Archive for Glenn Beck

Are Media Provocateurs Inciting Violence?

Posted in On Right Wing Pundits and Bloviators, Playthell on politics with tags , , , , on August 28, 2010 by playthell


 Glenn Beck: Just your Friendly Demogogue!


 Some Reflections On the Ahmad Sharif Affair

 The attack on Ahmad Sharif, a Muslim American cab driver working Manhattan, by Michael Enright, a big blond boyish looking white college student wielding a knife, should come as no surprise.  Given all the anti-Muslim hysteria generated by right-wing media provocateurs, and the boisterous protests against the building of an Islamic cultural center in downtown Manhattan, this was predictable.  I’m waiting with baited breath for one of these enraged fanatics to take a shot at President Obama any day now. 

The  constant haranguing of frustrated Americans – who are mostly white, male, and imbued with a deep sense of entitlement by virtue of their race and gender – with hysterical propaganda about how everybody is out to get them, will inevitably drive some to violence.  Republican politicians who echo the extreme views of these media fear mongers must share equal responsibility for the crimes they inspire.

Nearly a year ago I  posted a commentary titled: “Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck Incite Mayhem and Murder.”  What occasioned that piece was my alarm over the rising number of dramatically violent incidents that were perpetrated by men who gave reasons for their actions that echoed the themes of daily rants by Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and their fellow verbal arsonists on the right. The three cases I  cited back then were Richard Popolowski, Steven Von Bruhn and Scott P. Roeder.

Popolowski ambushed and murdered three Pittsburg Policemen who were answering a routine domestic disturbance call placed by his mother.  Von Bruhn murdered an Afro-American guard at the National Holocaust Museum, and Scott Roeder murdered gynecologist Benjamin Tiller – whom that pompous windbag Bill O’Reily labeled “Tiller the Baby Killer” because he performed abortions.  And old crazy Billy Boy even gave out the Dr.’s address on the air.  Although he can never be sure of the role he played in causing the Doctor’s death O’Reiley, arrogant megalomaniac that he is, remains unrepentant.

What all of these crazed killers have in common is that they had been obsessing over issues that are the daily fare of the radio arsonists.  Popolowski thought Obama was going to take his guns away so the government could oppress white men; Von Bruhn – a white supremacist and eugenicist – is convinced that non-white aliens are taking over the USA, and whites must take their country back by force of arms. Scott Roeder thinks abortion is mass murder and felt compelled to stop it by murdering medical doctors who treat women seeking legal abortions.  The violent attack on Mr. Sharif by Michael Enright follows this same pattern of obsessive irrational behavior.   Their obsessions are the same issues the right-wing media provocateurs harp on everyday.  Hence I think the Attack on Ahmad Sharif is a harbinger of things to come…so long as Limbaugh, Beck and company remain in business.

Sharif says they were carrying on a civil conversation when Enright suddenly shouted the Muslim salutation “Ai Salaam Alinkum” and began stabbing him. Unless the greedy amoral corporations who profit from the ignorance and bigotry spewed by murderous windbags over the airwaves put the national interest above corporate profits, or those opposed to their destructive business find a way to effectively strike at their bottom line, this murderous monologue will go on. 

 Ahmad Sharif


 After His encounter with A Christian Avenger

 Until they are restrained either by their bosses or the forces of the marketplace, the verbal arsonists in right-wing media will continue to incite murder and mayhem.  Alia Lateef, speaking on behalf of the Taxi Drivers in New York, has no doubt that the attack was incited by the constant anti-Muslim diatribes in the media.  That’s why I intend to join my fellow citizens who are standing up for the rights on Muslims to build their Mosque wherever they wish.  In my view the issue is clear: To make any attempt to deny them this right is religious bigotry!   Any attempt to curtail or mediate that right – which is absolute under the US constitution – is unacceptable and illegal if it involves any act of government.




