Thursday, October 16, 2014

#1181: John A. Stormer

Yes, he is apparently still around. John Stormer is a fundamentalist protestant and anti-communist whose books have, over his career, sold an impressive number of copies, warning America about the communist infiltration of American society, politics and culture. He is one of the movers and shakers in the John Birch Society, and his books certainly help set their agenda in the 1960s.

In particular, his 1964 book None Dare Call It Treason argued that America was losing the cold war because it was being betrayed by its elites who were secretly procommunist and Soviet agents and had infiltrated all institutions of power in the US; it managed to sell some six million copies and was enormously influential on the hardline right during Barry Goldwater’s bid for the presidency. It is a magnificently crazy rant deeply steeped in delusional conspiracy theories, and that one was written before he turned into a religious fundamentalist: The 1968 sequel, The Death of a Nation, however, predictably linked collectivism to the work of Antichrist and discussed signs of the End Times as well. It failed to reach the classic status of its prequel. In 1990, though, Stormer published None Dare Call It Treason ... 25 Years Later, which contained the original book but expanded it with an equally long update arguing that Perestroika and Glasnost were merely Soviet propaganda tools, illusions of a moderate retreat from hardline communism as a way of seducing the West. That his predictions sort of rather obviously failed doesn’t seem to have made him question his analytical powers and hypotheses: His more recent None Dare Call It Education argues how education reforms are undermining academics and traditional values from the point of view of an evangelical (teachers are teaching evolution because they hate God and America-style), and Betrayed by the Bench is a standard rant about how judicial activism has destroyed America by coming to conclusions based on the Constitution that Stormer doesn’t appreciate because he is a fundamentalist bigot who hates freedom.

Since 1977 Stormer has apparently also conducted weekly Bible studies for members of the Missouri State Legislature, been president of the Missouri Association of Christian Schools and published a periodic newsletter, Understanding the Times, which focuses on how to fail to understand the times by trying to reinterpret current affairs from a fundamentalist wingnut point of view.

Diagnosis: Old, angry and deluded, Stormer can in fact look back on a career as one of the central strategists for the religious right’s most fervent nutjobs. That his conspiracy rants remain influential should beggar belief but they apparently do.

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