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The Point

Critics Say Glenn Beck Incites Violence

Mar 1, 2010 – 12:05 PM
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(March 1) -- Some liberal commentators worry that Glenn Beck's increasingly strident verbal attacks on all things "progressive" could lead to physical attacks. The Fox News star's recent call for the eradication of progressivism fueled those fears.

AlterNet's David Sirota accused Beck of "deliberately employing coded and menacing language" in his speech at last month's Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.

"Progressivism is the cancer in America, and it's eating our Constitution," Beck declared, standing in front of his trademark chalkboard with the word "Progressivism" written on it. "It must be cut out of the system," he told the cheering crowd. "You must eradicate it."

Beck's CPAC appearance showed that "a once-principled conservative movement of reasoned activists has turned into a mob -- one that does not engage in civilized battles of ideas. Instead, these torch-carriers, gun-brandishers and tea partiers follow an anti-government terrorist attack by cheering a demagogue's demand for the physical annihilation of those with whom he disagrees," Sirota wrote.

Beck spoke at CPAC a few days after Joe Stack, who battled the government over taxes for years, crashed his plane into an Internal Revenue Service office in Austin, Texas, killing himself and an IRS worker.

Sirota dismissed the argument that Beck is targeting progressive ideology, not progressives themselves. That's like saying, "The Nazis' beef was with Judaism but not Jews," Sirota said.

"Eliminationism" is how Crooks and Liars' David Neiwert described Beck's message. In a book on the subject, he defined it as "a politics and a culture that shuns dialogue and the democratic exchange of ideas in favor of the pursuit of outright elimination of the opposing side, either through suppression, exile and ejection, or extermination." To make his point, Neiwert assembled the video below to showcase Beck's anti-progressive language over the past nine months.

"As Sirota notes, Beck is taking us down a certain path with this kind of rhetoric, and it always, as Beck himself puts it, 'ends badly,'" Neiwert observed.

A day after Sirota's post appeared, a New York Times column by Frank Rich echoed the theme -- and drew howls from conservatives because it suggested a link between the Texas suicide-attack pilot and the Tea Party movement.

"Stack was a lone madman, and it would be both glib and inaccurate to call him a card-carrying Tea Partier or a 'Tea Party terrorist.' But he did leave behind a manifesto whose frothing anti-government, anti-tax rage overlaps with some of those marching under the Tea Party banner," wrote Rich, who listed Beck, along with Sarah Palin and Ron Paul, as leaders of the movement. Those leaders share an ideology that "plays to the lock-and-load nutcases out there, not just to the peaceable (if riled up) populist conservatives also attracted to Tea Partyism," he charged.

On the conservative blog Powerline, John Hinderaker blasted Rich's claim, saying the columnist couldn't cite a single example of something Beck had done that encouraged violence. And a post from Reliapundit on The Astute Bloggers made this all-caps prediction: I BET YOU SOMEONE "INSPIRED" BY VAN JONES TAKES A CRACK AT BECK BEFORE ANY "TEABAGGER" TAKES A CRACK AT ANY LEADING LEFTIST.

Jones lost his job as President Barack Obama's "green jobs czar" last year after Beck's on-air campaign branding him as a Communist radical. (Beck said Monday that was "not a personal thing.") If Jones holds a grudge, it wasn't apparent when he accepted an NAACP award in Los Angeles on Friday as the post-CPAC backlash against Beck was building. Jones' speech included a shout-out to his old Fox News nemesis.

"I see you, and I love you, brother," Jones said. "I love you, and you cannot do anything about it."
Filed under: Nation, Politics, The Point
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