"Violence is coming": Glenn Beck's long history of violent rhetoric
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As John Hamilton reported, alleged California highway shooter Byron Williams described Beck as "a schoolteacher" and said that "it was the things [Beck] exposed that blew my mind." Though he urges his audience to "reject violence," Beck regularly spews violent rhetoric -- often warning of impending violence from "the left."
Glenn Beck frequently spews violent rhetoric on Fox News
A review of Glenn Beck's Fox News program from its start to Williams' arrest on July 18, 2010, shows that Beck frequently used violent rhetoric.
Beck pours gasoline on "average American," asks, "President Obama, why don't you just set us on fire?" On his television show, Beck claimed to be imitating Obama while pouring liquid from a gasoline can -- which he later stated was water -- on an actor portraying the "average American." Beck said during his demonstration: "President Obama, why don't you just set us on fire? ... We didn't vote to lose the republic." [Fox News' Glenn Beck, 4/9/09]
Quoting Jefferson, Beck warns about "rivers of blood." On his Fox News show, Beck quoted a letter by Thomas Jefferson warning that " 'if they lose freedom' -- he's speaking of us, future generations -- 'if they lose freedom, there will be rivers of blood.' " Beck continued in his own words, "Boy, I hope that's not true, but I can tell you there will be rivers of blood if we don't have values and principles." [Glenn Beck, 5/14/10]
Ranting that gov't under Nixon "wasn't as corrupt as it is now," Beck suggests Obama admin might kill "10 percent" of population. On his June 10 show, Beck warned that "anarchists, Marxists, communists, revolutionaries, Maoists" have to "eliminate 10 percent of the U.S. population" in order to "gain control." They couldn't achieve such a goal when Richard Nixon was president, Beck stated, because "the family was together" and the government under Nixon "wasn't as corrupt as it is now." Beck added: "Now they can. Now they can."
Beck later played a clip of an FBI agent who infiltrated the Weather Underground and warned about extremists who want to kill people. Beck responded to the clip by stating: "These are the same people that are everywhere in our government and our education system. Please, please. Learn from history. Please."
Beck portrays Obama, Democrats as vampires, suggests "driv[ing] a stake through the heart of the bloodsuckers." On his March 30, 2009, Fox News show, Beck aired a graphic portraying Obama and Democrats as vampires and said: "The government is full of vampires, and they are trying to suck the lifeblood out of the economy." Beck then suggested "driv[ing] a stake through the heart of the bloodsuckers." Beck returned to that imagery on his January 19 radio show, warning listeners that progressives are "vampires" who now have a "taste of blood" and are "gonna start getting more and more violent."
Beck talks about "put[ting] poison" in Pelosi's wine. In 2009, Beck's Fox News show featured a segment in which Beck said the following to a woman wearing a mask of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
BECK: So, Speaker Pelosi, I just wanted to -- you gonna drink your wine? Are you blind? Do those eyes not work? There you -- I want you to drink it now. Drink it. Drink it. Drink it.
I really just wanted to thank you for having me over here to wine country. You know, to be invited, I thought I had to be a major Democratic donor or a longtime friend of yours, which I'm not.
By the way, I put poison in your -- no, I -- I look forward to all the policy discussions that we're supposed to have -- you know, on health care, energy reform, and the economy. [Glenn Beck, 8/6/09]
Beck: "Grab a torch." Asserting that politicians are addicted to spending, Beck stated: "When do we ever run those who are bankrupting our country and literally stealing our children's future out of town? Grab a torch." [Glenn Beck, 1/6/10]
Beck suggests that progressives support "armed insurrection." After President Obama signed health care reform legislation into law, Beck suggested that progressives support "armed insurrection" and asked, "Why would the president take up immigration right away, after he's just punched you in the face with health care?" [Glenn Beck, 3/23/10]
Beck suggests Pelosi and Obama support "pick[ing] up a gun" to advance "revolution." During the same edition of his Fox News show, Beck said that "violence is the wrong way to go," but asked his viewers: "You'd pick up a gun? Have you ever thought of that?" He then pointed to several pictures, including images of Obama and Pelosi, and stated: "These people have. Because possibly, maybe the question should be asked, maybe they're tired of evolution, and maybe they are waiting for revolution." Beck also said: "Haven't we just been spanked? Hasn't most of the country -- doesn't most of the country feel like they've been spanked over health care? You bet. I do, you do. A lot of people do." [Glenn Beck, 3/23/10]
Beck suggests Obama administration may kill him. Also on that same edition of his Fox News program, Beck said: "For those of you in the administration, who are coming after me ... remember, you've broken three [of the 10 Commandments], let's not make it four; thou shalt not kill." [Glenn Beck, 3/23/10]
Beck: "The revolution of 1776 was a picnic compared to what the revolutionaries of today would like to do. ... Usually, millions of people die." On June 9, while discussing "radicals" in the country, Beck told his audience: "Here's what you'll learn. The revolution of 1776 was a picnic compared to what the revolutionaries of today would like to do. It's not a lot of fun. Usually, millions of people die."
