Virginia Newspaper Owner Describes Former Association With LaRouche
FALLS CHURCH, Va., July 31 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In his weekly national affairs column last month, Nicholas F. Benton, founder, owner and editor of the Falls Church News-Press, an award-winning weekly newspaper in Northern Virginia, became the first person in the U.S., other than on the Internet, to openly and publicly describe his former association with political extremist Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr., during the 1970s and into the '80s. Saying he became involved with LaRouche as a seminary graduate in the context of the political and counterculture ferment of the Vietnam War era, Benton wrote, "By the late 1970s, LaRouche's movement had turned decidedly ugly, into something existing only for the purposes of LaRouche's own aggrandizement and the twisted agendas of too many sinister forces that seemed to influence him. As undernourished members 'deployed' for 16 hours a day raising money, and were forced to have, collectively, hundreds of abortions to save their energies for serving him, LaRouche built up his ego, bully-lust and palatial estate." He added that he "began a measured, phased exit in that era, the way a lot of former members left, completed in the 1980s." The article is the first known high-profile published account on the subject by a former associate of LaRouche in the U.S. He wrote it, Benton stated, to clarify his personal and professional purpose for being the first news entity to write and publish the report in April on the coincidence between the suicide of a long-time LaRouche associate, Ken Kronberg, and a LaRouche memorandum circulated in his organization the same day. The memo assailed Kronberg's operation within the LaRouche circle, and stating that "baby boomers," ostensibly of the Kronberg ilk, are not "the real world ... unless they want to commit suicide." Benton graduated with honors with a Master of Divinity degree from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif., in 1969. He had been an award- winning editor of his high school and college newspapers and worked for his hometown daily before leaving for seminary. After seminary, he was a principal writer for the counterculture flagship Berkeley Barb newspaper and wrote the editorial for the first edition of the Gay Sunshine newspaper. In the 1980s, he was a member of the White House press corps, and has been a member of the White House Correspondents Association since 1986. He founded the Falls Church News-Press in 1991 as a weekly "newspaper of record" for the City of Falls Church, Virginia, an independent jurisdiction inside the Washington, D.C., beltway. In its first year, it was named "Business of the Year" by the Falls Church City Council, an honor that was repeated in 2001. Benton was honored with the "Pillar of the Community" award presented by the Greater Falls Church Chamber of Commerce in both 1992 and 2003. Currently, its weekly circulation is 30,500. "There are many people who were once associates of LaRouche who cut that off once the true nature of it became clear to emerge as highly accomplished and successful," Benton said. He wrote in his column, "I and others who aligned with LaRouche in that period, like Kronberg, were generally well-meaning young people determined to follow through on their zeal to end the Vietnam War by bringing social and economic justice to the world. In that era, being a socialist, advocating the creation and re-distribution of wealth, was considered a meritorious vocation." Since the publication of his column, entitled, "How I Explain LaRouche," in the June 28, 2007 edition of the Falls Church News-Press, Benton has been interviewed on the subject by Avi Klein of the Washington Monthly magazine and Chip Berlet of the Public Eye.Org. The following is the full text of the column: "How I Explain LaRouche" By Nicholas F. Benton It was my own experience, as a late 1960s anti-war, pro-civil rights activist who came through a complicated maze to align with the then-socialist designs of one Lyn Marcus, a.k.a. Lyndon LaRouche, that informed my exclusive journalistic expose this April. I broke the news of the link between the suicide of a long-time LaRouche associate and a published diatribe from LaRouche headquarters the same day contending that the only good his group's used-up "baby boomers" could do was kill themselves. My article in the April 19, 2007 edition of the Falls Church News-Press entitled, "Rt. 28 Suicide Jumper Was Long-Time Associate of LaRouche," noted the coincidence of the suicide of Ken Kronberg, 58, in Loudoun County, Virginia, on April 11 and the LaRouche group's internal so-called "morning briefing" issued earlier that day which assailed Kronberg work for LaRouche. The document, authoritative among members of LaRouche's group, lashed out at the failures of the "baby boom" generation, including among its own members, and singled out "the print shop" headed by Kronberg as "among the worst." It stated, speaking to young recruits, "the Boomers will be scared into becoming human, because you're the real world, and they're not. Unless they want to commit suicide." My expose caused a huge reaction among legions worldwide whose lives have been damaged by LaRouche and his tiny, cult-like organization. They include those who support the crusade of a London-based mother of one Jeremiah Duggan, a young LaRouche-influenced student who wound up dying under suspicious circumstances in Germany four years ago. When I got involved with LaRouche in the early 1970s, it was a different world. The power of the anti-war and civil rights movements, propelled even more forcefully by reaction to the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, created a thirst and hope for a profound shift in society's fundamental values. As a seminarian who drove to classes many days past long lines of National Guard, who tasted tear gas at anti-war marches, becoming part of this movement was like a religious calling. Steeped in the speeches of King and the seething ferment of the Bay Area, having taken leading roles in the fledgling gay and women's liberation causes, I worked for the election of George McGovern in 1972. But in the wake of the Nixon landslide, and estranged from my family because of my radicalism, I took a hard turn to the left, abandoning the theories of Hannah Arendt for Rosa Luxemburg. So I got involved with LaRouche, despite warnings from some, like Rep. Fortney Stark, who told me personally that LaRouche "was CIA." Others, like the late right-wing Georgia Rep. Larry McDonald, insisted LaRouche "was KGB." However, I and others who aligned with LaRouche in that period, like Kronberg, were generally well-meaning young people determined to follow through on their zeal to end the Vietnam War by bringing social and economic justice to the world. In that era, being a socialist, advocating the creation and re-distribution of wealth, was considered a meritorious vocation. Besides, standing for what you believed, against social convention and its often angry reaction to you, steeled one's character. Maybe it was always bad, but by the late 1970's, LaRouche's movement had turned decidedly ugly, into something existing only for the purposes of LaRouche's own aggrandizement and the twisted agendas of too many sinister forces that seemed to influence him. As undernourished members "deployed" for 16 hours a day raising money, and were forced to have, collectively, hundreds of abortions to save their energies for serving him, LaRouche built up his ego, bully-lust, and palatial estate. But I was reluctant to admit my efforts were for naught, and mistakenly feared the consequences of abandoning my convictions. Still, I began a measured, phased exit in that era, the way a lot of former members left, completed in the '80's. To this day there are some I once felt were good people who remain trapped, psychologically, by LaRouche. Neither they, nor I, were "right wing" or "anti-Semitic" as many, perhaps rightly, now consider LaRouche and his movement. But just as LaRouche told us in 1973 our parents were society's problem, he's now telling a new generation that their parents, and all baby boomers, even those who brought their heartfelt passions for justice and peace to associate with him, are society's bane. CONTACT: Falls Church News-Press 703-532-3267
SOURCE Falls Church News-Press
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