By: Brent Parrish
“If it were not for double-standards, liberals would have no standards at all.”
Recently a hero of mine passed away: conservative warrior M. Stanton Evans (1934-2015). Mr. Evans had a sharp wit, and an even sharper mind. He was a well-respected journalist, editor and author, and a true historian in his own right, in my opinion. Although I would suspect Stan Evans would take exception to my labeling him an “historian.” He instead preferred the title of “amateur historian.” But I think he deserves the title of historian, minus the “amateur” qualifier. But that’s just the kind of man Evans was–humble and genuine.
A native of Texas, M. Stanton Evans was a leader in the conservative movement for over four decades. He wrote for National Review, the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, and The Freeman, and served for 14 years as editor of the Indianapolis News. Mr. Evans was a political commentator for news organizations such as CBS and National Public Radio for over twenty years, and he founded the National Journalism Center in 1977. A former chairman of the American Conservative Union, he was also a professor of journalism at Troy University. He received numerous honorary degrees and awards.
Evans wrote nine books. And I would highly recommend any of his works. One book I read by M. Stanton Evans delved deeply into the untold story and history of Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy titled Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies. I must admit, after reading it, I’ve never been the same since. As a matter of fact, it took me a long time to get through all 600-plus pages because I kept stopping to do my own research on the astonishing revelations contained in his seminal work.
M. Stanton Evans pored over some 110,000 FBI documents concerning the McCarthy hearings for some 10 years before his book Blacklisted by History was officially published in 2007. It is meticulously researched. Evan’s book on McCarthy has been called “the Rosetta Stone of liberal lies.”
Evans was close friends with the late Herbert Romerstein, who wrote the well-researched book The Venona Secrets. The Venona decrypts were encrypted communications going back and forth between Moscow and their Soviet agents operating within the United States. They reveal a breathtaking level of infiltration at the highest levels within the U.S. government, going all the way up to the White House. Evans and Romerstein collaborated on the book Stalin’s Secret Agents: The Subversion of Roosevelt’s Government, an appropriate followup to Blacklisted by History.
Two people greatly influenced by M. Stanton Evans’ work were Ann Coulter and author Diana West, who recently wrote the compelling book American Betrayal—which is also meticulously researched, and contains a plethora of original source information and numerous citations. Ann Coulter’s book Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism is largely based on Evans’ book Blacklisted by History.
In 2013, M. Stanton Evans spoke at Hillsdale College, enlightening and entertaining the audience with some little known history that, in my opinion, needs to be shouted from the rooftops. This was also Mr. Evans’ desire—that aspiring journalists, historians and writers would grab the proverbial baton and take off where he left off.
From this point on I would like to go over some of the little-known history and facts Mr. Evans brought up during his presentation at Hillsdale College.
The thesis of Evans’ speech at Hillsdale concerned comparisons between scandals like Watergate versus current scandals within the Obama Administration, such as Benghazi and the IRS targeting of conservative groups.
M. Stanton Evans was a true conservative. And he was no fan of President Richard Milhouse Nixon. As a matter of fact, Stan Evans assisted the campaign of John Ashbrook, who ran against Nixon in 1972. Naturally, this did not score any points with Richard Nixon. Evans went on to say, “I didn’t like Nixon, until Watergate.”
Some of the reasons Stan Evans was none too enamored with Nixon had to do with many of the “progressive” policies Nixon embraced and championed during his term as U.S. president.
For example, Evans points to Nixon and Henry Kissinger’s role in the “thawing out” or “un-freezing “of relations between the Soviet Union and Red China known as détente (“relaxation”). This period was marked by numerous SALT (strategic arms limitation talks) agreements and ABM (anti-ballistic missile) treaties. Nixon also implemented wage and price controls, and founded the EPA and OSHA. Nixon was also quoted as saying, “We’re all Keynesians now.”
“After all that, Watergate was a breath of fresh air,” said Evans. This explains why Evans has stated, “I never liked Nixon, until Watergate.”