After Williams' arrest, Beck has continued to frequently use violent rhetoric on Fox News
Beck suggests progressive coalition will become violent and riot "a year from now." On his Fox News program, while discussing how progressives are supposedly trying to "nudge" the United States towards "global governance," Beck said that "violence is a part of the overall strategy." While discussing a coalition of unions and progressive groups that are planning a march in Washington, D.C., Beck said that he believes the march will be "peaceful," but suggested that "a year from now" there may be violence and riots "when the cuts take place." Beck also proclaimed that the Democrats have been "infected with the tree of revolution" and "radicals" who are a "danger to our republic." [Glenn Beck, 9/14/10]
Beck connects U.S. progressives to the Holocaust, says they "have not changed their viewpoint." Beck announced that "if you don't know your history, you are doomed to repeat it." During the segment, Beck linked several U.S. progressives to eugenics and the Holocaust and proceeded to say that progressives "have not changed their viewpoint; they've only changed their language." [Glenn Beck, 8/3/10]
Beck: After election, "our streets will not be peaceful" due to progressives "agitating." Discussing the upcoming elections, Beck told his viewers "activists" "are about to go back to agitating, because once they lose control of the House, they have to." After encouraging people to vote, Beck said that after the election, "our streets will not be peaceful. They will start protesting and agitating again." [Glenn Beck, 9/30/10]
"Violence will come": Beck also uses his radio program and other outlets to engage in violent fearmongering
Though Williams indicated he did not listen to Beck's radio program, Beck frequently employs violent rhetoric during his radio program, often warning of eventual violence from "the left."
Beck: "To the day I die, I am going to be a progressive hunter." Telling his listeners that they "are going to learn so much on Friday," Beck compared himself to "Israeli Nazi hunters" and commented: "I'm telling you, I'm going to find these big progressives and, to the day I die, I'm going to be a progressive hunter." He added:
BECK: I'm going to find these people that have done this to our -- you know, to our country, and expose them. I don't care where -- I don't care if they're in nursing homes. I'm going to expose what they have done and make sure that the people understand, because our Constitution, our republic -- if it survives -- it will only survive because the people are waking up and through the grace of God, because we are that close to losing our republic. [The Glenn Beck Program, 1/20/10]
Beck warns that "in the end, in revolutions, real dangerous killers show up when things start to fall apart." Discussing how the government is "growing out of control," Beck attacked former White House green jobs adviser Van Jones and "the government" for using "fear tactics." Beck told listeners that he "told you this would happen" and added that "I told you just last week that I believe these are the most dangerous two years of our republic. Because in the end, in revolutions, the real dangerous killers show up when things start to fall apart. When the nudge moves to shove, and the shove doesn't work, the killers show up. It happens every time. That's why we must be united for peace, we must be united with love, we must be united with God." [The Glenn Beck Program, 9/27/10]
Beck: "Violence will come. And violence will come from the left. Violence is part of the plan." Beck warned listeners that "if you don't think violence is coming, I'm going to share some audio of Frances Fox Piven that will boggle your mind." Beck said that "they don't mind violence. Violence will come. And violence will come from the left. Violence is part of the plan. Not mine, not yours." [The Glenn Beck Program, 9/13/10]
Beck on progressives: When the "soft revolution" fails, they "just start shooting people." Beck claimed that progressives are engaging in a "soft revolution" designed to silence voices like his. He added: "If somebody starts to turn on them, or they can't get everyone to silence, that's when the arrests come, or that's when they start a hard revolution. That's when they start just shooting people. I hope we don't get to that point. I pray that we don't get to that point, but I never thought this country would get to the point where we are today." [The Glenn Beck Program, 5/27/10]
