Monday, January 16, 2012

More on Utt the Nut: "Extensive experiments in hypnotism and rhythm"

     Saddleback College’s library is named after Congressman James B. Utt, who died in 1970. I’ve been posting about the fellow and his views and pronouncements.
     This morning, I scraped up a few new factoids:
     There are several references to James B. Utt in the excellent Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right, by Lisa McGirr.
     On p. 120, McGirr quotes from a letter by Utt to Richard Nixon, complaining that Nixon’s denunciation of the John Birch Society (owing to leader Welch's remarks) was “ridiculous.” Later, Ronald Reagan, whom Utt championed, refused to disown Birch support, again distinguishing between leader and followers (p. 311).
Utt liked Birchers but
didn't like leader Welch
     As near as I can tell, Utt was never actually a member of the JB Society, but he certainly agreed with many of the views with which that organization is associated and he defended it often.
     Utt seemed to have a fondness for nutty "scientific" theories. Historian and journalist Rick Perlstein quotes from a speech by Utt in the Congressional Record:
“The Beatles and their mimicking rock-and-rollers use the Pavlovian techniques produce artificial neuroses in our young people. Extensive experiments in hypnotism and rhythm have shown how rock-and-rock music leads to a destrtuion [sic] of the normal inhibitory mechanism of the cerebral cortet [sic] and permits easy acceptance of immorality and disregard for all moral norms.”
     The speech is also quoted in part in Perlstein’s Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America.
     According to journalist Howard Blum in Wanted!: the search for Nazis in America,
Sometime before his ominous pronouncements about Operation Water Moccasin and just after his discovery of "a plot to centralize the Girl Scouts," Representative James B. Utt became involved in the case of Andrija Artukovic.
James B. Utt
     Utt helped Artukovic fight extradition to Yugoslovia for war crimes. Artukovic was known as the “Himmler of the Balkans.” Eventually, the extradition occurred (in the 80s). (Evidently, “Operation Water Moccasin” was a planned U.S. military maneuver in Georgia. At the time [1963], the far right was convinced that the operation was a cover for a move to disarm the U.S. and make it subject to the U.N.)
     James B. Utt on Space Travel (1963). Pretty goofy. Evidently, Utt supposed that, someday, a Star Trek-like transporter would be invented, though it appears that he wouldn't want to use it. Smart.
     Utt on muckraker Jessica Mitford. Utt was really down on Mitford’s famous exposé of the funeral industry (The American Way of Death, 1963). Called her a Commie, owing to her long-ago membership. I think she appreciated the publicity. Utt was a big supporter of HUAC.
     Utt on Medicare. Yeah, he was down on that sort of thing. Civil rights, too.
     Although I haven't been able to verify it, Utt reportedly once warned that Chinese soldiers were massing on the Mexican border. He wrote that in his notorious newsletter. The rumor was widespread among the far right in those days.
     Gosh, if anybody had kept those newsletters, they'd be gold now!

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's obvious your point is to show Republicans as racists. If that's so, then how would you explain MLK being a Republcan?

Anonymous said...

MLK's father was a registered Republican - the man himself was never a registered republican (check the bios) - his politics were more of a Social Democrat or Christian Socialist.

Anonymous said...

Don't feed the trolls, people. Even with facts. It won't help.

B. von Traven said...

3:29, thanks once again for rendering any effort at refutation superfluous. As usual, you reveal yourself to be a terrible reader and thinker.

Anonymous said...

The issue, dear boy, is whether Congressman Utt is an appropriate person after whom to name a college library. The implication of Bauer's research is not that Republicans are racists, but that, during a particular period in American history, a group of politicians (usually but not always Republican) were rightly viewed, even by the Republican establishment, as beyond the pale. In Washington, Utt was known, not only by Democrats but also by Republicans, as "Utt the Nut."

JoeCollege said...

Yes, do try to pay attention.

Anonymous said...

Once again? This is my first time visiting your blog.

