The “Acceptable” New American

By: Daniel Nardini

Last week I came across the magazine The New American put out by the John Birch Society. It was a well organized periodical printed on high quality paper. Working for a newspaper, I can judge that this organization has money. The magazine and its layout are truly impressive. They clearly have top quality people doing the magazine layout and distribution. And judging from the articles the magazine also clearly has a lot of writers working for it. While I found the magazine impressive, the contents of it alarmed me.

I must first say something about the John Birch Society. Founded in 1958, it is an extreme right-wing anti-communist organization. It has been listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “patriot group” that promotes anti-government conspiracy theories. From what I also saw of some of the articles the John Birch Society is also anti-immigrant. A number of the articles in the issue I saw talked about how “illegal immigrants” were “draining” the state economies and the national economy with their “U.S.-born children.” The articles also talked about how “illegals” received “government services” and the “government was looking the other way.”

All of this of course is bogus nonsense. Undocumented cannot receive any government services, and we must keep in mind that undocumented still pay taxes. I also saw photos with captions “illegals draining our health care system” and “illegals protesting against border enforcement.” All of the photos showed Latino-looking or Asian-looking people. I saw no photos of white European peoples with the same labels. The contents of the articles and photos were quite clear enough—the whole thing is to smear immigrants from Latin America and Asia and also smear their U.S.-born children.

Apparently the undocumented from Europe are acceptable, or no immigrants at all is just as easily acceptable. The articles commonly quote the organization FAIR (Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform). FAIR has been labeled by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-immigrant organization with ties or membership who come from Ku Klux Klan or neo-nazi organizations. After going through all of the articles, the only “Americans” who seem to be acceptable are those of white European descent. One article I read in The New American described the undocumented coming from Latin America and Asia as “enemy aliens.” This term has not been used since World War II, but it seems to aptly sum up how the John Birch Society sees immigrants from Latin America and Asia and their children—whether legal or not.

The John Birch Society was founded originally as an extremist anti-communist organization in the 1950’s—a period known for extreme paranoia. To make itself relevant for the 21st Century, they have joined newly formed “patriot” groups and far-right organizations as well as racist and anti-government groups that have proliferated in the last half of the 20th Century and into the 21st Century. The John Birch Society has reinvented itself for the growing political darkness that surrounds us today.

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