Over the past several days, Fox News host Glenn Beck has explained that the unrest sweeping the Middle East augurs a New World Order jointly pursued by a combination of George Soros, radical Islamists and communist unions, all aided, apparently, by Google. But on Thursday, Beck literally turned apocalyptic, warning that the seeming chaos could be seen by the Shiite leadership in Iran as a portent of the coming of the 12th Imam, or what his guest Joel Richardson deemed the "Islamic Anti-Christ."
Of course, such hysterical warnings of the End of Days are nothing new for either Glenn Beck or Fox News.
As Media Matters summed up Beck's latest effort to get from here to eternity:
On today's edition of his Fox News show, Glenn Beck tied Islam to the Antichrist described in the New Testament. He even had a side-by-side comparison of the Antichrist and the "12th Imam" or "Mahdi" (terms Beck uses interchangeably to describe the figure many Muslims believe will guide believers in the end times) on his chalkboard.
And to help Beck discuss this connection, Beck hosted Joel Richardson, an anti-Muslim activist who says that Satan will use Islam "to fulfill the prophesies of the Bible" and has written a column headlined "What Obama and the Antichrist have in common."
If that sounds familiar, it should. Beck has been spouting the same Armageddon panic for years dating back to his days at CNN.
On March 30, 2007, Beck invited Left Behind co-creators Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jennings and "acclaimed author" Joel Rosenberg to debate whether the Iranian capture of a British gunboat crew was a sign of the Apocalypse. (Rosenberg, who joined Beck for his program last week, also appeared with him as far back as 2006.) Then as now, Beck appeared, well, rapturous at the prospect:
All this has had me wondering. The increased tension between Iran and the west, is it just one more piece in the puzzle, one more chess move towards the final apocalyptic vision of Iran`s maniacal leaders? Are we, indeed, living in the end times?...
Are the cataclysmic events of 9/11, Katrina, tsunami, famine and the threat of global pandemic signs we`re living in the end times?
One world government, one world economy, one world vision. Are we creeping even closer to the Book of Revelations` countdown to doomsday? And does an age-old prophecy foretell a Russian-Iranian alliance against Israel as well as a nuclear showdown? Apocalypse now?
Just one year later, Beck worried that the Anti-Christ might not be the Mahdi, but presidential candidate Barack Obama. In March 2008, he confessed his fears to End Times Texas Pastor (and John McCain endorser) John Hagee:
BECK: Let me ask you, because I got -- I get so much e-mail on this, and I think a lot of people do, and I`ve only got a couple of seconds. They say Glenn, you and the media, you`ve got to wake up. Barack Obama`s making people faint and cry and everything else. And he`s drawing people in.
There are people -- and they said this about Bill Clinton that actually believe he might be the anti-Christ. Odds that Barack Obama is the anti-Christ?
HAGEE: No chance. He has a lot of charisma. There`s a media love affair with him right now. He is a very formidable political person. I believe the best leader for America in the future is John McCain.
BECK: Thank you very much, Pastor. Back in just a second. That`s good news, at least where I stand.
Of course, John Hagee may be America's foremost practitioner Armageddon as foreign policy. (As for Beck's insistence Thursday that "I don't know -- do you know of any Christian sects that believe they can hasten the return of Jesus by creating chaos?" Hagee and his red heifer-breeding allies appear to be giving it a try.) Back in 2006, the founder of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) told his annual convention:
"The United States must join Israel in a pre-emptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God's plan for both Israel and the West...a biblically prophesied end-time confrontation with Iran, which will lead to the Rapture, Tribulation, and Second Coming of Christ."
To accelerate that process, Hagee and his allies are doing their utmost the keep the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on full boil. His organization has not only donated millions of dollars to the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. It counts among its fellow irredentists two other Fox News regulars and frontrunners for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin.
For his part, the former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister Mike Huckabee has endorsed de facto ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Visiting Israel earlier this month, Huckabee branded opposition to West Bank settlement expansion "racism" and "apartheid." As it turns out, Huckabee doesn't merely reject the consensus around a two-state solution in the Middle East.
"The question is should the Palestinians have a place to call their own? Yes, I have no problem with that. Should it be in the middle of the Jewish homeland? That's what I think has to be honestly assessed as virtually unrealistic."
Given the Jews' biblically-mandated role as converts (and corpses) in his end times eschatology, Huckabee's hard line comes as no surprise. But in a July 2010 segment of his Fox News show featuring Tim Lahaye, Governor Huckabee like Beck fretted that the Obama administration might be bringing about the End of Days:
LAHAYE: He (Obama) doesn't understand that many of the things he's introducing that many of us call "raw socialism" -it's a different name, but it's essentially government control and government domination of everything. He sees that as a panacea, but instead it's going to work against our country and bring us closer to the Apocalypse.
HUCKABEE: Are we now living in the End Times, from your perspective?
LAHAYE: Very definitely, Governor.
Also like Beck, Sarah Palin has warned that Iranian development of nuclear weapons "could lead to an Armageddon. It could lead to that World War III that could decimate so much of this planet." Pushing her book in November 2009, Huckabee's fellow Fox fixture not only went rogue on 40 years of American foreign policy, but raised suspicions that she, too, believes the Apocalypse is nigh.
"I disagree with the Obama administration on that. I believe that the Jewish settlements should be allowed to be expanded upon, because that population of Israel is, is going to grow. More and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead. And I don't think that the Obama administration has any right to tell Israel that the Jewish settlements cannot expand."
(As Jeffrey Goldberg reported in The Atlantic, while Palin "holds fairly typical Protestant Zionist beliefs, and one of those beliefs is the regathering of the Jews in Israel," the minister of the Assembly of God church she frequented believed that "based on some personal revelation he claims to have gotten from God, that the Jews would move to Alaska during the Tribulation.")
As for Glenn Beck, he told viewers last week who think his ranting about a "new world order" and global Islamic caliphate is craziness can "go to hell." Everyone else, he says, should go to GlennBeck.com and watch his new Iran-gone-Armageddon film, Rumors of War.
(This piece also appears at Perrspectives.)