Who was John Birch?

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

In 1961, Time magazine asked, Who was John Birch?

In 1939 Birch graduated from Georgia’s Baptist-controlled Mercer University as the top man in his class, leaving behind him a record that is still recalled. “He was always an angry young man, always a zealot,” says a classmate. “He felt he was called to defend the faith, and he alone knew what it was.” Says a psychology professor: “He was like a one-way valve: everything coming out and no room to take anything in.”

In his senior year. Birch organized a secret “Fellowship Group” and set out to suppress a mildly liberal trend at Mercer. He and twelve colleagues collected examples of “heresy” uttered by faculty members (example: a reference to evolution), whipped up support among Georgia’s Baptist clergy, finally forced the school to try five men on the charge. Mercer eventually dismissed the cases, but not before admonishing 75-year-old Dr. John D. Freeman, a world-famous Baptist leader, for using a theologically “unsound” textbook. That summer Dr. Freeman quietly retired from Mercer. Says a professor: “It broke him.”

Birch went to China as a missionary in 1940, and was caught there by Pearl Harbor. In 1942, as he was trying to find a way to enlist, the war literally dropped in on him. He was taken one night by a native to a man who had fallen out of the sky. The fallen: Lieut. Colonel Jimmy Doolittle. Birch led Doolittle and a group of the survivors of the Tokyo raid to safety, then joined the unit that later became General Claire Chennault’s Fourteenth Air Force and began a remarkable career in air combat intelligence. Wrote Chennault later: “Birch was the pioneer of our field-intelligence net.”

Traveling up to 100 miles behind enemy lines, Birch radioed back word on prime Japanese targets. He directed the building of three airstrips within enemy territory. For his work, Birch was awarded the Legion of Merit, got a posthumous Oak Leaf Cluster for “exceptionally meritorious service.”

Birch was eventually transferred to the Office of Strategic Services and was assigned late in the war to a tiny, scorpion-infested base at Sian in North China. Baptist Birch is remembered as a loner with a somewhat overbearing manner. In his diary, Major Gustav Krause, commanding officer of the base, gravely noted: “Birch is a good officer, but I’m afraid is too brash and may run into trouble.”

When the Japanese surrendered, Birch led a routine mission to discover how far south the Chinese Communists had penetrated. His group bumped into a Chinese Communist force. 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.

That, I suppose, is how you get an arch-conservative society named after you.

This next passage moved Mencius Moldbug to remark that DC has been sacrificing American kids to the PC gods for a long time:

“In the confusing situation,” said 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.”

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