Discussing Democratic leaders during a June broadcast for the Republican Fox News Channel, conspiracy host Glenn Beck told his followers they would have to “shoot them in the head” in order to bring an end to an alleged “communist” agenda.
“They believe in communism,” he said. “They believe and have called for a revolution. You’re going to have to shoot them in the head. But warning, they may shoot you.”
In the very next breath, he mentioned then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), claiming her “George Washington” was “Karl Marx.”
For context, more of Beck’s contentious statement is reflected below:
“Tea parties believe in small government. We believe in returning to the principles of our Founding Fathers. We respect them. We revere them. Shoot me in the head before I stop talking about the Founders. Shoot me in the head if you try to change our government.
“I will stand against you and so will millions of others. We believe in something. You in the media and most in Washington don’t. The radicals that you and Washington have co-opted and brought in wearing sheep’s clothing — change the pose. You will get the ends.
“You’ve been using them? They believe in communism. They believe and have called for a revolution. You’re going to have to shoot them in the head. But warning, they may shoot you.
“They are dangerous because they believe. Karl Marx is their George Washington. You will never change their mind. And if they feel you have lied to them — they’re revolutionaries. Nancy Pelosi, those are the people you should be worried about.
“Here is my advice when you’re dealing with people who believe in something that strongly — you take them seriously. You listen to their words and you believe that they will follow up with what they say.”
Beck has long proved highly controversial as a media figure popularized by the Republican Fox News Channel. He’s previously joked about poisoning Pelosi and once claimed that President Obama wants to enslave white people.
His litany of outrageous comments and often completely fabricated narratives led many advertisers to stop supporting his program and at one point last year his show found itself without even a single underwriter in Britain, where it has been kept on the air nearly 11 months with no advertisers.
A changing environment for political speech
In the wake of a mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona, which left six dead and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) in the hospital with a gunshot wound to the head, many in the media have criticized increasingly violent rhetoric from pundits and politicians.
It didn’t help that days after the shooting, Beck issued a call for peace on his website, next to an image of him holding a handgun and posing as if he were a character on a television action-drama.
Some have even accused Beck, among others, of being a direct inspiration to killers who allegedly adhered to some of his more extreme political fantasies.
One California man, Byron Williams — who was arrested after opening fire on the police officers who discovered him in the process of donning a bullet-proof vest — later claimed he wanted to “start a revolution.” His targets were two groups Beck had made out to be antagonists: the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Tides Foundation.
Williams’ targeting of the Tides Foundation was especially indicative of Beck’s inspiration: they were almost completely unknown until he began claiming the foundation was somehow behind a massive communist conspiracy to kill Americans.
The Tides Foundation is actually a non-profit group that awards grants to other non-profits committed to progressive initiatives. Financing from Tides helped form People For the American Way and the ACLU’s Campaign to Defend the Constitution, among others.
Following the incident, Tides Foundation CEO Drummond Pike urged advertisers to drop Beck or come to terms with potentially one day having “blood” on their hands.
The alleged shooter in Arizona, Jared Loughner, did not appear to have a well defined political ideology, but was known to have adopted some ideas propagated by the extreme-right Sovereign Citizens movement. Loughner’s YouTube account further insisted that all people have the right to print their own currencies, castigating the Federal Reserve as an evil.
This video is from the Republican Fox News Channel, broadcast June 10, 2010.