Glenn Beck and his fellow wingnuts -- the ones who have been whipping up hysteria among their right-wing populist followers since Obama's election and before -- essentially announced they have no intention of reflecting on their roles in today's horrifying shooting at the Holocaust Museum in D.C.
They did this by doing what they always do whenever these situations arise: First call it all an "isolated incident" committed by a "lone nutcase" who just happens to be acting out beliefs emanating from their own quadrant. Then, when that fails, blame it on the Left.
Beck offered the following rationale on his Fox News show tonight:
Beck: What they're missing is: The pot in America is boiling. And this is just yet another warning to all Americans of things to come.
Actually, Beck has this exactly right. But frankly, it's boiling because of people like Glenn Beck, ranting hysterically every night about impending apocalypses of various forms -- looming "liberal fascism," the "economic meltdown," the "New World Order," violence spilling over the Mexican border, even FEMA concentration camps.
As I tried to explain in the case of the shooting of Dr. George Tiller, when you spread far-right conspiracy theories through mainstream channels the way Beck does with such abandon, it not only validates their beliefs, it rather hyper-validates them: It tells these people -- who see the Becks and O'Reillys as part of the "liberal media" -- that things are even worse than they thought, and it often spurs them into action.
But Beck, naturally, has no intention of observing this reality. He's running as hard in the other direction as he possibly can:
Beck: This guy is a lone gunman nutjob. ... You're going to see a lot of nutjobs coming out of the woodwork now. There are two very important things that are happening here. First one: It's what I talked about two years ago, um, when I talked about the "Perfect Storm" -- I said that there is a storm formulating. And it is the economy, it is political correctness, it's corruption in Washington, it's militant Islam. It's all of these things.
I said when it comes onshore, there's going to be a "go go go" mentality. And that's what this is. There is a mentality in our enemies. Our country is now vulnerable. Those people who would like to destroy us -- our enemies like, uh, Al Qaeda. There are also enemies like white supremacists or 9/11 Truthers who would also like to destroy the country. They'll work with anybody they can.
... We are under attack in almost every shape and form in America. We need to look out for enemies foreign and domestic.
Second: There is gonna be a witchhunt, I believe, in this country, and quite possibly all around the world. For two groups. First group: Jews. It happens every time.
Second group: I think, Conservatives.
... Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security reports about right-wing extremists. You remember that came out a few weeks ago? Left-wing bloggers and some in the media have blamed conservative hosts like me or Bill O'Reilly for just stirring the pot! I'm not stirring the pot. I'm pointing out the pot is boiling and there is trouble in America. Since when -- have you ever heard of 'don't blame the messenger'?
Only when the messenger isn't also one of the people causing the phenomenon they're describing. Then it becomes celebration. And it's obvious that Beck has positively relished seeing the "boiling point" go higher and higher. Indeed, he's been doing his best to apply a white-hot flame to the pot.
Beck: This is not the work of right-wing conservatives. This is the work of someone today who is racist, crazy, or most likely, both. Common sense tells you that there are very hateful people on the Right and the Left.
Yes, but it seems that only one the Right do they do things like shoot up police officers who come to arrest them, or walk into Jewish centers of various kinds and start shooting (remember Buford Furrow?).
And there is little doubt that James W. Von Brunn was a right-winger -- a far right-winger:
Von Brunn has a long history of associations with prominent neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers. In the 1980s or early 1990s, von Brunn was employed by Noontide Press, a part of the Holocaust denying Institute of Historical Review, which was then run by Willis Carto, one of America’s most prominent anti-Semites.
Von Brunn is the author of the 1999 book, “Kill the Best Gentiles,” a racist and anti-Semitic tome that argues that whites are seeing “today on the world stage a tragedy of enormous proportions: the calculated destruction of the White Race and the incomparable culture it represents. Europe, former fortress of the West, is now over-run by hordes of non-Whites and mongrels.” A raging anti-Semite, von Brunn blames “The Jews” for the destruction of the West. The book is dedicated to prominent neo-Nazis and racists including Revilo Oliver and Wilmot Robertson.
In 2003, AP reported that von Brunn had painted a portrait of Rear Adm. John Crommelin, a raging anti-Semite who was a close associate of neo-Nazi William Pierce, whose book The Turner Diaries inspired Timothy McVeigh’s bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building.
He's also a "birther." But the truly telltale aspect of his record: In 1981, he was arrested for attempting a "citizen's arrest" of Alan Greenspan at the Federal Reserve Building in D.C. and was sentenced to a prison term for it. Von Brunn claimed "sovereign citizenship" at the time, which almost certainly means he was an adherent of the white-supremacist/far-right movement called Posse Comitatus, and was acting on those beliefs.
More to the point, this is precisely the same belief system that today fuels the cottage industry in conspiracy theories -- promulgated by the likes of Ron Paul and Alex Jones -- that the Fed is part of a massive conspiracy of "international [read: Jewish] bankers" to enslave Americans and destroy the country. It's been around quite awhile, but lately it's been gaining the patina of being regurgitated for mainstream consumption on right-wing media. And in particular, on Glenn Beck's programs.
Here, for example, is the time Beck devoted an entire segment to promoting this conspiratorial view of the Fed.
And then there was the more recent hour-long segment (promoted by Neil Cavuto on Fox as well) devoted to the latest permutation in these Patriot-movement conspiracy theories -- the "Civilest War" hour promoting "state sovereignty":
As I said at the time:
Now, it's one thing to point out the radical origins of these "constitutional theories." But it's also important to understand where they want to take us -- to a radically decentralized form of government that was first suggested in the 1970s by the far-right Posse Comitatus movement.
They essentially argue for a constitutional originalism that would not only end the federal income tax, destroy all civil-rights laws, and demolish the Fed, but would also re-legalize slavery, strip women of the right to vote, and remove the principle of equal protection under the law.
Beck's not alone in trying to recast Von Brunn as just a "lone nutcase" inspired more by the left than the right. So is Michelle Malkin, who tries out the right's usual plaintive line, well-rehearsed for these situations: "[S]hooter wasn't 'left' or 'right,' just plain loony."
Um, no, actually, when you look at his record, he was indeed "Right." With a capital "R."
Malkin's main evidence that he has "left wing" associations? The fact that he's also a Troofer.
This is, of course, rich. Now, it should be noted first that there are certain zones of extremist wingnuttery that attract True Believers from both the Left and the Right. All of them are fundamentally conspiracist in their worldview. So you'll find anti-Semitic crap floating around hippie barter fairs of a nature similar to what you might find at a militia gun show. Conspiracy theorists like the Troofers attract people from both the Left and the Right.
The wingnuts have been trying frantically to make the public forget about the lethal existence of right-wing extremists ever since that Homeland Security bulletin came out -- largely because they want to cover up the fact that the distance between themselves and the real nutcases has become so short indeed.
But the violent extremists never let us forget. Sooner or later, they act on their beliefs. And that's when we start to see just how short that distance has become -- regardless of their attempts to claim the opposite.