The fact is both MLK and his father were Republicans. How can that be?

I think it's an honest question, and for asking I get belittled and insulted.

Interesting blog you've got here...

Anonymous said...

For the guy with all the answers, you seem to be avoiding that question for some reason.

Anonymous said...

Ignore the stupid people.

Anonymous said...

You're so right - that is what J. Edgar Hoover called King - a Republican. I forgot. Silly me.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
B. von Traven said...

I just deleted a troll's comment. The poor fellow was upset because I had deleted his (or another troll's) comment. In that comment, "polygamist" was spelled something like "piligymist." I kid you not. And the remark was racist besides.

Anonymous said...

6:29, a little history for you... From the end of the Civil War up until the Republican Party realignment in 1964 (around Goldwater's run for the presidency and the passage of the Civil Rights Act, which he voted against in the Senate), many African-Americans had indeed supported the Republican Party. Why? Because it was the Republican Party which had promoted emancipation and a free labor market after the Civil War (Lincoln was their president you will recall). Most Southern Democrats were opposed to emancipation, were in favor of segregation later, involved in lynchings, etc.

In 64, Goldwater only won his own state of Arizona and five southern states which had traditionally been strongly Democratic.

The northern Democrats had largely ignored the Civil Rights movement up until the late 50s, only reluctantly embracing it around 62-3. (But, even then MLK was under 24-surveillance by COINTELPRO). As the Democrats increasingly supported the CRA, many southern racists who had been Democrats, switched over to the Republicans.

So, it is not at all surprising that King's father should have been a Republican. But, then again, this was not the same Republican ship of fools of Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, Perry, Bachmann, and Palin.

Anonymous said...

Bravo, 1:12.

Anonymous said...

So, it was the racist dems who infiltrated the pristine Republican party. I see, and thanks for the clarification.

B. von Traven said...

6:29, in the past, we've had occasion to explain the colorful history of the Republican (and Democratic) parties re Civil Rights, covering much the same ground that you covered. One tires of repeating basic history. Sadly, many young people have no clue about such events and trends.

B. von Traven said...

2:47, it is such remarks as that one that reveal you to be both profoundly ignorant and plainly incorrigible. These days (by which I mean recent decades up to and including the present), the Republican Party has courted a constituency that includes racists--something that cannot be said about the Democratic Party. The case for this is easily made. Here are some iconic leads you might follow (if you were educable): (1) the Willie Horton ad; (2) Paul's racist newsletter scandal; (3) Nixon's "southern" strateg; Bush's 2000 South Carolina push poll (about McCain's alleged fictional child with a black prostitute).

Anonymous said...

Yes, 2:47 imagines himself to be clever, when, in fact, he has only revealed himself once again to be an ignoramus and a lout. As usual, he has absolutely nothing to say that could not be said better with the launch of a whoopy cushion and infantile laughter.

Anonymous said...

Tustin named a junior high school after Mr. Utt. I'm hoping that Orange County is changing a bit, but such reminders of the county's past abound...unfortunately through some of the reader comments.

Anonymous said...

I think the name of the Library should remain Utt because of the positive historical significance. The man obviously did good things to be memorialized like that, and to take that away after he's gone, I believe is pretty low.

B. von Traven said...

1:26, evidently you are not up to speed. As has already been explained repeatedly (see Lariat coverage), the decision to change the name has already been made.
Obviously, that Utt's politics ("barefooted Africans"?, nutty conspiracy theories) is offensive to many is a good reason to make a change.
The question is: what should Saddlebackians name it?

Anonymous said...

How about the Ronald Reagan Library, as he was there for the groundbreaking in '67, and I believe the Library was one of the first, if not THE first structure to be built. Also as governor, wasn't it he who made the funding possible?

I would understand the bias here against such a dedication based on opposition to Reagan's party & policies. But hey, politics aside, I think it should be Reagan all the way.

