Proud to be his enemy

October 5, 2010

Elizabeth Schulte has a message from all of us to the Tea Partiers' favorite blowhard.

THE OTHER day, radio and TV "personality" Glenn Beck was doing his patented "hidden network of left-wing conspirators" spiel. Typically, it's funny stuff--and mind-boggling how he gets from point A to point B so seamlessly, and so oblivious to how little sense he's making.

It's like an 8-year-old (with apologies to 8-year-olds) reading signs out the car window while speeding down the highway: Arby's! Waffle House! Motel 6! Obama! Muslims! Hitler! Marxism! Revolutionaries! Waffle House!

But on September 28, Beck got my attention when he included in his rant the International Socialist Organization (ISO), the publisher of

There he was, in front of his good friend Chalkboard, with a pile of magnets at the ready, each representing a "suspicious" organization or individual.

The focus of his conspiracy was the "One Nation Working Together" rally held in Washington on October 2. The rally, endorsed by some 400 organizations, including the AFL-CIO and NAACP, gathered 100,000 or more people in Washington with the call for jobs, equal justice and public education for all.

Glenn Beck details his conspiracy theories using the logo of the International Socialist Organization
Glenn Beck details his conspiracy theories using the logo of the International Socialist Organization

In other words, a communist plot to take over America.

One by one, Beck pulled out a magnet with an organization's logo embossed on it--some of them socialist, many of them not--with the intention of revealing the "real" forces behind the jobs rally.

The ultimate goal: Tying the Obama administration to a shadowy and dangerous group of left-wingers. The fact that some of the groups, including the ISO, are rather loudly opposed to most of the policies of the Obama administration didn't get in the way of Beck's "exposé"--which, of course, was of little surprise since Beck rarely lets facts get in the way of his invective.

He rattled off his list: "You also have Code Pink, Women for Peace. Code Pink--remember, this is the group that had ties to the flotilla that eventually attacked Israel that also has ties to Hamas." Huh?

From there, he continued to confuse and butcher the political positions of other organizations. Then Beck got to the ISO, reading out excerpts from its "Where We Stand" statement, and making fun of "the belief that workers themselves, the vast majority of the population, are the only force that can lead a fight to win a socialist society."

And in what I can only imagine is a reference to ISO's use of a graphic of a raised fist--a symbol of left-wing struggles for a century or more--he warned of the "fist of force." Whatever that's supposed to mean.

Glenn, you're not uncovering a conspiracy here. Yes, socialists were at the One Nation rally. We were proud to attend, and stand alongside union activists, community organizers and thousands of other people who are tired of paying the price for the economic recession while Corporate America continues to profit hand over fist.

Despite what Beck says, the marchers weren't all socialists, but most shared a strong desire for change. They came with many demands--decent union jobs, more help for the unemployed, an end to U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, LGBT rights, immigrant rights and more--and different strategies for how to win those demands.

And yes, Glenn, socialists do indeed stand for "people over profit"--it's not a secret. Here's a little more of our "Where We Stand" that you left out: "War, poverty, exploitation, oppression and worldwide environmental destruction are products of the capitalist system, a system in which a minority ruling class profits from the labor of the majority. The alternative is socialism, a society based on workers collectively owning and controlling the wealth their labor creates."

So if Beck is making an enemies list, we're proud to be on it.

Glenn Beck, on the other hand, should be ashamed of what he stands for--racism and scapegoating and pandering to the elite.

BECK MAKES a living off of spreading bigotry and lies. He can really churn them out, too, with little gems like: "The government is a heroin pusher, using smiley-faced fascism to grow the nanny state," and accusing Obama of having "deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture."

Of course, there are other players in the guilt-by-association game. The fact that Beck is friends with them--like Andrew Breitbart, who Beck frequently cites and has called one of "great journalists of our time"--doesn't say much for either one's credibility. Breitbart is behind the Web site that tried to entrap ACORN volunteers, and later released a misleadingly edited video that claimed U.S. Department of Agriculture official and civil rights movement veteran Shirley Sherrod was a racist.

And if Beck wants examples of incendiary language, he should look no further than his own broadcasts. He's listed Rep. Charles Rangel among the "people we'd like to beat to death with a shovel." He has also joked about poisoning Rep. Nancy Pelosi and said he was "thinking about killing Michael Moore."

