Self-proclaimed civil rights leader Glenn Beck's history of racially charged rhetoric

Glenn Beck's attempts to “reclaim the civil rights movement” and “pick up Martin Luther King's dream” ring hollow when contrasted with the radio and TV host's long record of racially-charged, offensive rhetoric.

Attacks on “racist” President Obama

Beck: Obama is a “racist” with a “deep-seated hatred for white people.” On the July 28, 2009, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Beck said of President Obama: “This president, I think, has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.” Beck added: “I'm not saying that he doesn't like white people, I'm saying he has a problem. He has a -- this guy is, I believe, a racist.” The following day, Beck stood by the remarks: “I think the president is a racist.”

Beck suggested Obama's name is un-American. On the February 4 edition of The Glenn Beck Program, Beck said of Obama: “He chose to use his name, Barack, for a reason. To identify, not with America -- you don't take the name Barack to identify with America. You take the name Barack to identify with what? Your heritage? The heritage, maybe, of your father in Kenya, who is a radical?”

Obama pushing for “reparations.” On several occasions, Beck has claimed that Obama's agenda is driven by a desire for “reparations” and to “settle old racial scores”:

  • Health care reform. “This guy is not who he says he is. None of his bills, none of his proposals are about what he says they're about. The health care bill is reparations. It's the beginning of reparations. He's going to give -- if you want to go into medical school, the medical schools will get more federal dollars if they have proven that they are putting minorities ahead.” [The Glenn Beck Program, 7/22/09]
  • Assistance to Native Americans. On November 11, 2009, Beck said: “When the president was sitting there, or standing there, and he was talking about Native American rights in the middle of a tragedy, Fort Hood, it didn't feel right. And it seemed, maybe to me, that he was even promising reparations.” [The Glenn Beck Program, 11/9/09]
  • Everything Obama does. “Everything that is getting pushed through Congress, including this health care bill, are transforming America. And they are all driven by President Obama's thinking on one idea: reparations. ... These massive programs are Obama brand reparations -- or in presidential speak, leveling out the playing field. But, just in case the universalness of the program doesn't somehow or another quench his reparation appetite, he is making sure to do his part to pay the debt in the other areas.” [Glenn Beck, 7/23/09]

Obama elected because of race, not policies. On the June 8, 2009, edition of his radio program, Beck said of the 2008 election: “You were voting for - not change, but change, I think, in race. You were like 'Hey, let's put this behind us.' I think a lot of people were there. They weren't necessarily for his policies because his policies and everything else are - what are they?”

Obsession with slavery

Beck sees “slavery” everywhere. Beck frequently invokes “slaves” and “slavery” in attacking Democrats and progressives. Among the topics which Beck has compared to slavery:

  • Government debt. “Here's the debt per citizen. Debt per taxpayer is $118,000. Federal budget deficit, U.S. federal spending - bring the unfunded liabilities. This is a great one. Here it is - $109 trillion. The liability per citizen is $352,588. I'd like to see the calculation on what it is per taxpayer - $109 trillion. Do you see all of these zeros? You know what those are? Those are links in a chain. It is slavery. It is slavery for you and slavery for our children. Your kids are being enslaved.” [Glenn Beck (accessed via Nexis), 6/14/10]
  • Government spending. “The government's irresponsible spending is turning us into slaves. You might well literally lock us into chains, at least our children.” [Glenn Beck, 5/29/09]
  • Central government planning. “His name Friedrich A. Hayek. I bring him up today because he's kind of an a-ha moment for a lot of people. We're in a similar war today, but if you don't know history, you don't know about this man. If you don't know history, you can't make the decisions that we need to make. Starting in the early 1940, Hayek began writing a little book called ”The Road to Serfdom." The book clearly and logically explained how any form of central government planning usually leads to serfdom, or servitude, slavery. It extinguishes freedom." [Glenn Beck (accessed via Nexis), 6/8/10]
  • Recipients of federal aid. “These are the people who've been abused by the system. They've been taught they needed the government. They've been taught to be slaves, and their master is Washington. Both parties! Well the truth shall set you free and it is coming with a vengeance.” [Glenn Beck, 11/3/09]
  • Illegal immigration. “Most Americans say we should not count illegal immigrants in the census. But the union bosses think they should count them. They argue that we have to count all of them. It's funny, because I was thinking about this today, and I was thinking -- I think this is pretty close to the same argument we had in Philadelphia during a convention there. It was 1787, we were debating the Constitution. Here's what the debate was. The Founders, despite what revisionist historians want to tell you, wanted an end to slavery. Not all of them. Not in the South. But most of them. I've told you on this program many times: illegal immigration is modern-day slavery.” [Glenn Beck, 10/9/09]
  • Progressive policies. "They have no idea, it is the very progressive policies that these people are cheering that contribute to making them so desperate that they are out in the street looking for free cash. ... Progressive policies are keeping these people in slavery. Slavery to government, welfare, affirmative action, regulation, control. They know better than you do. They try to control every aspect of your life." [Glenn Beck, 10/27/09]
  • Economic stimulus package. “It is the nanny state. They're going to tell us what we can eat. They can tell us what our temperature needs to be in our homes. They can tell us what kind of car to drive. They can tell businesses how to run their business. It's slavery. It is slavery.” [Fox & Friends, 2/10/09]
  • “Government giveaways.” “You know what this president is doing right now? He is addicting this country to heroin -- the heroin that is government slavery. It is -- it's just the government giveaways.” [Glenn Beck, 2/11/09]
  • Tax deduction rule changes. “But this is enslaving, what our president has proposed and what's in this new bill. Changes in the tax deductions for charitable giving. ... When I found out that Barack Obama and the Democrats have put in a reduction in the deductions for charitable giving, and then follow it up with 'yeah, but we put a lot of money in the stimulus package to go ahead and cover those losses for those charities,' I thought this is insane, irresponsible, and quite honestly, because it involves enslaving people, evil.” [Glenn Beck, 3/2/09]

