Hot on the heels of yesterday’s post comes this profile in today’s Salon of revisionist and fundamentalist extremist W. Cleon Skousen.
Skousen’s former employer had a low opinion of him as an overzealous right-winger. Which employer? The FBI… during the J. Edgar Hoover years:
When Skousen’s books started popping up in the nation’s high-school classrooms, panicked school board officials wrote the FBI asking if Skousen was reliable. The Bureau’s answer was an exasperated and resounding “no.” One 1962 FBI memo notes, “During the past year or so, Skousen has affiliated himself with the extreme right-wing ‘professional communists’ who are promoting their own anticommunism for obvious financial purposes.”
Things didn’t get better.
By 1963, Skousen’s extremism was costing him. No conservative organization with any mainstream credibility wanted anything to do with him. Members of the ultraconservative American Security Council kicked him out because they felt he had “gone off the deep end.” One ASC member who shared this opinion was William C. Mott, the judge advocate general of the U.S. Navy. Mott found Skousen “money mad … totally unqualified and interested solely in furthering his own personal ends.”
When Skousen aligned himself with Robert Welch’s charge that Dwight Eisenhower was a “dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy,” the last of Skousen’s dwindling corporate clients dumped him.
So who’s the guy currently touting Skousen and his books? Who, forty years later, would consider this wingnut a reliable source of American history?