In a Huffington Post blog this morning, Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, responds to Media Matters' report on how Glenn Beck and the right-wing media drove Byron Williams to reportedly plot the assassination of the leaders of the ACLU and the Tides Foundation. Horwitz comments that the report "demonstrates a clear link between armed violence and the contemptuous political rhetoric that seems to be the raison d'être for Fox News."
Horwitz further links Williams' rhetoric to that of the National Rifle Association, which made Beck the keynote speaker of their last national convention:
Beck, of course, was the keynote speaker at the National Rifle Association's annual convention this year in Charlotte, North Carolina. His hostile and confrontational rhetoric was on display as he told those in attendance, "'Courageous restraint?' I'm sorry, you're coming at me with a gun, I'm going to shoot you!" and encouraged them to form citizens' militias to deal with the problem of illegal immigration.
NRA President Ron Schmeits, like Williams, couldn't get enough, telling Beck, "Glenn, we're big fans of you and your show." Perhaps the NRA sees a bit of their own influence in Beck. After all, the NRA was demonizing Soros and the Tides Foundation with propaganda long before Beck ever appeared on FOX.
Williams, too, has been influenced by the gun lobby. During his interview with Hamilton, he insisted that his planned rampage was legitimated by the Constitution. "[America's Founding Fathers] gave us so many rights and so much sovereignty, that they felt that we even have the right to overthrow our government if it became oppressive," he stated. "That's the real nature of the Second amendment of the Constitution. It's a right of forming militia and protecting ourselves against foreign bodies and domestic bodies. It was a right to have equal firepower even against our own government."
Such language could have been lifted from the NRA's amicus brief in the 2008 D.C. v. Heller Supreme Court case. Or perhaps Williams heard Newt Gingrich speaking at the NRA's 2010 annual convention. Gingrich addressed those in attendance on the same day as Beck and told them, "I want to preface my explanation of the Second Amendment by saying it is not in defense of hunting. It is not in defense of target shooting. It is not in defense of collecting. The Second Amendment is in defense of freedom from the State."
The NRA billed their 2010 convention as a "Celebration of American Values." For those in the crosshairs of extreme right-wing rhetoric, however, there is little to celebrate. "I wish Glenn Beck would grow up and learn that he has real responsibilities," says Tides founder Drummond Pike. "He has a very magnified voice in the media landscape ... We have become so polarized, and portions of the population so fearful, that we are risking our American tradition of openness and tolerance in very scary ways."