Beck warns of violence: "Trouble" by the "most violent" progressives "is coming." Beck suggested that Obama would respond to potential GOP victories in November elections by "going right directly" to the "most progressive, most violent, the worst of the worst on the left and stir 'em up. 'Get out into the streets. Cause trouble.' It's what's coming. It's what's coming." [The Glenn Beck Program, 9/24/10]
Beck: "Violence is coming" and "the left will blame me." Beck said that people need to "wake up" and see "what is coming," which Beck described as "violence." He added that "the left will blame me." [The Glenn Beck Program, 8/2/10]
Beck: "God will wash this nation with blood if he has to, but he doesn't have to." Referencing Lincoln's second inaugural address, Beck said that "God will wash this nation with blood if he has to, but he doesn't have to." Beck added that "we are passing all of the exits. Gang, there is one exit left. There is one exit left, and it is God. Everything that is coming our way is too big to handle on our own. If we do not put God at the center of our own personal lives and the center of our country, we will not survive. The country will be washed with blood and then someone will have to start over, and God only knows how long that takes." [The Glenn Beck Program, 8/25/10]
Beck warns of "revolutionaries" who will "set our streets on fire." Urging people to vote in the November elections, Beck said that "in the short term" this election is "going to make things worse" because "revolutionaries" are going to "rise up" and "set our streets on fire." He added that "our future is at stake right now." [The Glenn Beck Program, 9/16/10]
Beck: "The army ... of the extreme left is gathering" and they are saying "cops are bad, kill the cops." On his radio show, Beck discussed riots in Oakland, stating: "The army, if you will, of the extreme left is gathering, and they are coming to the conclusion of cops are bad, kill the cops, they're the oppressors. It's all the 1960s, you know, pig stuff. It's the same stuff." [The Glenn Beck Program, 7/12/10]
Beck: "This game is for keeps"; "[Y]ou can shoot me in the head ... but there will be 10 others that line up." Asking his audience to "pray for protection," Beck claimed that "the most powerful people on the planet on the left" were "not going to go away easy" because "[t]his game is for keeps. This is who controls the United States of America and its destiny." He asked his listeners to "please keep me in your prayers, keep my staff in your prayers, for safety, for wisdom," adding, "Just pray for protection, please." [The Glenn Beck Program, 9/8/09]
Later in the same program, Beck said:
BECK: You can try to put the lid on this group of people, but you will never silence us. You will never -- you can shoot me in the head, you can shoot the next guy in the head, but there will be 10 others that line up. And it may not happen today, it may not happen next week, but freedom will be restored in this land. Period. And no matter what you want to call it, it is a totalitarian state that you're headed towards. [The Glenn Beck Program, 9/8/09]
Beck speaks for one-third of the nation: "[Y]ou will have to shoot me in the forehead before you take away my gun" and "before I acquiesce and be silent." Beck has warned "ACORN, GE, Obama, SEIU" that "you are awakening a sleeping giant, and I have nothing to do with it," and that "America is waking up. You know the American Revolution took place with 12 percent of the population? Twelve. Are you telling me there is not 30 percent of this population that you will have to shoot me in the forehead before I let somebody into my house to tell me how to raise my children; you will have to shoot me in the forehead before you take away my gun; you will have to shoot me in the forehead before I acquiesce and be silent." Beck further stated:
BECK: They cannot move on these things, because they are building a machine that will crush the entrepreneurial sprit and the freedom that our Founding Fathers designed. This machine, whatever it is they are building, will crush it. Do not let them build another piece.
So while I turn away, I want to make sure that I have at least 10 million eyes watching -- watching every single move they are making.
