Sunday, September 12, 2010

Glenn Beck's Historical Revisionism Rally

A couple weeks ago, rightwing radio personality Glenn Beck held his latest scheme. Last year, it was his 9/12 Project. This year, it was a so-called "Restoring Honor" rally to pay tribute to our Founding Fathers and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the exact same day as the historical rally Dr. King held to deliver his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. Beck unconvincingly claimed that he had no idea that August 28th was the day of the King speech. He called it an interesting coincidence, and implied that God had a hand in it. Bullshit! Two years ago, Barack Obama gave his historic acceptance speech at the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention at Mile High Stadium on the very same day. And yes, Obama did request that the DNC be held that week so he could accept his nomination on the 45th anniversary of Dr. King's famous speech. Many people consider Obama's presidency to be "the first down payment on Dr. King's Dream." The media discussed all of this, so for Glenn Beck to claim ignorance about this lacks credibility.

Let me say that I am not a fan of Glenn Beck and I do not understand his appeal whatsoever. Its hard for me to take seriously a guy who has no shame in crying all the time. Not that I believe his tears are real. His crying performances are so fake, he'd never win an Academy Award. Yet I know a few women who love Beck and find him to be the ideal man. I guess that's the mentality of a conservative, white Baby Boomer woman for you (part of the reason why this demographic group and I don't generally get along). When I was in school and in the Navy, crying would subject you to ridicule and getting beat up. I wish someone would beat Glenn Beck up whenever he cries. I'd love to see Rush Limbaugh do it. Interesting enough, though, you never hear Rush, Hannity, Beck, Coulter, or Beck criticize each other. They are all part of a corporate scheme to shape ignorant minds around a conservative agenda. Getting ignorant conservatives to vote against their own economic self interest is brilliant. The corporate aristocrats on Wall Street couldn't do it without the likes of Glenn Beck.

I really wanted to read a transcript of Glenn Beck's speech to the crowd of Teabaggers, but could not find one online. I found transcripts of his show in the days leading up to the event, but none on the major speech. I did watch a 15 minute video clip of his speech, but wasn't impressed. Though it wasn't overly political, as he had promised, the talk of God and honour was lacking in credibility. This call for Americans to "get back with God" is ridiculous. Its a conservative argument (not a liberal one) that God punishes the group for the actions of an individual. Conservative religionists use this standard ploy all the time: "God will smite our nation unless we repent and rededicate our lives to God." Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell blamed homosexuals, liberals, abortionists, and feminists for 9/11 because these groups happened to offend God enough that He withdrew His "protection" on that day, thus punishing innocent people. What kind of person believes in a God that is so illogical and psychopathic that it would allow innocent people to suffer for the sins of the guilty?

The Law of Karma makes more sense. What goes around, comes around. You get back what you put out. It may not happen instantaneously, but it will happen at some point. The whole point is not punishment, but to learn the most important lesson of all: "If I hurt you, I ultimately hurt myself because we are all connected in a spiritual sense."

My biggest problem with conservative thought is the obsession with morality, conformity, and the belief that God punishes the group for the sins of the few who are guilty. This tactic is actually a controlling device. It worked well in basic training. The Company Commander would pick on the recruit who had the most discipline problems and make the rest of the company pay for the recruit's mistakes (while the recruit himself is not punished for his mistakes). Even as a 19 year old with little life experience, I knew that the Company Commander was trying to divide the company and make a scapegoat of a recruit by having the whole company hate the problem recruit. What amazed me was how easy it was for Company Commanders to rile up animosity in some guys towards the scapegoat. People are so easy to manipulate. Especially the Teabagger type. Its a sign of a conformist mind, versus a nonconformist one (which I have).