Let me be clear where I am coming from on this question.  I am not, as many mistakenly believe, pro-Islam.  Rather I agree with Franz Fanon, the black Psychiatrist from Martinique in the French Antilles who became the leading theoretician of the Algerian Revolution against France.  When the leadership of the FLN was debating about what a liberated Algeria would be like, the Islamicist wanted to establish Sharia law, but Fanon protested, arguing that establishing an Islamic theocracy would be “a return to primitive medievalism!” However I think that Christian fundamentalist control of the US government would also be a return to primitive Medievalism too.  

 I believe the molders of the US constitution got things just right!  The government shall have no role in promoting specific religious beliefs, and freedom of religion also means freedom from religion.  I am now, and have been for over half a century, an avowed atheist.  I refused to indoctrinate my children with any kind of religious dogma, and specifically warned by daughters against acceptance of religious philosophies that would deny them full equality on all planes of existence with their male counterparts.   So when it comes to religious fundamentalist of any stripe, I say a pox on all your houses!  But it is not my business what others choose to believe, and it’s certainly not the government’s business.

 Thus there is no alternative for those who love our Constitutional liberties but to support the Muslim’s right to build their mosque wherever they choose – even if it is directly on the site of “Ground Zero,” let alone five blocks away!  I take this position in spite of the fact that my first wife was a casualty of the 9/11 attack, and several friends also died there. This is because I don’t equate all Muslims with Al Qaeda any more than I would equate all Christians with Timothy McVey and the “Christian Identity movement. ”   Furthermore, if most Americans were not so abysmally ignorant about the rest of the world, they would know that fourth fifths of the world’s Muslims are not Arabs, and don’t live in the Middle East!  I am therefore compelled to oppose those who oppose the building of the Mosque downtown because I cannot stand idly by while ignorant and bigoted rabble turn my beloved city into a racial and ethnic battleground.  You see, I am a New Yorker who loves this city as much as anyone alive.   

I have often said publicly: “I would rather be a fire hydrant in New York City, and be pissed on by dogs all day long, than a king in a castle anywhere else!”  I witnessed the plane crash into the second tower, and experienced the terror of that moment; if I’m not mad about the Mosque’s location then I am unmoved by the vitriolic rhetoric of those out in the boonies.  I am suspicious of those talking heads in the media who have neither the best interests of this city, or the nation for that matter, at heart.  These bogus bloviators, who are stirring up all the trouble, only care about increasing their ratings so they can maintain their multi-million dollar salaries and princely lifestyles.   And they have told us so publicly!

Thus it is safe to conclude that the people who will journey to our nation’s capitol this weekend to attend Glenn Beck’s rally, will be disproportionably composed of emotional cripples and abysmal ignoramuses. It would behoove all of us to pay close attention to what happens there.  It is an obscene burlesque on the great March on Washington in 1963, which was a march against racism, war, poverty and avarice – all the things that Beck and his Tea Party cronies promote. 

This vulgar side show, hosted by an amoral clown who incites homicides for fun, featuring Sarah Palin as keynote speaker – a racist vulgar opportunist who has the values of a barbarian and the intellect of a Neanderthal –is both an insult to the memory of Doctor King and the great work he did.  And it is a dangerous diversion for the poor deluded white folks who sincerely believe that this scurrilous buffoon is offering wise counsel that will show them the way out of their misery.  Not so. 

Instead they will be provided and opportunity to engage in a collective venting of rage – not unlike the giant Nazi rallies at Nuremburg Germany in the 1930’s.  In those rallies the major issues were also rooted in economic dislocation and a growing feeling that the “true Germans” were having their country taken over by alien elements of their own population.   And as any historian of the period will verify, protestant fundamentalism and Catholic complicity played a major role in the rise of Fascism that led to the Holocaust.   There are many who throw the Nazi analogy around falsely, but I’m dropping some real science here. Check it out!!!   In any case I will have more to say on this subject in a forthcoming commentary.

Alas, Beck’s rally may prove cathartic for the moment, but no solutions to the problems of struggling white folks who despair that they may ever realize their American dreams will be provided by this shameless charlatan, verbose ignoramus and friendly fascist.  For when it is all said and done, they will still be in the same boat: the Darwinian struggle for bread that is the lot of the working class of all colors in an increasingly post industrial cybernetic American economy that no longer needs them. 

