About Corazon

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Glenn Beck Check, Part I

For those of you who know me, you know that I LOATHE political parties. I cannot stand how some people are so willing to align themselves to one particular political ideology as if it is the sole guardian of all truth, justice and the American way. What I loathe more than political parties, however, are political pundits. You know, these "shock jock" talk radio and television personalities that have created a WWE style of entertainment by intertwining politics with apocalyptic doomsday prophecies and other emotionally-triggered nonsense.

Of all these political "shock jock" personalities, none disgusts me more than Glenn Beck. Now don't get me wrong here, I do not hate Glenn Beck the man nor do I disapprove of his conservative leanings. On some issues I agree with Beck 100%. What bugs me so much about Beck's radio and television programs are two things: first his almost complete reliance on apocalyptic, "doomsday" rhetoric, and second, his near complete historical illiteracy. Whether it's his bizarre rants on Thomas Paine, Theodore Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson, or his strange description of the "evolution" of progressivism, Beck has -- time and time again -- demonstrated his woeful ignorance of American history. Now, only one of two possibilities are true: either Beck really is that historically illiterate or he is preying on the illiteracy of his audience. Either way it isn't a good thing.

Anyway, I have decided to install a new running series on my blog that will attempt to correct some of the "Beckisms" that are floating around out there on the internet. Now, I don't want people to think that I exclusively loathe Beck. On the contrary. No matter who the political "shock jock" is (Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Bill Maher, NealBoortz, etc.) I believe they are all in the business of one thing: RATINGS! These people are NOT the guardians of true American patriotism, nor are they the exclusive gatekeepers of truth, justice and the American way. Instead, as I have stated before, they are the "WWE wrestlers" of politics. Nothing more.

But in this arena of WWE politics, it is Glenn Beck that is the "Hulk Hogan" of the ring. As a result -- and because of his many ridiculous and incorrect rants -- I have chosen to single him out. It has nothing to do with his party or political leanings but exclusively due to his incorrect and misleading material. In fact, I believe that many Republicans/Conservatives (and I know many personally) are annoyed with Beck and would like to see him either go away or tone it down. So, without further delay, here is my first installment to the "Glenn Beck Check:"

On November 25th, Beck gave his "Thanksgiving Special" on Fox News:

Ok, sounds pretty typical of Beck. The video is filled with heart-warming rhetoric that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside, right?

Well, it's also ridden with quite a few historical errors. Let's point a few out shall we:

1.) Thanksgiving DID NOT begin on Clark Island. Beck is simply trying to give a pretty story (and yes, it is a beautiful story) of how some of the "pilgrims" on the Mayflower survived almost being shipwrecked. However, this WAS NOT the "first Thanksgiving." William Bradford, one of the original "Pilgrims" makes it clear in his account that the so-called first Thanksgiving was held during the Autumn of 1621...NOT 1620 like Beck states.

2.) Beck starts off by referring to the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780. And while it is true that the Mass. Constitution did state that it "was the duty" of its citizens to recognize God, Beck conveniently ignores the part which states that "No law shall be passed prohibiting the free exercise of religion." In other words, a CLEAR guarantee of religious freedom (a.k.a. a SEPARATION of church and state). This is an important point because, for whatever reason, many pundits like Beck succumb to the stupid notion that a separation of church and state will somehow eliminate religion from American society entirely. This couldn't be further from the truth. As James Madison pointed out:
The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries.
And Thomas Jefferson:
Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church and State. (Letter to Danbury Baptists, 1802).
For the Founding Fathers, the idea of a separation between church and state was THE ONLY way of maintaining religious freedom for all. Apparently this lesson is a little to hard for Beck to grasp.

3.) Next, Beck points to the Washington Monument, but he forgets that construction on the monument didn't even begin until 1832, thus the founders had NOTHING to do with it.

4.) Beck keeps pushing this "Moses" thing throughout the video. His reason for doing so it to somehow show that America's destiny is tied to Biblical prophecy, or that the founders clung to Biblical teachings. In reality, Beck is grasping at straws. Take for example the following picture of the statue atop the Supreme Court Building in Washington D.C.:

At first glance, this elegant statue of Moses standing guard over the Judicial Branch of America's republic seems to support what Beck is saying. But this is only half the truth. A closer look will also reveal that Moses is accompanied by a statue of Confucius (the great Chinese philosopher) and Solon (the great Athenian poet, statesman and leader in early Greece). Inside the Supreme Court building you are also likely to see the pagan statues of Britannia and Mars. Often referred to as the "Temple of Justice," the Supreme Court building illustrates that the founders were fond of ALL ancient civilizations. Their incorporation of Roman, Greek and Egyptian ideas are NOT evidence of their exclusive love for Moses and the Bible, but instead of their interest in all ancient civilizations and ideas.

Now, Beck is right when he points out that Benjamin Franklin suggested a national symbol/emblem of Moses and the fire separating Pharaoh's chariots, but this was in reference to the impending war with Britain, and Franklin thought the comparison of the small Israelites being liberated by the hand of God from the mighty British...er...Egyptians appropriate (it's also worth nothing that the suggestion was soundly defeated by almost everyone).

5.) Perhaps the strangest of Beck's faux pas are his references to Thomas Jefferson. Sorry Glenn, but you'd be hard pressed to find a more staunch supporter of church/state separation than Jefferson. But don't believe me, here's what Jefferson said on the matter:
"I consider the government of the U S. as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment, or free exercise, of religion, but from that also which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the U.S. Certainly no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the general government."

"Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity."
-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

"History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes."
-Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813.

"Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law."
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814
Hmmmmm....sounds like a clear separation of church and state to me! But hey, he's Glenn Beck! He CAN'T be wrong because he's the TRUE voice of patriotism, justice and the American way, right?

I guess historical accuracy is overrated!


Wickle said...

I just came here by way of a link from Polycarp at The Church of Jesus Christ.

I'm impressed.

Great post, well stated, and you just got yourself another reader!

Glenn Beck plays on a strange combination of Mormon theology, Ayn Rand materialism, and historical revisionism. Well done!

Brad Hart said...

Thank you very much, Wickle. I appreciate your comment AND your becoming a follower. I look forward to reading over your blog as well!