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Political violence: Are talk shows feeding political violence?

Glenn Beck shares his thoughts at a press conference.
Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images for Dish Network

Political violence; conservatives and progressives often argue about who is to blame for the increasingly violent tone of political rhetoric in this country. But rather than reviewing opinions, let’s examine the facts.

For the last several years, conservative commentators have been warning their listeners that they need to be armed and ready, because progressives are on the verge of a violent revolt.

What leads these talk show entertainers to spew such warnings? Where are the facts proving that liberals are on the verge of a violent revolt?

Because Glenn Beck Said So!

After the Affordable Care Act was upheld by the Supreme Court in June of 2012, conservative radio host Glenn Beck said on his radio show, “Progressives are Fascists! They’re Fascists!”. “Progressivism, it’s a disease and it’s in both parties. And if we don’t wipe out the progressives’ idea – if we don’t correct that in the mind – those people shoot people who disagree with them.”

Definition of Fascist: An authoritarian right-wing system of government that encourages militarism, combined with nationalism.

Definition of Progressive: A social and political belief that endorses tolerance, as evidenced by supporting individual freedoms and protection of civil liberties. Progressives also believe that the military should be far less invasive.

Therefore, when Beck called progressively persuaded people Fascists, you can easily understand that his rant did not make sense. Would you preach that fire is freezing cold? Of course not, because freezing cold is the opposite of what fire produces.

Instigating Political Violence

In 2010, Glenn Beck made headlines when he said this about Democrats, “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.”

In 2010, after Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, many Democratic members of Congress had bricks thrown through their office windows after conservative bloggers openly encouraged acts of vandalism against members who voted for health care reform. Click here for details

During a 2010 Senate race in Nevada, Republican candidate Sharon Angle said “I hope that's not where we're going, but, you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I'll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.”

In 2011, conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart made these comments about progressives at a Tea Party rally; “They can only win a rhetorical and propaganda war. They cannot win. We outnumber them in this country, and we have the guns (audience laughs). I’m not kidding. They talk a mean game, but they will not cross that line because they know what they’re dealing with.”

In Idaho, Republican state representative Matt Shea recently told a crowd of Tea Party supporters that there will be an inevitable collapse of society and that they may have to take up arms against their own country. Shea said that "When it happens, we need to look at this as an opportunity, not a crisis. You have to stand up for what is right - even if it means you have to stand up to your government." Shea told the crowd that they need to stock up on thousands of rounds of ammunition, stay in shape, practice shooting and learn self-defense and special tactics.

A Growing Conservative Trend

The growing trend among conservatives seems to be to portray anyone who disagrees with their political views as; Communists, Marxists or Nazis, even if the terms don’t make any sense.

The Results of Political Violence

Along with the increase in violent political speech, there has also been a considerable increase in politically motivated acts of violence.

In the 1990s, right wing extremist Timothy McVeigh was upset with the government for the standoff at Ruby Ridge and the Branch Davidian in Waco, TX. McVeigh killed 168 people with a truck bomb in Oklahoma City.

In the 1990s, Eric Rudolph killed 2 and injured 150 more in several bombings of abortion clinics, a gay bar and the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia.

In July 2008, Jim David Adkisson opened fire at a Unitarian church in Knoxville Tenn., killing 2 people because he said liberals are destroying America.

In April 2009, Richard Andrew Poplawski opened fire and killed three Pittsburgh police officers partly because he believed right wing media claims that Obama was going to take away his guns.

Dr. George Tiller, often called “Tiller the baby killer” by the conservative media, was shot to death in May of 2009 by anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder in a Wichita, Kansas church. It was the 2nd time Tiller had been shot and only the most recent of many abortion clinic workers who were shot or killed by anti-abortion extremists in the past 20 years.

In June 2009, Holocaust denier and right-wing tax protestor James von Brunn killed a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

In February 2010, tax protester Joseph Stack intentionally flew a plane into a building housing IRS headquarters in Austin, Texas.

In July 2010, Byron Williams loaded up weapons and headed off to San Francisco, intending to attack the Tides Foundation and the ACLU after being “inspired” to act by Glenn Beck. Two police officers were wounded apprehending him.

In January, 2011, white supremacist Kevin William Harpham attempted to set off a bomb during a Martin Luther King Jr. parade in Spokane, Washington.

The List Goes On

With a little research, you can find many more examples of politically inspired acts of violence by conservative extremists.

There are, no doubt, acts of violence committed by left wing extremists as well. But they are very few compared to the multitude of violent acts by the right wing followers.

Not ALL Conservatives

It is important to point out that most conservatives are peaceful people who hate violence. Many of my friends are conservative, and they are respectable, decent people.

However, the increasingly violent hate-speech initiated by right wing media is likely having a psychological effect on individuals who are already unbalanced, which inspires extremism possibly leading to violence.

Quick Comparison

  • Liberals do not tend to stockpile weapons in preparation for a revolution.
  • Liberals are not inclined to threaten violence when they disagree with conservatives.
  • It’s mostly people with conservative views who have been carrying out politically motivated acts of violence in recent years.

Freedom Of Speech

Freedom of speech is arguably our most important right. The conservative media is certainly free to express their disagreement, especially with Democratic politicians.

But there's a huge difference between expressing political views and spewing hate speech.

The sad fact is that the huge increase in right wing hate-speech, corresponds with the dramatic increase political violence in America.

Political violence, what do you think?


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