Beck Subtext: Obama Planning to Assassinate Tea Partiers

Media Matters and Fair, day in, day out do an excellent job of refuting the often incorrect assertions made on Fox Cable News, which is a conspiracy of media multi-billionaire and far-right Australian mogul Rupert Murdoch to shift American politics in his direction. All societies (not least the United States) have racist and xenophobic strains in their politics, and most Australians are decent people. But there is a particular history of rightwing Australian racism, having to do with the British colonization of the continent, the displacement of the Aboriginals, and then the feeling of being surrounded by Asians (Indonesian Muslims, Chinese) who might via immigration swamp the ¨white¨population. (There is not actually any such thing as ´whiteness´, and most of the people who now claim to be white in the US were at one time excluded from the definition–Irish, Italians, Polish, etc.). While their views are by no means similar, the white nationalism of Rupert Murdoch and Mel Gibson have similar historical roots. At a time when racist ´white nationalism´is resurgent in the US there is a real danger of a racist international, which Fox (which is shown around the world) plays a role in supporting.

But I think this ´Media Matters´refutation of Glenn Beck´s talking points on his Monday show misses his insidious, over-all point (perhaps because it is too fantastic to credit). I think Beck was insinuating that Barack Obama is setting things up so that he can assassinate Tea Partiers.

The show is here.

The form of Beck’s argument is as follows. The Obama administration is eager to move away from a specific concern with Muslim terrorism or jihadism, which its officials define out of existence. There are no longer ´enemy combatants´, i.e. no longer jihadists taken on the battlefield, and those at Guantanamo Bay are to be released.

But, Beck, notes, there is a strange contradiction in Obama´s policies on these matters. The administration, he says, has announced that it will launch drone strikes against even American citizens suspected of engagement in terrorism. So why deny that jihadism or Muslims are the problem, Beck asks? Why at the same time announce that you can assassinate even American citizens, even far from the battlefield, in an unconstitutional denial of due process?

´The president is worried about offending radical jihadists. He’s very worried about Muslims getting randomly attacked on the streets and scooped up — which, I haven’t seen. But I also see who is feared: The angry, racist Tea Parties.

In Missouri, a report was issued for state police to be on the lookout for supporters displaying bumper stickers and other paraphernalia associated with the Constitutional Campaign for Liberty and Libertarian parties. The report categorized them as militia-influenced terrorists.

That’s you with your “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, gang…´

Here are two headlines: “Neo-Nazis tied to militia patrols in Arizona”; “Tea Party rejects racist label; some concerns remain.” They are trying to make you explode, to make you into a danger….

It makes no sense. Why doesn’t the president care that the Democrats are on the verge of getting trounced in the elections? Because the president is about to have unstoppable power, making Congress irrelevant.

I think Beck´s discourse should be taken seriously. He is cultivating a significant constituency. Because of his erratic pronouncements and tear jags, it is easy to dismiss him or not even to see what he is really driving at.

In this quite insane rant, Beck accused Barack Obama of maneuvering to reorient the machinery of the ´war on terror´away from the real threat (Muslims) and to be able to direct it instead at ¨you¨(i.e. at white people, Tea Partiers, whoever he thought he was addressing). He was saying that Obama intends to make a constitutional coup via National Security Council fiat, so that he can launch the drone strikes against Arizona ¨patriots,¨ and Missouri libertarians.

I am also troubled by the drone strikes in non-war contexts, and not just on US citizens. But Beck is not really worried about civil liberties. He is painting a picture of a Black Hitler, who is developing sinister Storm Troopers to use for a Final Solution of the ¨white¨problem. Ironically, it is Beck who ends up sounding like Mein Kampf.

I haven´t seen any political or media responses (other than that of Media Matters, which to my mind misses his larger point) to this particular rant by Beck, and find that lapse in itself alarming. Beck´s advertising base has collapsed because of the unsavory character of his discourse, but he is being kept on the air through immense subsidies, by Rupert Murdoch who admits that he agrees with Beck´s outrageous charge that Obama doesn´t like white people. I was once attacked by John Fund at the Wall Street Journal because I said it is irresponsible of the FCC to allow Murdoch to misrepresent his far right propaganda campaign as ¨journalism.¨ But I repeat it here.

