Stephen Tyrone Johns, a security guard at the Washington D.C. Holocaust Memorial was shot and killed by James W. von Brunn today. This was a blatantly racist act by an obsessed and demented, militant rightist who was driven by irrational hatred and fear. And in the wake of yet another tragic shooting – the third in less than two weeks – Glenn Beck proves that he is insensitive, inhumane, and incredibly ill-informed.
Despite the fact that von Brunn is obviously a racist, right-wing, NRA radical, Beck opened his program with a passionate defense of the very sort of conservatism that spawned von Brunn. Beck’s analysis began with the contention that there will be a witch hunt in this country that will come after two groups: First, the Jews. Second, conservatives.
That’s right, Beck actually believes that conservatives are going to be second only to Jews as targets for violent, domestic extremists. And he bolsters this dangerously deranged theory with affirmations straight out of The Idiot’s Guide To Race Wars. His bizarre thesis included the following examples of his madness:
“The pot in America is boiling and this is just yet another warning.”
Beck claims that he is not the one stirring the pot, that he is just the messenger. But that’s a difficult case for him to make when he is standing over the pot with a giant ladle.
“How did it happen that you look at people who are Nazis and you say that those are right wing. It doesn’t make any sense.”
Beck’s confusion can only come from his utter stupidity as he and his guests desperately try to tie Nazis to leftists in a feat of historical revisionism that defies comprehension. They actually believe that Nazis and Communists conspired to define each other as opposites so as to crowd out all other ideologies. They must work overtime to make up this crap.
“America, we are surrounded by people who want to control you. You’ve got the government, that is, I think, is just going crazy out of control.”
Oh no. We’re surrounded again. I thought Beck and his tea parties were surrounding them now. Nevertheless, notice how Beck isn’t stirring the pot with his talk of a government that is crazy out of control.
“We’ve got a guy in office right now, President Obama – and before everybody else…nobody else is…I don’t think anybody else is gonna bring this up today – Oh dare anyone in the media actually say this – We’ve got a guy in the White House right now, who if you’re gonna link people to this guy, who have nothing to do with this shooting, let’s talk about the relationship with Barack Obama and Rev. Jeremiah Wright.”
Now he is just babbling. But in his rant is evidence of his paranoid fear of an alien president, his persecution as the only one who sees what’s going on and will speak out, and his craving for a decoy, a scapegoat, upon which he can direct his anger and that of his followers.
“I think the Germans, however, were an awful lot like we are now. We’re kind of living in denial like ‘I don’t know, that can’t really be happening.’ You don’t want to believe some things but you have to.”
Don’t you see, America? You have to believe what he tells you, whether you like it or not. Beck is not only describing Americans as being like the pre-WWII Germans, he is praying for it.
At the conclusion of this screed, Beck commenced a tale of his own family outing to the D.C. Holocaust Memorial. He related a harrowing experience wherein he and his family were trapped in the building as a bomb threat ensued. The ordeal left him with a wish for future Museum visitors:
“I will tell you, I wish everyone could experience the Holocaust Museum like that, because it sure made it real and put it into perspective.”
Now, I know that he probably meant that the frightening risk to his life enhanced the sense of fear that the victims of the Nazis must have felt. But in his clumsy articulation, what he actually said was that he wished that there were more bomb threats so that everyone who visits the Museum would experience one. It is that sort of clumsiness that infects much of what Beck says. The problem is that not all of it is clumsiness. Too much of what Beck says is deliberately provocative.
It’s hard not to associate events like today’s shooting with Beck’s fear mongering and disaster mania. I don’t generally subscribe to the theory that TV personalities are responsible for the actions of lone lunatics, but I do think that they have an obligation to exhibit some empathy and not to further fan the flames. In his case, Beck seems to revel in standing over embers and waving furiously.