Who knows, if we use the past as a guide to understanding the present and predicting the future, this mass outpouring of white grievances – the great majority of which are imagined in the fevered mind of Beck and his ilk – could well push more clueless white saps into violent attacks on Muslims and people of color.  That’s what usually happens when white Americans descend into a state of racist rage popularly known as “white backlash.   There is a rush to convince us that the attack on Sharif was an aberration, the demented act of one deranged individual and we need not worry about a recurrence…We’ll see.

 The White Christian Avenger


 Just Another Poor Sap Pushed Over the Edge?




 Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

August 2010

Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil

Posted in Playthell on politics with tags , , on July 22, 2010 by playthell


 President Obama Enjoys a Bright Moment With Rev. Al


 Why President Obama Does not Want To Talk About Race

 Listening to the incessant chatter from the nation’s pundits and electronic chattering classes discuss the Shirley Sherrod affair – a shameful incident in which a good woman was wronged by her superiors in the Obama administration – everybody seems in a hurry to place the weight of blame for this fiasco on the Administration; even the President himself.  Not the dangerous machinations of a racist wing media in concert with their Grand Obstructionist Party  allies and enablers.  Whether from the left or the right this is the dominant theme of the conversation.  Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows!

The most persistent questions we hear is why did the administration act so precipitously?  Why didn’t they take their time and properly investigate the authenticity of the report?  And why won’t President Obama initiate a national conversation about race?  My response to these queries is …Duh?  Anyone who is asking these questions seriously, rather than rhetorically, probably  shouldn’t be in the position of clarifying issues for the public – which is what pundits, editorialists and expert witnesses are supposed to do. We need only look at the news/talk programs this morning to recognize the answer to these questions.

President Obama has just shepherded through congress and signed into law the most sweeping regulations governing financial activities on Wall Street and the nation’s banking system since the Great Depression in the early decades of the last century.  At over two thousand four hundred pages, it dwarfs the critical Depression era legislation which was only thirty pages.  This is big news indeed, yet all the talk the morning after is about the race problem in America!

And all this hoopla is over an injustice to a black woman, supposed it had been a white woman?  Imagine if this incident involved a doctored video of a white female official in the Agricultural Department who had been fired for racism – even though the US Agricultural Department has a long and shameful history of institutionalized racism against black farmers white Americans would be up in arms.  If we take the history and present realities of race relations in America as our guide, the difference in the white backlash would be like the new financial regulation Bill  compared to the Depression era legislation!

The simple fact of the matter is that Barack Obama occupies the same position in American politics that Jackie Robinson occupied as the first black player in major league baseball – which was affectionately called “The National pastime.”  Like Robinson he has to play past the race issue and keep his eye on the ball, lest the low life’s in the bleachers will throw him off his game.  In this case the low life’s are the verbal arsonists and racial provocateurs in the right wing media and their Republican enablers, who seem intent on inciting a race war in America.

In most countries what Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh are doing would be considered a threat to national security if not treason.  Such is the putrid incendiary bile that flows from their mouths into the ears of psychologically wounded poor whites; I am convinced they are literally trying to forment an insurrection against the government,  and I also  believe they are trying get the President of these United States assassinated!  Yet, as a pugnacious pundit with and acid tongue and poison pen I am glad the government can’t imprison writers for what they say because I would surely be doing life!   But the broadcast corporations who provide these malevolent cretins with a platform ought to restrain them, to demand that what they say can be supported by facts; to put the tranquility of the nation ahead of  their profit margins. 

Instead the behavior of these corporations supply compelling evidence that Karl Marx was right – in their case for sure – when he observed that capitalists are so greedy  they will sell the hangman the rope to hang them with if they can make a profit!   The failure of the media corporations to muzzle these malicious maggots is a most egregious example of placing the private over the public interests.  And there ought to be a price to pay for such a treacherous betrayal of the public interests; alas too much of the electorate is far too ignorant or apathetic to chastise them by boycotting their incendiary product.

