Cop Killer Richard Poplawski was a Glenn Beck Enthusiast

Richard Poplawski, the 22 year old right-wing media enthusiast who shot three police officers last week and thought that Obama was planning to take away his guns, was, according to LTR, also a Glenn Beck enthusiast:

Poplawski, among other online exploits, also posted a link to a video clip of Beck, the bit where he warned about the alleged FEMA concentration camps, on a neo-Nazi message board he hung around . . .

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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9 Responses to Cop Killer Richard Poplawski was a Glenn Beck Enthusiast

  1. kcebnelg says:

    And your point would be? First, get your facts straight. Beck DEBUNKED the FEMA Concentration Camp rumor. So, right away I know you’ve never really watched Beck.

  2. santitafarella says:


    My point is that Beck inflames the conspiratorial paranoia and emotions of unstable people. He’s not a patriot. He’s a charlatan who exploits the poorly educated.

    As for Beck debunking anything, Beck is not smart enough to debunk anything. You have to use measured judgment, reason, and evidence to debunk something. Needless to say, measured judgment, reason, and evidence are not part of Glenn Beck’s schtick.

    In short, Beck is a hysteric. He’s not a serious person. He’s popular with certain segments of the right because certain segments of the right are temperamentally hysterical. He feeds that audience, that’s all. It’s a profitable niche market.

    Unfortunately, within that niche market are some serious kooks with guns. And he legitimates their paranoia and goads them on.


  3. kcebnelg says:

    So I’m right. You’ve never watched the show. Beck spent two shows debunking the FEMA camp rumor.

    So who goaded the two gang bangers that tried to intimidate me the other day? MTV and all the rappers they showcase legitimizing the gangsta lifestyle? Should I try and make that leap?

    Just say it. Be intellectually honest.. You hate FOX and you think all of the people who watch it are intellectually inferior to you.

  4. santitafarella says:


    I do think that there is a link between pop cultural images—such as gangster rappers on MTV—and urban violence, yes. There are a lot of illiterate people in the world who do not read or have an intellectual life, and they take their cues from media images and imitate them. They try on personas that they see on television and in film. One in four Americans read NO books last year (the last time I saw a statistic on this). Not a single one. Think about what that means.

    If you were intimidated by ignorant people, I’m sorry for you. I would hate that experience.

    As for hating FOX, I can say yes, I am definitely put off by Hannity and Beck, and I don’t like the way that FOX drives stories under the cover of “objective reporting of the news.” I don’t hate FOX because of its conservatism, but for its dishonest conservatism. I don’t hate Bill Buckley or George Will or David Frum or Ayn Rand or Fred Hayak (to name five conservatives I admire and read and think about what they have to say).

    If you saw my personal library, you would find that I have (and have read) many conservative intellectuals, and they influence my thought.

    My personal visceral reaction to FOX has to do with the fact that it drives cloying right wing messages in the way that a lawyer fights for a client (by any means necessary). In other words, it treats the audience as a jury that needs repetition and the minimization of contrary messages. It reminds me of watching the OJ trial in the 90s where the defense behaved in the most shameless fashion possible, manipulating the jury. I feel that there is an analog between that trial in the 90s and what FOX news does today.

    FOX is a postmodern, relativist phenomenon, fundamentally uninterested in actual facts, reason, fairness, nuance, or evidence. It is a driver of disingenuous, lawyerly spin and propaganda. And there are many, many people who have neither the literacy, nor the training in rhetorical or media techniques, to see through the bullshit. FOX is a product of our culture, of course. Most Americans have an atrocious education and have never been taught critical thinking skills or how to deconstruct propaganda and media sales methods.

    Beck’s aping of evangelical religious emotionalism, and combining it with far right politics, is simply a symptom of our culture. And some unstable, unironic, authoritarian inclined people will react to his messages seriously. Very seriously.


  5. santitafarella says:


    Just to offer my example of what I take to be an hour of good political television: Fareed Zakaria’s Sunday show on CNN really stands out. I suspect Zakaria is a moderate—it’s not predictable where he lands on any given issue—and every week he has on very intelligent and well educated people. Zakaria asks his guests hard and well thought out questions, and his discussions with them are nuanced and stimulating, without shrillness. It is, to my mind, far more in keeping with the spirit of traditional conservativism than most shows on FOX. It is the best kind of conservatism (a conservatism which supports measured intellectual reflection and is a defender of the European Enlightenment tradition). To me, Zakaria is an Enlightenment prince to Beck’s postmodern satyr.

