Episode

12/16 The U.S. Right-Wing Paranoia We’re Stuck With w/ Ted H. Miller

December 16, 2021

Emma hosts Ted H. Miller, associate teaching professor at Northeastern University, to discuss his recent book A Conspiratorial Life: Robert Welch, the John Birch Society, and the Revolution of American Conservatism, on the anti-communist paranoia that helped found the educational and political beliefs that define modern conservatism. Professor Miller begins with the birth of Robert Welch, eventual founder of the John Birch Society, at the end of the 19th Century, to a family engrained in the lost cause movement and fearful of an encroaching monopolizing eastern establishment, before exploring how Welch’s profession as a Candyman bolstered this tendency towards conspiracy. Next, they move towards the political developments in the first half of the 20th Century that pushed him towards the founding of the John Birch Society in 1958, starting with FDR’s new deal, with Welch fully pivoting to McCarthyist fear-mongering after China’s transition to communism and William Taft’s loss to Dwight Eisenhower solidified his belief that the U.S., like China, was being unwillingly taken over by communists. They dive into the extent of his conspiracy and paranoia during these years, including the belief that both of the Sputnik launches were faked by the U.S., as well as the Cuban missile crisis manufacturing the idea that Russia and Cuba had missile-launching capacities. Emma and Professor Miller then look into the role of William F Buckley in chronicling the conservative movement, publicly pushing back against Welch and the John Birch Society while further incorporating their educational agenda into electoral tactics. This brings us to the Kennedy administration, which saw a few key figures and concepts come into the fold of paranoia, including Reagan’s claim that under the “boyish locks of hair” laid “Karl Marx,” Dan Smoot’s creation of the concept of a “deep state,” and claims of false flag assassination attempts against Gerald Ford in the 70s. They wrap up the interview by discussing how the Reagan revolution of conservatism solidified the Robert Welch ideology into the party, finally bringing about the policies necessary for a worldview defined by evangelism and conspiracy, and look at how far ahead of the modern GOP positions Welch was. Emma also covers the devastating loss of bell hooks, and Pelosi reminding us that Congresspeople deserve to exploit the stock market too.

And in the Fun Half: Matt and Brandon join Emma as they discuss Stephen Crowder getting one strike away from coming out – I mean, being forced out – of the Youtube world, Kasey Lee from Spokane raises concerns about the Fed’s report on large amounts of government spending (it’s fine), and Lindsey Graham (OmegaSpectrum from the IM’s) offers a surprise make-up call then asks for the crew’s takes on Eric Adams. This brings them to Adams’s announcement of his new police chief in front of a mural of people who the NYPD would have probably planted evidence on at the time, a teen tech lord’s pitch for Donald Trump’s wall, and Ilya from Quebec explores emerging Islamophobic law in Canada. They also cover NFTV starting out as unoriginal as Marvel’s copy/paste series concepts, plus, your calls and IMs!

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