Barack Obama is both a serious student of history and a highly perceptive analyst of contemporary events.  His brilliance as a politician has been demonstrated repeatedly – beginning with getting his black self elected president of a white racist country and becoming the most powerful man in the world!  That’s why he well understands that the race issue is both toxic and infectious. And it could prove deadly for his presidency if he allows the racists to embroil him in endless arguments about race.  It is like the tar baby in the Uncle Rhemus stories, the more you attack it the deeper you get stuck.  President Obama is a man of vision who can see the big picture, something this nation has too often been deprived of in our leaders, especially for the last eight years.  And we have witnessed the evidence of the old adage “Where there is no vision the people will perish” in the mess the Bushmen made of  the world.  

 Hence President Obama is right to keep his eyes on the big prize: building a better world than can sustain and enhance life, making manifest William Faulkner’s prediction  that “man will endure,” and Chairman Mao’s axiom that “The Atomic bomb will not destroy man; man will destroy the bomb.”  Viewed from the perspective of these cosmic issues regarding the fate of the earth and the destiny of mankind, the race question is a secondary problem.  Hence he should leave the debate about it to the academics, pundits, preachers, philosophers, talk radio hosts, and even members of Congress.  So if  there are any racist out there who fancy themselves intellectuals and are spoiling for a fight……try me!




Playthell Benjamin

Commentaries On The Times

Harlem, New York 

July 22, 2010

On The Rising Tide of Violence from the Far Right

Posted in Playthell on politics, Travels in the New South with tags , , , , , on March 31, 2010 by playthell


 The Hutaree Milita: A bunch of deluded assholes


 Now is the time to take action!

During my recent foray into the deep southern states by car and bus I heard some disturbing stories from African Americans about an alarming rise in armed white supremacist activity.  Beneath the façade of gentility in race relations – where white folks who traditionally addressed all black men as “boy” and refused to address black women as “Miss’ or “Mrs.”  now routinely respond to questions or comments from black people with “yes sir” or “Yes mam,” lies a seething cauldron of white anger and resentment that threatens to erupt into violence at any moment.

In Florida I was told by working class black folks that they didn’t trust their white co-workers because they were always conspiring to get them into trouble by secretly sabotaging their work or making up lies about their performance on the job.   And there were certain back roads that I was warned about traversing during my hiking sessions on the outskirts of town because they were populated by racist rednecks.  And there were entire counties in Georgia that I was warned away from because of recent Ku Klux Klan activities.

While I was tempted to view such antics as nothing more that a burlesque show acted out by racist clowns in ridiculous costumes, impotent anachronisms of a bygone age, the local Afro-Americans took them very seriously and two of them showed me machine guns they had recently acquired and told me they kept them fully loaded lying on the floor of their cars when they drove through the county on the outskirts of Brunswick Georgia. 

Later on in my journey, I witnessed the arrests of militia members in Michigan on the television set in the Fayetteville North Carolina bus station. Everybody watched the report in astonishment, but one black lady, who appeared to be in her sixties and was old enough to remember the old south before the Civil rights movement, told me that armed white men who belonged to Militias or the Ku Klux Klan was conducting a reign of terror in Hinesville Georgia.  This was rather astonishing stuff considering that Fort Steward, a major Army Base, is located there.  

However the arrest of nine members of the Hutaree militia who were planning attacks on the police and government officials in Michigan highlights the problem with these armed white formations; some of whose members have shown up at president Obama’s speeches brandishing weapons.  If they are in states with lax gun laws they are allowed to own military assault weapons, and their incendiary hate speech is protected by the First Amendment.  Hence they must either commit a violent act, or be about to do so, before law enforcement can act.

Thus these white cretins remain a clear and present danger to an unsuspecting public, as their passions are incited daily by verbal arsonist like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.   It is high time the corporations broadcast them, or their sponsors and stock holders, put a muzzle on these racist fear mongers before more innocent Americans are slaughtered.    And it is long past time for a federal law prohibiting the possession of military weapons by civilians.                                                                                              


Rush Limbaug and Glenn Beck Incite Mayhem and Murders!