One of the major thrusts of Evans’ 2013 speech at Hillsdale concerned the mobilization of government against any political dissent. Evans claims the weight of the federal government against its dissenters goes all the way back to FDR’s administration.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) was opposed by a group called the America First Committee, which was founded by Charles Lindbergh. General Robert E. Wood, chairman of Sears, Roebuck and Company, presided over the committee. America First was a non-interventionist group opposed to America’s entry into World War Two. Regardless of how one might feel about America First and Lindbergh’s views on staying out of the Second World War, it would be hoped that most Americans would be disturbed by the heavy-handed way the U.S. government decided to deal with the organization.
FDR brought the full weight of the government against America First and a magazine called Scribner’s Commentator, the unofficial voice of the America First Committee. FDR’s efforts eventually put Scribner’s magazine out of business.
An article appearing in the Wall Street Journal elaborates further on the use of the IRS by FDR, and other U.S. presidents, to shut down critics:
President Franklin Roosevelt used the IRS to harass newspaper publishers who were opposed to the New Deal, including William Randolph Hearst and Moses Annenberg, publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Roosevelt also dropped the IRS hammer on political rivals such as the populist firebrand Huey Long and radio agitator Father Coughlin, and prominent Republicans such as former Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon. Perhaps Roosevelt’s most pernicious tax skulduggery occurred in 1944. He spiked an IRS audit of illegal campaign contributions made by a government contractor to Congressman Lyndon Johnson, whose career might have been derailed if Texans had learned of the scandal.
It was FDR who first employed wiretapping. The practice continued under the subsequent Truman Administration, as well as coverups like the manipulation of grand juries. The first example occurred during the Amerasia Spy Case. In 1947, there was obstruction of justice of the grand jury hearing the case of around 40 Soviet agents that were on the federal payroll. The grand jury manipulation by the Truman Administration resulted in all the agents being freed.
The culmination of all this came under the administration of John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK), following through to Lyndon Baynes Johnson’s (LBJ) presidency. This is little known and unpopular history that many liberal historians would prefer to either gloss over, or ignore altogether.
There was extensive use of wiretapping by JFK’s administration. An all-out campaign was waged to silence political opponents by using the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The so-called Fairness Doctrine was founded in its modern form under Kennedy. The list is long in measures taken to silence opponents of JFK’s New Frontier—a label for his administration’s domestic and foreign programs.
The key to all this is the Reuther Memorandum, named after socialist labor organizer Victor Reuther, brother of Walter Ruether, a leading official with the United Automobile Union (UAW). The Reuther’s were big backers of JFK and his New Frontier, and staunchly opposed to conservatives in all their modulations.
The Reuther Memorandum was a December 19, 1961, letter from Victor Reuther to Attorney General Bobby Kennedy, which spells out a game plan for silencing conservatives. M. Stanton Evans dedicates a chapter on the Reuther document in his book The Liberal Establishment (1965).
Another author, Fred W. Friendly (a liberal), covered the Reuther memorandum in his book The Good Guys, the Bad Guys, and the First Amendment: Free Speech vs. Fairness in Broadcasting (1976), and how it was used to crush opposition and dissent by using the IRS, FCC, and other government bureaus.
Point three of the Reuther plan states “the flow of big money to the radical right should be dammed to the extent possible”—namely, by use of IRS audits, and denying or revoking the tax-exempt status of right-of-center political education groups. The Reuther strategy was also continued under LBJ’s administration. All of this was carried out under JFK and Bobby Kennedy in the early 60s, including the personal involvement of the President of the United States himself.
Benjamin C. Bradlee, editor of the Washington Post for 25 years, until his death in 2014, was executive editor of Newsweek during JFK’s presidency, and a big player during the Watergate scandal. He also wrote the book Conversations with Kennedy.
