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John Stormer, ‘None Dare Call It Treason’ Author, Dies at 90

John A. Stormer, whose self-published 1964 book, “None Dare Call It Treason,” became a right-wing favorite despite being attacked as inaccurate in promulgating the notion that American government and institutions were full of Communist sympathizers, died on July 10 in Troy, Missouri. He was 90.

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Neil Genzlinger
, New York Times

John A. Stormer, whose self-published 1964 book, “None Dare Call It Treason,” became a right-wing favorite despite being attacked as inaccurate in promulgating the notion that American government and institutions were full of Communist sympathizers, died on July 10 in Troy, Missouri. He was 90.

The McCoy-Blossom Funeral Home posted news of his death on its website, saying he had fallen ill a year ago.

Stormer’s book, published by his own Liberty Bell Press, tapped into a vein of conservative alarm that was still very much present in the early 1960s, even though the Red-baiting era of Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy had faded in the 1950s.

The book landed in the year that the Republican Party nominated Barry M. Goldwater, the conservative Arizona senator, for the presidency, and Goldwater sympathizers latched onto it, buying up copies and distributing them at rallies and by other means. The far-right John Birch Society was among the groups spreading the book around.

Communists, Stormer wrote, were bent on infiltrating the U.S. government and had largely succeeded, as evidenced by American and United Nations economic support for Communist countries.

“The Communists have sworn to bury us,” Stormer wrote. “We are digging our own graves.”

The conspiracy, he claimed, was also seeking to undermine Christianity, the American education system and more. Unions and the news media were enablers, he said, as were charitable foundations.

“From where has the money come to build and finance the vast collectivist underground which reaches its tentacles into education, the churches, labor and the press?” he asked. “Amazingly, the fortunes of America’s most successful tycoons, dedicated by them to the good of mankind, have been redirected to finance the socialization of the United States.”

Millions of copies of the book ended up in circulation, although not as a result of people stampeding to the bookstores.

“Of the 7 million books that we sold, I think there were less than 100,000 that were sold through the normal book chains,” Stormer said in a 2014 video interview with “America’s Survival TV,” a conservative outlet. “They just weren’t interested in things like that.”

John Anthony Stormer was born on Feb. 9, 1928, in Altoona, Pennsylvania, to Regis and Mary Ann (Forr) Stormer. He graduated from Altoona High School and attended Penn State University, where he studied electrical engineering. He served in the Air Force during the Korean War and afterward completed a journalism degree at San Jose State University in California.

Stormer was editing an electronics magazine in 1960 when he attended a conservative conference in Washington whose speakers included Goldwater and Walter Judd, a U.S. representative from Minnesota known for his anti-Communist stance.

“I decided after what I heard there that what I should do is write a 16-page pamphlet explaining what the threat was,” he said in the 2014 interview. “And of course it grew into a 250-plus-page book.”

Not holding out much hope that a mainstream publisher would be interested, he took an unusual approach to publication.

“I printed up 125 copies of the manuscript and actually mailed those to 87 people that I knew were concerned conservatives,” he said. He asked for advance orders and, he said, soon had 57,000, enough to support a print run.

The book was heavily footnoted, but its accuracy was quickly called into question. A group in Ohio, the National Committee for Civic Responsibility, did a page-by-page fact-checking and labeled the book “at best, an incredibly poor job of research and documentation and, at worst, a deliberate hoax and a fraud.” A political-science professor in California, Julian Foster, published a monograph cataloging the book’s distortions. He titled it “None Dare Call It Reason.”

The book and efforts to distribute it divided the country. In Hicksville, on Long Island, the school board rejected someone’s offer to donate copies, while in nearby Levittown, after an hour of debate, the school board accepted a gift of six. At Elmira College in Western New York, 60 students picketed the home of the college president after he distributed free copies through the campus mail.

The book may have circulated widely, but it did not help Goldwater; he lost the 1964 election by a wide margin to the incumbent, Lyndon B. Johnson.

Stormer, though, saw a silver lining to that defeat. He viewed it as a signal to conservatives to work harder and smarter.

“That whole conservative movement of the early 1960s matured and produced the Reagan revolution,” he told The Washington Times in 1999, on the occasion of the publication of another book of his, “None Dare Call It Education.” In that book Stormer contended that the American education system had strayed from a focus on academics and been hijacked by forces promoting a type of social engineering dangerous to traditional values.

In 1965 Stormer, who had grown up in a Roman Catholic family, “came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ,” as the funeral home’s obituary put it. He became pastor of a Baptist church in Florissant, Missouri, a position he held for 31 years. He was also superintendent of a Christian school and, for 10 years, president of the Missouri Association of Christian Schools.

His other books, all espousing conservative views, included “The Death of a Nation” (1968), “Betrayed by the Bench” (2005) and a 25-year updating of “None Dare Call It Treason” in 1990.

He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Elizabeth; a daughter, Holly Hartzell; a sister, Susan Pezzi; four grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

Though the accuracy of “None Dare Call It Treason” was often disputed, Stormer was confident he was right, so much so that in the book’s final chapter, “What Can You Do?,” he urged his readers to scrutinize him.

“First, you must educate yourself,” he wrote. “Determine that the facts in this book are true.”

Among his other advice was that people read two newspapers a day of opposite editorial viewpoints. He also urged his readers to make God a meaningful force in their lives and to be politically active. The stakes, he said, were high.

“If Communism comes to America,” he wrote, “you will lose not only your money, but your freedom, your children, your home, and possibly your life.”

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