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What Did I Tell You? (Not That It Was Hard to Guess)

October 11th, 2010

Remember when Byron Williams set out for San Francisco to commit mass murder at the Tides Foundation? I posited that the guy was driven to what he did by Glenn Beck, based on (a) the fact that his mother noted he was angered by “the news on television,” and (b) he was gunning for the Tides Center, a favorite scapegoat of Beck’s lunatic conspiracy theories, and was later criticized for suggesting there was cause to take legal action against Beck.

And now, we hear it directly from the horse’s mouth:

“I would’ve never started watching Fox News if it wasn’t for the fact that Beck was on there,” says this friend, Byron Williams. “And it was the things he did, it was the things he exposed, that blew my mind.”

“I do enjoy Glenn Beck,” Williams also says, “and the reason why I enjoy that is because… no other channel will speak about the same things that he’s talking about, and if you go and investigate those things you’ll find out that they’re true.” …

“Beck is going to deny everything about violent approach, deny everything about conspiracies,” Williams told the freelance journalist John Hamilton, who did the interview to be published by Media Matters. “But he’ll give you every reason to believe it. He’s protecting himself, and you can’t blame him for that. So, but I understand what he’s doing.”

Listening to Beck, Williams explained, “you can pick up ideas and you can get on your Internet and just verify it.”

One of the ideas from Beck that Williams “verified” involved the liberal billionaire George Soros. Williams said he was inspired by Beck’s shows about Soros (described by Beck as a currency manipulator of Jewish ancestry who has “disturbing hair in his nose”). Beck accused President Obama of lending $2 billion to Brazil’s oil company Petrobras just after Soros upped his stake in the company.

This turned out to be a false Internet rumor that Beck had amplified, but Williams did more research and concluded that Soros and Obama had sabotaged the BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico to cause the oil spill and thereby help Petrobras.

This, Williams said, was his main source of anger before the alleged shoot-out. “With the exception of Beck, not once did even Fox report on things like Soros investing a billion dollars in Petrobras, or not once did they mention the fact that Obama sent them $2 billion,” he noted. “Beck will not say it was a contracted hit” on the BP well by Obama and Soros, Williams said, “but he’ll give you every ounce of evidence you can possibly need to make that assumption yourself.”

The reporter goes on to say that Williams is “not an entirely reliable witness,” but I disagree: he is a perfect witness to his own thought process. And as such, he is a perfect example of how modern-day demagogues instigate violence but hide behind deniability. If I go to an already-inflamed audience of people I know are angry as hell and desperate to boot, and then I start dealing out scapegoats and conspiracy theories, then the claim that I had no idea it would spark violence among some of them is either a bald-faced lie or evidence of spectacular idiocy.

It was certainly clear to Williams:

“So now they’ve got Beck labeled as this guy that is trying to incite violence, and what I say is that if the truth incites violence, it means that we’ve been living too long in the lies,” Williams told Hamilton. “You know, when you become unemployed, desperate, you can no longer pay your bills… what do you think is gonna happen? You know, for crying out loud. It’s gonna get worse, and more and more people are gonna get desperate.”

That speaks volumes all by itself.

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