Bradlee wrote about a conversation he had with President John F. Kennedy, claiming JFK told him he went into the tax returns of wealthy Americans, including John Paul Getty, and said they were not paying very much taxes. Kennedy allegedly told Bradlee: “I guess I shouldn’t be telling you this … it’s probably illegal.” Bradlee never mentioned a word about this conversation at the time, but included it in his book.
In response to the Reuther letter, the Ideological Organizations Project was launched by the IRS, with help from Attorney General Bobby Kennedy. Another liberal author, John A. Andrew III, wrote the book Power to Destroy: The Political Uses of the IRS from Kennedy to Nixon. The first two chapters cover the Ideological Organizations Project, and lists organizations targeted by the IRS in order to shut them down. Lo and behold, they were all conservative groups.
There are uncanny similarities between the Ideological Organizations Project and the ongoing IRS scandal involving the targeting of conservative groups under the Obama Administration. Obama’s IRS went so far as to question conservative groups about which books they have read, even questioning them about the nature of their “prayers.”
Of course, there are those who say the current IRS targeting is nothing but a “phony scandal,” including President Obama. In an interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, the president alleged there wasn’t even a “smidgen of corruption” concerning the targeting of conservative and Christian groups seeking tax-exempt status.
Yet former IRS head Lois Lerner pleaded the fifth when questioned about her involvement in the targeting scandal. Additionally, a second IRS staffer, Gregory Roseman, pleaded the fifth as well during the House Oversight Committee’s investigation of the IRS.
Gregory Roseman, who worked as a deputy director of acquisitions at the IRS, exercised his constitutional rights when Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) started interrogating him about panel findings that he helped a friend procure potentially $500 million worth of IRS contracts.
As Stan Evans points out, and evidenced by the Reuther memorandum, U.S. administrations have a long history of weaponizing government agencies for use in squelching their political competition.
During the Watergate scandal, Nixon tried to mobilize the IRS against his rivals, but he didn’t get very far. IRS staffers were not interested in helping Nixon, but did help JFK during his presidency.
Furthermore, there were a series of very serious coverups that occurred on President Kennedy’s watch, that one could argue far surpassed the Watergate scandal in gravity and scope.
For example, there was the overthrow of South Vietnam’s first president Ngo Dinh Diem on November 1, 1963, just three weeks prior to the assassination of JFK. Diem was murdered the very next day. The coup against Diem was organized by the U.S. government. The action was taken on behalf of the State Department by then Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, Roger Hilsman, and former Nixon running mate Henry Cabot Lodge, who was also the ambassador to Saigon.
The removal of Diem resulted in the disintegration of the anti-communist resistance in South Vietnam. Granted, Kennedy may not have known about the involvement of Lodge and Hilsman in organizing a coup d’tat against Diem. But it does all trace back to people within his administration.
A second example of a major coverup during JFK’s presidency is the story of Otto Otepka, Deputy Director of the United States State Department’s Office of Security in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Otepka was focused on John Stewart Service, who was implicated in the Amerasia Spy Case. The JFK administration wiretapped Otepka, ransacked his office, and bugged his phone in the early 60s.
The coverups and machinations of JFK’s administration go far beyond the exploits of Richard M. Nixon. But this history is often overlooked, or swept under the rug by liberal authors and historians.
One very important point M. Stanton Evans made during his 2013 speech at Hillsdale College is the fact that most historians nowadays have a left-bent. Many historians are liberals. Mr. Evans encouraged conservatives to write more about history, so that important or little known history is not lost or rewritten to suit a political agenda.
M. Stanton Evans will be sorely missed. His contributions in uncovering lost historical facts, and history that has been intentionally hidden or revised, cannot be overstated, as far as I’m concerned. I hope his insightful and meticulous work does indeed inspire more people to dig deeper into our fascinating, yet, at times, disturbing past. Just be sure to remember Evans’ Law of Inadequate Paranoia: “No matter how bad you think something is, when you look into it, it is always worse.”