Fox News talk-show host, Glenn Beck, arrived in his hometown, Mount Vernon, Washington, Sept. 26, to be greeted by hundreds of protesters with signs that read, "Hate is not a Mount Vernon value" and "Hate kills!"
There were also "tea-baggers" in the crowd who embraced Beck's hate but the voices of sanity and reason seemed to carry the day. Beck delivered an unusually, low-key, non-political speech urging people to stop "tearing each other apart."
Beck, who recently touched off a nationwide furor by branding President Obama a "racist" with a "deep hatred of America and white culture," returned to the town where he was born in 1964 at the invitation of the town's mayor, Bud Norris, who unilaterally proclaimed Sept. 26 "Glenn Beck Day" and presented him with the keys to the city. More than 800 turned out to protest, many wearing tee-shirts with the slogan, "Hate is not a Mount Vernon value." Overhead, a plane circled pulling a banner that read, "Change the Locks."
The mayor's action ignited an angry firestorm. A grassroots coalition circulated a petition signed by 16,000 people demanding that the invitation be withdrawn. Phillip Holder, presented the petitions to a Sept. 23 meeting of the City Council, with the Mayor presiding. Holder said the invitation to Beck, "disgraces Mount Vernon."
The council then went on to approve unanimously a resolution stating that the "City Council is in no way sponsoring the Mayor's event...and is not connected to the Glenn Beck event in any manner."
Holder, a member of FUSE, the progressive group that circulated the petition, told the World, "I wonder if the fact that hundreds of people were in the streets with signs that said, ‘hate is not a Mount Vernon value' had anything to do with his toned-down speech. I wasn't in the hall but news reports said he urged people to stop tearing each other apart. We can second the proposal."
Holder added, "The trend of vilifying one's political opponents does not contribute to the quality of the debate over policy issues that have to be decided...It leads to confusion and stops us from resolving the difficult issues that we face as a nation including health care reform, global climate change and our dependence on oil."
Beck, he said, should heed his own call "and stop thinking about ‘killing' Michael Moore," he said, referring to the documentary film-maker. He referred to the Wikipedia biography of Beck documenting his incitement to murder against Moore. "Beck has not been making a positive contribution to a dialogue on solving the problems we face as a nation," said Holder.
Judith Shattuck, chair of the Progressive Caucus of Washington State, that helped mobilize the protest of Beck's appearance, told the World that humanity is going through transformative changes deeper than any experienced in the "past 1,000 years." She added, "Its like the old stuff we did and believed in is dying. And its dying hard. The Glenn Becks of the world are resisting with every fiber of their being. We spend a lot of energy trying to hold on to what is dead, or dying. What I hope is that we can say: O.K., that's gone. Let's turn our energy to what we want to create."
Beck may also be chastened by the impact of the boycott organized by Oakland-based "ColorofChange" (CoC) in which 62 corporate sponsors have withdrawn their advertising from Fox News' Glenn Beck Show. Now CoC and its partner, the Free Press Action Fund (FPAF) are circulating an online letter "Glenn Beck Doesn't Speak for Me," already signed by tens of thousands. CoC director, James Rucker and FPAF director Josh Silver write, "Some say that we should just ignore Glenn Beck's media circus and it will go away. But Beck's attacks have actually harmed people. We need to tell Beck and his bosses that their efforts to stoke fear and prejudice come with consequences of their own."
Beck, they added, has the right of free speech. "But he doesn't have the right to a cable news show funded by millions in corporate ad dollars. News media that have no sense of responsibility to the truth need to be held accountable."