CEO/Founder, Skift, travel intelligence startup. Founder, paidContent. New Yorker, Global Soul.
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My Encounter With Glenn Beck

There are only a few times in life you stand in front of pure evil, eye-to-eye, and confront the bully who lobs bombs that tears away at the fabric of our civilized existence. Today was that day for me.

At Business Insider’s excellent Ignition conference today, one of the featured speakers was Glenn Beck, along with his business partner, former CEO of Huffington Post, Betsy Morgan. The moderator, BI CEO Henry Blodget, to his credit, tried to ask him the tough questions about his crazy doomsday talk, but he deflected it into a rant about the mainstream media and how he is now disrupting it with his new GBTV venture and his larger company Mercury Radio Arts. I wanted to ask a question to Glenn, but the conference structure does not allow audience questions.

Anyway, after the panel ended, I went outside and was coming out from the restroom, when Betsy waved me over (I consider her a professional friend, and she’s been a big supporter of my career), and introduced me to Glenn. Right at that moment, my mind went into this warped auto-pilot, years of frustration built up, and here’s what ensued after I shook his hand (keep in mind I was highly emotional at this point, and visibly shaking, so my recollection of my own words is not 100%, but paraphrased):

Me: “Glenn, I am a Muslim, and this is what a Muslim face looks like [I say while using my fingers to frame my face and beard). I am not sure if you’ve ever seen a Muslim up close before.”

Glenn: [thinking this was a joke] “So? This is a Christian face? What do you mean?”

Me: “Well, there are 12 million or so of us in this country, people that look like me. I am a citizen, I started a company, sold it, I employed people, paid taxes and want the best for this country. So do all those others. What you say tears away at that, it hurts people. Have you ever thought that?”

Glenn: “What did I say?” Then he says something about Egypt and/or Muslim Brotherhood, and I cut him off.

Me: “Come with me to Egypt, stand in Tahrir Square, and say what you said on stage.”

And he walks off, and so does Betsy.

Betsy, I am so so sorry that I did this to you, and you’ll probably never ever speak to me again, but I couldn’t have, in right conscience, stood there, said nothing, and then gone back to my family, my friends and my community, and told them that I met Glenn Beck, and didn’t have the balls to say anything to him.

I probably sounded like a ranting madman and half-incoherent, but so be it. I did what I had to.

P.S.: The story doesn’t end there, but another Muslim guy, a volunteer organizer at the conference and an entrepreneur as well, went after him, and confronted him in the elevator. I don’t know the exact specifics of it, so can’t say anything beyond that. Glenn Beck probably thought: OMG, two Muslim people! Shariah taking over America, this is what I dread and warn about every waking second!