Editor’s note: On May 31st, 2012, the David Horowitz Freedom Center of Philadelphia honored Glenn Beck with the Patrick Henry Award. Below is the transcript of Beck’s acceptance speech, including introductory remarks from Freedom Center President David Horowitz.
David Horowitz: I am honored and privileged to introduce the recipient of the Philadelphia Freedom Center’s Patrick Henry Award, my friend Glenn Beck. Glenn began life in circumstances that would crush most of us, and almost did him, and has gone on to become one of the most successful and indispensable political voices of our time.
We are honoring him today with an award named for an American founder who is identified with the ultimate commitment to liberty, understood as the freedom of the individual from oppression by government. Our country had its origins in this struggle, and has had to repeat its commitment in every generation, perhaps no more dramatically than in the circumstances we find ourselves in today.
American rights are under assault as they have not been perhaps in all our history, including our origins. A force is afoot in the world today, and in our country, which is driven by the illusion that just over the rainbow, a progressive future awaits — a world of social justice in which the 99% are no longer oppressed by the 1%, and the playing field is level.
But this is a fantasy world — a world that could only be achieved by a government so powerful that no individual or group of individuals could resist its progressive designs. It is a world in which individual liberty – the right to resist – is seen as the greatest threat to social justice, and will be suppressed in the name of justice.
The progressive demand for equality of results was the driving force behind the totalitarian movements of the century just past. It led to the slaughter of 100 million people in peacetime, the bankrupting of entire continents and the blighting of nearly a billion human lives. But the lesson has not been learned.
I was once one of those swept up by this vision of a world redeemed by political forces. I was chastened when I saw the evil it had done. But after the fall of Communism I was stunned to see how little the inspiration behind it was understood even by those who opposed its results.
In the wake of this epic disaster, the Communists and Marxists I had known began calling themselves “liberals” and “progressives,” while pursuing the same agendas that had led to the tragedies. For the evil of Communism sprang from the progressive idea itself – the idea of social justice, the determination to level the playing field by government fiat.
For many years I felt like a voice crying in the wilderness, trying to warn others that “progressive” did not mean forerunner of a brighter future but retreat into a monstrous past.
And then along came Glenn Beck, someone who understood exactly that. Beck became a major force in our culture. His radio and television shows reached millions of listeners and viewers. He organized unprecedented mass demonstrations to restore hope for our country in Washington, and in Jerusalem to declare solidarity with the Jews who are now threatened with a second Holocaust.
As the organizer of the 9/12 movement and the March on Washington, Beck is the real creator of the American Tea Party, the party of resistance to progressive designs. He is currently at work launching Glenn Beck TV and Mercury Enterprises, a media complex to break the virtual monopoly of the left.
What distinguished Beck from other conservatives, what made me sit up when I first heard him, is that he understood the threat posed by the advocates of social justice and their noble sounding ideals. The activists of the 99% are not well-meaning idealists. They are the current generation of an old and malignant movement whose goals are anti-capitalist and anti-liberty, and anti-American.
It is a movement that numbers in the millions, that is financed by billionaires like George Soros, and billionaire foundations like Tides and Ford, and government unions like the SEIU, and criminal organizations like ACORN, and it has powerful links to the socialist international and to our Islamist enemies around the world.
What Beck understands and is preaching to millions is that progressivism is not an idealism. It is a nihilism that seeks the end of the America we know and love.
It is not in the power of human beings to remake the world or create the kingdom of heaven on Earth. But it is in their power to wreak destructive havoc on entire generations and destroy civilizations. Socialism has shown us that.
Glenn Beck’s message is a tireless reminder of what the American founders stood for and what they warned. Human beings are not born with equal talents, or equal intelligence, or equal desires. You cannot compel them to be good or equal without abolishing their individual freedom. Without abolishing their liberty. That is what the American founders understood, and that is the truth that Glenn Beck reminds millions of Americans daily. “Progressivism is the cancer in America,” he warns, “and it is eating our Constitution.”
