1945: John Birch, Society man

On this date in 1945, according to a fringe faction of American conservatism, the first victim of the Cold War was shot by Chinese Communists at Suchow, China, near Xi’an.

John Birch, a military chaplain proselytizing in China and an agent of the CIA’s precursor entity Office of Strategic Services, had the kind of portfolio sure to rub Mao’s boys the wrong way.

Apparently it was his personality that got him into trouble.

On recon duty days after the end of World War II, he bumped into a patrol of Red Chinese. According to Time, he failed his diplomacy check.

As the scene has been reconstructed, Birch argued violently with the Communist officer who wanted to disarm him. Birch was seized and shot after his hands had been tied. The Communists then bayoneted him at least 15 times and tossed his body on a heap of junk and garbage.

“In the confusing situation,” said [Birch’s commanding officer Major Gustav] Krause last week, “my instructions were to act with diplomacy. Birch made the Communist lieutenant lose face before his own men. Militarily, John Birch brought about his own death.”

Days after World War II — how does that square with your international Communist conspiracy? The incident was not especially notable at the time, but some elements later conceived John Birch the first American casualty of Communism during the Cold War, and in this guise he became the namesake of the John Birch Society (Wikipedia entry | homepage — evidently forward-thinking enough to have grabbed their own three-letter acronym)

Here’s candy magnate and founder Robert Welch, Jr., explaining:

Despite the young lieutenant’s credentials as a martyr of evangelical anti-Communism, the oft-loopy Society’s relationship to the mainstream conservative movement and the Republican Party it took over was never completely comfortable and eventually came to a definite sundering.

The Society soldiers on, its “Get US out of the United Nations” billboards a minor fixture of Americana from Port Angeles, Washington to this one in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

8 thoughts on “1945: John Birch, Society man”

  1. I never cared enough to look it up so I thought John Birch was some old crank living in Idaho or Utah. I figured he must be 83 or so. I guess I should have looked him up but didn’t care enough about right wing kooks to bother.

  2. lucky John Birch… if he had been a black man in Texas he would have been chained to a pick-up truck, dragged over gravel roads and then lynched. Birch got the easy way out, although his mental stability should be questioned when he is in a foreign land and rails against the soldiers who dare stop him… even if they are communist!

  3. what is the society of john birch implementing to stop the rape of the american citizen–“john doe and family” Bush and Cheney are merely thieves in a league of political thieves..What action is directed in the J>B>S> to derailed this system that is headed for Hell…Words on paper are a good medicine -BUT.. true –real americans need action -against the theives in washington.
    WE WANT ANSWERS NOT B.S. OR .C.S.

  4. Exposing the activities of the internationalists can only have a positive effect if the people who learn are then motivated to act, but most are so stupid they will let the Money Power do as it will, even after they killed 190 million in the 20th Century. We can work for what is right, educate all who will listen, but do not expect ehy will get off their asses and do anything that makes them uncomfortable. The family and community are the basis for society to function well, but now it is replaced with the individual and the state. I do not see much reason for optimism.

  5. Blame victim– check
    Blame America– check
    Blame conservatives– check
    Blame Republicans– check

    Blame murderous, tyrannical, barbarous Communist thugs– wouldn’t be prudent

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