June 3, 2009

On Monday night, Glenn Beck completely ignored the murder of Dr. George Tiller on his hourlong program, despite it being the nation's top story. Apparently he -- like his heroine, Sarah Palin -- doesn't see abortion-clinic violence as terrorism. And goodness no, Bill O'Reilly had no hand in this!

No big deal, people. Move along, move along.

But then last night, Beck went on Bill O'Reilly's program to back up O'Reilly's claim that the tragic murder of a military recruiter in Arkansas by a Muslim man angry about the American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan could just as easily be blamed on the liberal media, NBC in particular.

Beck read on air the letter he wrote to NBC's Jeffrey Immelt:

Instead of focusing on attacking Bill O'Reilly, your journalists should focus on getting their facts right. If I applied the reasoning of your networks to their natural end, we'd all live in a world where someone couldn't express their opinion against infidelity -- because by your standard, you'd blame that person for every husband who killed his cheating wife. The government couldn't alert a family whenever a pedophile moved into their neighborhood, because by your network's standard, they'd be responsible for someone attacking that offender. Your network couldn't say that global warming was a danger to the earth, because by your network standard, you'd be responsible every time ELF burned down a housing development or a car dealership.

This is, of course, pure obfuscation. Outside of the pedophile example, Beck is describing discussions of policy and issues as causing various acts of violence. But that causal connection is tenuous at best.

On the other hand, there is a very clear causal connection between the overt demonization of people and violence that occurs against them. Bill O'Reilly held an individual up for extreme demonization, describing him not merely as someone he opposed but as a "baby killer" and "mass murderer". This kind of demonization in particular is guaranteed to produce violence, because of course the chief means of stopping a wanton killer is the use of deadly force, and O'Reilly in fact openly suggested that such force might be applied to Dr. Tiller.

O'Reilly somewhat amusingly argues that NBC was "extremely hateful to the Bush administration" -- by reporting factually on its handling of the war. (This is pretty hilarious, considering the extent to which NBC and its entities fully played along with the Bush regime's war propaganda.) And that, of course, is how he can suggest that one could argue that NBC caused the death of Private Long:

O'Reilly: Is there any difference that you can see, Beck, between that situation and the Tiller situation?

Beck: No. None.

Well, fellas, let me help. Here are a few differences:

-- No one held Private Long, or anyone in the military, up for public vilification as "mass murderers" or "baby killers" or vile and evil people who kill for money -- particularly not anyone at NBC or any media outlet.

-- No one celebrated the death of Private Long, or tried to argue that his death was justified. No one openly celebrated his murder. Particularly not anyone at NBC.

-- No one, particularly not NBC, has made the vilification of soldiers a significant

Beck and O'Reilly want to pretend that acts of domestic terrorism like this occur in a vacuum. So Beck says: "The only ones responsible for the death of the recruiters and the death of Tiller are the killers."

Well, by that standard, Tim McVeigh wasn't inspired by militia-movement anti-government rhetoric. Eric Rudolph was not inspired by extreme anti-abortion rhetoric. Buford Furrow wasn't inspired by Aryan Nations hate rhetoric. The Order was not inspired by the same.

And for that matter, the 9/11 attackers weren't inspired by Osama bin Laden's anti-American rhetoric.

Right. Wanna bet they never make that argument?

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