Those of you looking to prove the "stochastic terror" theory of right-wing violence should glance away from Arizona, because we have a much better example in California's Byron Williams. Brad Friedman has an excellent new piece
on would-be mass murderer Williams, who admits that he was directly inspired by Glenn Beck's calls to arms. Here's Beck on congressional Democrats -- and apparently, this was the bit that aroused Williams:
They believe in communism. They believe and have called for a revolution. You're going to have to shoot them in the head. But warning, they may shoot you.
"They are dangerous because they believe. Karl Marx is their George Washington. You will never change their mind. And if they feel you have lied to them — they're revolutionaries. Nancy Pelosi, those are the people you should be worried about.
Although there's a fair amount of schizophasia in this locution, Beck's meaning is clear enough. It is also clear that the man is insane. I doubt that Nancy Pelosi has even read
Marx, and I doubt that anyone else in Congress -- even Barney Frank -- ever gave a damn about Uncle Karl. And just when did this call for revolution allegedly take place? The only revolutionaries I see are on the right, telling disgruntled Americans to shoot congressfolk in the head.
Why isn't Beck on trial for treason right now? Ya got me!
Thanks to Beck and his confreres, millions of righties in this nation now seem to think that, once the "real Americans" are out of earshot, all liberals break out the red flags and start calling each other "comrade." This is madness, and it is incredibly dangerous. The Beckies, the teabaggers, the fundamentalists and their ilk have become emotionally wedded to a view of liberalism that has no basis in fact. (Frankly, applying the word "liberal" to Pelosi is, in and of itself, debatable.)
Brad Friedman is the only blogger I've ever hung out with on a face-to-face basis. He seems to be somewhere to the left of me, in that he finds the Democratic party hopelessly compromised by corporate interests. Yet in private conversation, he never brought up Marx or Marxist notions. He doesn't have a copy of Das Kapital
on his bookshelves, and I would be surprised to learn that he has read that work.
I have, of course. I even skimmed the later volumes -- betcha didn't know that there were sequels? -- and got a few paragraphs into the Grundrisse
, one of the great unreadable books. I've also read The Wealth of Nations
, which most of the people who worship Adam Smith would never actually do. I've also delved into Mein Kampf
, Yockey, Gobineau, some Cleon Skousen (which you used to be able to pick up cheap), tons of weird-ass JBS literature, Robison, Weishaupt, Taxil, The Book of the SubGenius, Jack Chick comics, and a whole lot of other wacky stuff. Hey, it's me
One of the lessons one gleans from extremist literature is that many people have an easy time imagining that their opponents are getting up to horrors which they would never actually commit. Are the folks next door sacrificing infants to Baal? You might be able to convince yourself that they are, until you actually visit
the folks next door.
Has Byron Williams ever spent much time with liberals? Has Beck?
There's one problem with Brad's piece. This is Brad talking:
But remember, both sides do it! Remember all of those quotes from the top stars in the Progressive media like Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann and Randi Rhodes and Thom Hartmann imploring supporters to shoot Republicans in the head?
I remember Keith Olbermann calling for the murder of Hillary Clinton. (He apologized -- years later.) I recall Randi Rhodes calling Hillary a "big fucking whore." (She refused to apologize.) I can cite -- have
cited (many times) -- the repeated and explicit calls for violence against Hillary which were published on Kos, D.U. and other big liberal blogs. I recall an endless stream of imaginary horrors that were attributed to the Big Dog and his pantsuited She-Devil. ("Vince Foster! Vince Foster! Vince Foster!
") And I ain't never
gonna forget, or forgive, the death threats I personally received from the Obots -- particularly the ones that came from a certain ISP in Chicago.
I can, in short, recall how a cult of personality swept the nation and caused many once-sane progs to screech in a robustly Beckian fashion about the Baal-worshipers inhabiting casa Clinton
Funny thing, though: I do not
recall Brad denouncing any of that at the time.
Am I wrong, Brad? Care to offer any citations from 2008...?
(In honor of Glenn Beck, I'm listening to Khatchaturian's Symphony #3, a very
loud piece written in honor of Glorious Soviet Revolution. Is being heavy metal for Stalinists, da
? Great stuff, comrades!)
(PS: Speaking of wackiness -- I actually broke down and started watching Zeitgeist
. Alas, the emetic qualities of this presentation forced me to bow out during the segue into the 9/11 stuff. Good freaking lord
, what a piece of shit! This thing is an even worse example of crackpot pseudo-scholarship than are What the Bleep Do We Know?
and The Secret
. One of the key sources for this film is that notorious far-right crank, Jordan Maxwell! Compared to the maker of this movie, Dan Brown is a model of solid academic research.)