Our nation and its institutions are under siege. The Obama policies are not mistakes that liberals make about this or that issue. They are the latest incarnation of a two-hundred-year-old movement to destroy the system of individual and economic liberty — what in the old days its defenders used to proudly call “the American Way of Life.”
Glenn Beck has taken on the dragons of socialism, which have penetrated the heart and brain center of American liberalism and the Democratic Party. Glenn Back is a courageous defender of freedom and individual liberty, confronting the tyranny at our door. And that is why he is the perfect recipient of the Philadelphia Freedom Center’s Patrick Henry Award.
Glenn Beck: Thank you. It is a real honor to be here today for several reasons, one of which is — David Horowitz is a hero of mine. He is a man that I think we should all reflect on; what this man has done. What he has chosen — to be a pariah for most of his life (no offense, but he has chosen to be a pariah) — chosen to speak the truth when nobody wanted to hear it. I mean, that was me most of my life. I didn’t want to hear it. “Oh, c’mon there are Communists everywhere, really David?” Didn’t want to hear it. And now we are entering a time of true cowardice because now you cannot avoid the truth. I don’t know if you saw — I mean, people ask, “Well what do you think? How do you think America is really holding up?” Did you notice we have a cannibal on the street in Florida? Y’know, I saw that and I’m like … cannibals? This is crazy. What’s happening in the world is insane. And it takes a man of courage to stand up and say it. A man of courage to look at it … people of courage to listen and dismiss after you’ve listened and after you’ve done your own homework, but only if it’s wrong, not because it’s easier to dismiss it. David has taken the hard road and I am humbled to be called his friend and a compatriot in the fight.
I’m honored that you would take your hard-earned money and spend the afternoon with me as well. I mean, I know this wasn’t exactly a cheap venture for you today, but here’s the good news: It’s just like — it’s a practice for when Ben Bernanke doesn’t stop printing money and you pull up to McDonald’s and the speaker says to you, “That’s $435, please pull forward.” But I thank you for your time. Also the Union League, what an honor it is to be here with this man peering over my shoulder, people who took a stand long ago to preserve the Union and that is our call again today and how to do it. The way to do it is exactly the way this man did it. In his second inaugural address he made it very clear: with malice toward none and charity for all. Nobody in his time wanted to hear that message, nobody. The North had been destroyed, the economy had been destroyed, the south had been destroyed, people were dead on both sides and you won. Lincoln said: “Let them up gently. Tell them to go home to their farms, we’re all Americans.” With malice toward none.
Anger and rage is building. And as things spiral more and more out of control, which they will — I pray I’m wrong, but none of the signs … I have a business partner who doesn’t necessarily agree with my world view, but the good thing is, I own the company, so … I’ve said to him over and over again we will move a little more aggressively or we will move in this direction when I see the starfield moving the other direction, but I keep my eyes fixed on the starfield. Which direction is it going? I was on with John Stossel yesterday on Fox and he said: “You know, you’ve said that there would be violence and riots in the streets,” and I said: “Yes.” He said: “You said that two years ago. Where is it?” I said: “Are you kidding me? Have you missed the seven murders from Occupy Wall Street? Have you missed the millions of dollars of damage?” I mean, it may not be in every street, but it’s enough to make Americans, I hope, sit up and say, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute — who are these people? What is it that they want? It’s not that hard. Anarchy.
