were growing up, such ideas were considered insane even by conservatives and certainly by the media. If you think this kind of rhetoric is new and an offshoot of current events, you need to read this book. These people haven't even changed the words but only inserted new names throughout the last 50 years of American politics! The goals of the John Birch Society and the people who think like them are nothing short of dismantling democracy, installing theocracy, and a chilling new version of totalitarianism. Normally, I would refrain from using such extreme rhetoric myself, but in this case, I doubt even the opposition would disagree with me.
Listen to this book. Pass it around. It will help.
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