Richard Poplawski, who spent his time surfing the internet filling his disturbed mind with notions held by many of the fans of Glenn Beck and the WingNutDaily denizens, represents what happens when tin-foil hat conservative theories are taken seriously.
Now I'm not going to question whether or not Poplawski was a fan of Beck or WorldNutDaily. But there's a distinct difference, and if you read this piece by Dave Neiwert you start to get a feel for what it is. Neiwert is probably one of the leading experts on the far-far-right out there, and he reveals that Poplawski held a few other neuroses not explored at all by the Beck crowd, even at their worst. From some of Poplawski's rantings, as uncovered by Neiwert:
In other words: Why, seeing as how the Jews seem to have the nation right where they want it, would they now turn around and destroy it?
Common perception seems to be that if there is an abrupt collapse of social order then racial awareness among the white population will rise dramatically. The Jewish media that dictates “pop culture” could no longer elevate the negro, and reality would reveal its nature. Race-mixing would come to a halt overnight. Consumerism and materialism would cease as the people scrounge for the necessities.
Notice anything there? In fact, most of what Neiwert finds deals more with anti-Semitism and racism than it does with gun-nut and anti-Marxist paranoia. I don't watch Beck's show much, but I have a feeling he'd be just as queasy as I am at the suggestion that Jews are controlling everything and engineered the financial meltdown etc. etc. Put differently, Beck might be wearing a tin-foil hat, but Poplawski decked himself out like Darth Vader in the stuff, to the point where even Beck thinks he looks like a damn fool.
And this is what Spaulding and Taylor ignore. The Freepers who are ranting ungramatically about Obama being a Marxist who wants to take our guns away are not, themselves, a threat to anything but their own sanity. The hate espoused by Poplawski comes from a completely different place. Beck, the Freepers, the WND crowd - they may be a little off-base, but their brand of paranoia is harmless. Meanwhile, it's the anti-Semitic, anti-black hard stuff that Poplawski was into that causes the real damage... and lumping Beck in with that crowd is unfair and simply untrue. We don't need to say "Glenn Beck causes violence" to prove that he's wrong. One would think our standard capability for abstract reasoning is generally good enough to prove that point.