I have to give Max Blumenthal, who I had the pleasure of hosting here in Seattle this past week, credit for coming up with the ideal question to ask the fans of Glenn Beck who showed up Saturday in the Seattle area to root for their favorite right-wing fearmonger:
Do you think President Obama hates white people?
The first person I asked was Sean Salazar, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate -- he wants to take on Sen. Patty Murray, and so far appears to be leading the GOP field -- standing outside Safeco Field, where Beck's Seattle event was held.
Salazar, as you can see, hedged and stammered and then quickly found someone else to talk to. But he typified the response in Seattle: "When did Glenn Beck say that? Really? He said that? Well, I need to see the context." One woman said that "Beck explained that," but I pointed out to her that all he said was that he was sorry how it was worded, but that it's still a "serious" question Americans need to be asking. So I was asking them.
I also asked the man who was carrying the big sign making fun of Beck. He pointed out how white the crowd was. And it was true, particularly inside the stadium (more on that shortly). Eventually, I did manage to find an African-American man who was outside gathering signatures on behalf of Ron Paul's "Campaign for Liberty." He said he wasn't going in to see Beck.
Finally, right at the end, I did encounter one honest soul. As you can see.
I met many, many more of these folks at the Beck rally in Mount Vernon later that afternoon and into the evening. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to capture most of them on video (a camera burp) -- just one couple towards the end of the evening. But I had at least five different people at Mount Vernon, supporters of Beck's, tell me they firmly believed Obama was a racist who hated white people.
The scene at Mount Vernon was radically different from the one in Seattle. Outside Safeco, there were only 30 or so anti-Beck protesters. Everyone evidently saved their energies for Mount Vernon, where the mayor, a Republican named Bud Norris, unwisely decided to give the hometown-boy-gone-bigtime the keys to the city.
Locals chanted: "Change the locks! Change the locks!" And there were hundreds of them; the crowd estimate was at about a thousand, including several hundred pro-Beck counter-protesters. Those were the folks I talked to the most, and the toxic Obama-hatred was far stronger among this group than it was with the attendees in Seattle.
Fortunately, they were badly outnumbered.
And they were also, it need be said, uniformly white. The only whiter bunch I saw all day was the reported 7,000 who paid to hear Beck speak at Safeco (actually, it was Beck who reported that number, which makes it dubious on its face).
The only nonwhite face I saw inside at Safeco was that of the actor James McEachin, who was there to open up the event with a stirring tribute to veterans. Which was a big part of the whole spiel -- a Beckian appeal to the virtues of wrapping one's self in the flag and imputing unpatriotic motives to your opponents.
It was actually a pretty tedious affair, including Beck's speech, which really was just a kind of standard Beckian thesis bashing progressives and "big government" and touting the virtue of "real Americans" like the folks gathered that day. Real white Americans, that is. The ones President Obama hates.
The best part was getting to watch Beck pull his weeping schtick. You can watch him getting himself all worked up to do the choked-up thing, because, you know, he just loves him some real Westerners who made it over the mountains. Sniffle. He pulled the choke-up routine a couple times later in the talk too.
Wonder if he gets all choked up thinking about those "real Americans" who now agree with him that the President of the United States is a radical black who hates white people.
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