Saturday, July 8, 2017

The curiously conservative City of Tustin

From The Tustin News, June 23, 1977: contest winners
     I’ve been pokin’ around old issues of the Tustin News, where one can get a sense of how conservative that city is and has been (the TN was sold to the OC Register in 1995).
     DtB readers will be aware that Tustin was the home of right-wing Congressman James “Utt the Nut” Utt, who represented his OC district from 1953 until his death in 1970. Saddleback College’s first structure (the notorious "James B. Utt Library") was named after him.
     He was succeeded, of course, by Tustin resident and even more notorious right-winger, John Schmitz, who quit the GOP when it got too “liberal” for him. (He was expelled from the John Birch Society for his extremist rhetoric.)

From The Tustin News, June 23, 1977
     I came across the curious item above from the June 23, 1977, Tustin News. It reports the winners of a "patriotic slogan" contest held by the American Education League.
     Among the winning slogans:
  • Free Enterprise ISN'T A free ride
  • Our Best Source of Energy: OURSELVES
  • Strong Defense: Let's Keep Our Right UP and the Left Out
  • America: A Nation of United Immigrants
  • Limited Government: Our Guarantee to Unlimited Freedom
  • Apathy: Cancer of Democracy
  • Limited Defense Means Limited Protection
  • Not Just A Nation—A Way of Life: America
     According to the article, Walter Knott (of Knott's Berry Farm) is (was) the VP of the American Education League (AEL); in fact, he was a major funder of that organization. Among the judges of the contest were Virginia Knott, Karl Karcher (of Carl's Junior Restaurants), the Superintendent of the County BoE, and the publisher of the Tustin News.

Knottism, I guess
     But just what is this American Education League?
Lechner (1900-1967)
     Immigrant John Robert Lechner founded the “American Education League” in 1927 as a defender of “Americanism” and a foe of all that, in his mind, was un-American. During the war, he was obsessed with the Japanese population, campaigning for the "permanent exclusion of Japanese Americans from the Pacific Coast." According to Time magazine, during a 1945 speech he said: "We know the Japanese have super-submarines which carry 1,000 men—they're waiting for the return of California Japanese [from the internment camps] to start their invasion. They'll come in through the fog banks, led by 10,000 officers trained in American universities." (For a fuller account of Lechner's activities especially during the war, see the Densho Encyclopedia.)
     Lechner, like his contemporary Jimmy Utt, was the sort of conservative who seemed to find a Commie under every rock, including the rocks of academia (the “Untouchable-intelligentsia”).
     Lechner is long gone, but his “League” still exists. According to the AEL Facebook Page, the organization embraces “American exceptionalism” and “promotes significant and permanent reduction in the size and power of government.” Also, we’re told that
Since its founding in 1927 AEL has dedicated its efforts to informing and educating all citizens, but especially students, about the liberties and responsibilities that are their birthright as Americans. Through the encouragement and annual support of its donors and friends, AEL has distributed educational materials, videos, and cash-award programs to millions of students and thousands of schools at all levels throughout the country.
     Among the “donors and friends,” was well-known right-winger (and John Birch Society booster) Walter Knott of “Knott’s Berry Farm” fame. (He died in 1981.)
     AEL sponsors “essay contests.” According to the site Fastweb,
The American Educational League Essay Contest is open to all undergraduate students in the U.S. Applicants are asked to write a 2,000 word essay on one of the following topics: death penalty vs. life sentence, national defense vs. international defense, bankruptcy vs. government bailouts and same sex marriage vs. heterosexual marriage.
     It was Walter Knott himself who started the AEL "slogans" competition in 1971.
     Naturally, AEL publishes books, e.g., Communism: the ideology fades - the threat remains (1990).
     You get the picture.

I believe that this depicts Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan at an AEL event
     You’ll recall that we’ve occasionally discussed Rousas Rushdoony (Greg Bahnsen and Gary North are also cited as sources) and his “Christian Reconstructionism,” a religious/political movement that advocates theonomy, i.e., a form of government in which society is ruled by divine law. (For an account of Christian Reconstructionism and contemporary politics, see A Nation Under God in the December 2005 edition of Mother Jones.)
     As we’ve reported previously, OC billionaire Howard Ahmanson Jr. has been a major funder of the movement and of Rushdoony's Chalcedon Foundation. Ahmanson, of course, was one of (pray-happy former SOCCCD trustee) Tom Fuentes’ pals. Two former SOCCCD trustees, Don Wagner and Nancy Padberg, were affiliated with Education Alliance, a Tustin-based Christian right organization that has fought teachers unions since the mid-90s. Natch, EA got its seed money from— Howard Ahmanson.
     The Chalcedon Foundation is where Walter Knott, AEL, and Christian Reconstructionism come together.
     Check out this excerpt from Michael J. McVicar’s Christian Reconstruction: R.J. Rushdoony and American Religious Conservatism. It describes Rushdoony’s efforts to establish a new kind of Christian college in America:
RJ Rushdoony (1916-2001)
     ...Rushddoony developed his vision of a Christian college [namely, Chalcedon College] in an era inundated with faith-based schools. Large, well-established liberal-arts institutions such as Wheaton College in Illinois, Calvin College in Michigan, and Gordon College of Massachusetts claimed a uniquely Christian mission. Since the 1930s, these liberal-arts colleges had been supplemented by a growing network of private business and technical colleges built with a Christian mission in mind. ... Heavily subsidized in the postwar era by the GI Bill, these liberal-arts and technical colleges mixed a bland probusiness Christianity with typical evangelical doctrines.... In spite of—or, more precisely, because of—the liberal-arts education and managerial training provided by these institutions’ curricula, they were, in Rushdoony’s eyes, neither aggressively nor self-consciously Christian. Rushdoony believed he could offer something new in the already crowded midcentury Christian educational marketplace: a rigorous brand of Christian education built around biblical law.
     Before he could secure the funding necessary to buy the land and hire a staff for his proposed college, Rushdoony relied on his connections to a network of conservative organizations to insulate his activities from taxation. He was a crafty bootstrapper who combined revenue from a host of sources to finance his project. To pay for his move to Woodland Hills in August 1965, Rushdoony secured $3,600 in combined contributions from businessmen Phil Virtue and Walter Knott of Knott’s Berry Farm fame. As he waited for the IRS decision on tax exemption for Chalcedon, Rushdoony channeled contributions through his congregation at the Westminster Orthodox Pesbyterian Church and through Knott’s Americanism Educational League [sic] (AEL). Formed in 1927, the league was one of the oldest right-wing organizations in California. Knott invested heavily in the AEL in the mid-1960s and used it to fund all manner of organizations, book distribution efforts, and outreach to high school students, undergraduates, and community activists. Although only a tiny component of AEL’s much larger educational project, Chalcedon reflected Knott’s wider commitment to reforming education according to his probusiness, Christian commitments.
Tustin News, April 9, 1970

Nisei, (Japanese: “second-born”), second-generation Japanese
 in the United States. (From Encyclopedia Britannica)


Anonymous said...

So what's changed? More immigrants into these townships. That must make some OC folks cringe.

Anonymous said...

Or have matters really changed? Hum.

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