It appears to be dawning on Glenn Beck -- what with yet another of his heavily armed fans now under arrest for casing out an Air National Guard base because she feared it was a FEMA concentration camp -- that some of the outrage he's so busily manufacturing on the air nightly might just boil over into violence again.
Yesterday on his Fox News show, he reviewed the tape coming in from the hooligans taking over the town-hall forums meant to discuss health care, disrupting them with tactics specifically intended to destroy any meaningful discussion, and was obviously pleased at the handiwork of his fellow tea-baggers. Indeed, it's unmistakable to everyone (even Beck, evidently) that there's an increasingly ugly undertone that forebodes violence. And if that happens, well, some of the blame might fall in his direction if it does.
So he took out a little insurance yesterday, imploring his increasingly angry audience not to resort to violence if they don't get their way politically:
Beck: The best thing that you can do right now is to let Congress know that you are watching them like a hawk. You show up. You let them feel your burning gaze on them at all times.
But here's the thing that I -- I'm concerned about: Your interaction with them needs to be respectful, polite, forceful, and peaceful.
I've been warning Congress now for a couple of years, and the time has come and passed for them to be able to learn from this. I've been telling them, you have to listen to the people, or they'll be in real big trouble.
Well now, let me give the warning to you: If anyone thinks that it would be a good idea to turn violent, think again. It would destroy the Republic. I feel it with everything in me. There is a great reason for hope right now. Because, I am telling you, for the first time -- since I started saying this in the last couple of years -- for the first time I know it, I feel it, the American people are starting to wake up.
These people in Washington have no idea what they have done. They have wakened 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! The only thing either of us have ever said is there's no reason for that, ever.
Sorry, Glenn, but that isn't the only thing either of you have ever said. O'Reilly also happened to refer to Dr. Tiller as a "baby killer" nearly thirty times, and accused him of mass murder as well as running "an abortion mill" where he had "aborted 60,000 fetuses." He even mused aloud about someone taking him out.
Sure, you can add a disclaimer at the end telling people never to commit violence. But coming at the tail end of an endless litany of incendiary demonization, that's pretty weak tea as lame excuses go.
Likewise, there are the many incendiary things you've said just in recent weeks: calling President Obama a racist, a fascist, and a socialist; repeatedly telling your audience for three weeks running that you "couldn't debunk" the FEMA concentration-camp theories (followed by a single episode in which you did in fact debunk them); agreeing with your guest that the only hope for America is another major terrorist attack; and helping promote secession.
As we saw with the case of the Long Island Beckazoid freaked out about FEMA, saying these kinds of things -- things that not only create scapegoats but are demonstrably untrue, and indeed unhinged -- goes beyond entertainment. Rhetoric like this has a seriously unhinging effect on listeners who absorb it and believe it, because it's in fact several steps removed from reality.
But of course, Beck will never confront that reality now. Because when one of his acolytes acts out inevitably now, he can just point back to this episode and say, "See? I have always denounced violence!"
They don't come much more cynical than that.