I read an alarming report last night on a recent interview with Byron Williams, who was arrested after a July 18 shootout with the police. He had a car full of guns and planned to kill people at the Tides Foundation and ACLU in San Francisco. Williams said in this interview that he sees Glenn Beck as his “teacher,” and that he was agitated by the virulent things his teacher had to say about the people at Tides. While it is unfair to blame Beck for everything his audience might do, it isn’t unfair to ask Beck to make the connection that King did between the violence of the tongue and that of the fist, and to take responsibility for how he speaks about those with whom he disagrees.
On a personal level, I was reminded of that connection in a conversation with my 12-year-old son, Luke. Last summer, I shared the story of how a far-right radio station and some local churches in Wisconsin tried to get me disinvited from speaking at a Christian youth festival there. All of their attack lines were right off of Glenn Beck’s blackboard — that I was a “communist” and that listening to me would put high school students attending the festival in “spiritual peril.” Despite their confrontation and intimidation, the festival hosts stood firm with my invitation, and I traveled to Wisconsin. The evening went very well as I talked about Jesus and our commitment to the poor, the response of the kids was very positive, and many parents (even very conservative ones) thanked the festival leaders for standing up against the intense political pressure from the Far Right.
Remember an incident from a few weeks ago, where a man entered the headquarters for a cable channel, and demanded that they air more programs that were aligned with his own view of things involving the environment and population growth?
Or how about the more recent ads from an environmental group which features people who dare to disagree with them blowing up?
Or the journalist from the infamous JournoList who wrote of hoping to see conservative radio host Limbaugh die of a heart ache, and laugh at him while he died?
I usually get to listen to a few minutes of Beck's show during the day, and I've heard him several times tell his listeners to refrain from violence. And if anything, an overwhelming degree of violent and hateful rhetoric comes not from the right but from the left.
For Wallis to try to say that Beck is somehow even indirectly to blame for the actions of one man is a stretch, especially since I haven't seen him or Sojo take even indirect blame for the environmentalists who want those who disagree to die explosively. It's simply more posturing on Wallis' part, nothing more and nothing less.
And the Sojophants eat it up, call him gracious and christlike, and that he's such a nice guy. It's enough to make one ill.