In a history of Political philosophy class I took in college, during a segment on Friedrich Nietzsche, I became impressed by some of the ideas of this infamous political philosopher. Before college, I never would have read Nietzsche on my own because his name was connected to the Nazi Party. That association is rather unjust, though. Nietzsche lived before the Nazi Party existed and was dead when that movement came to power in Germany. Its hard for a dead man to defend himself against misuse of his words and ideas. Some of the ideas that the Nazis stole from Nietzsche include the belief in "supermen" (racial superiority) and "the will to power."

What I like about Nietzsche's philosophy is that he got to the essence of conservative philosophy. In one of the selected writings I had to read for the class, I was struck by the profound insight Nietzsche offered regarding the human tendency to "worship ancestors." According to Nietzsche, humans put the Founding ancestors (whether relatives, national heroes, or religious founders) on a pedestal. Over time, the ancestor's stature becomes higher and the point where a person feels indebted to the sacrifices made by the ancestors. Again, as time continues on, this debt grows to the point where the person feels that there is no way to repay that debt, thus a sacrifice is required. This is what I believe happened with the meaning behind Jesus's life and ministry over the centuries. Conservatives are big on ancestor worship and the attitude of "we're not worthy" and requiring sacrifices to "appease" the ancestor / founder.

This attitude was evident at Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. a couple weekends ago. Beck and the conservative minions look on our Founding Fathers as though they were gods: perfect and honorable in ways that we are not. Now, I love our Founding Fathers as much as the next patriotic American, but let's get real here. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. Alexander Hamilton had a sexual relationship with a married woman. John Adams passed the first USA PATRIOT Act with the Alien and Sedition Act during his lame duck period of presidency (after losing his reelection bid to rival Thomas Jefferson). Thomas Paine was considered an atheist agitator. Benjamin Franklin was well known as a ladies man and was particularly popular with the ladies of the salons in Paris. Patrick Henry was more of a talker than a doer (he had no problem saying "Give me liberty or give me death" in a rousing speech, but when faced with confrontation, he preferred to flee).

Today's Teabaggers like to think of themselves as modern Boston Tea Party activists, yet during that famous event, American rebels, such as Samuel Adams, dressed as Native Americans to sneak aboard British ships and dump tea into Boston Harbour. How courageous is that? They wanted the British to think that it was Native Americans who did the deed, thus if retribution happened, the Native American tribes would be scapegoated. Yeah, that's really honourable!

My point is that the Founding Fathers had their flaws. They were not perfect people. To say that they are better than us or more moral and honourable is absurd. Yes, they did a great thing for our country...but let's not forget that they were men of the Enlightenment Era. That's right, the Enlightenment, which many conservative evangelical Christians view with disdain. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine were considered Deists, which means that they believed in a supernatural creator that brought the world into being, but they did not necessarily believe in the God of the Bible or the Christian viewpoint. John Adams, as president, sent a letter regarding the Barbery Pirates that "America is not a Christian nation." There was a reason why James Madison advocated for a wall of separation between Church and State. Every country at the time of USA's founding had an established church, the most absurd being the Church of England (formed when King Henry VIII wanted a divorce that the Catholic Church rightfully refused to give). The foresight of the Forefathers was amazing. America is considered "the most religious country on earth" due to the number of churches and religions. Do you think this is accidental? No, its because of the wall of separation between Church and State that allowed churches to exist and flourish.

Whenever I hear conservatives talk about restoring honour or going back to the "morality" of our Founding Fathers, I have to cringe just a bit. Humanity is the march of progression. We don't own slaves today, so that makes us more moral than our Founding Fathers who owned slaves. Women and minorities have a right to vote. When our nation was born, only white, male property owners were allowed to vote. Do we want to go back to that? Or are we better than our Founding Fathers on this point? The most baffling point to me is how a group of people who pride themselves on being religious and "ignorant" (with intellectualism seen as a negative thing) put on a pedestal men who were not religious and were all about enlightenment and other intellectual ideas. Do they not see the disconnect?

