Almost anyone could have predicted that some unscrupulous peddlers would try to make a fast buck by packaging shoddy merchandise in red-white-and-blue Bicentennial wrappings. What is surprising, however, is the magnitude of the attempt to deceive the public by masquerading under the Bicentennial label, and that those deceived are the better educated citizens who don’t usually buy a gold brick from a slick-talking stranger.
The details are all spelled out in a recent report by the Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security about an unofficial organization called the Peoples Bicentennial Commission.
Contrary to its public image as a patriotic educational organiza tion, Peoples Bicentennial Commission is actually “a propaganda and organizing tool of a small group of new-left political extremists whose political heroes include such Marxist luminaries as Fidel Castro, Mao Tse-tung, [and] Che Guevara.”
The Peoples Bicentennial Commission has had significant success in the high schools by appealing to student grievances, real or imagined, in order to try to revive the radical student movement of the 1960s. The PBC materials suggest that ours is an oppressive “Tory society” and that it is the students’ duty to overthrow their oppressors.
With such unacceptable goals and tactics, how could the Peoples Bicentennial Commission succeed in getting any of its materials used by thousands of schools and preachers, by 924 radio stations, and by 102 television stationsr/ Because the Peoples Bicentennial Cmnmissio.n did such a good job of packaging its product in patriotic colors.
The Peoples Bicentennial Commission camouflaged its propaganda materials with complimentary references to the Founding; Fathers, with quotations from Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Tom Paine, with artful paraphrasing of the Declaration of Independence, and with a clever use of authentic drawings and engravings from the colonial era.
One of the Peoples Bicentennial Commission’s major projects was to mail cassette recordings and covering letters to 8,000 wives of business executives telling them to cross-examine their husbands about alleged “criminal activity.” lf these cassettes “Were obviously designed to sow seeds of family discord and to persuade wives that they have a “special responsibility” to argue with their husbands and to inform against them.
The Peoples Bicentennial Commission followed up this troublemaking mailing by sending personal letters to 10,000 secretaries to business executives and to 13,000 journalists offering a cash reward of 25,000 for “information that leads directly to the arrest, prosecution, conviction and imprisonment of’ a chief executive officer of one of America’s Fortune 500 corporations for criminal activity relating to corporate operations.”
The NEW YORK TIMES called this a “scphomoric prank.” The Senate Report proves, however, that this was not just a school-boy prank, but part of a calculated attack to destroy or weaken our private enterprise system.
The Senate report called this ”the attempt to steal the Bicentennial.” We can thank the Senate investigators for catching the burglars in the act.