Something bigger than a consumer boycott of Beck advertisers is needed, maybe a consumer boycott of all Fox media and companies.

I´ve been cautioned by readers not to take on Murdoch because he is known to be particularly vindictive. But that kind of comment only underlines the danger we are all in from him and his goon squad.

35 Responses

  1. I can’t stand Glen Beck. However these constitutional-reversion-christian-militias (many of them hate groups) have plenty to fear from the federal government. Janet Reno went on a killing spree against these groups in the 90’s, and look what happened: the largest terrorist attack against US citizens until 9/11.

    So while I think Beck is full of it, saying that the more radical elements of the Tea Party movement aren’t on government watch lists, and even at risk of being attacked by the federal government, is silly. The SPLC isn’t the only one with a list of right-wing militias.

  2. And to think that Prince Talal (Al-Waleed bin Talal) owns 7% of News Corp (Fox News) makes you wonder.

  3. Not that it invalidates your point but I thought I would point out that both Murdoch and Gibson are US citizens. As to Murdoch’s politics, in his early days he was quite left wing. This seems to have altered around 1975, a quite significant year in Australian political history. However Murdoch’s politics are not so much left/right as profit/loss. Currently it is far more profitable to pander to the far right, should it become otherwise I am sure he would happily join the Chinese Communist Party.

  4. Not sure what happened to the fidelity of the links, but almost all of them in this article seem to be broken. Would love to see the citations and some of the past posts.

    • The links should be fixed now. I was using an unfamiliar keyboard and the quotation marks were not recognized by wordpress as such.

  5. I agree about the importance of taking Glenn Beck seriously. This is not a direct response to your article but my adventures with Fox Radio.

    Up at 3 AM this morning, I took a drive to check on a couple of things. For the heck of it I turned on Fox radio and there was a man and a woman talking about Djinn, which is an Arabic word for genie. They were talking about these things that go into different dimensions and interact with humans. They do research on para normal. A woman called in who on a few occasions, living in a part of the country with a lot of old mine shafts, woke up with little bruises all over her body. Yes, this could be the work of Djinn. All kinds of discussions about how they interact, angels, demons and so forth.

    As an aside when I looked them up briefly on the internet they appear in the Qua-ran which was strange for right wingers to use their Arabic name.

    What struck me was the loss of rationality in our society. Al Gore’s book a few years back was “Assault on Reason.” It is sure convenient to work outside either rationality, or a higher rationality arationality, and be able to connect anything to anything else and put them in a world wide conspiracy.

    Then this morning, I am cleaning out the minivan and listening to Fox radio and Glenn Beck is on. I never, never listen to these guys.

    And I am thinking how long the propaganda and lies have been going out on these media outlets.

    Could it be that Republican party, which is actually a faction, might destroy constitutional government in the USA?

    I am really worried about the future of our country and the world and the rule of the oligarchs who use the crazy folks on media outlets like Fox news to mess up the minds of far too many of our people.

  6. Prof Cole and others think you might be interested

    link to seminal.firedoglake.com

    The Ministry of Truth
    By: Barry Eisler Tuesday July 20, 2010 2:41 pm

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    Recently, I had the good fortune to be invited by NPR to submit an essay on a favorite thriller of mine. I decided to write about George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, which is both an excellent thriller and an increasingly powerful and relevant political warning — a combination readers of my latest novel, Inside Out, will know I find appealing.

