Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Is Glenn Beck becoming the Dark Side of Alex Jones?

Alex Jones just annoys me with his half-digested info, paranoia, and general lack of discernment. But Glenn Beck is starting to scare me.

For one thing, Beck has a much larger audience and much broader appeal than Jones. My grandparents adore him, but they've never heard of Alex Jones.

For another thing, since making the move to Fox News, Beck has been talking about a lot of things that are, frankly, bats*** insane. A few could be straight out of Alex Jones's mouth: FEMA camps, American Communism, etc. Beck and Jones even hosted Chuck Norris on their radio shows in the same week, since he's promoting his book Black Belt Patriotism.

But incredibly, it's Beck who's taking things too far and showing signs of instability these days. He brought up the idea of an American anti-government militia to Norris. Then there's this:

Let's explore this.

Up until the beginning of this month, Michael McLendan was a 26-year-old sausage factory employee in Kinston, Alabama. He lived with his mom, Lisa McLendon, 52, who had been laid off from the Pilgrim's Pride plant where she worked. Then, for reasons that aren't entirely clear, Michael suddenly quit his job at Kelley Foods after two years of employment.

On March 10th, Michael slaughtered his mother and her four dogs without warning. He then drove 12 miles to the home of his 74-year-old grandma and proceeded to mow down everybody in her mobile home, save for one 4-month baby girl who was forced to watch her mom and baby sister die while she lay helpless, loaded with shrapnel. The people he killed:

Virginia White, his grandmother
Alfred White, 55, his uncle
Tracy Wise, 34, his cousin
Dean Wise, 15, his nephew (Tracy's son)
Andrea Myers, a visitor
Corinne Myers, Andrea's 18-month-old daughter

He tried to kill baby Ella Myers, but she survived.

You'd think killing 8 people in less than an hour would be sufficient to vent his rage, but McLaren didn't stop. He got back into his vehicle and started killing people randomly, taking aim at pedestrians, motorists, and shoppers:

James Starling, 24, a father of two
Sonya Smith, 43
Bruce Malloy, 51

Still not quite content, McLendon wounded the police officer who rammed his car to keep him from blowing through a roadblock. Then he crashed his vehicle into Reliable Metals, a former workplace, and took the life of his final victim: Himself.

Did McLendon just snap one day? Not exactly. It was soon discovered he kept a list of murder victims, including former co-workers. A letter he had written mentioned a legal dispute with members of his family. Investigators think this might have concerned a family Bible.

He was "a self-proclaimed survivalist who ordered videos instructing how to commit violence." He "talked in recent days of being depressed about his failure to become a Marine or a police officer", having dropped out of police academy after a two-week stint in 2003. He was discharged from the Marine Corps in 1999 because he had enlisted fraudulently. (1)

Investigators admit they don't know what set McLendon off. (1)

Now, Mr. Beck, what does any of this have to do with political correctness or political disenfranchisement? How was McLendon "pushed to the wall"?

When O'Reilly has to step in to be the voice of reason, you're in serious trouble. Please get some help, Mr. Beck.

Don't think for a moment that Beck's recent craziness lets Jones off the hook, though. His comments on the unprovoked, violent spree of "the real Crocodile Dundee" were every bit as insane as Beck's comments on Michael McLendon.


1. "Trigger for Ala. gunman's rampage still isn't clear". Associated Press. Philadelphia Inquirer, Mar. 14/09
2. "Alabama gunman Michael McLendon kept 'revenge list'" by James Bone. The Times Online, Mar. 12/09.
3. "Killer's march took 200 bullets, 1 hour, 11 lives" by Jay Reeves. Associated Press. Examiner.com, Mar 12/09
4. Wikipedia entry for 2009 Alabama spree killing. Retrieved Mar. 17/09.


odyobes said...

I remember back in the 90s when the militia movement was big and have been thinking recently that it's making a come back. When a group is marginalize they become populist. When the right felt marginalized during Clinton's administration they began forming populist groups, many of which were in the tradition of their heroes, the Constitutional militias of yore.

As a counter point during Bush's terms the left was marginalized into being populist and they did what they do and protested in the tradition of their heroes, civil rights leaders. And so the pendulum swings.

Now the pendulum has returned. The right likes a martyr, preferably someone pushed to becoming what the left often accuses them of. This makes them all feel like justified martyrs by extension. They often pick the gun totting, middle class, factory worker, who whips out his David's Tool Kit when he just can't take it anymore. Failing that they pick a farmer as their Robin Hood or pride, same conditions otherwise.

I think this is actually a somewhat predictable grasping at straws by a population that feels disenfranchised. The equivalent on the left is accusing everyone of being Hitler. I'll wager that this is part of a mass flinch as the right adapts to their new positions as the political under class.

SME said...

It is, indeed, a predictable populist "uprising" and a period of adjustment. To date, both the populists and the newly disenfranchised right are behaving within the bounds of propriety, so I'm not going to pass judgement on either side.

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