For who knows what reason, Beck has targeted a relatively obscure, left-leaning organization called the "Tides Foundation." The group, on its website, says that its mission is "to partner with philanthropists, foundations, activists and organizations across the country and across the globe to promote economic justice, robust democratic processes and the opportunity to live in a healthy and sustainable environment, where human rights are preserved and protected."
According to MediaMatters, the Tides Foundation was mentioned on Fox News 31 times, 29 of them by Beck. The other two were by Sean Hannity. Beck called the group thugs who indoctrinate schoolchildren on his July 14 show.
On July 18, police pulled over a two-strike felon named Byron Williams (pictured). He was allegedly wearing body armor and had an extensive amount of ammunition in his car. He allegedly opened fire on the California Highway Police, and more than 60 rounds were exchanged.
Where was Williams headed? According to Oakland police, Williams, 45, said "his intention was to start a revolution by traveling to San Francisco and killing people of importance at the Tides Foundation and the ACLU."
Williams' mother said that he was angry at left-leaning politicians, watched a lot of television and was angry at "what's happening to our country," especially "the way Congress was railroading through all these left-wing agenda items."
This should be a wake-up call for all of the people who think Beck's rhetoric is a joke. It is potentially fatal. Words have the power to spark people into action. And when Beck's paranoid rhetoric reaches mentally unstable people down on their luck, this is what happens.
Eric Bohlert, a senior fellow at MediaMatters, described some of the language Beck and his colleagues use:
And don't forget about the unhinged response when health care reform was passed in March: "Get down on your knees and pray. Pray. It's September 11th all over again, except that we didn't have the collapsing buildings." After financial reform passed last week, Beck told his audience, "Your republic is over."
Meanwhile, Andrew Breitbart's website recently tagged Obama as the "suicide-bomber-in-chief," while the conservative Washington Times just last week published an op-ed -- by a former congressman, no less -- asserting the president poses more of a threat to America than al Qaeda.I wonder what Beck would have said if Williams succeeded with his plan and innocent people were murdered because of their political leanings.
"On occasion, the shadow of violence falls on American civic life and it should never be accepted or tolerated. Often, it is encouraged by partisan voices who label activities of which they disapprove by suggesting they are "anti-American" or some other epithet," Tides CEO Drummond Pike said in a statement.
"This incident serves to remind us that it should be the obligation of every American, especially those whose voices are amplified by the media, to foster civil discourse and dialogue among those who may disagree about public matters. One does not win an argument by inciting unbalanced people to violence. As Americans, we know we are best at solving problems when we reach broadly across boundaries for the best of ideas. Intolerance that closes our eyes defeats our aspirations."
The sad part is that commentators like Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly spew this potentially fatal rhetoric for money. They've gotten rich by spreading fear, lies and paranoia of the type seen in the Shirley Sherrod and New Black Panther Party cases. As Professor Michael Eric Dyson said, the Far Right is using the fact that we have a black president to stir already existent racial paranoia.
Corporate entities need to be held responsible for allowing this dangerous rhetoric that is not based on fact in the air.
The irony of it all is that Williams' mother said her son was upset after he got out of prison, because of the amount of unemployment he was receiving and that he couldn't find work as a cabinet maker because of his criminal record.
The ACLU and Tides foundation probably did more to improve those issues yesterday than someone like Beck has done in his entire life.
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