B. von Traven said...

That the library was the first significant structure built is obviously not an argument for naming it after Reagan, unless we've all decided to embrace Non Sequiturs--which may well be true among fans of the Gipper.
Reagan was not particularly known for his enthusiasm for community colleges and the state higher education system, though his predecessor certainly was (Democrat Pat Brown). Perhaps we should call it the Pat Brown Memorial Library.
Reagan was famous for his ironic or perverse appointments, such as his appointment of James Watt for Sec. of Interior, which was a bit like hiring Al Capone to head the police department. I would not be opposed to naming the library the "Reagan was a perverse asshole" memorial library.

Anonymous said...

"Reagan was a perverse asshole" (bvt)

That's a pretty outrageous and hateful thing to say about one of the greatest presidents this country, and the world has ever known. Especially coming from an "educator," sort of puts you on the same level as Mr. Reeve.

Just how was Mr. Reagan perverted? I recall him having a special ability of making people feel good about themselves, a quality I've yet to see any other leader come close to matching. Then, when Pink Floyd was only singing about walls, Reagan singlehandedly brought one down. Please, at least back up your outrageous assertions.

Long Memory said...

Ronald Reagan kicked off his presidential campaign at the Neshoba County Fair near Philidelphia, Mississippi with a speech that championed states' rights. Philidelphia MI and Neshoba County are, of course is famous for only one thing - Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman - and the speech and choice of venue was a not-so subtle attempt to align himself - not with the slain civil right workers (about whom he spoke not a word) - but with the racist south. That's the Ronald Reagan I remember.

B. von Traven said...

1:00, you need to invest in a dictionary. There is a great difference between "perverse" and "perverted." Reagan was the first modern president who made perverse (not perverted) cabinet appointments, and the appointment of Mr. Watt is only one example. Despite being charged with protecting our lands, Watt refused donations of land for conservation purposes and sought to make all government land open for development and use by mining and lumber interests among others.
And your memory is faulty. Reagan was not a particularly popular president. His "sainthood" occurred only in the years after his sorry administration, which also set a new standard of incompetence by simultaneously lowering taxes (though he did so inconsistently) and vastly increasing spending (which he did consistently). Plus, disastrously, he deregulated the S&Ls. Do I need to explain what that produced?
Sound familiar? It has come to be known as the "conservative" approach to governance.

Anonymous said...

And let's not leave out Iran-Contra. Though never charged with wrongdoing, his former cabinet members said he was in the meetings; knew of the illegal arms sales to terrorists; knew of money and guns transported to Nicaraguan Contras without Congressional approval; knew and allowed crack cocaine from the Contras to be smuggled into US urban inner cities. Yeah, great president that Reagan. What a "perverse asshole." Anyone who felt good about themselves because of Reagan wasn't paying attention, like a few so-called "readers" of this blog.

Anonymous said...

The Reaganesque Newt wins SC. YAY!

Anonymous said...

Yes - and he gave that same kinda race-baiting states' right speech that Reagan gave. The south will rise again. Oh I wish I was in Dixie. Not.

Anonymous said...

Race baiting? How so? Me thinks your reading into this, things that don't exist.

Anonymous said...

It seems rather simple minded to say that Reagan was a great president simply for making a person feel good about himself.

Anonymous said...

That's precicely the definition of exemplary leadership.

Anonymous said...

You people must really hate America. I say GOD BLESS America and everything that epitomizes her, mom, apple pie, baseball, Ronald Reagan, football, Thanksgiving, Church on Sundays, and hotdogs!
PS: Reagan's looking down on you from heaven; he forgives you.

B. von Traven said...

Yeah. Be sure to say "hello" to the Gipper for us.

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing that 12:02 is being sarcastic. I'm pretty sure that other countries have moms, apple pie, and church on Sundays. You can keep those awful hotdogs, though.

B. von Traven said...

10:53, yes, I see that now. Forgot to turn on my irony-detector this morning. Nevertheless, those of you who regularly communicate with the Deity: do say hello to Bonzo for us.