Glenn Beck, Radical Hit Man for the Tea Partiers, Is Breeding Potential Violence
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Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy rode to power in the late 1940s by claiming the government was riddled with Communists bent on destroying our way of life. Many Americans, worried about the Cold War and our nuclear-armed adversaries, found his fear-mongering credible. Institutions large and small purged themselves of anyone suspected of having been a member or even a sympathizer of the Communist Party. It didn’t matter if the suspicions were based on anything real, and even if they were, if the dalliance had happened 20 years earlier.
The FBI fanned the flames by collecting dossiers on tens of thousands of Americans and then privately leaking damaging information to employers. Blacklists were common. Due process and free speech were violated repeatedly and careers were destroyed. It was one of the darkest periods of our history. McCarthy went one step too far when he claimed the Army was coddling scores of communists. The televised Army-McCarthy hearings finally brought him down. He was censured by the Senate and died in a drunken stupor. But McCarthyism — virulent red-baiting — lived on for many more years.
Can we expect a replay?
Glenn Beck, a recovering alcoholic, is much more affable. His personal story of picking up the pieces of his shattered life is hard to ignore and seems utterly genuine. All of which could make him even more dangerous than McCarthy.
Beck knows it’s very hard to effectively red-bait Americans, especially since the fall of the Soviet Union and since “Red” China became the world’s most dynamic capitalist economy. Railing about Cuba and Venezuela won’t cut it. So he’s building a better mousetrap.
He’s going after progressives, whom he claims are a “cancer” in our society. Sure, conservatives have been attacking liberals for over a generation, and liberals have been getting more and more embarrassed about the label. But I don’t recall anyone else of Beck’s prominence claiming that progressivism is a cancerous growth on the body politic. Even Joe McCarthy didn’t stoop that low.
Beck’s argument is simple, direct and full of raw meat for his ultra-conservative audiences: the only difference between communists and progressives is the difference between revolution and evolution. Otherwise, they are the same. At the recent CPAC conference he used as “proof” a 1938 Rhode Island Communist Party pamphlet which argued that during the United Front period, Communists should make alliances with progressives. That’s proof? During that period the CP was willing to make alliances with anyone, including the Boy Scouts.
Beck dresses up his Manichean worldview with a twisted history lesson alleging that the progressive movement of the early 20th century, which he claims was led by Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, was all about communism. Here’s what Beck says about the great communist Rough Rider:
We have a guy in the Republican Party who says his favorite president is Theodore Roosevelt. Well, I thought so too, until I read Theodore Roosevelt. By the way, Theodore Roosevelt, the guy who started the Bull Moose Party, which was the progressive party.
Theodore Roosevelt, quote [Beck reads]: "We judge no man a fortune in civil life if it’s honorably obtained and well spent."
Oh? Well thank you.
[Reading again]: "It’s not even enough that it should have been gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it only to be gained so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community."
Is this what the Republican Party stands for? Well, you should ask members of the Republican Party, because this is not our founders’ idea of America. And this is the cancer that’s eating at America.”