Many, if not all, of these Teabaggers are loyal Bush supporters and if you've ever read Jefferson's writings, you'd know that the third U.S. president had nothing good to say about Europe's system of government through inheritence. Jefferson believed (quite correctly, I might add) that people who lead merely because of their fathers being leaders made for intolerable and incompetent tyrants. None of the Founding Fathers would have supported George W. Bush. Well, maybe Alexander Hamilton might have. He wanted an imperial "president for life." President Barack Obama fulfills the dream of Jefferson's America: a land of meritocracy, where the best and brightest are elected to lead people. I'm sure if Jefferson were to come visit the U.S., he would be surprised by how far we've progressed as a nation, where a black man won the most votes of any president in history. That's remarkable and historic. Something worth celebrating.

But to Beck's minions of Teabaggers, Obama represents a "threat" to the American way of life. Their ignorance is appalling and their motives are transparent. Though political signs were banned from the event (I guess Beck was worried about his followers carrying the embarrassingly racist signs of previous Teabagger rallies), from photos I've seen, there were few minorities present. It looked like the world's largest trailer park community had set up camp on the National Mall. If NASCAR had a race that day, I'm certain the numbers would have been far smaller than the 100,000 to 300,000 people who attended.

The photos of Glenn Beck show that he actually wore a bullet proof vest underneath his shirt! I found this amusing. For a guy who wishes to lead America in a spiritual rebirth, he seems to be fearful of his own followers! This does not surprise me, actually, because a few years ago, I read an interview with Ann Coulter. She claimed to find her fans "disturbing" and expressed fear over their creepy obsessions with her. Well, duh! When you appeal to people's emotions and find ways to rile them up, its not surprising that you'd be subjected to their OCD obsessions! When I interned in D.C., I received so many anti-government phone calls from OCD conservatives. A mentally healthy person lives a well-balanced life and does not obsess over a single issue.

Since Beck trafficks in fear and paranoia, its not shocking to see him wear a bullet proof vest to save him from his crazy legion of fans. I've suspected for sometime that Glenn Beck might be mentally ill, himself, so its befitting that he leads this group of crazies like lemmings over a cliff. To me, a bullet proof vest is a sign that the guy is no spiritual leader. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. received many death threats during his life. On the night before his assassination, Dr. King spoke about being at the mountaintop and seeing "the coming of the glory of the Lord." However, he also warned his followers that he might not get there with them. He had a premonition that he would likely die for his cause of racial unity and Civil Rights. Yet, he faced the threats like a true spiritual being: no fear.

Mohandas Gandhi was also vulnerable to assassination. He met his end through a bullet at close range. I haven't heard of the Dalai Lama wearing a bullet proof vest. I suspect that when you get to that level of spiritual development, you can sense when your life might be in danger and avoid it. Or, being assassinated is not the end of your existence. In fact, martyrdom is in some ways preferrable to dying in old age. People accept death by natural causes, but an assassination has a tendency to inspire followers to carry on your work and dream. They don't want your life to have been in vain.

Above is a picture of Glenn Beck, crying like a baby. I've never met a man who prides himself on crying. Most men I know don't cry in public. If they cry at all, its in private. Its considered to be a "weakness." Thus, my theory that the reason why Beck does it is merely to appeal to women. The corporate establishment that sponsors people like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly probably looked at the statistics and saw that neither men appealled to women, which is a problem. Women, more and more, are the determining demographic in elections. Traditional conservativism is not going to win over women voters. That's why Bush pretended to be a "compassionate conservative" in 2000 and ran on Democratic issues, such as education and vowing to have a humble foreign policy.

Rush is a misogynistic old pig, so there's no way he can overcome that personality deficiency. Despite O'Reilly's obsession with saving white damsels in distress, he also had a sexual harassment lawsuit against him, which he settled out of court rather than face trial. How best could the corporate establishment appeal to women and get them to vote against their economic self interest?

