Jimmy Breslin Compares Glenn Beck Rally Crowd to Assassins

The most surprising thing about Jimmy Breslin's article in Harper's Magazine is that he is still around. Who knew?

Not so surprising is that Breslin hasn't lost any of his barely coherent rage which seems to be his trademark. This latest example from Breslin is so off the wall and all over the place that it is actually hard to get upset over it. Just mark it up to typical Breslin and savor it for the flat out nuttiness of the proposition that people attending last week's Glenn Beck rally in Washington, D.C. are somehow like assassins. Breslin jumps right into it from the start in which he somehow connects assassinations with free speech with the Glenn Beck crowd. It makes no sense but, hey, that is Jimmy Breslin for you:

There are these sudden loud noises in the hotel kitchen, one, two, three, probably a tray falling, and then there is so much screaming and a hand holding a gun high in the air and Robert Kennedy, who had walked into the gun, is on the floor with his eyes seeing nothing. On this June night in 1968 he has just won a Presidential primary and suddenly he is fit only for a gravedigger’s dirt.

It happens this way when the claws of madness swipe through the sky. In 1919 Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes called it for all time, and crashingly so today, when he wrote, “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.”

...All day on television yesterday you had the aimless babbles of this Beck, who looks like he eats Bibles.

Right about now, you are probably scratching your heads and saying, "Huh?" However, Breslin plunges even deeper into incoherency:

They all come with the double barrels of a Low IQ and High Color Fear let loose on cable stations and e-mail, of which yesterday you read in disbelief.

Let me tell you what a life spent running after news like this has left me remembering. In each case, we had chunks of our Democracy ripped up and leaders lost and the worst rising. Start with Robert Kennedy on the kitchen floor and over him, people tear the gun away from the killer and his body is thrown onto a steam table and I lose my feet and I don’t know how I am here, but I am sitting atop these thrashing legs and there is more screaming to hold his body down. Thrashing those legs won’t help. I’m too heavy to throw off. Now the football player Roosevelt Grier’s arm, bigger than a steam pipe, comes down across the guy’s chest and that is that. Grier says quietly, “He isn’t going anywhere.”

Breslin later experiences another dire flashback that makes an enormous stretch to convert the Glenn Beck rally folks into potential Lee Harvey Oswalds:

Before his night in Los Angeles, I am in Dallas on November 22nd, 1963, and in the days before there were these big inflammatory ads about the evils of President John Kennedy and the lousiness came out of the radios and television, small whispers when matched with what we have today, and Kennedy is in an open car and a shot comes out of the infested sky and he is gone. In the Dallas Police Headquarters at night, police in cowboy hats kept taking this pale white in a checked sports shirt out into the hall for the cameras to take pictures with them holding him, keeping him out there in a crowded hallway as if he were mounted on a target range, which he sure was. On one of these times the crush virtually plastered him into me, the sports shirt touching me, and I claim I can remember the eyes as being insane. I sure can tell you the name: Lee Harvey Oswald.

Breslin concludes by seeming to make the Beck rally attendees into an angry mob whose mentality caused yet another assassination:

Then what was it, only a couple of years later, when the skies screamed nameless revenge and hurled James Earl Ray into Memphis to shoot Martin Luther King and that night, when riots broke out everywhere, I sat with Andrew Young in a musty room in Memphis and he talked so quietly about the madness of the air people were breathing. The identical madness that was in Los Angeles where it built another stadium for murder. And all day yesterday, while they squalled and broke out poor Jesus at rallies to help them promote race and baseline dumbness, many could barely wait for September 11th, when they can act as owners of the place where the World Trade Center stood. Look around; they say they are victims but they appear to be just another mob trying to take us apart.

It's quite a jump to turn a peaceful event into an angry mob of potential assassins but that is Jimmy Breslin for you. Barely coherent crazed anger is his shtick.

Jimmy Breslin
P.J. Gladnick's picture