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A rightwing Quaker is hard to find.

"Conservative" Quaker means normally that you are a traditionalist in all matters of religion and personal conduct, but not politically. To their honor, a lot of Quakers have been "Libertarians" when this kind of political ideology was fashionable, but where have they gone?

So let's speak about the Left and the Right. These are the names of conflict parties, not of general concepts, and conflict parties can change their political positions over the time. There are some "axial" epochs in which the political positions change. But then the positions are unchanged for a while.

One of the crucial epochs was the "Red Decade", the 1930s. It meant that the Left had a long and victorious march through the institutions - whose results were partly reversed when the counterstrike came in the 1950s, by the "McCarthyites". (Mc Carthy himself was a simple Senator who had the misfortune to become namegiver to a whole movement.)

Which brings us to E.Merrill Root, professor for English Literature at Earlham College, well-known poet in the tradition of Robert Frost, and a gifted polemicist. After William Buckley had started with "God and Man at Yale", Root published a more wide-ranged book about "Collectivism on the Campus" (1952) and thereafter "Brainwashing in the High Schools" (about American History textbooks). He was a co-founder of Buckley's "National Review", but then joined the somewhat more radical John Birch Society and became editor of its "American Opinion" magazine, where most of his later political writing was published.

Nevertheless he was a Quaker "in good standing" and remained editor for the "American Friend" and "Quaker Life". I must admit that this sounds rather impossible, but Wikipedia maintains it.

Would such a life - between an extremely rightwing organization and a Quaker community - be possible today? I wonder.

So my E.Merrill Root Initiative has two different goals:

1. Studying Root's work and life ("Collectivism on the Campus" sounds as if it could have been written yesterday. And the John Birch Society had quite interesting members, like Christian novelist Taylor Caldwell, or detective novelist Elizabeth Linington/Dell Shannon).

2. Attracting Quakers with a more (or less) political rightwing orientation, in order to speak about common concerns, discontents - things which make us unhappy etc. etc.

You are invited.

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