Breathing Fire in Tyler

Political fire-breathing was center stage at “The Oil Palace” on Saturday in Tyler, the only Texas stop on FOX News show host Glenn Beck‘s traveling road show, his “Take America Back” tour. The event showed once again how religious-right rhetoric increasingly dominates the so-called “tea party movement.” Beck and various Texas politicians provided plenty of that rhetoric.

In recent years we’ve heard religious-righters claim that natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, floods and fires are God’s punishment on a sinful America. On Saturday, the Tyler Morning Telegraph reports, state Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, told a cheering crowd: “I believe that Barack Obama is God’s punishment on us today, but in 2012, we are going to make Obama a one-term president.”

“God’s punishment”? Hyperbolic politics isn’t new to America, of course. But isn’t suggesting that our nation’s elected president is somehow a tool of divine punishment on Americans more than a little unhinged?

Speaking of unhinged, Beck also used faith as a political weapon to bludgeon anyone who doesn’t share his narrow political views. Here’s how the Tyler newspaper reporter described the scene:

Recalling history of how America was founded as well as biblical stories, Beck said the American flag is a symbol of God’s freedom. Those who fought for the country through the years didn’t fight and die so that people could go to the mall shopping, have Social Security or health care; they fought so that people could be free, Beck said.

The American seal as drawn up by Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson was a pillar of fire and the split Red Sea behind it for the Israelites to cross, Beck said.

“We must remember who we are. We must remember what brought us here. We must remember what protected us. We must remember these rights do not belong to us — they come from God,” Beck said. The crowd rose in unison to its feet applauding loudly and yelling.

If people don’t know the history, “find it and tell your children,” Beck urged the crowd. “If God is with us, who can possibly stand against us? The answer is no one.”

It’s always a bit unnerving when political extremists try to recruit God into their militant ranks. It’s not just the off-the-scale arrogance that’s alarming. Many terrible things have been done by terrible people claiming to act with God’s support.

Unfortunately, Gov. Rick Perry brought his own militant rhetoric to the event as well:

Texas was built by free-thinking patriots, and it’s time to let it be heard in Washington, Perry said. The tea party is about taking the country back, Perry said.

The governor described Beck as a national leader of a powerful group sending a message to the current administration and congress about Washington, D.C., how to control spending and Americans taking their country back.

“I consider myself proud to be in that army,” Perry said in a short news conference before the town hall meeting.

Of course, this isn’t Gov. Perry’s first trip to Beck’s circus. Last year, for example, the governor was a guest on Beck’s FOX program shortly after the host doused a colleague with liquid from a gasoline can and charged that President Obama was essentially setting America afire re with his policies. “I’m proud to be with you,” Gov. Perry told the unhinged host when he joined the show.

13 thoughts on “Breathing Fire in Tyler

  1. I can’t wait until whatever skeleton Beck has in the closet surfaces. I don’t know what it is, but I know there’s something. He has just too much fun making up stuff for the rubes.

  2. It’s really rather funny that Beck, a Mormon, is peddling all this “God says” stuff to a cheering audience that has to be largely Southern Baptist and Church of Christ. They would yank off his heretic apostate scalp in six milliseconds if he wasn’t trashing Obama and talking teabaggery. Strange bedfellows, indeed.

  3. Maybe Gov Goodhair wants to be a rich entertainer like Beck or Palin. It sure beats trying to rock train heifers in Paint Creek. (There aren’t any stumps in that part of Haskell County, just big blocks of limestone.)

  4. Hi, I’m Rick Perry, I would like to announce the formation of a new militia :
    The R.R.R.R.R.R.

    Thats the Radical Religious Right Republican Rifle Rangers.

    Our motto: “Shoot anything that moves.”

  5. Take the country back? From whom? Other Americans that democratically elected politicians whose policy Beck disagrees with? Funny how the right only supports freedom for itself, and would rule out any progressive reform fait accompli as “unconstitutional,” despite the fact that the Constitution is anything but a “conservative” document. It was quite the radical notion for its time, and the philosophy of many of the Founders went on to inspire revolutions around the world. Their political reality is so divorced from that of today (what with the intervening Industrial Revolution, the emergence of Marxism, the World Wars, etc.) that any attempt to draw analogies is futile. Beck’s concept of people sacrificing themselves for amorphous “freedom” (the freedom to do or be what, exactly?) is a romanticization of history.

    But that ain’t gonna get in the way of an old-fashioned Texas sloganeering festival. Let the wharrgarbling begin!

  6. (the freedom to do or be what, exactly?)

    Shoot folks with more melanin than you, maybe???

  7. Welcome to the American Taliban. You folks will live OUR way or no way.

    Beck and his ilk are not fundamentalists….. just mental.

  8. More letters in my local newspaper from right wing crazies. These people are claiming that their second amendment right to bear arms is not just for personal protection or because they collect guns as a hobby. Instead, the founding fathers knew that it might be necessary for the people to rise up in armed rebellion against United States government and shoot all of “them thar liberals what’s a runnin’ it. Stay tuned.

  9. I just hope when the sh*t hits the fan with these folks, which it will somewhere, somehow, all these itchy trigger fingers must be sated, that there aren’t too many casualties. We don’t need another Waco or OK City.

    Most of these people are cowards, and they’re lazy which is why they’re content to fire off a nasty sounding letter threatening people they don’t agree with, rather than get involved, persuade people, get their candidates elected, etc.

    They’re the microbial stimulus/response that jerk their knees when Glenn Beck or Limbaugh get out the dog whistles.

    However, eventually someone or some group is going to do something real crazy like try to take over the White House by armed force. ( I hope they use muskets for rhetorical effect.)
    One thing that gets me, ( my hometown newspaper has similar letters) is how they’ve forgotten about the Commandment against using the Lord’s name in vain. These letters seem to drag God through the mud of partisan politics.

  10. Charles wrote: “These people are claiming that their second amendment right to bear arms is not just for personal protection or because they collect guns as a hobby. Instead, the founding fathers knew that it might be necessary for the people to rise up in armed rebellion against United States government….”

    Those are the same two issues Timothy McVeigh was most concerned about.