The right has denied that anything said by Glenn Beck is going to drive anyone to violence. When Beck talks about shooting people in the head because they are destroying this country, does hereally think that no one is going to actually do it?
Right now there is an elderly professor named Frances Fox Piven, who in a recent column in The Nation, called on the unemployed to form a mass movement. Piven is one of Glenn Beck's favorite targets because of her advocacy of movements to produce social change. It's interesting that in Glenn Beck's sick, twisted world. a mass movement of peaceful action by the powerless and the disenfranchised is a threat to America, but a mass movement of people toting guns because of an imagined totalitarian threat led by the first Black president is what he wants to see.
Like Orcs, Beck's minions are already rising to their master's call:
These are not pretty e-mails, but they appear positively decorous compared with what has been written about her by commentators on Glenn Beck's website, The Blaze, where she's been the target of a relentless campaign to demonize her—and worse. There, under cover of anonymous handles, scores of people have called for Piven's murder, even volunteering to do the job with their own hands. "Somebody tell Frances I have 5000 roundas [sic] ready and I'll give My life to take Our freedom back," wrote superwrench4. "ONE SHOT...ONE KILL!" proclaimed Jst1425. "The only redistribution I am interested in is that of a precious metal.... LEAD," declared Patriot1952.
I ventured into the cesspool that is The Blaze, and comments like this have been scrubbed -- not surprisingly, since there is undoubtedly someone out there right now preparing to take a shot at a 78-year-old professor no one had heard of until Beck decided to place her in his Pantheon o'Scapegoats.
The thing that's so dangerous about Glenn Beck is that I'm not convinced he's buying any of it. When you look at him, and his TV schtick, he seems more of a carnival barker than a right-wing rabble-rouser. I'm always reminded more of Andy Kaufman than of Rush Limbaugh when I see what Beck does, because while Limbaugh is a genuinely mean, greedy, hateful man who gets paid millions for stirring the rage pot of downwardly-mobile white American males, Beck seems simply to be a guy with a troubled background, steamer trunks of emotional baggage, who has found a form of performance art that has made him wealthy beyond his wildest imaginings.
The jury is still out on whether an overall climate of hate, of legitimizing violence against those who disagree with you politically, of scapegoating politicians for your own grievances, contributed to the Tucson shootings. I still maintain that when you create an echo chamber of violent rhetoric, you legitimize the plottings of those mentally ill who hear voices in their heads. After all, if the voices outside your own head confirm what the ones inside your own head are telling you, that must make it OK, right?
For eight years you could get kicked out of school for wearing an anti-Bush T-shirt. Wal-Mart would rat you out for a photo of an anti-Bush poster you made and you'd get a visit from the Secret Service. Hang one in the privacy of your dorm room without even taking a photo and you'd also get a visit from the Secret Service. Nuns and Quakers were put on no-fly lists. And neither Glenn Beck, nor the frothing hysterics screaming about how Obama is going to take away their
Glenn Beck has as much right to rant and rave as the street corner guy used to. What he does not have is a right to have the public airwaves on which to do it.