I don’t watch Chris Matthews’s show often, but this evening I did so, and it contained a disturbing segment on Glenn Beck, specifically about his violent rhetoric and his anti-Semitism. Example of the violent rhetoric: “You’re going to have to shoot them [liberals] in the head.” Of the anti-Semitism: Beck presented a list of 10 intellectuals, past and present, whom he calls collectively “the intelligent minority” and whom he calls extremely dangerous to his hallucination (this seems to be the apt word) of what American society is or ought to be. Nine of the ten are/were Jewish; one of them is Sigmund Freud. To ask, “How are Freud’s writing and its influence dangerous to American society?” is to attempt to reason with a brick.
The same (reasoning with a brick) goes for asking, “Why does Fox News tolerate such speech?” “Have you no decency at last, sir?” No, Fox News does not have any decency at last.
It won’t do to opine that Beck is just performing a schtick. A schtick ceases to be just a schtick when someone so obviously crosses the line.
Probably I am attempting to reason with a brick when I wonder, “out loud,” why one–just one–higher profile Republican doesn’t say, clearly, that Beck’s violent talk, his excessive, bizarre conflation of moderate politics, Communism, and Nazism, and his anti-Semitism are not just inappropriate but unacceptable.
[And please note that MSNBC (rightly or wrongly) fired Keith Olbermann for being “angry,” according to Howard Kurtz. I never saw or heard Mr. Olbermann come within miles of the lines Beck has crossed.]
Why doesn’t at least one Republican–Party Leader, senator, high-profile Representative, or governor–call out Beck? I can only guess.
1. All Republicans agree with him.
2. They think he is imbalanced or playing imbalanced, but they believe the behavior is harmless or beneficial to Republicans or both.
3. They fear the consequences of criticizing Beck and Fox News.
4. They find Beck as distasteful and potentially dangerous as I do, but they don’t want to take the responsibility of saying so.
Wither statesmanship? Wither decency, in the sense Joseph N. Welch meant the word when he spoke to Joseph McCarthy? I know: reasoning with a brick.
As problematic as Democrats are, and they are, I think it’s fair to assume that if a Democrat-friendly talk-show host engaged in such violent rhetoric (directed toward Republicans) and anti-Semitic talk, at least one, probably more, Democrat would denounce the talk. –Which is not to say very much because it is not to ask very much of leaders.
Aside from posting about the matter on this blog and making sure I don’t give dollars to Beck’s advertisers, I don’t know what else to do, except perhaps to ask for your help–regardless of how you define yourself politically.