We know why they're doing what they're doing. You need to do what you need to do, and as long as that is peaceful, we will save our country. [The Glenn Beck Program, 7/30/09]
Beck suggests Obama is "trying to destroy the country" and is pushing America toward civil war. While discussing the ongoing controversy over Arizona's immigration law, Beck told his listeners that "we are being pushed" toward civil war and that Obama is "trying to destroy the country." [The Glenn Beck Program, 5/19/10]
Beck: "There is a coup going on. There is a stealing of America." Beck has claimed that "there is a revolution, and they think they can get away with it quietly," adding: "At this point, gang, I'm not sure, they may be able to because they are so far ahead of us. They know what they're dealing against; most of America does not yet. Most of America doesn't have a clue as to what's going on. There is a coup going on. There is a stealing of America, and the way it is done, it has been done through the -- the guise of an election, but they lied to us the entire time." He also said, "And they're gonna say, 'we did it democratically,' and they are going to grab power every way they can. And God help us in an emergency." [The Glenn Beck Program, 8/31/09]
Beck: "[T]hat's not begging for World War III; that's called giving you the facts." Referencing a speech he had given the previous weekend in Alaska, Beck discussed how he told the audience that "you are Fort Knox." He explained that if the economy collapses, Alaskans must "grab your guns" because "the Russians, the Chinese -- everyone is coming to Alaska, because that's where the money is. Now, that's not begging for World War III; that's called giving you the facts. But see, there are those people that really want this to collapse, and they are planning on violence. They're planning on it -- we've already shown you. We've already seen it with SEIU. We've shown it to you over in Europe." [The Glenn Beck Program, 9/13/10]
Beck says his audience contains "the leaders of tomorrow" who will save you from "camps, maybe literally." Referencing an event he appeared at the previous weekend with Sarah Palin, Beck said that they have "30 million people in our footprint." Beck explained that "this 10 percent is going to be the shelter for the other 90 percent." He added: "This is the group, this 10 percent will be the ones that when all hell goes to handbasket, and everybody on the left and the right are yelling and arguing and trying to pull you into camps, maybe literally, pull you into camps. You're gonna say 'Don't go, don't go, everything's fine. Don't worry, we can take care of each other. We've got each other, we're Americans, we're better than this.' " [The Glenn Beck Program, 9/13/10]
Beck: "They're trying to beat it out of you slowly. Boil you, basically, like a frog." After agreeing with a caller who suggested we should "collapse the Federal Reserve" and "build it back up," Beck said that the government already "started planning for the next phase, and the next phase is a global governance sort of situation." Discussing how people should prepare for a global collapse, Beck added that "people are not going to go peacefully into the night if it is a quick collapse." Beck said that "the fear here is that they already have the structure to box you in. They don't come with the jackbooted thugs on the first day. They come and take away your sugary sweets. They come and take away your right to go to the beach and dig in the sand. They come and they watch your credit cards. ... They're trying to beat it out of you slowly. Boil you, basically, like a frog. I think we win. I think we win if things remain stable, but a power grab is a possibility in this crazy upside-down America that we live in." [The Glenn Beck Program, 9/21/10]
Beck: "I don't know how much time each of us has. I don't know how much time the country has." Beck "beg[ged]" his listeners to "please give me the benefit of the doubt," and said: "I'm begging you to get back down on your knees. I'm begging you to be the person that you were and you promised yourself you would be on September 11th and 12th. I'm begging you to get down on your knees. What is coming is not good. I don't know how things end. I should rephrase that. I do know how things end. But I know how things end after a long struggle. I don't know how that struggle is gonna work out. I don't know how much time each of us has. I don't know how much time the country has." [The Glenn Beck Program, 8/25/10]
Beck: Obama administration is "poking" at "people who have a record of violence" and "stirring up trouble." Discussing how Obama had criticized people on the left on the same day that cuts were announced to food stamp programs, Beck speculated that the administration was "poking" the left the same way that he "poked" the tea parties. He added that this "makes Barack Obama look like he's more centrist. But also, you're poking people who have a record of violence and taking to the streets and stirring up trouble. Hmm. I wonder if there's anything there." [The Glenn Beck Program, 8/11/10]
Beck invokes Holocaust while discussing soda machines: "First they came for the sugary beverages, and I said nothing." Beck linked a report about city officials in Boston limiting the sale of sodas in city buildings to the Holocaust, saying "First they came for the sugary beverages, and I said nothing." [The Glenn Beck Program, 9/21/10]
Beck's advice to Liberty grads: "Shoot to kill." During his May 15 commencement speech at Liberty University, Beck told graduates that they "have a responsibility" to speak out, or "blood ... will be on our hands." His advice for graduates (as well as his daughter) included "shoot to kill."
