Weyrich Goes Off the Grid

Does the FBI have an active file on Paul Weyrich? The president of the Free Congress Foundation has just sent out a very peculiar mass mailing urging conservatives to “quarantine” themselves from the “hostile” majority culture “to make sure that we and our children are not infected.” Ron Fournier of the AP got a copy of the letter and wrote it up yesterday, but as yet it doesn’t seem to have gotten much notice. Now the Free Congress Foundation has posted it on its Web site. The letter urges the right to become, in effect, a cult.

The Free Congress Foundation has always been a fairly extremist organization (witness its decision to keep its old name during the past four years, while both houses of Congress have been in Republican hands). Still, it enjoys real clout and respectability within the Republican party. What will Republican leaders do now that Weyrich’s group has become … a cult?

“I think we are caught up in a cultural collapse of historic proportions, a collapse so great that it overwhelms politics,” Weyrich writes in the letter. Political Correctness, which Weyrich says is more accurately called “Cultural Marxism,” has “so gripped the body politic, has so gripped our instititions, that it is even affecting the Church. … I would point out to you that the word ‘holy’ means ‘set apart,’ and that it is not against our tradition to be, in fact, ‘set apart.’ ” What to do? Well, there’s home schooling. There’s getting rid of your TV. There’s “setting up private courts.” But that’s just a start. “I think that we have to look at a whole series of possibilities for bypassing the institutions that are controlled by the enemy. …” (Hmmm. Home churching?) “And while I’m not suggesting that we all become Amish or move to Idaho, I do think that we have to look at what we can do to separate ourselves from this hostile culture. What steps can we take to make sure that we and our children are not infected? We need some sort of quarantine.”

If all this sounds like tired rad-lib agitprop from the 1960s, that point is apparently not lost on Weyrich. “The radicals of the 1960s had three slogans: turn on, tune in, drop out,” Weyrich writes. (Hey, he forgot “Off the pigs!”) Weyrich endorses a “modified version.” First, “Turn off the television and video games and some of the garbage that’s on the computers.” (Chatterbox doesn’t actually mind this one, though he worries that last bit is a sneak attack on this column.) Second, “Tune out. Create a little stillness.” (Apparently Weyrich hates rock music; Chatterbox takes the enlightened view that there’s good rock music and bad rock music, and Chatterbox does not intend to give up his boxed set of Bruce Springsteen’s Tracks without a fight.) And finally: “[W]e need to drop out of this culture,” which “has decayed into something approaching barbarism.” This is the part Chatterbox finds genuinely creepy. Will there be barbed wire? Will there be automatic weapons? Will followers bathe regularly? Are visits permitted from Mom and Dad?

–Timothy Noah