The rabid rhetorical posture of Glenn Beck and the far right’s martinets of virtue is now manifesting what was the inevitable and predictable outcome of their rancid zealotry. Reports are surfacing that members of Congress who voted in favor of the health care bill have been the targets of hatred and violence. At least ten overt acts of hostility have prompted more than 100 representatives to seek additional security.
I find it hard to grasp that anyone could have failed to see this coming. When conservatives frame their opposition to policy as a battle against tyranny, socialism, fascism, and an end to America as we know it, the prospect of the unbalanced contingent acting out violently is a virtual certainty. If I truly believed that the government was forming death panels, plotting to kill my grandmother, ration my health care, and incite Armageddon, even I might consider extraordinary measures to avert such catastrophes.
See also: The Gospel According To Beck
And no one is yelling “fire” in this crowded theater louder than Glenn Beck. He makes unequivocal pronouncements that the current administration is infested with dangerous subversives who literally want the nation to collapse and are working toward that end. But he goes farther than that – much farther. He now contends that the villains in Washington are actually trying to get some poor, deluded, conservative, psycho (like there’s no shortage of them) to embrace assassination. Beck thinks that Obama, Pelosi, et al, want to be murdered for their cause. He said this on his radio show:
“Why do you think they are needling and poking and prodding all the time? Why do you think they slap you down on health care and just as you’re getting up they punch you in the face with immigration? Why do you think they’re being so divisive? […] They need you to be estranged from them. They need you to pick up a gun or a bomb. They need you to break the law.”
And this on TV:
“This might be the most dangerous monologue I have ever done, because I am telling you now, they need you to be violent. They are begging for it. You are being set up. Do not give them what they want. […] I know people don’t say this on television, but it’s damn well time people do. Our country is in real trouble. Radicals – RADICALS – are poking and prodding.
Beck believes that this “poking” is a deliberate provocation to get someone to go off the deep end and commit an assault. He described an incident in Washington when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi walked through a crowd of people that included some aggressive protesters, as a staged event where Pelosi was hoping that she would be killed. Beck expressed his view of what she and other Democrats are thinking when they go out in public like this:
“What the hell do you have to do to these people to get them to kill us?”
My question: What the hell do you have to do to Beck’s audience to get them to realize that he is batshit insane? My answer: Don’t bother. They aren’t going to see it. They are fiercely devoted to his preaching and regard him as an anointed messenger of God. But no more than he regards himself as such. His program becomes more like the 700 Club every day. And this week he has stepped up the assholiness:
“You get down on your knees and pray. You pray for forgiveness for our arrogance; for how we’ve disregarded our freedoms; and you pray for the Finger of God. I have told you before, expect miracles in our lifetime. I am telling you you will see them. There are tough times ahead, but the only weapon in our arsenal we need is God. Beg him for help and guidance. He will take care of everything else.”
This sermonizing goes beyond mere admonitions to prostrate yourself before the Lord. Beck sees himself in the role of an evangelical savior of America to whom you must pay strict attention, and to no one else. And like any good savior, he is also at risk of persecution and even martyrdom at the hands of Obama’s Pharisees:
“Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not covet. I want what they have. And for those who say somehow or another that I am distorting the socialist view of social justice, oh my goodness. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy brother. Holy cow. You’ve broken three commandments. Three of them. Three of them all on one principle. That’s amazing. And for those of you in the administration who are coming after me on this one, I mean, remember, you’ve broken three, let’s not make it four. Thou shalt not kill.”
The spectacle of watching Beck beg for his life would be hysterical if it weren’t for it being so ….. OK, it’s just hysterical. But at some point Beck is going to have declare himself a prophet and move his disciples to Guyana (or maybe South Carolina).