I have refrained from commenting on Glenn Beck for two reasons. First, everyone else has already said most everything there is to say about him. Second, I dislike giving him any more publicity that he already has. But this last act of demagoguery got to me.
Under the veneer of honoring veterans, restoring America’s traditional values and bringing us back to God, lies his recorded history of race baiting, paranoid, fear driven and frequently ignorant political propagandizing that, in the name of American democracy, points in the direction of autocracy, oligarchy, and white supremacy, under the banner of a bastardized version of Christianity with little regard for the constitutional rights of others.
We’ve seen this before, much of it in the 1930s and some in the red scare tactics of the early 1950s. The nation often appeared to be teetering on the brink, not of a more limited democratic government, but of a stronger autocratic government able to overcome those whom some believed cannot be trusted to govern themselves through representative democracy (see Jefferson’s first inaugural). It never happened, but is was always scary.
What troubles me about Beck is the tens of thousands who have bought into his fear mongering; who honestly believe that the country is going down the tubes unless they do something about it. And, in an obscene turnabout, that which they want to do, in the name of freedom, would accomplish the opposite, and they don’t know it. For instance, many of them are proud to call themselves libertarians, and libertarianism, as a counterweight to poorly thought out government programs and a reminder of the importance of individual rights, is a good thing. On the other hand, libertarianism as a guiding principle of government leads directly to oligarchical rule. Many favor a return to traditional American values that they see in the sentimental light of a Rockwell painting. But those traditional values carried with them the subjugation of women, the racial superiority of whites, jingoistic nationalism, an emotionally strong but theologically weak patriotic civil religion using the name of Christ, and the power of the people kept out of the hands of the wrong people and in the hands of the right people.
What frightens them most, oddly enough, is that that is exactly what they believe is happening now, and they need to stop it. They see that power they never had is slipping from their hands into the hands of people who do not look like them, and whom they believe cannot be trusted with power. They see the orderly, predictable lives that existed only in their imaginations melting away. They see the freedom of mythical rugged individualism that was theirs to be shared in communities of their own choosing threatened by similar freedoms assumed by others and forced upon them through communities not of their own choosing. They live in a world of scarcity. If someone else gets something, anything, it means deprivation for them. They live in fear of loss in a world of scarcity in which the hard rules of competition for survival mean that some must win and some must lose. To be a winner one must work hard to assure that the other loses.
How very sad is that?