Tag Archives: glenn beck

How Glenn Beck Incites Violence

The above clip is one of the more succinct examples of what Glenn Beck spends just about every day doing: taking historical facts, arranging them in a shady jigsaw puzzle of innuendo, and then identifying individuals that he claims are diabolically plotting to destroy America. It’s the equivalent of taking the noodles out of your bowl of alphabet soup, arranging them into a death threat, and then attributing the threat to someone you’ve never met.

Frances Fox Piven is a Professor of Political Studies and Social Science who, like many patriotic Americans, was a radical in the sixties.  How radical?  She co-authored a paper suggesting that, were the welfare system to be taxed to the point of failure, it might result in a government-backed mandatory wage for all citizens.  If that sounds like socialism, it’s only because it is socialism.

However, Ms. Piven’s greatest accomplishment was not the destruction of the welfare system or the end of capitalism.  Instead, she is best credited for introducing the tie-in between voter registration and the DMV.  So, the woman who made it easier for Americans to vote is Beck’s poster child for the forces that are out to destroy our country.

So, it comes out that, in the last two years, since Beck started his prime time crusade to malign her, Ms. Piven has received a steady stream of nasty death threats.  Really nasty:

“I got e-mails that said, ‘Die You Cunt’, and ‘May cancer find you soon'”, she tells The Progressive. “And people are posting my address on the Internet with their messages that are really crude and ugly and violent.”

Piven’s politics were radical, but not as radical as suggesting that the founding of the U.N. and the abolishment of slavery were merely pieces of an anarchist/communist plot to destroy America.  But Mr. Beck and his blackboard are perfectly willing to float that hypothesis as if it were fact. And, once floated, he’s happy to then single out Ms. Piven as a key architect of this attack on America. Frances Fox Piven, a woman who cared deeply about all Americans and devoted her life to ending poverty, is a radical anarchist out to destroy our way of life.  Glenn Beck isn’t trying to protect us — he’s just making sure that we know that the plot to destroy our country exists, and Piven is one of the people responsible.

Beck’s acolytes believe him to be sincere, and they’re willing to take his word that Piven poses a threat to their security.  As I’ve been blogging here, Beck fans have loaded up their cars and set off to kill people that Beck identified similarly before.

It’s tempting to equate what Beck does to yelling fire in a crowded theater.  But what he does is far more insidious.  Imagine what your life would be like if you were the constant recipient of nasty, sometimes obscene death threats.  There should be laws against this type of malicious maligning of people whose politics don’t agree with his; there should certainly be human decency that says, “I’m not going to inspire this type of behavior”.  Beck has no such decency, and he isn’t engaging in political debate.  What he’s doing is far more personal, sadistic, and cruel.  And it will likely result in murder soon. It’s kind of a miracle that it hasn’t yet.

Where There’s Smoke (And Bullets)

Three things about the recent, tragic Tucson shootings:

1. Clearly, shooter Jared Lee Loughner was not a Tea Party member or Sarah Palin/Glenn Beck acolyte. His political views, presumably inspired by such diverse thinkers as Ayn Rand, Karl Marx and Adolf Hitler, are not mainstream or cliched. He’s an independent thinker whose views aren’t neatly classified as “liberal” or “conservative”. Reports are that he had met Congressperson Giffords at a previous community meeting and wasn’t happy with the encounter. So the odds that his inspiration for the assault had anything to do with Sarah Palin’s crosshair graphic are unlikely.

2. Violent, paranoid political discourse inspires mass murderers. Maybe not Loughner, but Byron Williams was directly influenced by Glenn Beck when he set out with a car full of weaponry to murder workers at the ACLU and Tides Foundation. Kenneth Kimberly was arrested before he killed anyone, but he admits that he was directly inspired by Glenn Beck to start making and stockpiling grenades. And Giffords wasn’t present when the glass door to her Tucson office was either shot or kicked in, hours after her pro vote on health care. With all of the evidence that violent rhetoric absolutely inspires violent actions, how could people not assume that there was a connection in Tucson? I bet even Sarah Palin assumed that Loughlin had seen her crosshair chart when she first heard about the shooting.

