Saturday, April 24, 2010

Learning History from Your Pop

I ran across this and still haven't digested it. I have a knee-jerk reaction to the words "John Birch Society" and I have a deep loathing for George Wallace. So I find the following more than of passing interest. It is about the son, Michael Allen, talking about his father, Gary Allen, a right wing nut. This is from an article on the FireDogLake blog and written by "Phoenix Woman":
Why am I talking about all of this? Because of a jarring passage in this otherwise-fluffy New York Times beat sweetener about The Politico’s Mike Allen, billed as “The Man the White House Wakes up to”:
[Mike Allen's father] Gary Allen was an icon of the far right in the 1960s and 1970s. He was affiliated with the John Birch Society and railed against the “big lies” that led to the United States’ involvement in World Wars I and II. He denounced the evils of the Trilateral Commission and “Red Teachers.” Rock’n’roll was a “Pavlovian Communist mind-control plot.” He wrote speeches for George Wallace, the segregationist governor of Alabama and presidential candidate. “Gary Allen is one of the most popular writers that John Birchites read and believe with a zeal that is nervous-making,” wrote Nicholas von Hoffman in a 1972 Washington Post column. He wrote mail-order books and pamphlets distributed through a John Birch mailing list.

None of Mike Allen’s friends seemed to know any of this about his father, or they were diverting me with other monikers (like “football coach,” which he indeed was; Gary Allen coached a Pop Warner team that included Mike, who played center, badly). In an earlier phone interview, Allen said his mother was a first-grade teacher and his dad was a “writer” and “speaker.” After I mentioned his father at breakfast, Allen flashed a sudden, teeth-clenched smile that stayed frozen as I spoke. He had described his upbringing to me as nonpolitical. And maybe it was. People who knew Gary Allen, who died of complications from diabetes in 1986, described him as quiet and introspective. “He was more outspoken in his writing,” says Dan Lungren, a Republican member of Congress, who represented Orange County back then and knew the family. Lungren, who now represents a district that includes parts of Sacramento, said that the Allens hosted a meet-and-greet at their home for one of his early campaigns.

I asked Mike Allen what it was like being his father’s son. “We have a very close family,” he said slowly. “I’m very close to all my siblings, and I’m very grateful to my parents for all the emphasis they put on education and family and sports and Scouts.” He called his father “a great dad.” How did he make his living? “I don’t know the details of it,” Allen said.
Um, excuse me? Excuse me?

Gary Allen wrote speeches for George effing Wallace?! And held “meet and greets” for Republican candidates? And was a prominent propagandist for the John Birch Society?

And somehow his little darling son — a son who would grow up to become a reporter — had no clue what his dad was doing?!

This is hard to believe, as I’ve yet to meet any hardcore right-winger, especially a Bircher, who passed up the chance to indoctrinate his or her kids. And this particular Bircher was at a high enough level that he was entrusted with full-scale media manipulation by both the Birchers and George Wallace.
Yeah... a guy who gets a college degree in journalism and political science and never "knew" that his pop was one of the big shots in fanatical right wing politics in the US in the 1960s & 70s? That is just too much to swallow!

Go to the original posting to get all the links.

No comments: