Friday, August 28, 2009

Who said it: a white supremacist or Glenn Beck?

From Dave Neiwert

[I]f you watch what [Beck's] been doing so far, what seems to be emerging is that he is basically building a case justifying his declaration that Obama is a racist who hates white people.

This became crystal-clear midway through his Fox News program Thursday night, during a segment featuring ex-Democrat now complete loser Patrick Caddell and the ever-vivacious Michelle Malkin to heartily agree with whatever craziness came burbling out of his mouth.

They were all gathered to talk about the "army" of "thugs" that President Obama is planning to gather under the combined umbrellas of ACORN, SEIU, Color of Change and whatever other insidious "radicals" Beck believes he's uncovered.

And what does this "army" of "thugs" look like?

Why, they're all black people, of course.

Watch the segment and observe the examples he offers of the kinds of "thugs" he says Obama intends to incorporate into his army: some gun-toting Black Panthers, a shot from a Louis Farrakhan sermon before a Nation of Islam gathering, and a group of young black men doing military-style exercises.

This, as he explained earlier in the show, will be "Obama's SS."

So we now can see the arc of Beck's thesis this week: He was right to call President Obama an anti-white racist because he is this very moment forming an army of militant black thugs to take over your white neighborhoods and threaten your children and impose a liberal fascist state.
Glenn Beck may not himself be racist, but he's certainly playing to racist paranoia. This is exactly the sort of stuff you can find or hear from white supremacists, with the possible exception that they tend to not conflate fascism and Marxism.

Meanwhile, a GOP candidate for governor of Idaho joked twice about getting a licence to hunt Obama like a wolf. To their credit, Idaho Republican leaders are denouncing this "joke."

Update: Surprise, surprise. The man - Rex Rammell - who joked about killing the President is a Manichean supply-side Christian. (h/t to Dave Neiwert for the link to Randy Stapulas) This is from Rammell's book

In the beginning there were socialists and capitalists. The socialists said “let us force our neighbors to be charitable that all mankind may be equal.” The capitalists said “let us give our neighbors freedom that they may choose to be charitable for charity freely given is true charity.” But the socialists disagreed that man could ever rise to be charitable; he must be forced. The capitalists disagreed. And henceforth the war for freedom began. And men made themselves kings and rulers. And despotism and tyranny abounded. And man lost his freedom. And the capitalists fought back as blood covered the earth. And the great Father who sits on his throne in the heavens watched and wept as man fought for his freedom. But man was not worthy of freedom. And more blood covered the earth. Then a righteous people arose and the Father said it is time for man to be free. And the people fought against the King and the Father sent his angels. And the people won their freedom. And the people knew they must bind the ambitions of men. So they assembled their wisest and counseled together and asked the Father to help them create a Constitution. But men’s thirst for power continued. And the Constitution was argued and its meaning distorted. And men began again to lose their freedom…

…And the capitalists fought back for their freedom and vowed to save the Constitution. And God was on their side. And the armies of socialism led by Satan began to fear. And good men and women rallied to the cause. And the Constitution’s original meaning was accepted. And America reset her course. And she returned to her glory. And freedom and happiness were once again found in America!


Left-wing Wacko said...

"Glenn Beck may not himself be racist, but he's certainly playing to racist paranoia."

You know, if somebody attempts to exploit the racist attitudes of others for rhetorical and political gain, then they are promoting racism. So if somebody does this, are they not racist? Are they not aiding in the perpetuation of racism? If not, what then is "racist"?

Somebody like Glenn Beck may not believe in the proposition "black people are inferior, and white people are superior". But that is irrelevant. If they promote racism in any way, implicit or explicit, then they are "racist".

Why attempt to evade this? I know I have disagreed with you before on a similar issue, when O'Reilly speaking to McCain stoked up fears of the "dismantling of the white Christian male power structure".

(Oh, FYI, Sheldon is Left-Wing Wacko, not necessarily trying to hide that fact from you :)

But what does this mean? It means its a defense of white supremacy, that white males have more power as white males, and that this is a good thing to be defended in their view. Even if this is not obviously neo-Nazi but dressed up in a more respectable mainstream facade, it is still a defense of "white supremacy".

It just doesn't matter how many times O'Reilly has dinner with Al Sharpton. He may not be "a racist", but he promotes racism. And that is racist.

Hume's Ghost said...

"Why attempt to evade this?"

Because I think its an important distinction to make. I think Beck is promoting a conspiracy theory that plays to racist fears - but I won't pretend to know the content of Beck's apparently deranged mind.

I heard Beck play a clip of Ed Schultz saying that he thinks talk radio hosts want to see Obama shot. You know I have no love for AM radio, but I find that to be a detestable thing to say on the part of Schultz. He doesn't know what's in anyone's head, and unless one of the hosts says something like the guy who joked about hunting Obama or the preachers who pray for his death, then he has no business saying things like that.

I want to stay as far away from that sort of thing as possible.

Left-wing Wacko said...

Thanks for your response and I respect your reasoning about this.

It brings some interesting points about how we talk about racism in this society. The problem is racism is seen as simply an attitude or way of thinking that is in people's heads.

"To be racist" or "to be a racist" is seen as a characteristic of people who think people of other races are inferior, or who hate or dislike people of other races. And that is certainly valid.

However, we should also see racism in more social, institutional, and historical terms. And also relational terms.

So for example, back to my point. There are the thoughts that people hold in their heads that may make them "racist" or "a racist", or not, a subjective state. And then there are the relations they have with the world around them that is an objective state.

So again, Beck may not think "black people are inferior" and he may judge people as individuals and not according to their phenotypical cluster of characteristics we refer to as "race".

However, what he does do as you and Neiwert document, Beck uses classic memes to promote fear of "militant black thugs" etc. He is promoting racism.

Regardless of what is really in his head and what he actually believes about people of other races, he is engaging in racist rhetoric. What he is doing is racist, regardless of what his subjective mental state is.

Anyway, just sayin this is a different way to think about it.

And I agree with you about Schultz comment. That wasn't a good way to approach the problem of AM radio hosts indirectly promoting violence.

Hume's Ghost said...

"He is promoting racism."

I don't disagree with that; and I don't believe my post title exactly lets him off on that score, either.

And I am willing to describe behavior that leads to racist policy or practice as functionally racist. See here for the ultimate case in point.