City Councillor Chuck Turner has made a move that has some of his most ardent supporters groaning. While Sen. Dianne Wilkerson was admitting to the Boston Globe that she took some $70,000 in off-the-books cash donations, and while House leader Sal DiMasi was signaling his intention to resign amidst a swarming influence-peddling investigation, Turner - accused by the FBI of extorting and accepting a $1,000 bribe - was meeting with a previously-undisclosed branch of his faithful, the Lyndon LaRouche Movement.
The LaRouchies, as they are often referred to by other radical political groups, can often be seen near Winter Street adjacent to Boston Common or at the entrance to political events such as the inauguration celebration at the Strand Theatre last Tuesday. They hand out flyers and books with titles like "Children of Satan" and "Your Enemy George Soros," which are treatises - essentially - on how a media-military-industrial-complex conspiracy led by the "British financial oligarchy" is working to lower the world's population, among other things.
Many elected officials, organizations, and journalists say the movement's leader, Lyndon LaRouche, is a conspiracy theorist and an anti-Semite (using the term "British," for instance, as code for "Zionist"). For his part, LaRouche has denounced anti-Semitism in his writings and is often referred to by his followers as the greatest living economist.
The LaRouche Movement has been called by many a cult that tries to persuade college students to drop out and go to work for the organization. At the very least, LaRouche is a highly controversial figure who has bounced around in far-left and far-right radical political circles his entire life.
"I've had conversations with them going back into the '80s," said Turner last Saturday after a LaRouche Political Action Committee meeting that was called to support him and discuss the history of the FBI's alleged prosecution of black political leaders. "Do I agree with all of their perspectives? No. The LaRouche organization has a lot of baggage that it comes with in the public media. But the reality is, if you're looking for certain information, I think their website and their magazines are a good source."
Turner 0 toting around a LaRouche book entitled, "The End of Our Delusion; Prolegema for A Democratic Party Platform" 0 said he has turned to the LaRouchies in the past for their economic analyses. But Saturday's meeting was clearly aimed at helping Turner by linking the charges against him to a version of history that has the FBI routinely targeting black political officials.
Speaking after the councillor at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Boston to a crowd of around 100 that laughed at his every joke and clapped hands together each time he finished a thought, Harley Schlanger, LaRouche PAC's Western States spokesman, tied the charges against Turner and Wilkerson to "Fruhmenschen," an alleged FBI conspiracy against black political leaders that Schlanger claimed was launched in 1950s by then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. "Fruhmenschen" is a German word meaning early or primitive man.
"Hoover deployed the FBI on the idea that if you led black people into office they would be corrupted. Years later, nothing's changed," said Schlanger, before launching into a speech that addressed everything from the possibility that George W. Bush planned 9/11 to deriding the end of the Bretton Woods era 0 an international monetary management system set up after World War II.
With Turner and Schlanger's oratory, the meeting lasted nearly three hours. Said Schlanger: "He needs our support and we're going to give it to him.
Unlike COINTELPRO, an oft-cited FBI operation that targeted radical organizations in the 1960s, dozens of released FBI documents belie the existence of a "Fruhmenschen" initiative. LaRouche is also focused on the ideas of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who helped set up the Bretton Woods conference and who is credited with turning the U.S. economy around after the Great Depression and duringWorld War II.
Now, in a sign of the times, Schlanger said his organization is not criticizing but instead has a "cautious optimism" about President Barack Obama. "I think Barack Obama is looking to you," said Schlanger. "I think he woke up after the election."
Turner readily tied the new president to his own plight in his speech, and complained that U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan is using his case as a career booster.
"We're asking people to write to Obama and ask that they investigate the prosecutors," said Turner. "And not only here, but the prosecutors around the countryâ€¦ If there's going to be change, we have to be the agents of change."
He then defended his right to speak out about the case, even as a motion for a gag order is due to be heard by a federal judge on Feb. 12.
"The prosecutors will collaborate with the media to put out all kinds of information that they call evidence, but it's not evidence because it's not being cross-examined," said Turner at the podium. "No reporter pointed out that the picture is not a picture of a crime - if it's even a picture of me. I still have no remembrance of meeting with anyone even if they have films of it."
One LaRouche supporter, 21-year-old Emerson College dropout Luca Knapp, offered an explanation for the lure of the LaRouche Movement. "I've seen these guys on the street all the time and the more I talk to them the more I get what they are saying," she said. "They have a lot of good information and me and my friends are looking for good information. We're not really sure where to go or where the foundations are, and they know what the foundations are."