Some 1000 happy conservatives attended a 12-hour "Rally for God and Country" at the Statler-Hilton Hotel yesterday, and heard 13 speakers from Billy James Hargis to Ezra Taft Benson denounce internal subversion.
Pickets from the NAACP, CORE, the American Veterans Committee, the Unitarian-Universalists, and the State AFLCIO filed around the hotel carrying placards protesting the rally. Violence erupted on the picket line when a Polish refugee tried to burn a Communist flag on the sidewalk, causing a scuffle. The refugee, Joseph Mlot Mroz, president of the Anti-Communist Federation of Polish Freedom Fighters, was arrested on a charge of disturbing the peace.
Birchers Sponsor Meeting
The rally was sponsored by 24 Massachusetts citizens, most of whom are members of the John Birch Society. Organizations listed as "patriotic co-operators" included the Birch Society, the Young Americans for Freedom, the National Review, the Committee of One Million, the National Indignation Conventon, and the Brooklyn Tablet, organ of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brooklyn.
Featured speakers at the rally were Ezra Taft Benson, Secretary of Agriculture in the Eisenhower Administration, outgoing Rep. John Rousselot (R.-Calif.), now a full-time employee of the John Birch Society, Dr. Billy James Hargis of the Christian Crusade, and Thomas Anderson, editor of Farm and Ranch. The other speakers, such as Kent and Phoebe Courtney, New Orleans publishers, and Myers Lowman of Circuit Riders, Inc., are well know on the Right but not prominent nationally.
Former Secretary Benson, in a one and one-half hour talk, defined "creeping socialism" as the paramount issue of the day.
"It is high time we realized the threat of creeping socialism, and its ruthless comrade, atheistic communism," Benson said. "Socialistic communism is essentially a war against God. We are engaged in a struggle aginst the evil, satanical priestcraft of Lucifer."
"Three Pillars of Freedom"
Benson called free enterprise, private property and the free market economy "the three pillars of free government." Reminding his listeners of the dangers of big government, he said that three groups encourage more Federal programs: "well-meaning but uninformed people, self-seeking people who see in government spending a way to enrich themselves, and actual subversives who are dedicated to the overthrow of our economic and social system."
Concluding his speech, Benson, his voice choking and tears in his eyes, cried, "With all my heart, I love this great nation!"
Hargis, head of the rightist religio-political Christian Crusade, started the day's speeches with a prayer for the "misguided youth who picket this meeting today."
"I have some opinions of the motley reactionaries who are picketing this meeting," Hargis said. "In this city, the cradle of freedom, I see here the seeds of vicious dictatorship. I wonder if these groups would be so concerned if this was a pacifist rally."
Hargis Hits NAACP
Hargis attacked the NAACP as a "political pressure group, a powerful left-wing outfit for racial agitation." Boasting that the Christian Crusade has a higher membership than the "association for the agitation of colored people," he recommended that "fiery patriots should react not by bopping them over the head, but by ignoring them.
"It's not those poor kids downstairs that we are mad at," Hargis said. "They may not know what is behind them, but I do. The people we are mad at are the motley slimy Communists sitting in some hotel room in Boston or New York maneuvering all this."
Hargis drew his loudest applause with plaudits for "Bob Welch--one of the greatest American patriots I have ever met." He commented briefly on H. Stuart Hughes, "who I understand went straight down the socialist, pro-Communist line."
Rep. Rousselot was introduced by Robert Welch, leader of the John Birch Society, who made a surprise appearance at the rally. Rousselot, now the Socioty's Western "District Governor", was defeated last year in his bid for reelection.
Rousselot, in a speech entitled "Disarmament, a blueprint for surrender," suggested that the U.S. withdraw from the U.N., break off diplomatic relations with all Communist countries, abolish the income tax, and build up a nuclear first-strike capability."
The U.N. has failed under the "ridiculous leadership" of Secretary General U Thant, who has been "an avowed Marxist for 20 years," Rousselot said.
Thomas Anderson, editor of Tennessee's Farm and Ranch magazine, was introduced by the master of ceremonies as "a friend, and fellow-member on the council of the John Birch Society."