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How Glenn Beck Helps Violent Right-Wing Militias

Glenn Beck has done more than any other person to amplify and mainstream the movement's hateful and foreboding anti-government message.

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And at Fox News, it's not just Beck. The cable "news" channel's  militia-flavored message (beware gun-toting IRS  agents!) has been as simple as it's been  relentless: Obama is destroying this country and  he's doing it intentionally. It's not that people disagree with Obama and don't like what they call his "liberal" policies as applied to the economy and health care reform, etc. Instead, the conflict is much more dire. Obama is not just misguided in this political and legislative agenda. Instead, Obama is the  incarnation of evil ( the Antichrist?), and his driving hatred for America, as well as for democracy, runs so deep that he ran for president in order to destroy the United States from within.

Right on cue last week, Rush Limbaugh, who serves as sort of a militia godfather theses days, issued  this back-against-the-wall warning: "Our country is being overthrown from within."

That's exactly what militias were saying about Clinton back in the 1990s, as historian David Bennett recently  noted:

"I love my country but  I fear my government," one bumper sticker proclaimed in the 1990s. A small North Carolina group of "Christian" constitutional literalists proposed to " resist the coming New World Order" by "removing treasonous politicians and corrupt judges." As today, they feared a liberal "tyrant" in the White House. At a gun rights rally in Michigan in 1995, a T-shirt called President Clinton a " Socialist-Marxist Comma-Nazi" ...

Sound familiar?

Folks, we're witnessing a militia rerun. Except this time, thanks to the likes of Beck and Fox News, the unwanted repeat is being broadcast nationwide.

Actually, today's hysterical warnings are probably even more extreme than the last time a Democrat sat in the Oval Office. What's disturbing is that instead of having to trade copies of  The Turner Diariesrelying on grassroots fax networks, or traveling to gun shows to hear that kind of incendiary insurrectionist rhetoric (i.e. the president must be stopped!), haters can just turn on the highest-rated cable news channel.

In a way, I wonder why militiamen bother to form groups anymore if Fox News is willing to embrace and broadcast their fervent, anti-government  New World Order rants on a daily basis? The militia flourished on the fringes in the 1990s, in part, because those on the far-right felt like their government-hating message was being ignored. But today it's  celebrated and broadcast nationally. Talkers like Beck have trumped the militia movement. They've completely co-opted the message and made the groups increasingly irrelevant as Fox News cuts out the middleman -- the militia groups -- and hijacks their insurrectionist, government-hating rhetoric.

Don't think there's a larger connection? Just look at the initial reaction when news broke about the Hutaree arrests. The knee-jerk response from some right-wing bloggers to either defend the militia members, or at least raise all kinds of doubts and partisan suspicions about the law enforcement raids, told us all we needed to know about where their true allegiances lie. Meaning, conservative voices immediately telegraphed their support from the persecuted militiamen and clearly suggested they were being used as pawns in an Obama government abuse of power.

Blogger Pamela Geller  complained that the FBI raids were "nuts." Glenn Beck's radio guest host Chris Baker  decried the Hutaree arrests as "nothing more than attack on faith and free speech." And  Washington Times columnist and frequent Fox News talker Monica Crowley  likened Hutaree members to proud patriots, as she squarely placed the blame on the government for squelching the militia's right to dissent:

 
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