Hunting Down Progressives

Hunting Down Progressives

by
Abby Zimet

 

Arguing there could be "blood on many hands" if they fail to
act, the head of a non-profit targeted by a would-be, Glenn-Beck-inspired
assassin has urged the CEOS of several large companies to drop
advertising from Fox News and thus end "your company's
sponsorship of hate speech leading to violence." Drummond Pike, CEO of
the Tides Foundation, which works for social change and promotes citizen
participation, quoted the gunman's boast that Beck "gives you every ounce of evidence you could
possibly need" to commit violence.

Pike had earlier written an op-ed article calling for "an end to the culture of intolerance...This incident serves to remind us that it should be the obligation of
every American, especially those whose voices are amplified by the
media, to foster civil discourse and dialogue among those who may
disagree about public matters....Intolerance that closes our eyes defeats our aspirations."

His
letter to the Chairmen of the Boards of JP Morgan Chase, GEICO, Zurich
Financial,
Chrysler, Direct Holdings Americas, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Lilly
Corporate Center, BP, and The Hartford Financial Services Group goes
further, arguing that "the only way to stop supporting Beck is to stop
supporting Fox News." He adds, "This is neither a hollow request, nor
one rhetorically made. There is
an urgency to it born of our own direct experience... "

The full letter:

Dear Fox Advertiser,

I am writing to ask your company to take a simple step that may well
save lives in the future. And it is not unimportant that taking this
action will remove your company and its products from any connection to
what could very likely be an unpleasant tragedy, should things remain as
they are today. On behalf of my organization, and many others like it, I
ask that you cease advertising on the Fox News Channel.

This is neither a hollow request, nor one rhetorically made. There is
an urgency to it born of our own direct experience as the target of a
would-be assassin inspired by Fox's Glenn Beck Show.

On July 19th of this year, I arrived at our San Francisco office to
learn that a misguided person carrying numerous guns and body armor had
been on his way to start a "revolution" by murdering my colleagues and
me. The Oakland Police Department called to tell us that, following a 12
minute shootout with the California Highway Patrol, law enforcement
officials arrested an assailant who had targeted the Tides Foundation,
an organization which I founded and currently serve as CEO, and the ACLU
for violence. To say we were "shocked" does not adequately describe our
reaction. Imagine, for a moment, that you were us and, had it not been
for a sharp eyed highway patrolman, a heavily armed man in full body
armor would have made it to your office with the intent to kill you and
your colleagues. His motive? Apparently, it was because the charitable,
nonpartisan programs we run are deemed part of a conspiracy to undermine
America and the capitalist system, which is hogwash.

Although not a political organization, the Tides Foundation has been a
frequent target of misinformation, propaganda, and outright lies by Fox
News' Glenn Beck. Since his arrival at Fox in early 2009, Beck has
repeatedly vilified Tides, suggesting we are intent on "creat[ing] a
mass organization to seize power." He accuses the foundation of
indoctrination and says we are "involved in some of the nastiest of the
nasty." Beck tells viewers that Tides has "funneled" money to "some of
the most extreme groups on the left" and that our mission is to "warp
your children's brains and make sure they know how evil capitalism is."
In total, prior to the attempted rampage, Beck had attacked the Tides
Foundation 29 times. On September 28th, more than a month after the
shooting, Beck reiterated his focus on the Tides Foundation, warning,
"I'm coming for you." In jailhouse interviews, the gunman confessed he
views Beck as a "schoolteacher" who "blew my mind." My would-be killer
admitted that Beck "give[s] you every ounce of evidence you could
possibly need" to commit violence.

Beck is a self-described "Progressive Hunter" who relies on violent
rhetoric. Do you really think that the millions of Americans who
describe themselves as "progressive" need to be "hunted down"? If so, to
what end?

For hours every day on radio and television, Beck pits American
against American, telling his audience that our country is under attack
by a demonic Nazi-like regime seeking to destroy all that is great about
America while insisting it's up to his viewers to resist and revolt. He
warned his audience that "these are the most dangerous two years of our
republic. Because in the end, in revolutions, the real dangerous
killers show up." Beck even compared our government to vampires while
instructing his viewers to "drive a stake through the heart of the
bloodsuckers" and pretended to poison Speaker Pelosi on television. A
few months later, Gregory Giusti was arrested for repeatedly threatening
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- including threatening to destroy her home
-- because he was upset over health care reform. The man's mother told a
local news station he listens to those with "really radical ideas,"
adding, "I'd say Fox News or all of those that are really radical."

When I started the Tides organizations 35 years ago, I did so in the
very American belief that ordinary citizens had a role to play in our
democratic process. It was, I thought, the responsibility of everyone to
become engaged in our civic life, and for years we've worked with
thousands of Americans to do just that. And, while we support
progressive values and goals, we respect the rights and voices of those
with whom we disagree on issues. Never in our history have we tolerated
employees or grantees that support those who would do harm to others. By
supporting Fox News Channel, you and your company are risking your
reputation and good standing because they are doing just this.

As you may know, a coordinated advertiser boycott by Media Matters
and Color of Change, an online civil rights group, has caused Glenn
Beck's Fox News show to lose over 100 sponsors. Despite the campaign's
success, Fox insists it has had no impact on the channel's profitability
because the overall demand for advertisements on Fox has remained
stable. Companies are still paying to advertise on Fox News, but their
ads are simply moved to a different time of day. Thus, businesses that
pay to broadcast commercials on Fox News are subsidizing Glenn Beck's
television show by continuing to pump money into the network. It has
become clear that the only way to stop supporting Beck is to stop
supporting Fox News.

I respectfully request that you bring this matter of your company's
sponsorship of hate speech leading to violence to the attention of your
fellow directors as soon as possible. I believe no responsible company
should advertise on Fox News due to its recent and on-going deplorable
conduct.

While we may agree to disagree about the role our citizens and our
government should play in promoting social justice and the common good,
there should be no disagreement about what constitutes integrity and
professionalism and responsibility in discourse - even when allowing for
and encouraging contending diverse opinions intelligently argued. This
is not a partisan issue. It's an American issue. No one, left, right or
center, wants to see another Oklahoma City.

The next "assassin" may succeed, and if so, there will be blood on
many hands. The choice is yours. Please join my call to do the right
thing in this regard and put Fox News at arm's length from your company
by halting your advertising with them.

Sincerely,

Drummond Pike
CEO and Founder, Tides

From the police shootout with gunman Byron Williams

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