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6 of Glenn Beck's Most Paranoid, Dangerous Attacks on Progressives

From smearing progressive funder George Soros to visionary Van Jones, Beck reveals his dark impulses and abhorrence for social justice.
 
 
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Glenn Beck's sermons of hatred against progressive leaders and organizations have had dangerous, almost deadly consequences.

As journalist John Hamilton wrote in a Media Matters article, "On July 18 this year, Byron Williams opened fire on California Highway Patrol officers who had stopped him on an Oakland freeway for driving erratically. For 12 frantic minutes, Williams traded shots with the police, employing three firearms and a small arsenal of ammunition, including armor-piercing rounds fired from a .308-caliber rifle. ... In an affidavit, an Oakland police investigator reported that during an interview at the hospital, Williams "stated that his intention was to start a revolution by traveling to San Francisco and killing people of importance at the Tides Foundation and the ACLU." 

Hamilton wrote that observers were "mystified by one of Byron Williams' reported targets: the Tides Foundation, a low-profile charitable organization known for funding environmentalists, community groups, and other organizations." It turned out Beck had attacked Tides 29 times on his show, including warning the Foundation, "I'm coming for you," before Williams went on his shooting spree, and Williams admitted Beck was his inspiration.

Beck has resorted to brazenly lying and rewriting history to engage in torrents of red-faced paranoid rants about the threats posed by individuals and groups dedicated to social justice -- and make no mistake, they could have grave consequences. Here are six of his worst attacks:

1. George Soros

This November, Beck devoted hours of his show to launching a venomous attack on George Soros. Fabricating a story about Soros' childhood involvement in the seizure of Jewish property under the Nazis, Beck was called out by Gideon Rachman, the Financial Times' chief foreign affairs commentator and Simon Greer of The Jewish Fund for Justice (who was also assailed by Beck in May with "Nazi" comparisons) for crossing the red-line with blatant antisemitism. Writes Rachman: "He accuses a financier, whom he repeatedly emphasizes is Jewish, of being a 'puppet-master,' a man with no national loyalties, who makes vast profits by overthrowing governments and subverting currencies, and who manipulates events from behind the scenes." Media Matters for America has collected an archive of Beck's attacks on Soros, now numbering in the dozens.

 2. Credo Mobile

This November, Glenn Beck attacked the country's only progressive phone company, Credo Mobile. Beck went after its activist arm, Credo Action, on his notorious blackboard: "Nearly 350,000 members of Credo asked Discovery Communications to cancel Sarah Palin's 'nature' show," a Credo Action petition explains, "and on his show Beck challenged the authenticity of our sweeping grassroots activism and our values. Incredibly, Beck waved it off as just another part of some vast socialist conspiracy."

Here's part of Beck's rant:

"There's another grassroots boycott! Yes, this time of conservative 'Sarah Palin's Alaska.' This is a fantastic reality show which looks great ... Well, Discovery is being targeted by environmentalists. Now, it's a grassroots boycott, it must be that regular Americans are outraged at Sarah Palin. Man! Well, the group organizing the boycott is Credo Mobile, and Credo Action, which is a part of the larger organization... These groups focus on "progressive" philanthropy and activism! And they're also a mobile phone provider, which is great, so your phone calls go to help these ... hmmm... It's the same group of people. So very 'grassroots' -- there's your grassroots boycott of 'Sarah Palin's Alaska' on Discovery! So organic, so pure."

Credo hit right back: "Credo is proud to fund other progressive organizations that do valiant work to protect our environment, fight Fox, and stop the hate, lies and fear promoted by Beck and others in the right-wing media every day. That's why we're giving $.25 for every signature to the other organizations Beck called out as being funded by Credo: Media Matters, Center for Constitutional Rights, the Ruckus Society, Color Of Change and the Ella Baker Center (See below for more on these groups' campaigns against Beck)."

