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Glenn Beck is obsessed with Hitler and Woodrow Wilson. (I'm just saying.)
And these mentions are usually in reference to Obama. In August 2009, for example, Beck played an old tape of Obama making the case for a "single-payer" government-run health-care system. "I am not comparing him to this, but please, read 'Mein Kampf' for this reason," Beck told his radio listeners. "You see that Hitler told you what he was going to do. He told the Germans."
And when the administration bailed out General Motors and Chrysler, Beck's thoughts gravitated once again to the Nazis. "This is fascism!" he screamed on his radio show. "This is what happens when you merge special interests, corporations and the government. . . . But at some point, you know what poem keeps going through my mind is 'First They Came for the Jews.' People, all of us, are like, 'Well, this news doesn't really affect me. Well, I'm not a bondholder. Well, I'm not in the banking industry. Well, I'm not a big CEO. I'm not on Wall Street. I'm not a car dealer. I'm not an autoworker.' Gang, at some point they're going to come for you!"
This was a rather unusual rendition of Martin Niemöller's famous lines about the Holocaust ("First, they came for the socialists . . . "), but for Beck, it was standard operating procedure. A few months later, he again invoked the passage on his radio show, only this time he and his colleagues at Fox News were the victims being rounded up for extermination, while the Gestapo was the Obama White House, which was denying Fox's interview requests.
"When they're done with Fox and talk radio, do you really think they're going to leave you alone if you want to ask a tough question?" Beck asked. "If you believe that, you should open up a history book because you've missed the point of many brutal dictators."
Lest you think Beck's Hitler obsession emerged merely when Obama reached the White House, Beck has also found Nazism in Al Gore's campaign against climate change. "Now, I'm not saying that anybody's going to -- you know, Al Gore's not going to be rounding up Jews and exterminating them," Beck said on his radio show in 2007. "It is the same tactic, however. The goal is different. The goal is globalization. The goal is global carbon tax. The goal is the United Nations running the world. That is the goal. Back in the 1930s, the goal was: Get rid of all of the Jews and have one global government."
The comparison continued as Beck likened not just Gore but also the United Nations to Hitler. "You got to have an enemy to fight," he said. "And when you have an enemy to fight, then you can unite the entire world behind you, and you seize power. That was Hitler's plan. His enemy: the Jew. Al Gore's enemy, the U.N.'s enemy: global warming. . . . And you must silence all dissenting voices. That's what Hitler did."
Beck has also decided -- after the fact -- that the Bush administration displayed fascist tendencies. "Like it or not, fascism is on the rise," Beck announced in April 2009. "It's fascism with a happy face. . . . The people who said fascism is coming under Bush and the people who are saying fascism is coming under Obama: You're both right!"
But Obama bears the brunt of the attacks. Beck found more fascism in his 2008 campaign speech calling for an expansion of the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps and the Foreign Service. "This is what Hitler did with the SS," Beck told one of his guests. "He had his own people. He had the brown shirts and then the SS."
Moments later, Beck added, "I'm not suggesting anything. I'm asking questions. I don't know what this means." (Sure, but why not trot out an SS comparison, anyway?)
As silly as it all sounds, there is something deft about Beck's Obama-as-Nazi allegations. In most cases where someone hurls "fascist" allegations, it's usually the left aiming them at the right. Conservatives, meanwhile, throw the "communist" charge at the left. But Beck found a way around this paradigm. Progressives, he figured, are responsible for both fascism and communism. Conservatives, by contrast, are the opponents of both.
"Fascism and communism are the same," Beck deduced this year. In fact, "sometimes, it's hard to tell Hitler and Marx apart." Particularly because, as far as Beck's viewers can tell, they both now live in the White House.
Unlike his Hitler fetish, Beck's obsession with Woodrow Wilson is of recent origin. "I mean, I got to tell you, two years ago, I knew nothing about Woodrow Wilson," he told his viewers. But after reading a book on Wilson by conservative historian R.J. Pestritto of Hillsdale College, Beck decided to blame Wilson for just about everything bad in the world today -- including Barack Obama, born 37 years after Wilson died.