John Stormer, 1928–2018
The right-wing author who warned of a communist conspiracy
In 1964, the FBI received a flood of calls from concerned Americans asking if a Soviet takeover was imminent. They had read None Dare Call It Treason, a self-published tract by right-wing activist John Stormer, which warned that the U.S. had been penetrated by “the hidden tentacles of the communist conspiracy.” With the help of a few wealthy Republican donors, Stormer distributed 7 million copies of the book across the country. The book portrayed the State Department, the press, and nonprofits as sympathetic to “Lenin and his heirs”; argued that welfarism was sapping America’s strength; and praised arch-conservative Barry Goldwater. The book helped propel the two-term Arizona senator to the GOP presidential nomination that year against more moderate candidates.
Born in Altoona, Pa., Stormer served as a historian in the Air Force during the Korean War and later became the editor of an electrical industry magazine, said the Associated Press. Frustrated with mainstream politicians, he quit his job in the early 1960s, he said, to “begin an intensive study of communism.” But the candidate he championed for president in Treason was easily defeated by the Democratic incumbent, Lyndon B. Johnson, whose surrogates painted Goldwater as unhinged and likely to start a nuclear war.
After a religious awakening in 1965, Stormer became a pastor and spread his message from the pulpit, said The Washington Post. He self published more books, including 1998’s None Dare Call It Education, and continued to see communist conspirators everywhere. When activists protested in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014 following a police shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Stormer said the demonstrators’ true goal was “to bring about revolution.”