    If reading books, being skeptical of religion, insisting on nuance, and defending the Enlightenment makes one an elitist, and is no longer to be associated with conservatism, then only anti-intellectual, foolish, religiously naive, and emotionally driven people (like Sarah Palin?) will be associated with “conservatism.” You don’t want that, do you?

    The one show that I can stand watching on FOX is the last segment of the “Fox News All Stars.” I always like to hear Kristol, Kondracke, Barnes, Page, and Krauthammer’s take on things—even if it is often driven by partisan talking points.

    As a teenager I used to read Barnes, Kondracke, and Krauthammer when they were still prominant writers and editors at the New Republic (the pre-Weekly Standard phase in their careers). And I am a subscriber to the neo-conservative magazine, “Commentary.” I respect intellectual conservatism, and give it my attention.

    I don’t respect Beck, Hannity, or the way that Fox generally “reports” the news and drives stories.


  6. kcebnelg says:

    Count me in as religiously naive. I pray that I’m never so intellectually arrogant that I turn away from my faith in Jesus Christ and harden my heart to what he did for me.

    Jesus is a heart thing. What he did was completely irrational. That’s why trying to explain who He is, what He did, and what His promises mean to somebody that needs some sort of concrete, rational evidence is impossible.

    The real issue is this. If you think the bible is a fairy tale, the resurrected Christ could stand in front of you in your living room and you still wouldn’t believe. Jesus is about submission. When I submit to Jesus, I have to live a life that is totally our of character with everything the world says is right.

    For me to do that I have to submit to those feelings deep inside my heart (not my head). That is faith.

    Everyone has had some moment in life where they’ve felt something bigger than themselves at work in their lives. You can say that’s not the case, but it is. Maybe it’s a feeling of mercy, recognized providential care, an inner leading, looked at the stars or a sunset and felt “something” bigger than yourself. That is God.

    That’s not very rational or scientific. But, it doesn’t mean it’s any less real. So we can either look like a fool to the world and except God’s gift of eternal life or decide continue to deny him because we are unwilling to submit and prefer to live in our mental pride.

    Thanks for the conversation and I plan to check out Fareed Zakaria’s show on CNN for another viewpoint.

  7. santitafarella says:


    I’m an agnostic, but I am certainly open to the possibility that there is an intelligence behind this mind-bogglingly huge universe filled with billions of galaxies. It makes me tremble to look into the night sky and think how vast and strange it all is. But I can’t really agree with you when you say of heart-felt religious experience: “That’s not very rational or scientific. But, it doesn’t mean it’s any less real.”

    Actually, it is a good sign that it probably IS something less than real. We can have more confidence that something is real IF it is based on reason and science (than if it is not).

    It is science, afterall, that has brought us to the discovery that we live in a universe suffused with billions of galaxies. When the religious traditions (in a pre-scientific era) guessed about these things, they were universally wrong (the earth is not flat, the earth is not the center of the universe, it’s not 10 thousand years old etc.).

    Any conservatism grounded in religious emotionalism—and is anti-science and anti-intellectual—is bound to flounder in irrelevance. And any conservatism not grounded in the 18th century Enlightenment sensibilities of our founding fathers (Washington, Jefferson, Paine, Franklin etc.), and that is indifferent to reason, or that gives a non-critical pass to supernaturalism and mysticism, is not something I would want to be associated with.


  8. Thomas says:

    After reading the article you presented, how do you make the connection of Poplawski posting a video of Glenn to him being an admirer of Glenn? Obliviously Poplawski had an obsession with fema camps, but perhaps the reason for him to post the video was because Glenn was talking about the fema camps and not because he was “enthusiastic” about Glenn. I think you’re pulling straws in order to associate Glenn with Poplawski and thus putting Glenn in the same loony category as Poplawski. So please explain how posting a video about a subject equates to admiration for the man talking about that subject?

  9. santitafarella says:


    I’m not trying to put Glenn in the same loony category as Poplawski. I’m only saying that Glenn’s inflamatory visual imagery, antics, and rhetoric can set off and unbalance conspiratorial, emotionally unstable right wing hysterics. Glenn pretends to be manic and crazy, but there are manic and crazy people who watch him and take his posturing seriously.

    Your critique, in its precision, is fair, however. It may well be that Poplawski despises Beck as a namby-pamby (with the exception of that one segment that got him salivating to post it to a Neo-Nazi site).


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