Choosing Sides : Right-Wing Icons in the Group Research Records

Envisioning Enemies > The Institutional World

Illuminati. Cinema Educational Guild, 1967.

Myron Fagan came to prominence in the late 1940s and early 1950s as one of the leaders of the movement to expose supposed communist influence in Hollywood. Operating chiefly under the guise of the Cinema Educational Guild--an organization he founded to distribute anti-communist publications--Fagan sought to demonstrate that Hollywood was "as Red controlled as Moscow" and to counteract that influence. He was reportedly the major force behind the creation of Red Channels, a 1950 booklet that listed alleged communist sympathizers in the movie industry, many of whom film executives subsequently blacklisted.

By the 1960s, Fagan had broadened his efforts to root out anti-American infiltration, and he picked up on the popular conservative theme of a plot to subvert US sovereignty by accession to a "one-world government." Like other commentators, Fagan pointed to the activities of the United Nations as evidence of this plot. (For other examples of this theme, see: "The Tower of Babble," "United Nations: The Modern Trojan Horse," and "The Strange Origin of the U.N. Flag," all below.) But in this 1967 record series, Illuminati: The Council on Foreign Relations, he spent most of the two-and-a-half hours covering six LP album sides decrying the eponymous think tank as the home base for US members of the "Illuminati," a cult which Fagan claimed had been working to forge a "satanic" world-wide government since the eighteenth century.

The building pictured in Fagan’s symbolic rifle scope is the Council on Foreign Relations' New York headquarters, for which Fagan conveniently provided the address should any of his listeners wish to protest the institution. In keeping with Fagan’s long history of "naming names," the back cover featured a list of CFR members and alleged Illuminati, bringing together into one plot such unlikely co-conspirators as Franklin Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Alger Hiss, and Robert Oppenheimer. As one slogan printed on the back cover explained: "Play this for the unaware, uninformed and well meaning people who desire to hear the truth--Don’t waste your time on the hard core socialists who have already repudiated principle."

The Tower of Babble. The National Constitution Newspaper, 1973.

This cartoon appeared in the National Constitution Newspaper’s Winter 1973 edition. The Denver-based publication was the project of Ted Billings, a health store owner turned conservative politician who ran for vice president in 1964 on the Constitution Party ticket and eventually became national chairman of the tiny party. (Billings' Constitution Party has no relation to the current party of the same name.) Much of the National Constitution Newspaper was devoted to conspiracy theories. Topics included communism ("is the secret plan [of US presidents] designed to reduce and destruct the United States to make it equal in poverty with Communist Failures?"), the federal reserve and other government financial institutions ("the lives and destinies of all people of this earth are now controlled by angelic-moneychanger-savages"), and the civil rights movement ("all that is required to know in advance what the result of race-mixing will be, is to look where it has been the way-of-existence for many years. When we look--we see chaos").

Although the National Constitution Newspaper was a publication that few people would have ever come across, the essence--if not always the same hyperbolic rhetoric--of many of the individual views about the government, the UN, and race expressed in its pages was widely-held by even mainstream conservative advocates during the 1960s and 1970s. This was perhaps no clearer than in the pictured cartoon’s attack on the United Nations, a popular target of small-government and anti-communist advocates during this period. Condemning the plot as a money-wasting attack on US "freedom," text accompanying the cartoon assailed "the planned 'UN' World Government" and described it as the "Red Debt Takeover," a communist plot unwittingly funded by the US government. For similar examples of anti-UN imagery, see: "United Nations: The Modern Trojan Horse" and "The Strange Origin of the UN Flag," both below.

United Nations: The Modern Trojan Horse. The Network of Patriotic Letter Writers, March 1965.

This single-sheet publication produced by the Network of Patriotic Letter Writers consisted mostly of reproductions from various periodicals of commentaries that were critical of the United Nations in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The unnamed editor of the publication summed up many of these arguments by asserting that the UN "has promoted worldwide Communist expansion . . . alien agents have had diplomatic immunity while conducting espionage . . . [and the US] is being forced into world government in accordance with Communist plans. . . ." These charges, particularly those related to communism and world government, were typical of the ones that US conservatives levied against the UN in the 1960s and are brilliantly suggested by the hammer and sickle-branded Trojan Horse pictured in the cartoon.

The Network of Patriotic Letter Writers grew out of a Pasadena, California, cell of the John Birch Society organized by Mrs. Joseph Crosby in the early 1960s. Crosby’s NPLW comprised hundreds of conservative activists, especially in Southern California, who collectively coordinated letter-writing campaigns to government officials and the news media in support of conservative causes such as the impeachment of US Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren and the censorship of movies written by communist Dalton Trumbo. Though officially unaffiliated with JBS, the NPLW often took its cue about what causes deserved attention from JBS founder Robert Welch’s official pronouncements. This connection is evident in the attack on the UN, which was a favorite target of Welch’s "Americanist" ideologues.

The Strange Origin of the UN Flag. The Network of Patriotic Letter Writers, March 1965.

This drawing was one of the clippings compiled by the Network of Patriotic Letter-Writers in the same publication that featured the "United Nations: The Modern Trojan Horse" cartoon (see previous item). The "Russian Arms Banner" on the left side symbolized the frequently-referenced idea that the United Nations was a communist-run organization dedicated to superceding US sovereignty. Fewer commentators used the spider web icon apparent in the center image, although its suggestion of a plot that is slowly trapping the entire world is a variation on the popular use of an octopus whose tentacles could stretch around the globe, a popular symbol used to indicate communism that had been in use since at least the 1930s.

Go to College: Learn to Riot. Creator unknown, c. 1960s.

While the provenance of this particular bumper sticker is unknown, many conservatives in the 1960s sought to diminish liberal student political action by dismissing it as unprincipled violence. The ubiquity of the sentiment is suggested by a famous 1967 New York Review of Books article written by Students for a Democratic Society leader Tom Hayden, who illustrated the conservative bias of the Newark police force by noting that its headquarters featured "two signs which hint at the police world view: 'BOMB HANOI' and 'GO TO COLLEGE AND LEARN TO RIOT.'" This bumper sticker and similar signs made their points via relatively subdued sarcasm--heightened by the innocent image of a stereotypical college building. See "Now Your Town Can Have a 'Professional Riot!'" for a more absurdist version of the same idea.

Those Missiles Are Still in Cuba! Creator unknown, c. 1962.

This bumper sticker makes reference to the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, when a standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union over Soviet attempts to construct missile installations in Cuba threatened to push the two powers into war. Although Soviet premier Nikita Kruschev's announcement on 29 October 1962 that his country would dismantle those sites and remove their weapons from Cuba played a key role in defusing the crisis, the lag between announcing and executing the plan provided fodder for criticism by some right wing commentators who felt the US had taken an insufficiently strong approach to the crisis by failing to preemptively destroy the missiles in a military engagement. During the still-tense days following Kruschev's announcement, the phrase "Those Missiles Are Still in Cuba" became shorthand for distrust of both the Soviet Union and the US government, raising both the specter of communism and questioning the government's ability to effectively deal with it.

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