Hysterical demagogue Glenn Beck continued his verbal assault against Progressives
this week by calling them "a virus" that feeds "on the host of the Republic, and in this case, the Democratic Party."
Of course, this isn't the first time Beck has used this hate speech against Progressives. Media Matters has done an excellent job documenting the venom consistently spewed by Fox's newest ratings darling.
Previously, Beck has called Progressivism the "poison that's killing our Constitution
," and remarked "We've got to irradiate it." He claims Progressives are "going to deal a final death blow to the Constitution if they can
." He describes Progressives as "sucking the blood out of the Republic
," and accuses them of possessing a "playbook" containing the strategies of how to "lie, cheat," and "steal."
This is Beck's style. As Alexander Zaitchik details in this excellent series
, Beck is a former shlock jock who makes a living saying the
most outrageous thoughts that pop into his little brain -- not to inspire intelligent discourse -- but to drum up ratings. This quest to be on top knows no boundaries.
Once, Beck called a rival DJ's wife live on-air after she had experienced a miscarriage
. Beck said, "We hear you had a miscarriage," When the wife responded, "Yes," Beck joked about how her husband, the rival DJ, couldn't apparently do anything right -- even have a baby.
Beck was a hateful little monster back then, but now he has a national stage from which he broadcasts these ideas. He has built a career on what Orwell called the Two Minutes Hate where citizens turn their own feelings of fear and anxiety about living in a repressive society into frenzied fits of hatred directed at the television, and specifically, Emmanuel Goldstein, a political enemy of the state.
Back in his radio days, Beck organized pranks and voiced a host of fictional characters designed to upset and intrigue. As a child, he performed magic tricks for his classmates. Now, he calls Progressives a "virus" that needs to be destroyed. He talks in vague terms about how his audience surrounds "them
," and "they" is a helpful amorphous term for Beck. It tends to mean Progressives, but it can also mean liberalism, or immigrants, or any minority who is not Anglo-Saxon.
Beck certainly isn't the first zealot to use media to disseminate his hate. It is widely accepted that hate radio, and particularly a station called "Voice of the Patriot," played a significant role in the Rwandan genocide that resulted in the deaths of some 800,000 Tutsis and Hutus. Before the "final war," the radio called for the extermination of the "cockroaches," language meant to dehumanize and villainize the Tutsi. In 2003, the United Nations tribunal convicted three former media executives
of being key figures in the media campaign behind the genocide in Rwanda.
Before war, it's important to dehumanize the enemy. It makes the killing easier if the oppositional force is defined as "cockroaches," or a "virus." Then, killing becomes a righteous duty -- an act to preserve humanity itself -- to save the earth from the destructive "other."
There are differences between Beck's Hate Media and Rwandan Hate Radio. Fox isn't controlled by the state, though it is controlled by a famously right-wing tycoon, which offers a backdoor way for a political party control to control a major news network. Additionally, it's not abundantly clear Beck wants-- or is capable of -- a war against Progressives. He is a simple, bipolar, former alcoholic who can barely keep his shit together long enough to shout something hateful before he dissolves into tears. He's probably more interested in his fat paycheck than leading a cultural revolution.
Yet, his effectiveness as a leader is beside the point. Beck is probably never going to directly call for the killing of Progressives. He doesn't need to. Millions of scared, angry Americans tune in to watch Beck dehumanize Progressives -- to give them reasons (no matter how dubious) to blame an "other" for their plights. Beck gives them those tools. He compares Progressives to Nazis. He calls them viruses. Who wouldn't consider Progressivism a bad thing that needs to be exterminated after hearing that kind of propaganda?
While it's important to preserve free speech, networks and media personalities like Beck bear a certain degree of responsibility to accurately inform their audience. Progressives are not Nazis. They are not viruses. Surely, those facts still matter. Otherwise, where is the limit to this propaganda? Are Progressives coming for your children? Is FEMA building concentration camps
Whenever a viewer or reader takes this hate speech to its logical conclusion (if they
are trying to kill me, I'm going to attack first,) people like Beck hide behind the First Amendment. They claim that they have the right to say this stuff, and that's true. Unless he directly calls for the killing of Progressives, Beck is well within his rights.
However, advertisers also have the right to pull their support from Beck's show if they feel he's crossing a line with this hate speech. Many have decided to do just that
. There are few good things about Capitalism, but one of the positive aspects is if Glenn Beck stops making money, Rupert Murdoch will fire him. If this type of speech offends you, contact Beck's remaining sponsors and let them know
Progressives are not a virus that should be exterminated.