3. So conservatives can pout about how unfair it is that MSNBC and all of their liberal critics are calling for more civil discourse in light of this mass murder. And they are technically accurate that Loughner was, most likely, not directly influenced by the cross hairs on Palin’s propaganda; Beck’s paranoid rantings about Obama planning to kill 10% of the population; Michelle Bachmann’s crazed fantasies about communists in the white house; Sharon Angle’s readiness to resort to “second amendment remedies”, et cetera, et cetra, et cetra. But there’s a lot of smoke here, and there’s a lot of ammunition. So the calls for calmer political discourse in light of the violent travesty in Tucson are well-warranted, because we don’t need to follow it up with the next Byron Williams succeeding in killing people that Beck highlights on his blackboard, or the next Kenneth Kimberly lobbing grenades at imagined communists. These people are directly inspired by the right wing rhetoric. There’s no denying that.

Why Does The Right Attack Nonprofits?

Robert Egger’s brilliant response to Rush Limbaugh’s recent diatribe against nonprofit employees. is a must watch, particularly the last five seconds or so, which neatly sum it up. Limbaugh claims that nonprofit employees are “lazy idiots” and “rapists” of the economy. Wow, like what he does for a living is so healthy…

This a month or so after a madman was stopped on the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco with a car full of weapons, headed to kill people at the ACLU and the Tides Foundation. Both of these organizations work to protect people’s rights, the ACLU being the better known of the two. Lesser known Tides’ mission is to promote social justice and maintain a healthy, sustainable environment. Why did the killer target them?

Glenn Beck makes his living by standing in front of a blackboard and espousing paranoid-inducing theories about democratic cabals aimed at destroying the American way of life.  His rants have succeeded in getting White House officials, such as Van Jones, removed, and, along with other Fox News conspirators, ACORN, a voter registration organization, disbanded.  In the first case, the White House, shamefully, asked Jones to resign in the face of all of the ridiculous criticism.  In the second, Fox News aired doctored footage alleging that ACORN helped pimps and prostitutes, creating falsified scandals that drove the nonprofit under.  ACORN was investigated, and the investigation found some evidence of tax evasion and questionable destruction of documents, but, notably, absolutely no consulting on prostitution practices or, as was widely alleged, improper handling of voter registrations. But all of this started when Beck chose them — as he did with Tides — as fodder for his unsubstantiated and false conspiracy theories.

I sum up Limbaugh’s comments as his standard, poorly-thought out rambling.  He meant some particular nonprofit or sort of nonprofit, and chose far too broad a term to make a lucid point.  But I question whether Limbaugh is ever capable of making lucid points. If we didn’t have the evidence of the bust for Oxycontin abuse, it wouldn’t be hard to still recognize drug-addled behavior.

What Beck does is far more insidious and dangerous. Like Limbaugh, he’s not concerned at all with honestly portraying the people and groups he discusses.  He’s building a narrative, one that the viewers can watch and feel that they have a special stake in, relayed by his tear-filled eyes and cautioning tone. This intimate dialogue is really engaging.  But Beck is entirely unwilling to be accountable for the lies that he spreads, even when they come close to inspiring mass murder.

It’s completely unintuitive and bizarre that nonprofits — poorly resourced organizations that struggle to do the work that our government does less and less of — are lambasted and threatened by the people that rally loudest for eliminating government programs.  We’re the ones who are getting important work done with funding that is volunteered, not assessed.  Most nonprofits have no leftist or rightwing agenda — they have clearly stated missions that they’re trying to serve (as Egger’s video makes clear).  Maybe Beck and Limbaugh should be a bit more appreciative of the fact that we enable mouths to be fed, museums and parks to stay open, and air to continue to be breathable in a country where the government can get fewer and fewer social services funded.