By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Kudos to Glenn Beck for making the brave assertion that the conservative fringe shouldn't resort to violence to advance their agenda. Of course it makes one wonder why someone sufficiently in the main stream of the media to have their own national television show should even have to warn his viewers against violence. But that's the beside the point: the take-away here is that Beck condemns violence. After all, it's ... illegal, immoral, generally a bad thing. Right, Glenn?
Well Beck has a somewhat more nuanced view, per ThinkProgress (via MediaMatters), where you can also watch the video:
BECK: If anyone thinks that it would be a good idea to turn violent, think again. It would destroy the Republic. They have awakened a sleeping giant. But just one lunatic like Timothy McVeigh could ruin everything that everyone has worked so hard for. Because these people in Washington won’t pass up the use of an emergency. Look how the media ran with the abortion doctor killing. They tried to pin that despicable act on Fox in general and specifically Bill O’Reilly and me. … I don’t want to ever hear from our own Americans, anyone voicing some sort of Muslim-extremist type justification.
So ... political violence is bad not because it's illegal and immoral, but because the reaction to it might hurt the conservative movement?
There are a couple of troubling things here. The first is that he addresses the notion of violence as if it's a legitimate option. Should we use violence or not? I'm going to go with no, because it would be non-productive. Instead one wishes his reasoning was more like: Advocating violence is in and of itself wrong. End of discussion.
Beck has spent months -- literally screaming and crying -- insisting that the president is a socialist/fascist/communist/racist who's trying to destroy the country through totalitarian means. Major media outlets have plenty of irresponsible voices, but Beck has been unique in his insane rantings. It wasn't hard to imagine some of his viewers/listeners getting so worked up, they might at least consider doing something dangerous.
So good for Beck for condemning violence. But next time, maybe he'll condemn it in and of itself rather than merely discounting it as a plausible tactic.