3. Richard Trumka

Beck has recently waged a series of airwave attacks on Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO. Media Matters recounts Beck's latest attack, based on the flimsiest of evidence. On November 15, "on his Fox News show, Glenn Beck launched an attack on the AFL-CIO and its president, Richard Trumka, claiming that the 'Communist Party USA is admitting to the party's working relationship with Richard Trumka ... and the AFL-CIO.' Beck reprised his attack this morning on 'Fox & Friends,' during a rant about Democrats being 'controlled by radicals and revolutionaries' as well as 'communists.' Theblog posting's source was an amateur podcast with no direct quotation. Trumka responded that 'Beck is so out of it.'"

4. Tides Foundation

Before Byron Willams tried to launch his deadly attacks, Beck had referred to Tides as “bullies” and “thugs” whose mission is to “warp your children's brains and make sure they know how evil capitalism is.” He showed an appalling lack of remorse after the Williams incident. Glenn Beck taunted, "Uh-oh. Did you guys think I wouldn't talk about it anymore? Uh-oh. Look who's wrong."

As Media Matters reported, Beck "repeatedly attacked Tides, its CEO, and founder Drummond Pike, and the 'dirtbag[s]' connected to Tides. Tides, Beck said, is responsible for 'anti-capitalist propaganda movies' to 'indoctrinate people in their schools' and in their churches. Glenn Beck's raging has offered ample ammunition for advertiser boycotts that Tides has successfully pushed, along with other progressive groups. Tides CEO Drummond Pike called on advertisers to stop supporting Fox News, noting that "businesses that pay to broadcast commercials on Fox News are subsidizing Glenn Beck's television show by continuing to pump money into the network," adding, "It has become clear that the only way to stop supporting Beck is to stop supporting Fox News."  Media Mattersand People for the American Way joined in calling on major advertisers to stop supporting the network.

5. Frances Fox Piven

Glenn Beck has been a leader in a paranoid right-wing crusade against a visionary writer and sociologist in her late 70s, Frances Fox Piven. Beck believes that a Nationarticle by Piven and her late husband Richard Cloward in1966 on ending poverty is the left-wing blueprint for takeover and attacked her repeatedly on his show. Beck summed up his mad theory:

"Cloward-Piven starts with the idea that there is a wide gap between the entitlements that poor people are eligible for and the entitlements that they are actually collecting. They say getting everybody on to the welfare rolls will wipe out poverty and the only way to accomplish that is through a massive multi-city education campaign making heavy use of the media. So, once the poor know that they're eligible and start to sign up, what happens next? In their own words, "a crisis." A crisis that starts in the cities that would rapidly spread to a nationwide level and force the government to move quickly to create a new program for direct income distribution: Marxism. Wait a minute — community organizations overwhelming the system that would lead to a massive redistribution of wealth? Gee, where have I heard that before? That's Cloward-Piven strategy in a nutshell."

Attacks on Piven were echoed by other right-wing media outlets, including Andrew Breitbart. Writes Piven in response to the attack campaign, "[T]he impulse to dismiss lunatic charges by the Right in the hopes they will go away is a mistake. They aren’t going away because the attacks are effective. What we should do instead of ducking is rally to the defense of the individuals and groups that are under assault, and we should do that aggressively, proudly, even joyfully because we are standing with what is best in American politics, and especially with the social movements from below that have sometimes humanized our society. That is what drives the Right crazy, and it is also what should make us proud."  

6. Van Jones

Only a few months after being named Obama's Special Adviser for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, also known as the Green Jobs Czar, Glenn Beck started airing attack segments on his show -- a total of 14. In July 2009 Color of Change, which Jones co-founded in 2005 and left in 2007, "launched a campaign urging advertisers on Beck's Fox News show to pull their ads, in response to comments by Beck stating President Obama has a 'deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture,'" as Wikipedia summarizes. The campaign was a huge success -- over 100 sponsors dropped out of Beck's show. And a September 29 New York Times Magazine profile of Beck reported that "as of Sept. 21, 296 advertisers have asked that their commercials not be shown on Beck's show."

As the paranoid attacks from Beck and the right-wing media organizations and accusations continued, Jones resigned from the White House to keep the distraction away from the White House. After waiting for the storms of controversy to settle down, Van Jones used his speech at the NAACP Image Awards to reach out to Fox News host Glenn Beck: "I see you, and I love you, brother. I love you, and you cannot do anything about it."

Jan Frel is AlterNet's senior editor.