A little while back Chuck Norris showed up on Glenn Beck's program and mostly bantered right-wing populist talking points, but they focused especially on the Second Amendment and gun rights, with Beck playing up the possibility of new gun laws under an Obama administration:
NORRIS: Well, yes. The whole thing is that's the Second Amendment — the Second Amendment. The final line in the Second Amendment says, "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
That means not by the president, not by Congress. They are not allowed to take our rights away with this because of the Second Amendment, Glenn. And the thing is, I have a 700-acre ranch in Texas. And I have a lot of guns on my ranch.
I don't use them for hunting. I'm not a hunter. But the thing is, it's for protection. And the Second Amendment was designed for tyranny against the government. If the government decides to become a tyrannical government, our guns are to protect us against that. And that's really what the Second Amendment is all about, Glenn.
BECK: So you know, here is the thing, Chuck. You know, the government doesn't want us to have weapons and yet, they have weapons. I think the biggest weapon they have is the IRS. Nobody even understands. I just — I read a letter from ...
NORRIS: You're hitting a real sore point with me right there.
BECK: They can use taxes as a weapon, and the IRS code that that you can't even figure out — am I wrong on that?
The combined tax-bashing and gun paranoia is classic "Patriot" movement chatter, though neither started spinning off into far-right governmental theories and talk about secession.
No, they saved that for last Tuesday, when Norris went on Beck's radio show:
GLENN: Chuck, you live in Texas.
NORRIS: Yes, I do.
GLENN: Somebody asked me this morning, they said, you really believe that there's going to be trouble in the future. And I said, if this country starts to spiral out of control and, you know, and Mexico melts down or whatever, if it really starts to spiral out of control, before America allows a country to become a totalitarian country, which it would have under I think the Republicans as well in this situation; they were taking us to the same place, just slower.
NORRIS: It was slower, yeah.
GLENN: Americans will, they just, they won't stand for it. There will be parts of the country that will rise up. And they said, where's that going to come from? And I said Texas, it's going to come from Texas. Do you agree with that, Chuck, or not?
NORRIS: Oh, yeah. You know, Texas is a republic, you know. We could actually --
GLENN: It was a country before it was a state.
NORRIS: Yeah, we could break off from the union if we wanted to.
GLENN: You do, you call me.
NORRIS: Oh, yeah.
On Glenn Beck's radio show last week, I quipped in response to our wayward federal government, "I may run for president of Texas."
That need may be a reality sooner than we think. If not me, someone someday may again be running for president of the Lone Star state, if the state of the union continues to turn into the enemy of the state.
From the East Coast to the "Left Coast," America seems to be moving further and further from its founders' vision and government. ...
... When I appeared on Glenn Beck's radio show, he told me that someone had asked him, "Do you really believe that there is going to be trouble in the future?" And he answered, "If this country starts to spiral out of control and Mexico melts down or whatever, if it really starts to spiral out of control, before America allows a country to become a totalitarian country (which it would have under I think the Republicans as well in this situation; they were taking us to the same place, just slower), Americans won't stand for it. There will be parts of the country that will rise up." Then Glenn asked me and his listening audience, "And where's that going to come from?" He answered his own question, "Texas, it's going to come from Texas. Do you agree with that Chuck?" I replied, "Oh yeah!" Definitely.
It was these types of thoughts that led me to utter the tongue-n-cheek frustration on Glenn Beck's radio show, "I may run for president of Texas!"
I'm not saying that other states won't muster the gumption to stand and secede, but Texas has the history to prove it. As most know, Texas was its own country before it joined the Union as its 28th state. From 1836 to 1846, Texas was its own Republic. Washington-on-the-Brazos (river) served as our Philadelphia, Pa. It was there, on March 2, 1836, where a band of patriots forged the Texas Declaration of Independence. (We just celebrated these dates last week.)
... For those losing hope, and others wanting to rekindle the patriotic fires of early America, I encourage you to join Fox News' Glenn Beck, me and millions of people across the country in the live telecast, "We Surround Them," on Friday afternoon (March 13 at 5 p.m. ET, 4 p.m. CT and 2 p.m. PST). Thousands of cell groups will be united around the country in solidarity over the concerns for our nation. You can host or attend a viewing party by going to Glenn's website. My wife Gena and I will be hosting one from our Texas ranch, in which we've invited many family members, friends and law enforcement to join us. It's our way of saying "We're united, we're tired of the corruption, and we're not going to take it anymore!"
Just to jog people's memories, the most recent organized effort to declare Texas an independent republic was the "Republic of Texas" outfit that built itself around Patriot conspiracy theories and engaged law enforcement in a week-long armed standoff:
The movement split into three factions in 1996, one led by McLaren, one by David Johnson and Jesse Enloe, and the third by Archie Lowe and Daniel Miller. In 1997, McLaren and his followers kidnapped Joe and Margaret Ann Rowe, held them hostage at the Fort Davis Resort, and demanded the release of two movement members in exchange for the Rowes. McLaren's wife, Evelyn, convinced him to surrender peacefully after a week-long standoff with police and Texas Rangers. The McLarens and four other Republic of Texas members were sent to prison. This effectively destroyed the McLaren faction, and the Johnson-Enloe faction was discredited after two of its members, Jack Abbot Grebe Jr. and Johnie Wise, were convicted in 1998 of threatening to assassinate several government officials, including President Bill Clinton.
Rick Ross has a complete library of articles about the RoT, which remains active in a mildly mutated form to this day. Also, Slate's Franklin Foer wrote a pretty comprehensive piece about them in 1997.
We've been saying for awhile that right-wing populism tends, in America at least, to lead down the path of far-right extremism. Glenn Beck and Chuck Norris seem to be taking off at a brisk jog.
Dana Houle has more.