Glen Beck doing what he does best
Well, I've waited a while for the dust to settle from the tragic shootings of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, a Federal Judge and a number of civilians in Arizona.
In weighing the controversy surrounding the issue, I've had to take a hard look at the kind of political language I myself have used in the past, and how I should approach similar topics in the future. Perhaps someone can pick a bone with some of my past political posts, but I feel I have been fairly reasonable and either try to state historical fact or use humor to try to get my point across. Sure, I've been known to rant.
But one thing is clear. The far right wing of American political commentary has been over the top since the Clinton administration and parallels the rhetoric that resulted in similar tragic shootings in the 1960's.
This is a poster that was distributed by the thousands before John Kennedy made his fateful trip to Dallas. The funding for this was by wealthy Texas oilmen like the Hunt brothers. The same mechanism is at work in today's media. Fox news lost millions and millions of dollars for the first five-or-so years they were in operation. They loose money on Glen Beck's show right now. But the propaganda is so necessary to further the right wing's agenda that they run the show even as advertisers drop Beck daily.
Posters like the one above are the mainstay of "Tea Party" rallies, with pictures of President Obama as a "witch doctor" and worse.
Make no mistake; the progressive political leadership of the 1960's was killed off. John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King - powerful progressive voices silenced. That power vacuum drew political dialogue to the right with the scandals of Watergate, Iran-Contra, the savings and loan bank scandal, the lies leading up to the Iraq war, and the deregulation that brought us the 2008 bank crash and near-depression.
The violent talk during the health care debates featured threats and guns in public view, clearly intended to intimidate progressives, the Democratic Party, and the Obama administration.
Jared Lee Loughner and Glen Beck
So now we have an anti-government "lone nut", Jared Lee Loughner, that just shot up the crowd at a Democratic Congresswoman's public meeting. Sure, the guy had serious mental problems. But with millions of hours of talk radio screaming against health care legislation, environmental protection and the Obama administration, it's no small wonder that some horrible event like this was bound to happen.
Here's a brief example from an article by William Rivers Pitt:
"I tell people don't kill all the liberals. Leave enough so we can have two on every campus - living fossils - so we will never forget what these people stood for."
- Rush Limbaugh, Denver Post, 12-29-95
"Get rid of the guy. Impeach him, censure him, assassinate him."
- Rep. James Hansen (R-UT), talking about President Clinton
"We're going to keep building the party until we're hunting Democrats with dogs."
- Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX), Mother Jones, 08-95
"My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times building."
- Ann Coulter, New York Observer, 08-26-02
"We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too. Otherwise, they will turn out to be outright traitors."
- Ann Coulter, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, 02-26-02
"Chelsea is a Clinton. She bears the taint; and though not prosecutable in law, in custom and nature the taint cannot be ignored. All the great despotisms of the past - I'm not arguing for despotism as a principle, but they sure knew how to deal with potential trouble - recognized that the families of objectionable citizens were a continuing threat. In Stalin's penal code it was a crime to be the wife or child of an 'enemy of the people.' The Nazis used the same principle, which they called Sippenhaft, 'clan liability.' In Imperial China, enemies of the state were punished 'to the ninth degree': that is, everyone in the offender's own generation would be killed and everyone related via four generations up, to the great-great-grandparents, and four generations down, to the great-great-grandchildren, would also be killed."
- John Derbyshire, National Review, 02-15-01
"Two things made this country great: White men & Christianity. The degree these two have diminished is in direct proportion to the corruption and fall of the nation. Every problem that has arisen (sic) can be directly traced back to our departure from God's Law and the disenfranchisement of White men."
- State Rep. Don Davis (R-NC), emailed to every member of the North Carolina House and Senate, reported by the Fayetteville Observer, 08-22-01
Weather they are talking in racist code like Rush Limbaugh, or Biblical code like Sarah Palin and Glen Beck, or wrong facts and innuendo like Fox "News", the message might be incorrect but is still propagated to steer American political discourse into the hands of huge multi-national corporations.
Glen Beck's image was used here because he is simply the most outrageous propagandist of this decade, perhaps surpassing Rush Limbaugh. Here's a link to some profile information about Beck from journalist Dana Milbank, in his book "The Tears of a Clown".
Let's take a deep breath and hope for some civility...