Beck: "I fear a Reichstag moment, a -- God forbid -- another 9-11, something that will turn this machine on." During an interview with Newsmax.com in which he discussed opposition to Obama's Federal Communications Commission policies, Beck said: "I fear an event. I fear a Reichstag moment, a -- God forbid -- another 9-11, something that will turn this machine on, and power will be seized and voices will be silenced. God help us all.'' [Newsmax.com, 10/7/09]
Mixed message: Beck implores his audience to "reject violence"
Though Beck frequently employs overtly violent rhetoric, he regularly urges his audience to "reject violence." As reported by John Hamilton, Williams said that "Beck would never say anything about a conspiracy, would never advocate violence. ... But he'll give you every ounce of evidence that you could possibly need.'
Beck warns his audience not to "pick up a gun" or "cause any violence." Beck addressed his audience on his Fox News show, saying: "Let me tell you something right now. Let me make this very clear for anybody on the left, the right or the middle: If you pick up a gun, if you cause any violence, if you are engaged in a riot, let me promise you now, the republic will be over. Over. Because they need you to do that." [Glenn Beck, 7/26/10]
Beck: "Reject violence every step of the way." On his radio program, Beck told his listeners that they were "winning" against "a well-coordinated attack" and that their opponents "need you to become violent." He continued:
BECK: The minute you become violent, which you're not going to do -- hear me clearly, for the record. Violence will destroy the republic. The person that picks up a gun, a bomb, anything, a knife, a rope, they will destroy the republic. Reject violence every step of the way. You make the first call to the police if you see anyone who you think is plotting, planning, thinking crazy thoughts. You turn them in to police immediately. You will destroy the republic if you do not. Now, could I be any clearer than that? Write it down in your diary because it will be erased in history. [The Glenn Beck Program, 7/26/10]
Beck: "We need to really view ourselves as non-armed, non-violent cells." On the same broadcast of his radio show, Beck stated: "If they take me down, you have to be standing. And if they take you down, somebody else has to be standing. So we need to really view ourselves as non-armed, non-violent cells." [The Glenn Beck Program, 7/26/10]
Beck: "The only weapon in our arsenal that we need is God." Beck has suggested that the government is "poking and prodding" the "crazy teabaggers" in order to incite them to violence. "They need you to be violent," he said. "They are begging for it. You are being set up. Do not give them what they want." Then, referring to a report that some congressmen had received death threats after voting in favor of health care reform, Beck implored his viewers, "Do not become them. ... It's exactly what they want." He concluded by saying that "the only weapon in our arsenal that we need is God." [Glenn Beck, 3/24/10]
Beck: "You must always be a people of peace." The same day on the radio, Beck cautioned his listeners: "Let me warn you now, in no uncertain terms. You must always be a people of peace. Always. Unless your life is being threatened. In no uncertain terms, you must always be a people of peace." [The Glenn Beck Program, 3/24/10]
Beck: "How many times do I have to say 'peaceful'?" In the middle of comparing himself to Martin Luther King Jr., Beck said to his radio listeners: "These are the times when you stand up -- when you can stand up peacefully, because if you don't stand up as you are losing those rights, as the government is growing in power, then, unfortunately, it becomes too late to stand up peacefully. How many times do I have to say 'peaceful'?" [The Glenn Beck Program, 11/25/09]
Beck: Go to town hall meetings armed with something -- "not with guns but with facts." While suggesting that the Obama administration is trying to destroy him, Beck told his listeners that "there is evil at play" and warned that "unless you come to these town hall meetings armed with something, you're too easily dismissed." He later clarified: "By arming you every day, by arming you not with guns but with facts, and you walking into these places armed with facts, the biggest stick you can carry." [The Glenn Beck Program, 8/24/09]
Beck: "It is not time to pick up guns" or "blow anything up." Beck warned his radio audience that "the American way of life is being systematically dismantled and destroyed," "the republic is in danger," and "we are entering the most dangerous time in American history." He then said, "My fellow American, it is not time to pick up guns. It is not time. It is not time to blow anything up." [The Glenn Beck Program, 8/5/09]
Beck: "If anyone thinks that it would be a good idea to turn violent, think again." Beck issued a "warning" to his television audience: "If anyone thinks that it would be a good idea to turn violent, think again. It would destroy the republic." He stated that "just one lunatic, like Timothy McVeigh, could ruin everything that everyone has worked so hard for" and instructed his audience that it was their "patriotic duty" to stop anyone they heard thinking about becoming violent. [Glenn Beck, 8/3/09]
- Byron Williams