    Though I’m of course pleased that NPR decided to run the essay (which you can find here, along with an unrelated radio interview I did with Michelle Norris on All Things Considered), I’m also disappointed that NPR insisted on watering down the essay through successive drafts. The NPR editor I was in touch with, Miriam Krule, found the first three drafts “too political” (my response — that an essay on Nineteen Eighty-Four that’s too political is like an essay about the Bible that’s too much about God — was unpersuasive), and though Ms. Krule didn’t articulate the precise nature of her objections, the parts of the essay that had to go nicely demonstrate what in this context “too political” really means. Here are two versions of the offending penultimate paragraph, neither of which NPR deemed acceptable:

    As prescient as Orwell was about events, though, I believe his purpose wasn’t so much to forecast the future, which might take many forms, as it was to describe human nature, which is immutable. So no, we don’t have quite the kind of organized Two Minutes’ Hate depicted in the novel, but it’s impossible to recall the populace turning on our NATO ally France before our misadventure in Iraq, or more recently on our NATO ally Turkey over the Gaza flotilla incident, and not remember the scene in the book where a crowd instantly and obediently redirects its hostility from Eurasia to Eastasia. It’s impossible to watch pundits like Tom Friedman, Jeffrey Goldberg, Charles Krauthammer, and Bill Kristol—who were wrong about everything in Iraq—still being taken seriously as this time they agitate for war with Iran, and not imagine the bureaucrats at the Ministry of Truth sending the historical record down the memory hole for incineration. And it’s impossible to look at people who can’t see the obvious parallels I just described and not see Party members vigorously practicing their doublethink, by which they have “the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.

    Also this was a whopper of a conversation with investigative reporter Tim Shorrock. Hosted by Emptywheel
    link to emptywheel.firedoglake.com
    FDL Talks Intelligence Contracting with Tim Shorrock
    By: emptywheel Wednesday July 21, 2010 7:00 am

    The Washington Post has been turning lots of heads this week with a big series on intelligence contracting. But we here at FDL have been talking about it for years, not least when we hosted Tim Shorrock–who wrote the book on intelligence contracting, Spies for Hire–for a book salon two years ago.In light of all the attention focused on the issue this, week, I asked Shorrock to come back to talk to use about the series, the problems with contracting, and some other issues the WaPo didn’t hit.

    As I pointed out on Monday, one thing Shorrock emphasized was the degree to which the contractors are partnering with the government to develop longterm strategy.

  7. Juan,
    I doubt there is a single Glen Beck or Sarah Palin supporter who reads your blog. Why waste so many posts refuting them?
    It’s getting dull watching you shoot fish in a barrel.

    • Why “waste so many posts” –
      Because people like me from overseas who don´t always have the time to follow American media on top of the media of their own/neighbouring countries learn a lot from posts like these. From post and from the comments like the ones from Don, Cocomaan, Glen (the other one).
      You´re right, this might not be the place to gather information for Americans who have already heard most of the stuff discussed here via radio/newspaper before they reach work in the morning and thought about it. Whoever has an opinion already (weighed or not) is not very likely to change it while reading this, but for me, that´s not the point of this blog.
      I read it mostly for background informations on things going on on the Middle and Near East. I´ve spent enough time there to realize that a) most times, I don´t have a real clue why happened what just happened in Iran, Afghanistan, Irak, Yemen … … and, b), sadly, that holds true for most mainstream western media as well where it seems that neither readers nor journalists can care less. And yes, since I left the US more then a decade ago, I realize that I lost touch to what goes on in peoples heads as well.
      This is not for the sophisticated informed educated reader who has plenty of other sources – in m opinion, it´s for the globally interested one who is aware of his limitations and of the challenge that being informed globally poses.

      • Well, I can see your POV.

        But if not for the conveniently-timed, over-the-top extremism of Beck, Palin, and Tea-baggers; if not for these bleating mooks providing the republican voice of opposition, it would be easier for most people to see the lack of difference between republican and democratic policy.

        When Obama denies habeous corpus, freedom of the press, endorses torture, expands drone strikes and assassinations, maintains US forces in Iraq, expands the wars in Pakistan and Afghanistan, keeps open Bagram and Guantanamo, doesn’t end DADT, gives trillions to Wall Street, refuses to support single-payer, expands coal & nuclear power, and off-shore drilling, conspires with BP, etc… His supporters tend to fall back on the line, “Well, just imagine if Palin was president! Obama 2012!”

        Believe me, Obama’s best friends right now are his craziest, most race-baiting, nonsensical, loudest opponents. They are the ONLY ones who can still make Obama appear even moderately left-wing.

        It’s as if, instead of criticizing Bush, we spent most of our efforts criticizing far-far-right-wing militias. By doing that, by framing the debate in that way, it would make Bush look like a moderate by comparison. I think David Axlerod is well-versed in this tactic.

        • Obama´s never been the figurehead of left-wing America in the first place. He has been elected by the whole country for his pragmatic approach, not because a majority in the US exactly agree with everything he stands for (in a country with some 100.000 people, no such person will ever exist).

          At the moment, he clearly loses his cool. Denying habeas corpus is definitely something he should be able to do without (on the other hand, under Bush, this wasn´t talked about but simply done). Totally agree with you that this is ugly and inexcusable.
          But again, I never saw Obama as the saint and saviour who´d achieve all the goals of left-wing intellectual america for the whole country because, face it, you´re a minority, he´s the president of the whole country and that was what he wanted to be all along. If you 10.000 plus politically informed guys want to convince (or at least stop) some 10.000 hardliners, you´ve got to do it yourself. Remember what happened with Khatami in Iran – he was the first promising head-of-state since decades, and people just couldn´t get enough changes fast enough and radical enough, he lost support, and that was the end of everything.

          Our mainstream media give him a good whacking for kissing-ass towards the right at the moment
          (“Obama und die Medien —Angst vor den Meinungsmachern”). That´s as far as I´d go.

    • I don’t consider it “wasting” space to address what’s being said by Beck, Palin and their ilk. They are extremely influential among their supporters, regardless of their fantastic insinuations and views. I can’t stomach to watch Beck’s show so posts like this are informative.

  8. Great post. One thing I wanted to pull out was Beck’s comment on Muslims being attacked in this country…
    “The president is worried about offending radical jihadists. He’s very worried about Muslims getting randomly attacked on the streets and scooped up — which, I haven’t seen. ”

    While Beck may not have “seen” anything, I have several friends that either practice Islam or are native to the Middle East and many of them have stories about being attacked in this country for their beliefs. The typical story is less violent, but more racist with people making statements like “well you people think this is a good thing right” or some other garbage, but one story in particular shocked the hell out of me. It was shortly after 9/11 and a friend of mine, who is a Palestinian woman and a very small and beautiful girl was punched in the face by a stranger on the street reacting to one of Bush’s speeched about terrorism.

    We live in a very very racist nation and I’m glad you made a point to mention that the definition of “whiteness” has changed a lot over time in this country. All in all, it’s a term used to define who is acceptable as an American vs. who should go back to their own country or worse.

    I think individuals like Beck fall right in line with the earlier commenter on Murdoch’s ties. This is all a money game and Beck himself has said it. He’s putting on a show that pays very well. The sad truth is that there are actually people out there that think he speaks for them. There are people in this country and around the world that still believe that somehow racism, stereotypes and dogmatic ideals somehow help society. That by making sure that there’s a clear line between “us” and “them”, we will always be right.

    If instead people would realize that we’re all the same race to begin with and that we’re all here pretty much trying to figure out the same things and deal with the same problems as societies, perhaps it wouldn’t be so profitable for people like Beck to spew this hatred. But sadly, that is not the world we live in.

  9. The most effective way to nullify the blatherings of Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity et al. is to
    ignore them. The more they are cited, the more they can charge for advertising. Concentrate on the real barriers to freedom and democracy: the Criminals-In-Congress.
    If you want an obvious example of an obsession with carnival barkers, please visit
    Crooksandliars.com. It’s good for a laugh on an
    otherwise depressing day, However, Crooksandliars is uninformative given its preoccupation with media personalities.

  10. Good idea to be concerned. The pattern is not only crazy talk, but threats of violence. The NAACP has received over 100 threats of violence since they called the Tea Party racists. Alan Grayson also was targeted this week with someone willing to pay if someone else beat him up. It is a constant pattern. FOX news was irresponsible or worse this week with their doctored video of Shirley Sherrod. Their ACORN attack is now in court. We need a spotlight on this intimidation. This is not a “democratic” process or even consistent with the Constitution and “free speech”.

    • Joe McCarthy was enabled by a capitalist media that was already witchhunting before he was. The coming of a new McCarthy was predictable. That he is not a senator this time may tell us how much the Right now relies on denigration of elected government instead of slavish support for it.

      We should also recall the front page of the Tulsa newspaper the day before the horrific white riot which destroyed the black part of Tulsa in the ’20s. The only remaining copy has a square cut out of it, where an article was run telling whites where to go to start the riot.

      And where were the Southern newspapers in 1860 and 1876? Doing their worst.

      In the past the media aided and abetted tyranny, oppression and bigotry and never was punished for the disasters it caused. So I don’t see anything stopping it this time.

  11. The Obama administration has a history of surrendering to Fox News attacks. They threw Van Jones under the bus. The USDA fired Shirley Sherrod. They’ve caved to demands to handle the deficit by creating a commission full of people who want to gut Social Security.

    So I’m amazed to find that I might be rooting for crazy Glenn Beck to score points on this issue, because while Obama won’t listen to the left, he does seem to listen to the right, and to respond to their attacks in a defensive way. Obama’s most appalling act has been his claim that he has the power to execute American citizens without trial, just by putting them on a list of “known terrorists”, no matter that as a former teacher of Constitutional law he knows that “nor shall any person be … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”. It’s proper to fear what a president might do with this kind of power.

    If the administration has evidence that an American is a terrorist, he should order that person to be captured and put on trial. If the suspect dies while violently resisting arrest, or while fighting against American troops, so be it, but otherwise, due process of law is not optional.

  12. I think your comments about Rupert Murdock are faulty. I grew up in Adelaide, where Rupert got his start as a newspaper proprietor. His first paper was “The News” a tabloid afternoon paper, which he ran for several years before he expanded to create the large conglomerate he now runs. What made Murdock, in that period, was “The News” taking on the establishment over the “Max Stuart” scandal – see the Wikipedia article on this case. Basically Stuart, an illiterate aborigine, was railroaded by corrupt police and a complacent government and almost hanged about a murder he probably did not commit. Murdock, in my memory, was very prominent in Stuarts defense (more prominent to my mind, than indicated in the otherwise fair Wikipedia article). There is little evidence that Murdock is racist. Australia has moved on from its’ “White Australia” past, and is now a successful multiracial society – people of Murdock’s generation spearheaded this, and Rupert was ahead of his time. It took real courage to support the Aboriginal Stuart in 60’s Adelaide, against the political establishment of that isolated and quite conservative city.

    Murdock went on the marry an asian woman – interracial marriages are common in Australia – more so, I suggest, than in the USA. Mel Gibson, is another poor example, of an Australian, being American. Gibson’s father, relocated from New York to Sydney for a few years when Gibson was a teenager. Gibson senior appears to be a domineering father figure with pronounced religious and political views – relocating to Australia seems to have been a factor in giving his family an environment more to his ideological liking. They drifted back to America, as Australia was not the fantasy frontier that Gibson’s father apparently believed.

    No, Murdock isn’t a racist. I think the Fox News political agenda is more a response to the need to create a practical business model, in a climate where news papers and broadcast networks have lost their exclusive audience, to the internet and a proliferation of alternative sources. The people Fox News appeals to, are those who are most isolated from the internet revolution, and who will still spend money on gaining access to the sort of material Glen Beck spouts. They may or may not be biggots, and American ones at that, but they continue to pay money to Murdock to have their beliefs confirmed – the thing he most likes about them.

  13. A consumer boycott of all Fox News would be a good start, followed up by a return to the teaching of critical thinking skills in our schools.

    I agree with you that Beck is dangerous to our constitutional government. One way he (and Mrdoch et al) might effect the destruction is by working the Tea Party group
    into such a hysterical state that they actually break the law and commit violent acts against government entities they percieve (wrongly) as a threat.

  14. It’s easy. They spew hate, you need to counter with truth. Ignoring them simply leads to people actually listening to them. The old silent majority thing is wrong, as the old adage of silence equals consent teaches. Crush them at their own game. Now if we could convince other large media outlets to take them on on a daily basis and point out the falsehoods they spew I think more and more people would pressure them to shut up.

  15. Yes Australia has more than its fair share of right-wing goons and knee-jerk xenophobes, but I must protest that Rupert Murdoch has been a naturalised US citizen for many years. His grip on Australian media and politics is fierce, but we all know where his allegiances lie. Also, Mel Gibson has always been an American.

  16. I have no problem with what Mel Gibson or Rupert Murdoch or whoever say. What they say is just their opinion. They are entitled to their opinion.

    I have a problem with the obvious abuse of power that Beck and Limbaugh and that whole right wing conservative crowd demonstrate. They are engaging in conduct that is clearly anarchy. They are promoting anarchy. And anarchy, in the United States of America, is against the Law.

    The Tea Party is a racist organization that demands that the United States Government be overthrown. That is also against the Law. The Republican party has been working towards that end for years. That is against the Law. The Republican party is an un-American organization. They have been un-American for years. Why is everyone afraid to say that which is so obvious about them?

    They do it at a local level (I’ve seen them in my community) at a state level and at a national level. They engage in conduct that would have me or you put in a cell! I don’t get it. They do it all the time. And they get away with it.

    That’s what bothers me.

  17. Fyi: A Chicano friend of mine was in Viet Nam, and told me that he wasn’t allowed to go to Australia on his R and R , because of the trouble that dark-skinned soldiers got into with the locals.

  18. Glenn Beck is a lovable, crazy uncle to right wing crazies. Thoughts just pop into his head. He is sorely confused, but in his own mind, he figures it all out every evening on his FOX show. Juan, he’s the least of your worries

  19. What’s truly sad is that there must be tens of thousands of viewers who nightly sit before their television sets taking all this stuff seriously. His show is one of the most viewed in the US. And not everyone who watches watches out of sheer fascination, at the gall of his performance. As if mesmerized by his chutzpah.

    Not only must those audience members who take him seriously be enormously ignorant. But susceptible to his kind of mind bends and truly weird logic. A logic anyone should be able to see through.

    Beck has his right to speak, and pretty much to say whatever he wants. It’s too bad though he is so influential, and draws so much attention. But when a mountebank gets away with selling his brand of snake oil, what else can we do? Like the bully who pokes his two fingers into your eyes you can’t defeat him by ignoring him.

  20. Sad to say, I am not sure what I would do (I live outside the US) to join in with some kind of boycott. What should I and my friends stop buying?? Please offer a few concrete suggestions. Thank you, Juan.
    I DO feel that rational people and others who may offer a perspective different from that of Fox / Beck/ Limbaugh, et. al., are being silenced one way or another. It’s time that rational people stike back. Am I the only one who sees similarities here to … um … Germany in the 1930’s ?

  21. I’d like to hear Robert Gibbs open every press briefing with, “Here’s the latest outrage from Fox News,” and go on to specify how Fox has lied/distorted the day before. Not that Fox would change, but drawing attention to their mendacious ways could only help the American public.

  22. Davr: Apparently it’s not possible for a right-winger to be anti-American. This is not sarcasm. There is a built-in assumption across the political spectrum that right-wingers are more “real” Americans than anyone else. I think this involves vaguely sensed notions of the origin of American identity in the colonial past, and the special insecurity that white Christians feel that, unlike Germans or Englishmen, they can’t declare American as both ethnicity and nationality. They want tribalism, but the act of defining themselves as a tribe rightfully ruling over “conquered” peoples like blacks and Latinos is suicide. Obsessing over Free Enterprise or Christian fundamentalism is a way of asserting that identity behind a non-racial front, but always worshipping an idealized past when WASPs just happened to monopolize power.

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