Glenn Beck has been called a lot of things of late — “provocateur,” “hero,” “rodeo clown,” and “dad” are just a few. But few would argue that he’s nothing if not a master at hyperbole.
In a rambling, extemporaneous analogy, Beck seemingly equated the White House with fascist dictators, though regular viewers of his Fox News program will know that’s not really news. But never before has he portrayed the Fox News Channel as persecuted subjects like Holocaust Jews. That is, until yesterday.
Beck went so far as to reference the “First They Came” poem by German Pastor Martin Niemöller, which includes the line “Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.”
Beck’s specific quote on his radio show yesterday (October 13th):
These news organizations don’t have any idea who they are in bed with right now. Let me speak to the good journalists that are out there, because I believe there are a few journalists who are at NBC, or are at ABC or CBS. Or CNN.
I know decent journalists over at CNN. Ask yourself this question: When they are done with Fox and you decide to speak out on something… the old, “first they came for the Jews and I wasn’t Jewish.” When you have a question and you believe that something should be asked… they’re a… totally fine with you right now. They have no problem with you.
When they’re done with Fox and talk radio, do you really think they are going to leave you alone if you want to ask a tough question? Do you really think that a man that has never had to stand against tough questions, and has as much power as he does…
Do you really believe that after he takes out the number one news network… do you really think that this man is not then going to turn on you? That you, in your little organization, are going to cause him any hesitation at all not to take you out? If you believe that, you should open up a history book. Because you’ve missed the point of many brutal dictators. You miss the point of how they always start.
Niemöller wrote his poem about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of the Nazis’ chosen targets, group after group. In Beck’s analogy, the ranks of journalists who are ignoring White House criticisms of Fox News and talk radio occupy a similar position, appearing to be not only complicit in their persecution, but next on the White House’s list of victims. Whether or not you believe in that road map, the glib analogy borders on offensive; but then, that’s Beck’s game.
Full text of “First They Came”:
First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.
Does Fox News really belong on that list?
Hear the audio clip here:
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