If you follow my blog with any regularity, surely you have read some of my "Glenn Beck Check" posts in which I debunk the myths, half truths and downright lies of America's favorite doomsday practitioner. And though I have received a number of comments and emails from people who agree with me 100% that Beck is a fraud, a smaller (but growing) number of friends and family members have asked me why I choose to attack Beck when all he is trying to do is (according to them) inspire people to love their country, be patriotic, fear God again, do good, etc., etc., etc. Some have even gone so far as to send "nasty grams" via Facebook in which they label me as a closet liberal who has been brainwashed by the "progressive" media and university, afterwhich they quickly de-friend me from their Facebook list (which is probably a good thing. If differing political views cause you to freak out to that level then you are no friend of mine). In addition, some are shocked to see me attack a fellow Mormon. After all, don't Mormons support and stand by their own?
First off, let's back up a little bit here. Let me state loud and clear to all that I am NOT a liberal, democrat or progressive, and that attacking Glenn Beck does not automatically make somebody such. Like most conservatives, I believe in fiscal responsibility, smaller government, less government programs, etc. What I don't agree with, however, is the doomsday approach to politics that many conservatives seem to embrace these days. The "Obama is a fascist, socialist, Maoist, Marxist, Nazi, progressive" nonsense is just that: nonsense. Not only are such accusations untrue but they make conservatives look like brainless thugs bent on destroying the opposition because they can't get over the sour grape taste in their mouths from losing an election. Simply put, it's as if modern conservatives have made a virtue out of stupidity.
In my opinion, nobody has done more to further the nonsensical, doomsday, apocalyptic approach to modern conservatism than Glenn Beck. His constant rants on progressivism, socialism, communism, etc., which he believes are creeping into the White House, drives me nuts. I'm not saying that Beck doesn't have th right to criticize Obama. On the contrary. In fact, I happen to agree with Beck on many POLITICAL issues. What I don't agree with, however, is his end of times approach to politics, which does nothing more than invoke an emotional response from his target audience. If you want to question and attack the president on spending, healthcare, or his Supreme Court selection I am all for it. Just do so without calling him a Hitler, Stalin, Maoist, Marxist meany head!
But that's not the only reason I have a problem with Glenn Beck. For those of you who know me (or have followed my blog) you know that I am quite passionate about history, particularly early American history. I've spent the majority of my adult life studying, dissecting and researching different aspects of early American history and believe (at the risk of possibly sounding conceded) that I have a very strong knowledge of the time period. I even have one of those evil "progressive" graduate degrees in history to prove it!
Anyway, I mention this because my fundamental issue with Glenn Beck is not political, it's historical. If you go back and read my 4 "Glenn Beck Check" posts you will see that they deal almost exclusively with Glenn Beck's portrayal of American history. And much like his political rants, Glenn Beck has used the same rhetoric with his history, primarily relying on the timeless conservative tradition of ridiculing experts, scholars, etc. as "progressives" bent on brainwashing their students.
Let me be blunt: Glenn Beck's history SUCKS! Though he fancies himself as a student of American history (particularly early American history) his portrayal of it is absolutely atrocious. I won't rehash the several examples of where Beck has distorted, misrepresented and outright lied about American history (you can read some of them in my other posts). Rather I will simply point out some of the incredible hypocrisy in Beck's approach to and portrayal of American history.
First, Glenn Beck often invites several "experts" in American history to come on his show and tell his audience how modern historians are "misrepresenting" and even "changing" history to fit their "progressive" agenda. Usually these "experts" are not historians at all but instead are political or religious activists who are themselves more guilty of misrepresenting and changing history than anyone else. Men like David Barton, Peter Lillback, Jerry Falwell Jr. etc. are some of the common "experts" that Beck will cite in his quest to teach the "true" version of American history. And, interestingly enough, many of these same "historians" have been forced to recant the errors and misrepresentations in their books, articles, etc. because those same evil, progressive, fascist historians called them out on their crap. As a result, almost every single "expert" that Beck has on his show has zero credibility in the historical community.
So here are my questions for Beck: oftentimes you will hear him say on his radio/television programs that Americans need to "read the words of the founders" in order to "discover the truth for yourselves." In addition, Beck will tell his audience to "not rely on the opinions of the so-called experts of history" who are out to "change the history books." Guess what...I couldn't agree more. Americans really do need to read the actual words of the founders. And when they do, they will discover just how full of crap Glenn Beck really is. In addition, it is silly to exclusively rely on the so-called experts. For example, Peter Lillback, a well known Evangelical activist, pseudo historian and author of the book, George Washington's Sacred Fire was unable to get any legitimate publisher to publish his book, simply because it is so full of nonsense. However, after bringing Lillback on his show and telling his audience to read the book, Glenn Beck was able to lift George Washington's Sacred Fire to #2 on Amazon's best seller list. In other words, Beck is guilty of doing exactly what he tells his audience not to do: to read and give ear to the opinions of the so-called experts who are bent on changing history to fit their biased agenda.
The saddest part is that Beck's audience will eat up Lillback's distorted view of history, accepting what a political/religious activist has to say over the opinions and work of actual historians. But this is precisely what Beck wants. Beck thrives on castigating authority by proclaiming to one and all that a liberal, socialist, progressive conspiracy is taking place and that the so-called "experts" cannot be trusted. Instead, people need to turn to the "credible" voices of "reason" who just happen to be in Beck's camp (how convenient). Like I said before, modern conservatism really has made a virtue out of stupidity.
So to all my Glenn Beck-loving friends, let me ask you a couple of simple questions: Don't you find it AMAZING that America has been gripped by this terrible, horrible, fascist, Marxist, socialist, progressive movement that has slowly infiltrated America since the early part of the 20th century and all of the experts/smart people over the decades have completely missed it? But Glenn Beck, a morning radio D.J. by trade, was able to single-handedly uncover the truth? Simply amazing isn't it! And then there's Beck's quest to "refound" America and return it to its original roots. My question to you is this: when exactly was this era? Which generation of Americans shared the same view of America that Glenn Beck advocates? Which period of American history embraced this Utopian (or better put "Beckonian") view of American republicanism?
Well, let me answer those questions: there is no fascist, Marxist conspiracy and NO GENERATION of Americans ever embraced Beck's view of America. Why you ask? Because Beck's reality isn't reality. As I said before, Beck's history sucks. As a result, his view of America sucks. It isn't based on fact.
In conclusion, I think my analogy of WWE wrestlers and modern American political pundits is appropriate. I have stated, many times, that I believe modern American politicians and pundits can be likened to WWE wrestlers like Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, etc. Why you ask? Because they both sell a product that triggers an emotional response from its target audience. Though almost everyone accepts the fact that WWE wrestling is fake, millions of fans still passionately follow their favorite wrestler with great excitement and devotion. The same can be said of politicians and pundits. Though most of what they say is simply geared to getting people worked up for their cause by lying and twisting the facts (a reality that almost everyone accepts) people still choose to give their allegiance to a particular party/pundit/politician. And of course, this causes extreme partisanship over issues that are relatively unimportant or on which the difference of opinion isn't as great as we are lead to believe.
So, I will conclude this post with the following video and ask you all to tell me how it is any way different than what people like Glenn Beck do every day on their radio/television program. In my opinion, there is no difference: