interview transcript: Frederick Clarkson, on Rev. Moon, the Moonies and Something New and Worse
The reach and depth of Reverend Sun Myung Moon into the US is incredible. We learn about it, and a new, very scary religious organizaiton that we really need to keep an eye on.
This interview transcript has been broken into three parts.
This is Part 1.
Thanks to Don Caldarazzo
for help editing the transcript.
Here's the link to the audio interview: Frederick Clarkson, on Rev. Moon, the Moonies and Something New and Worse
The reach and depth of Reverend Sun Myung Moon into the US is incredible. We learn about it, and a new, very scary religious organizaiton that we really need to keep an eye on.
image from Wikipedia
Interview Date: September 5, 2012
Rob: Welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, WNJC 1360 AM out of Washington township, reaching metro Philly and south Jersey; sponsored by OpEdNews.com with our podcasts archived at both iTunes, at OpEdNews.com/podcasts. If you're looking for them at iTunes, just look for my name, "Rob Kall," K-a-l-l.
My guest tonight is Frederick Clarkson. He's a senior fellow at Political Research Associates in Somerville, Massachusetts. He's a longtime observer of the religious right. including Reverend Moon, and that's what we're going to be talking about--at least starting the conversation tonight.
Reverend Moon passed away and Frederick Clarkson had this to say about him. "Reverend Sun Myung Moon was the most pernicious, anti-Democratic figures in the United States in the latter half of the 20th century. Moon hated America. He hated our tradition of individual rights and independent thought. He hated democracy and said he wanted to replace it with a theocracy under his own rule." Pretty tough stuff. It goes on, "Although many would be loathe to admit it, Moon has been a central figure in the development of the modern American Conservative Movement since the 1960s; from Richard Viguerie's direct mail operation, to the religious and political empire of Jerry Falwell."
Welcome to the show.
Frederick: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Rob: That's quite an obituary there.
Frederick: Yeah, I don't mean to speak ill of the dead, but in his case it's hard to find good things to say.
Rob: Well, how old was he?
Frederick: He was 92.
Rob: Ninety-two, that's almost a century of being a pox upon humanity, there. Now, how did he have such an affect upon the United States? I know the Unity Church owned the Washington Times. Is it still owned--
Frederick: The Unification Church, yeah.
Rob: The Unification Church. Do they still own it?
Frederick: They do. There have been some re-shapings of their business and media empire. It's in a couple of pieces now, and there's a lot of infighting going on among Moon Singer associates and members of his family and it's all pretty ugly. But yes, Washington Times is still part of the empire.
Rob: What else is part of the empire here in the United States?
Frederick: Oh. well let's see. Among the media things, the venerable international wire service, United Press International is a part of their empire.
Frederick: Yeah, it has been for many years. In fact, you may remember the long time White House correspondent Helen Thomas who always sat in the front row and always got to ask the first question, because she was the senior reporter. When the Moon organization bought UPI, she resigned.
Frederick: She later became a columnist. So she continued to hold her seat, but she was no longer a reporter for UPI.
Rob: Wow. What else is part of his empire in the U.S.?
Frederick: Hundreds, if not thousands of businesses. They own a handgun manufacturing plant in Worcester, Massachusetts. They own New Yorker Hotel across the street from Madison Square in New York City.
Rob: Oh, I go there. That's terri--okay. Keep going.
Frederick: Let's see. They own a chain of--
Rob: I don't stay there but I've been there for conferences.
Frederick: I've been there as well. There used to be a cable television studio in there. Well, the last time I was there, you walk into the hotel lobby and it's full of Koreans and that alone might not be surprising but you go into the newsstands, concession stand at the hotel, just like any other, and you find The New York Times, The Daily News and The Unification News, which is the churches monthly newspaper. But yes, vast real estate business and media holdings, Japanese restaurants, health food stores, all kinds of stuff; fishing fleets, Gloucester in Bayou La Batre, Alabama; they basically have taken over a good deal of the shrimping industry in the Gulf. It's enormous.
Rob: It's amazing. And how have they influenced our culture? How have they influenced, as you said, the development of the American Conservative Movement since the 60s?
Frederick: Well, I mentioned Richard Viguerie in my quote and people don't know who is. He was really the inventor of political direct mail long before there was the internet and online fund-raising took over. We still get pieces of mail--people in the political world, but the story goes after the Berry Goldwater campaign for President in 1964, Viguerie personally went down to the Congress where they kept records of these things, and hand-wrote out every contributor to the Goldwater campaign, and that was the basis of his direct mail fundraising list. His first and major client was something called the Korean Cultural Freedom Foundation, which was a joint project. It's hard to say whether there was really difference to make it joint, but between the Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon and the Korean Central Intelligence Agency. So, they were building a constituency in the United States via direct mail for the Korean part of the Cold War at the time.
The Korean Cultural Freedom Foundation did a lot of propaganda in the United States, but they also had broadcasting operations run by the KCIA out of South Korea that beamed into China and North Korea and into Vietnam, and of course the Vietnam War was going big at the time. So, Viguerie was right there working with the Moon organization from their earliest days in the United States, and building his business off of that. That's just Viguerie. It's hard for people to appreciate just how important Viguerie was.
Rob: I know Viguerie was one of the main movers and shakers and funders--not just direct by donation, but by using the power of direct mail and the technologies and the tools and resources that he had to raise money for the Conservative Movement for decades.
Frederick: Yep. That's exactly right. Now, as long as we're talking Viguerie as a theme to follow through with, understand that Viguerie had a lot of Moon entities as clients over the years, including The Washington Times, selling subscriptions and the like. So, the direct mail business involves an awful lot of cash and checks. It's a very fluid business. So, you can accomplish a lot politically that way. A lot of mailings are not even intended to make money so much as to have political impact and do education, as they say in the business.
But at one point in the 80s, maybe the early 90s--it was the 80s, Viguerie's business fell on hard times. I'm not sure why; and he was about to go out, and somehow or other, [the] Moon Organization came in and bought his office building in Northern Virginia for above [the] market rate of $10 million. So suddenly he had enough cash, but he certainly owed the Moon organization big time for saving him.
Rob: So, literally Viguerie was one of the most powerful promoters of Conservatism for decades, literally. He was, because of his helping Conservative causes with direct mail, a major--right now you've got Citizen's United and billionaires putting up money, but back then that couldn't happen. It wasn't allowed. It was illegal. So, back then you had to use direct mail to get small donors to come forward and get lots and lots of donations. And Viguerie was one of the primary people who, by providing his direct mail resources--enabled that to happen.
Frederick: That's right. In addition to the money, it was also a grassroots development thing. He could reach beyond the media, or the more establishment Conservative magazines, and reach into places that you wouldn't ordinarily get to if you happen to be a Conservative activist trying to put out a message and bring people into a movement, to help him launch whole new organizations and introduce whole new ideas.
Rob: And he was able to do that because of these massive computerized mailing lists that he had.
Frederick: Well, that's exactly right. So as they grew to millions...
Rob: I want to take it back to Moon and the Koreans--Reverend Moon. What Viguerie was basically doing then was getting funded ̶̶̶ he was going to go out under without Moon and he got his start with Moon, a Korean who hated democracy, who was basically using his resources to influence American politics and the American media.
Frederick: Well, yeah that's exactly right. Just to stay with the history of this a little bit, you'll remember, Rob, but a lot of listeners might not, the Korea Gate scandal of the 1970s, which came quickly on the heels of Watergate, and it revealed this enormous Korean government and intelligence agency in political influence buying scandal. It involved rice deals for the Koreans. It involved bribery of members of Congress, efforts to bribe and influence White House aids. There were covert operations aimed at the speaker of the House and the Pentagon, it was just unbelievable! There were KCIA agents, many of who were Moonies, on the staff of members of Congress, including the Senate majority leader at the time--both Democrats and Republicans. As far as I know there's never been anything quite like it. Most of, if not all, nobody's quite documented the whole thing, but Moon's top echelon were all former, if not current KCIA military intelligence officers. And all of this was going on, and Richard Viguerie was right in the middle of it.
So, not only was Moon philosophically opposed to democracy, not only did he hate Americans and individualism--and he did--many, many times he spoke about these things in his sermons (English translations of which have been compiled and are out there), but he actually participated in covert operations against the government and the military of the United States.
Rob: What kind?
Frederick: I'm sorry?
Rob: What kind of operations?
Frederick: Oh well, efforts to bribe and covertly influence members of Congress, the White House, senior military officers--those kinds of covert operations. They actually illegally purchased a bank in Washington D.C. At the time it was called the Diplomat National Bank. There were banking rules in which individuals could only own certain percentage of a bank at the time. So, Moon established proxies, and he had a whole bunch of people give him the money, and they bought shares, and so Moon and other KCIA related people exclusively owned the bank--and Richard Viguerie got a piece.
Rob: Viguerie got what?
Frederick: Got a piece of the bank. That's how involved he was with the Koreans and with the Moon organization. They trusted him enough, in this covert effort to illegally gain control of a bank, that they even gave Richard Viguerie a share.
Rob: Wow. Tell me a little more about Moon and what kind of guy he was, in terms of how he worked. Was it just through Viguerie, and what are some of the efforts and ways he attempted to shape the American Gestalt, the Zeitgeist, the mind, the media, the politics, the base of America?
Frederick: Well, with the help of Viguerie and with others, he helped to create the Conservative movement, but also the religious right. Now, this is the guy who thinks that Jesus failed in His mission, and that he was going to be the new Messiah who was going to complete what Jesus failed to do. And here he was working with fundamentalist Christians, who trying to do what the religious right does, including Jerry Falwell and his moral majority.
Now, Falwell was another one who was starting to fall on hard times in the late 70s and the early 80s, despite appearances of the contrary, and his Liberty University was in big trouble, and somehow or other, the Moon organization managed to find a way to covertly provide a loan of $3.5 million dollars to save Liberty University from bankruptcy and going under.
That loan was never paid back to my knowledge. But they managed to keep that under wraps. Journalist Bob Parry managed to surface the story. There were a lot of scandals of this nature; [we] find it where Moon money would suddenly turn up and there would be a scandal and, "Oh, we didn't know it was the Moonies!" That sort of thing.
Another famous example was one of the leading Christian Right entities at the time. [In] the Reagan administration era was something called The American Traditional Values Coalition, and basically what it was was this gigantic coalition of televangelists who were the most powerful Christian Right political figures at the time: Pat Robertson, and Jimmy Swaggart, and Jerry Falwell, and all of these people, and Tim Lahaye was in charge of it.
But Moon's number two, his main political figure, Bo Hi Pak, turned up giving $10,000 to Tim Lahaye for the American Traditional Values Coalition. This became a huge scandal, because within conservative Christianity at the time, Moon was just beyond the pale; unacceptable, cult leader, anti-Christian. They just didn't accept it. Any relationships with Moon had to be under the table, and when they surfaced on the table, Tim Lahaye was forced to resign. But that's the kind of thing that went on all the time.
Rob: Now, how much money did Moon and his church have access to? How big were they?
Frederick: Well, billions and billions of dollars. Bill had--at least it's been reasonably estimated by investigators in several countries, journalists and Congressional investigators and the like--at least a billion dollars has been put into the United States alone.
Rob: And what about other nations? Did Moon also set up similar operations in France and England and Germany? How about in relation to the Islamic world? What about his worldwide scope?
Frederick: Well, he does have a worldwide scope. I can't claim deep knowledge about some aspects but what I can do is point to a few particulars that are very revealing. In 1980, there were senior Moon political operatives on the scene when there was a military coup in Bolivia. At the time, it was called The Cocaine Coup, because the generals involved were also known cocaine traffickers. It was so notorious that even a well known Nazi war criminal, a World War II era Nazi war criminal, Klaus Barbie, was involved in the coup.
And the Moon organization had an arrangement with the public education institutions to begin teaching their ideology in the schools after the coup. It was really just extraordinary. The Moon organization had very close relationships with the military dictatorships at the time in Chile, and Argentina, and Uruguay; Paraguay as well.
They were a part of an entity called the World Anti-Communist League, which is a shadowy international network formed in the 50s by a coalition of conservative governments and post-World War II fascists and Nazi entities. People who were left over from the pro-Nazi, pro-fascists governments and movements at the time became part of the World Anti-Communist League.
And the World Anti-Communist League really surfaced to public attention, and does still exist, during the Iran-Contra scandal, during the Reagan administration, because it turned out after the Congress cut off funding for the Contras in Nicaragua, it was the World Anti-Communist League, headed by retired American general John Singlaub, who arranged for covert, indirect financing of the Contras, whacko-related governments and individuals. So, when Oliver North was running around raising money for the Contras ,that was the network that he was tapping to do it. The Moon organization has been a central player in the World Anti-Communist League from the beginning.
Rob: So, they probably put up some of the money that led to that whole Iran-Contra thing.
Frederick: Yes, they were--
Rob: Now, that also was involved in the October Surprise that got Bush senior elected.
Frederick: Probably, I don't know specifically the details, or I can't easily recall them; but yeah, the kinds of spooky networks that gave us the October Surprise would certainly have been involved.
Rob: So, do you think, now that he's dead, that new surprises and disclosures about him will start to unfold?
Frederick: Yeah, very much so. There are active lawsuits between some of his senior associates and his children over control of pieces of the empire. And there are organizational coups, they're throwing each other out and they're suing to get back in, and stuff like that. So, already there's very interesting paper trails about who's got the money and where it went and those sorts of things. So, that litigation is ongoing and I'm sure we'll be seeing lots more.
Rob: Well, one of the reasons I wanted to have you on the show was to talk about fundamentalism in general. But first, I want to do a station ID. This is the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, WNJC 1360 AM out of Washington Township, reaching metro Philly and South Jersey; sponsored by OpEdNews.com . If you forget the name just Google (search) "liberal news" or "progressive opinion," and OpEdNews.com will come up first. It's not something you can buy, it's something you earn.
The show basically attempts to explore aspects of Progressive politics, and I call it the Bottom Up Radio Show, because I believe we're in a transition from a top down world that started when humans changed from a million years of indigenous tribal society to civilization, to a top down world. Now we're transitioning back to a bottom up world, that has been catalyzed by the internet.
Now, my guest tonight is Frederick Clarkson. He's a senior fellow at Political Research Associates. He's a longtime observer of the religious right, including Reverend Moon and it was the death of Reverend Moon the other day that inspired me to invite him.
Now, what I wanted to know from you, in terms of just a religious right in general, is to get an idea of top down religion versus bottom up religion. I remember back--was it the 60s or the 70s when Moon was pushing people in the United States--his Moonie followers, which I think they disappeared after awhile, at least in the U.S. Maybe I'm wrong.
Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind. Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big) to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project.
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