Obama as the “slavemaster.” On the January 11 edition of his Fox News show, Beck said of Obama: “The most effective way to become the slavemaster and make them come to you is to make them come to you for employment. How could you ever, if you're the president, lose your job if the voter understands that 'if I vote for the competitor who wants to reduce the size of government, that means my job goes away. I'll lose my job.' The real power grab is getting them into your employ.”

Beck praised constitutional provision protecting slave trade. In his 2009 book Arguing With Idiots, Beck reprinted and praised the now-obsolete Article I, Section 9, Clause 1 of the Constitution, which prohibited Congress from ending the slave trade before 1808 and capped taxes on the slave trade at $10 per slave. Beck, without mentioning slavery, interpreted the provision to mean that “the Founders actually put a price tag on coming to this country: $10 per person. Apparently they felt like there was a value to being able to live here.”

Beck's “racial hang-ups” and ethnic stereotyping

Beck's “funny 'black guy' character.” Journalist Alexander Zaitchik wrote in his September 2009 profile of Beck for that Beck, as a younger man, had many “racial hang-ups.” According to Zaitchik: “Among the show's regular characters was Beck's zoo alter ego, Clydie Clyde. But Clyde was just one of Beck's unseen radio ventriloquist dolls. 'He was amazing to watch when he was doing his cast of voices,' remembers Kathi Lincoln, Beck's former newsreader. 'Sometimes he'd prerecord different voices and talk back to the tape, or turn his head side to side while speaking them live on the air. He used to do a funny ”black guy" character, really over-the-top.' "

Beck's Top 40 radio “racist tropes.” In an August 24 entry to the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hate Watch blog, Zaitchik wrote:

Throughout his career in Top 40 radio, Beck was known for his imitations of “black guy” characters and racist tropes. According to Beck's former colleagues in the late 90s, this included mocking unarmed blacks shot and killed by white police officers. Such was the case of Malik Jones, the victim of a controversial killing that took place in 1997.

“After the shooting, Beck sometimes did a racist shtick,” remembers Paul Bass, a former radio host and Beck colleague at a Clear Channel station cluster in New Haven. “Glenn did routines about Jones' grandmother being on crack. Generally he made fun of his family and the loss of life--as joke routines.”

Beck's racially tinged tirades did not disappear after he switched formats in 1999. During his first talk radio stint in Tampa, he often referred to the Rev. Jesse Jackson as “the stinking king of the race lords.”

Beck forced to apologize for “mocking Asians.” In 1995, Beck and his co-hosts at KC101 in Hartford, Connecticut were made to apologize for mocking an Asian man who called into the program. The Hartford Courant reported in October 20, 1995: “When [Zhihan] Tong telephoned WKCI- FM to protest the broadcast as a racial slur, disc jockeys Glenn Beck and Pat Grey made fun of him. The two played a gong in the background several times, and Papineau, the executive producer, mocked a Chinese accent.”

Beck's book stuffed with stereotypes. Beck's Arguing With Idiots is rife with cartoons depicting serape- and sombrero-clad Mexicans with thick mustaches. The book also uses a cartoon Chinese takeout container to represent Chinese immigrants.

Beck promotes racist anti-Semite Elizabeth Dilling

Beck: The Red Network did “what we're doing now.” On his June 4 radio program, Beck promoted The Red Network by Elizabeth Dilling, saying of the 1934 book: “This is a book -- and I'm a getting a ton of these -- from people who were doing what we're doing now. We now are documenting who all of these people are. Well, there were Americans in the first 50 years of this nation that took this seriously, and they documented it.” [The Glenn Beck Program, 6/4/10]

The Red Network is rife with racism and anti-Semitism. As Media Matters noted, Dilling's book contains numerous passages that espouse anti-Semitism and racism. At various points throughout the book, Dilling attacked “racial inter-mixture” as a communist plot, referred to “un-Christianized” “colored people” as “savages,” called Hinduism and Islam “debasing and degrading,” and blamed Nazi Germany's anti-Semitism on “revolutionary Russian Jews.”

Dilling herself was a Nazi sympathizer. Dilling visited Germany in the late 1930s, and attended Nazi party meetings and praised Adolf Hitler's leadership. She also spoke at rallies hosted by U.S. Nazi organizations after the outbreak of World War II. Following the war, she leveled anti-Semitic attacks against several U.S. presidents, calling Dwight Eisenhower “Ike the Kike,” attacking Richard Nixon for his “service to the synagogue,” and calling John F. Kennedy's New Frontier program the “Jew frontier.”

Historian lambasted Beck's “ludicrous” behavior. In an interview with Media Matters, historian Glen Jeansonne said it is “ludicrous that this book written in the 1930s by a woman who was considered a crackpot at the time ... could be cited as an authority on Communism.”

Beck refused to apologize. On June 7, Beck briefly reacted to the controversy surrounding his approving citation of Dilling's work, but refused to apologize for promoting her hateful work on the air. Instead, Beck attacked “the left” for calling him “a Jew-loving Nazi sympathizer.”