The imagery Beck typically uses is violent and filled with Nazi and Holocaust references. The Washington Post's Dana Milbank, who has written a book on Beck titled Tears of a Clown, points out, "In his first 18 months on Fox News, from early 2009 through the middle of this year, he and his guests invoked Hitler 147 times. Nazis, an additional 202 times. Fascism or fascists, 193 times. The Holocaust got 76 mentions, and Joseph Goebbels got 24."

These are usually in reference to the Obama administration, of course.

And who are its victims? According to Beck, it's Beck. As he said a year ago, in a despicable twist on the famous words of Pastor Martin Niemöller against the rise of the Nazis in Germany: "When they're done with Fox, and you decide to speak out on something," it would be like "the old, 'first they came for the Jews, and I wasn't Jewish."

It's certainly a twisted mind that would hold a protest for Tea Partiers, Sarah Palin supporters and other right wingers at the Lincoln Monument--on the anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, made at the same spot.

Beck's broadcasts prey on his audience's frustrations, fears and lack of information. As a recent New York Times Magazine article pointed out, "Some of his most devoted advertisers include companies that could thrive in a period of total collapse--makers of emergency power generators, for instance, or "survival seeds" (allowing citizens to grow their own food)."

While Beck claims he discourages his followers to take matters in their own hands, he made this promise earlier this year: "To the day I die, I am going to be a progressive-hunter. I'm going to find these people that have done this to our country and expose them. I don't care if they're in nursing homes."

I'M CHANGING my opinion of Beck on one score, however. I used to think he was just an idiot. Now I think he's a dangerous idiot.

Here's some more from Beck's broadcast on September 28:

Please, America, I beg of you, get down on your knees and you pray not only for this country, for the republic--but you pray, quite honestly, for the safety of this president. You can say whatever you want about me, but my family and I, we pray every single night for the safety of this president. I have met Secret Service agents that work at the White House, I have begged them, "You keep this man safe."

Why? Why have I believed that this president is in danger? Look at who he has cobbled together. These people are not fooling around. Read their own words. They're not fooling around. What are you going to say to these people on Saturday [October 2]?

You can pretend for a while, but if you are not a radical socialist-Marxist-communist, somebody who wants a revolution in America, if you're not a radical revolutionary, then you've been leading some of the most dangerous people in our country on.

So Beck is "worried" about danger from the left. This might be taken as nothing more than idle chatter, but it's a serious accusation--especially when it comes just two days after the FBI raided the homes of antiwar activists and socialists in the Midwest, and when the Obama Justice Department is finding any excuse it can to increase its powers of surveillance in the name of the "war on terror. "

If there's anyone who's a "danger" to others, it's Glenn Beck. He inspires right-wingers on the fringe to come out from under their rocks and take a place in the political mainstream, to burn Korans, to bring their guns to Tea Party rallies, and to hold up signs that say, "Obama is an illegal."

And it's Beck who says he's "hunting" progressives. Like a long line of witch-hunters before him, Beck is trying to point the finger at socialists. It's an old routine, but an effective one and a mainstay of U.S. politics for many decades--scapegoating and harassing the radical left in order to make movements for justice weaker in general.

Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights workers in the Jim Crow South were vilified as "communists" by the media, beaten by vigilantes, and targeted and spied upon by the federal government. All the while, there were thugs like Glenn Beck who stood by and cheered it on.

We're happy that you count us among your enemies, Glenn Beck, because you're on the side of racism and reaction, and we're on the side of freedom and justice. And we refuse to be silenced, especially by someone like you.

The American socialist and union leader Eugene Debs was condemned by politicians and the courts, and eventually jailed for opposing war, but he was never ever silenced. This is what he told the judge after being convicted under the Sedition Act in 1918:

This order of things cannot always endure. I have registered my protest against it. I recognize the feebleness of my effort, but, fortunately, I am not alone. There are multiplied thousands of others who, like myself, have come to realize that before we may truly enjoy the blessings of civilized life, we must reorganize society upon a mutual and cooperative basis; and to this end, we have organized a great economic and political movement that spreads over the face of all the earth.

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