Glenn Beck sure inhabits a weird quadrant of the universe. It's one in which you can switch, as he did on his show yesterday, from pleading with his viewers to stop lumping each other into political frames that are unfair -- especially lumping Tea Partiers in with neo-Nazis -- and then leaping to lump one of the most mainstream Latino advocacy organizations, the National Council of La Raza, in the same "box" with violent Mexican drug gangs.
We've seen nasty smears directed at NCLR previously, but this hits a new low. Which no doubt was Beck's fondest hope.
How he gets there is actually an amazing convolution of logic that not only defies gravity but reality -- particularly when he explains that the neo-Nazis marching in Los Angeles last weekend, under the aegis of the National Socialist Movement, are Socialists, you see, and therefore "Progressive Right".
He later adds: "The neo-Nazis -- National Socialists -- you'd put that on the Left in America."
Excuse me, but as someone who actually covered neo-Nazis as a journalist here in the Pacific Northwest at a time when Glenn Beck was perfecting a shock-jock schtick, I have to call bullshit on this.
Having been to neo-Nazi rallies, having covered the demise of the Aryan Nations, and having interviewed both leaders and followers of the neo-Nazis, I can assert without any hesitation that there's nothing remotely "progressive" about neo-Nazis of any stripe, whether they're NSM or AN or White Aryan Resistance or Hammerskins. They're all extremely hardcore far-right-wingers who are in many ways primarily driven by a deep animus for "progressive" values, particularly multiculturalism, civil rights, internationalism, and union organizing.
Beck, as we well know, is a fan of Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism fraud, and this deliberate confusion about where neo-Nazis sit on the political spectrum is a clear product of Goldberg's mishmash of history. Indeed, Goldberg himself is fond of rationalizing, whenever real American fascists show up on the scene, that they're not right-wingers at all -- they're just kooks. To which we responded:
[T]his is palpable nonsense. What makes these people right-wing extremists is that they not only adopt right-wing political positions, they take them to their most extreme logical (if that's the word for it) outcome:
- They not only oppose abortion, they believe abortion providers should be killed.
- They not only believe that liberal elites control the media and financial institutions, but that a conniving cabal of Jews is at the heart of this conspiracy to destroy America.
- They not only despise Big Government, they believe it is part of a New World Order plot to enslave us all.
- They not only defend gun rights avidly, they stockpile them out of fear that President Obama plans to send in U.N. troops to take them away from citizens.
- They not only oppose homosexuality as immoral, they believe gays and lesbians deserve the death penalty.
- They not only oppose civil-rights advances for minorities, they also believe a "race war" is imminent, necessary and desirable.
And on and on. Every part of the agenda of the agenda of right-wing extremists is essentially an extreme expression of conservative positions. And that, fundamentally, is why American fascism always has been and always will be, properly understood, an unmistakable phenomenon of the Right.
Having thus broken down any kind of meaningful category into which neo-Nazis might belong, he then calls the "progressive Right" fascists "the same people" as the "progressive Left" group -- which includes NCLR and various "Marxist" groups and Mexican drug gangs. And, ah, last I checked, Mexican drug cartels have no political philosophy -- though at least one of them La Familia, draws its inspiration from the American religious-right group Focus on the Family.
Nonetheless, according to Beck, "if you're in this picture, you're a danger to society." Including NCLR.
But then he suddenly and bizarrely switched to a plea for people not to put each other into unfair "boxes":
Beck: This is why, see, you can't stand there. You can't stand where they're putting you. Because they're putting you in a box with Nazis.
And Democrats? You're being put into boxes with Communists! That's not who you are.
We have to stop with the R and D stuff. We have to stop with the Republicans and Democrats stuff. And I know, I mean, I've done my fair share of this. We've gotta stop! We've gotta stop.
Then, of course, he promptly turned around in hsi very next segment and did exactly that -- placed a mainstream Latino organization like La Raza in "a box" with drug gangs and neo-Nazis!
Beck: La Raza -- I mean, you want to talk about a racist statement -- if I called an organization "The Race" -- Wow! That's -- whew!
Anyway, La Raza supports drivers licenses for illegal aliens. I'm not for that. Um -- they oppose any cooperation between local law enforcement and federal authorities such as immigration and customs enforcement enforcing U.S. immigration laws. Why wouldn't you want them working together?
Then you have MS-13. This is a bloodthirsty -- this is a notoriously violent drug gang, who has often left behind dismembered corpses, decapitated heads -- I mean, it's -- bad.
It makes my head hurt just trying to figure out where to start with this, beyond the obvious hypocrisy and the strangeness of Beck thinking that opposing certain immigration policies is comparable to beheading drug-gang members.
Let's start with the bad facts: Beck tries to argue that the translation of "La Raza" is "The Race" and therefore NCLR is innately racist. But that's only if you're utterly ignorant of Spanish or deliberately want to mistranslate.
"La Raza," as the Wikipedia entry accurately explains, is correctly translated not as "the race" but "the people," since it refers generically to "the people of Latin America" (or more narrowly, "of Mexico"). It's generically a multiracial term, not a racist one.
Moreover, as Wikipedia also correctly describes, the National Council of La Raza is one of the most middle-of-the-road Latino-advocacy organizations in the country:
Its stated focus is on reducing poverty and discrimination, and improving opportunities for Hispanics. According to the organization's website, it is "the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States" and "serves all Hispanic subgroups in all regions of the country". NCLR receives funding from philanthropic organizations, such as the Ford Foundation, and corporations such as Citigroup and Wal-Mart. NCLR serves its constituency by means of its Affiliates, nearly 300 community-based organizations.
People like Beck like to claim that NCLR supports illegal immigration, but it in fact is outspoken on this matter. As NCLR president Janet Murguia put it: "First, as a sovereign nation, the United States has the right to determine who comes and who stays. . . [It also] has a right to consider enforcement at a variety of levels, including border enforcement, interior enforcement, and workplace enforcement. . . We support enforcement...[because] as Americans, we recognize it's the right thing to do."
Funny how Beck only gets upset when his beloved Tea Partiers get put into the kind of box he regularly puts his targets into, isn't it?