Posted in On Right Wing Pundits and Bloviators, Playthell on politics with tags , , , , , on September 24, 2009 by playthell

As The Death Toll Rises…

 Verbal Arsonists Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh Egg the Fanatics On

Rushbo! Public Enemy #1

 Is  Rush Limbaugh and his tribe of verbal arsonists inciting unstable people to murder?  I think the answer is a resounding yes!  What does Richard Popolowski, Stephen Von Brunn and Scott P. Roeder, the murderer of Dr. Tiller have in common? They were all motivated by the concerns that are the subject of over the top harangues by Right Wing radio hysterics 24/7. Popolowski ambushed and murdered three cops in Pittsburg with a military assault rifle as they answered a routine domestic disturbance call placed by his mother!  Subsequent investigations have revealed that Poppi thought President Obama was going to take his guns and oppress white men.  This is the kind of crazy inflammatory crap that Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh spout ad-nauseum.

 James W. Von Brunn, who murdered a black guard, Stephen Tyrone John’s, in  the Washington Holocaust museum is a long time racist/anti-Semitic anti-government fanatic, And Dr. Tiller, a gynecologist who performs abortions, was targeted by right-wing broadcasters, especially Bill O’Reilly, who routinely called him “Tiller The Baby killer” and even gave out the address of his clinic on the air.  Now we discover a murdered census taker in Kentucky, Bill Sparkman, who from all appearances was lynched, and has the word FED, for federal worker, inscribed on his chest! I believe  Sparkman’s murder was directly inspired by Glenn Beck’s incendiary attacks on the US Census!


A Murder Mouth Poot Butt!

And on a lesser scale, although quite horrifying, was the  vicious beat down of Tasha Hill a beautiful well spoken young black woman – who ironically is serving in the military – in Poulan Georgia by Troy Dale West, a burly redneck cracker male who viciously beat her while calling her a sack of black bitches…all because she admonished the man for virtually walking over her seven year old daughter as they both entered a store in Georgia.   This man was obviously walking Around seething with racist rage, a rage that is fueled and stoked each day by the hysterical diatribes spewed by Limbaugh and other right wing verbal arsonists who  appear to be trying their best to spark a race war in America.  And believe me: this is just the type of incident that could spark a race riot, because if I had been on the scene I would have tried my level beat to take that cracker’s head off!

In a seminar I taught at Long Island University on “Minorities and Mass Media,” we looked at the role of mass media in inciting racist rage that resulted in racist attacks on non-whites.  The horrible Atlanta pogrom of 1906, in which rampaging whites attacked and killed innocent black citizens on the streets for several days was sparked by incendiary diatribes and lies about black people in the news papers.  Radio is a much more personal and powerful media and, as Dr. Goebbles demonstrated in NAZI Germany, can move masses of people to irrational actions.  That’s the role Limbaugh and company are playing in American society right now – and their message is nationwide, immediate, and all the time.

Although none in the Obama Administration dare draw this connection lest they be accused of trampling on the First Amendment, opinion writers in the media certainly can connect the dots and hypothesize about whether there is an organic connection between the growing numbers of innocent people assaulted and killed by hyped up racist and anti-government fanatics, and the vitriolic lies spewed by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, Ann Coulter etc.  And I for one, am wondering why they are not raising questions about an all too obvious connection!

Those who withhold criticism by arguing that these incendiary racist bolviators have a Constitutional right to say the things they say are missing the point.  To begin with the First Amendment is designed only to restrain the government from restricting speech, not private companies like WABC, nor does it restrict the press from critiquing the media – that’s why we have media critics!  Since all of this Anti-American garbage is coming from two companies, the execs could stop in tomorrow.

However from the look of things the suits at these companies FOX and WABC, who should be expected to exercise sound judgment and act in the public interests – since we have granted them the privilege of utilizing the public airways for their private purposes – are derelict in their responsibility to serve the common good, and their avarice parallels the heartless capitalist described by Karl Marx, who was so avaricious he would “sell the hangman the rope to hang him with if he thought he could turn a profit!”


Playthell Benjamin

Commentaries On the times

Harlem New York

September 24 2009