This weekend for Memorial Day I took my kids to Ground Zero. First time my little ones were with me. My older children, I didn’t let them watch the news reports on that day. But we didn’t start at Ground Zero, instead we started at Federal Hall. And we stood there at Federal Hall, where there’s a big statue right across the street from the Stock Exchange. Big statute of George Washington and he’s standing there like this … not like this because that would be Obama or Mussolini, but stood there like this. And I said to my little ones, I said: “Why is his hand like that?” And they said, “He was warming his hand on a fire.” He had his hand on a Bible. He was the guy who first said: “So help me God.” And he made a covenant. And he warned, “You had to be a good and descent people.” Then I took them right across the street to J.P. Morgan’s Bank, been there for a long, long time, but there’s something that everybody walks by and nobody even sees. This is, again, across the street from the New York Stock Exchange and I had my kids put their hands on the wall and in the divots and the pits on that wall and I said: “What do you think that is?” None of them could guess. I said: “That is the first terrorist attack on the United States.” It happened in 1917. It was a group of anarchists. They had gathered with Marxists and they were trying to overthrow the country by getting to capitalism and they had a problem with the banks and so they filled, believe it or not, a horse-drawn carriage with dynamite and lead and blew it up. Morgan insisted that that wall never be repaired because it killed — I don’t remember how many people, but it killed several people — but it didn’t even make a dent on the bank. And he wanted everyone to know: You’ve failed. But most people don’t understand that this storyline has happened over and over and over again. What we’re seeing in Europe right now is the same storyline, just different players. It’s coming about slightly different, but it’s the same storyline that happened in the 1930s and the 1920s. I mean, I’m really concerned — you don’t — please let’s not push Germany into telling them that you have to pay for everybody else in the European Union. While it came about a different way, last time Germany caused it, last time Germans caused the War, but that set the table for World War II because the League of Nations came in, under Woodrow Wilson, and said: “Here’s what you’re gonna do: You’re gonna pay for everybody.” Germany tried to convince anybody, “Please,” they begged them, “Please, don’t do it, we don’t have any money.” And the Weimar Republic started printing the money. And it caused anger with the German people. Now what do you think? Completely different circumstances, but what do you think Germans are going to feel? Are they going to feel differently? Different circumstances entirely, but are they going to feel differently as they have to destroy their economy for other countries that they don’t feel akin to? It’s insanity how history repeats itself.
I warned two years ago that you’ll see the Nazis rise up again in Germany. I was mocked, laughed at. Now the Communists and the Nazis in Greece have 20%. The Nazis have a 6-and a-half to 7% approval rating and it’s growing. When I said that, they had a 0, a .027 approval rating. Now, that was two years ago. What happened? How did that number grow? Here’s a country, 10% of their population was killed by the Nazis. Now, I can’t imagine the Nazis coming over here killing our parents or our grandparents and then suddenly saying with the same exact ideas, no apologies, the same sort of statements. I can’t imagine grandma’s dead, killed by the Nazis and I say, “Well, now I know they killed grandma, but let me give them a listen here.” What’s happening? What’s happening is, people have so dishonored themselves. They have gotten away from basic principles that we all know are true. We were talking at the table just a few minutes ago about the Ten Commandments. I don’t care what you call them. I don’t care if you say they’re Bill the neighbor’s ten safety tips, it’s great. Can we get seven out of the ten? What do you say we don’t kill? What do you say we don’t lie? What do you say we don’t steal? What do you say you don’t covet what somebody else has? And it’s really easy. Whether they came from God or not doesn’t matter, that’s the problem with our society. By coveting, by me looking at you and saying: Yeah, but look what you have. I want some of that. You miss this individual. You miss what you have. And I guarantee every single one in this room has something of real, tremendous value and if you don’t think so, think again. Every single one of us was born at this place, at this time for a reason. Every single one of us play a role.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer lost his life for standing up to the Germans. He made it all the way; the first time he had problems was the first day that Hitler came on the radio and said: “I am the chancellor.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer was taken off the air that day. He made it all the way to ten days before Hitler was killed. They stripped him naked, hung him by a wire in a concentration camp. He sang and blessed others as he went. There’s a reason each of us were born. We all play a role. We all have something to offer. We’re all here for a reason. And when we accept that and we start uniting with people who we may disagree with on a lot of things … Look, the founders — we’re in Philadelphia — the founders disagreed on an awful lot. I have a great letter from Thomas Paine at home. I’m starting to collect rare documents, rare letters, rare books … and I have the letter from Thomas Paine to George Washington that says: “I never thought it would be you that would betray us.” They disagreed. But without Thomas Paine, there would be no Revolution. There would be no freedom for man. Without George Washington, there would be no Revolution. There would be no freedom for man. We must find our way to each other because freedom is bigger than all of us. Freedom is so much bigger than our differences … and that is what is at stake.