WASHINGTON (Jun. 22)
The John Birch Society and other right-wing groups may embrace racism, thus adding to the right-wing threat to democracy, the 17th annual plenary session of the National Community Relations Advisory Council was told today at its opening session.
Dr. Alan F. Westin said that America’s foreign and domestic problems favored growth of movements like the John Birch Society at this time. The Columbia University-professor said “the reservoirs of racial hostility…could fill the society’s well to overflowing.” He referred to the desegregation struggle in the South.
Another speaker, Joseph Roos, executive director of the Jewish Community-Federation Council of Los Angeles, saw a parallel in the rise of ultra right-wing political elements in America currently and developments in Germany during the Weimar Republic. “While these rightist groups and their leaders may think they are hitting at Communists, they are actually undermining our foreign policy and weakening the American people’s reliance in our free institutions, ” said Mr. Roos.
Over 200 delegates of six national Jewish organizations and 54 Jewish councils of cities throughout the nation are attending. The national groups include the representative bodies of Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism; the American Jewish Congress, Jewish Labor Committee, and Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A.
NCRAC national chairman Lewis H. Weinstein, of Boston, said the meeting was convened for the purpose of “gauging where we are, what ground we have gained or lost during the past year, and how-and where we can best apply our energies in the coming year toward our common aims-advancement of equality of opportunity, without regard to race, color or religion; the assurance of freedom of expression, association, and other individual liberties; the fostering of sound inter-religious relationships; and the strict maintenance of separation of Chruch and State.”
A resolution opposing public school graduation exercises that are religious in nature or contain religious elements was adopted today. The session’s agenda includes discussion of inter-religious relations and Church-State separation, and their prospects for the coming decade; the effects on inter-group relationships of the changing racial character of metropolitan centers; and the impact of the Eichmann trial on American public opinion.