Dallas superpatriots are no nuttier than anyone else, it turns out Dallas radical rightwingers “show only one extreme characteristic besides their politics, namely, living in Dallas,” according to a psychologist who studied 21 Dallas super patriots. We’ve been hoarding this article originally printed in the February, 1970, Psychology Today in hopes of eventually finding room to reprint some of it. Finally the occasion presents itself. Alan C. Elms, formerly of Southern Methodist University, writes that liberals’ traditional view of radical rightists as “twisted, lunatic, even like the Blue Meanies a different species altogether” is a bunch of hooey. Following are excerpts from the article: One volunteer in his early 30s, whom we will call Mr. Baldwin, first came to my attention when he was reported to be recruiting members of his Sunday school choir for the Birch Society. He had also been busy writing letters to the newspapers, and turned out to be both a Birch Society chapter leader and a Republican precinct chairman. He said he had become aware of “the danger this country is in at the present time” only during the Goldwater presidential campaign. Election night “really was like a nightmare to me. . . . After that I couldn’t sit still and not do anything about it any more.” So he sent in a coupon he clipped from a Birch Society advertising supplement in the Dallas News. Mr. Baldwin held a college degree, an advanced white-collar position in a national corporation and a responsible lay position in his church. Yet, he said, “I am viewed today, by the opinion molders and attitude makers of society, such as newspapers, TV and radio commentators, important members of Government, as an extremist, right-wing fanatic, hate-monger, war-monger, etc., since I still believe firmly in God and our U.S. Constitution.” Extreme as Mr. Baldwin was politically, he gave little indication of , psychological abnormalities. He worried that he was too introverted, but he came across as a big-talking extroverted Texan. If you made clear at the start that you had no plans to join his Birth chapter or his church, he’d probably make a good neighbor. ASUBSTANTIAL portion of the rightists I studied were Birchers, but not all of them. There was a gentleman I’ll call Mr. Field, who felt the J.B.S. couldn’t “do anything but help bring greater awareness on the part of the American voter to the true consequences of the actions of many of the people now in high places of the Government as well as the so-called Communist element,” but who added, “The trouble is that these kinds of organizations have a tendency to pull in the lunatic fringe.” He felt as Mr. Baldwin had that the civil-rights movement was run “to a great extent by racial agitators who laid down the plan 30 years ago, 35 years ago” as “part and parcel of the great so-called proletariat revolution.” He believed a. conspiracy of “people in New York” was responsible for “processing the mentality, the mental attitude of the American people” to accept Castro’s takeover of Cuba, the Communist takeover of China, the attempted Communist takeover of the Congo. He had stopped going to church “because unfortunately so much of what I heard being said made me a little upset, so I got mainly into abstaining from churchgoing but still being religious, so to speak.” Instead he read Plain Truth magazine \(“Gosh, it’s so right, how could it Mr. Field was retired from military service and was working in an executive business position. He displayed no noticeable peculiarities other than still being single at the age of 42. Another non-Bircher was a lady in her early 30s, Mrs. Stevens, whose favorite extrafamilial activity was the round of speeches she delivered to ladies’ clubs and PTAs concerning the imminent loss of our freedom via the graduated income tax and creeping socialism. She had worked with other women handing ‘out leaflets to shoppers, blaming “wasteful Government spending” rather than greedy grocers for high food prices, had testified at state hearings that certain high-school textbooks were socialistic, and was active in local Republican politics. Her spare time was spent with rightist books, Communist speakers. Mrs. Stevens had a college degree, had built “a good life” with her husband, didn’t like housework but said she was trying to give her children a good home. Then there was the oilman, Mr. Downey, who’d had his first big strike when he was 30 and hadn’t had one since just 86 dry holes. He said he knew J.B.S. members “architects, lawyers, engineer’s, all of ’em are well-educated people” but was coy when I asked whether he belonged too. The point was academic. He included Lyndon Johnson in “the extreme left wing,” thought “most professors and most preachers have embraced the rather radical left wing.” He felt “somebody besides the Democrats” had sabotaged Goldwater’s campaign. He complained that after the 1964 election, “we have what you can call a true democracy, that’s true: there’s 60 million people, 60 million voters, that are ruling the. other 27 million whose ideas are given absolutely no consideration.” \(Twenty-seven million voted for Mr. Downey seemed particularly sensitive to governmental regulation of business, specifically the oil business, but he also traced his political views in part to seeing Russian Army brutality in World War II. He’d had a “very satisfactory married life and I wouldn’t change partners if I had it to do over again.” He felt his children “think of me as affable, too easygoing, and perhaps not too bright. Believe they are fond of me in spite of not having too much respect for me.” Mr. Downey was indeed an affable, voluble man with a rich sense of humor. He had gone through several extreme ups and downs in the oil business, but showed little bitterness or frustration; he was still hard working on the job, relaxed and generous off it. His occasional outbursts of hostility were directed only toward the remote Federal Government and toward people he didn’t know, such as college professors and the Reds. . . . Two out of 21 far rightists, a proportion not much different from the average for the general population, had what appeared to be severe psychological problems; several others \(but no more than among minor problems or had had difficulties in the past, now apparently resolved with or without the help of their political opinions. The majority seemed to be psychologically healthy and stable and appeared never to have been otherwise, if I can believe extensive interview material, autobiographies, and projective tests. . . . Elms cites three major functions of attitudes that might help explain radical conservatism: object appraisal which helps a person “size up” objects in the environment from the point of view of his major interests and material needs; social adjustment which helps one get along with other people; and externalization, using attitudes toward the outside world to help one deal with inter psychological problems. “By feeling hostile toward hippies, we can keep the lid on direct expression and get our kicks indirectly, through our loving condemnation of filth,” Elms explains. Now, how do radical rightists attitudes November 27, 1970 19
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