In comes Glenn Beck, out of nowhere. He has a "likable face" and doesn't appear threatening or repulsive (like Rush does). The icing on the cake is that Beck is not afraid to cry in public. Women eat this shit up. They think he's Mr. Sensitive. The phony tears go down like flavoured medicine, disguising the toxicity of his message. As I like to say, Glenn Beck was created in Rupert Murdoch's lab. He's a Frankenstein monster for the modern era. That so many women fall for his tears is pathetic. The clips I've seen of his crybaby ways comes across about as sincere as Bush calling himself a "compassionate conservative" after allowing the execution of a Christian woman that the Pope and evangelical leaders asked lenience for.

There are two ladies I know who are Glenn Beck fans. Both women are low income, white, and Baby Boomers. They both claim that he is sincere and they believe every word he utters. One of the ladies is a friend of my family. I know her personal history. She was once part of the Jeffrey Lundgren cult (but left before it turned deadly). I think she still has a tendency to fall for charismatic leaders. She can't see any flaws in Glenn Beck's rants, probably because he confirms what she believes about the world. Since she has never been out of the country, its no surprise to me. As I've learned in the past few years, the one common denominator in all of my friends and the people I'm drawn to is the foreign experience. There's something to be said about having visited another country and experiencing another culture that affects how you see the world. At a recent discussion group that I attended, the several young ladies present all had extensive foreign experience, which intrigued me. That makes them easier to relate to, as our life experiences are more compatable. None of my female friends like Glenn Beck. In fact, all of my Mormon friends find Glenn Beck to be an embarrassment to their faith. They all see him as a phony and a danger to democracy.

In conclusion, all I can say about Glenn Beck is...don't drink the Kool-Aid! How can you trust a guy who rewrites history to look make conservative philosophy look more favourable? You can't. Writer George Orwell warned against doublethink and historical revision in his brilliant classic novel, 1984. In the novel, the main character's job is the continual editing of history to match the regime's current truth. That's why I worry about paper becoming scarce or books becoming obsolete. If everything we read only existed online, it would be too easy to control information by continually editing history to reflect an ideological agenda.

Beck's rally was an attempt to rewrite history because he claims that conservatives are the true inheritors of Dr. King's legacy. The very people who fought the Civil Rights movement violently are now trying to steal Dr. King's legacy away from the African Americans who benefitted from his crusade for justice. That's obscene to me. I wish that these middle aged white ladies who love Beck could see how dishonest and manipulative he is, but I guess a person who is drawn to charismatic figures and blindly follows them has not learned lessons from her past. The best term I could think of for Beck's agenda is that he is "the Pied Piper of Wall Street." You've been warned.


Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Good post! What I find so gross about these right wingers is when they talk about gov't intrusion in our lives, the spending, spending dems etc. Where were they when Bush created homeland security and the TSA? Those two bureaucracies alone must've added billions to the deficit. Where were they went he went into Iraq? When he cuts taxes for millionaires?

Beck and his tea partiers - may they be tricked by alice and the white rabbit on their way to wonderland.

Julie said...

Trish and Rob have a good point, i think.

I personally don't have a problem per se with guys crying. As for whether or not Mr. Beck is faking it...i have not seen him cry, so i hesitate to comment. you may indeed be right, i just don't know for myself.

you make some good points about the US founding fathers. and as for the bit about scapegoating Indians by dressing up like're right, and i don't think i'd thought about it that way before.

I'm no fan of Glenn Beck in general. It is interesting that your Mormon friends find him embarrassing. About charismatic leaders: i think charisma is a power is a power that can used for good or evil. Obama was charismatic, and i think he's okay pretty much...have you heard the song "Cult of Personality" by Living Colour? i bet you probably any rate, lines such as "Like Mussolini and Kennedy, I'm the cult of personality" or "Like Josef Stalin and Gandhi" point out the two-sidedness of charisma.
I guess the thing is, as you seem to imply, not to be unthinking when it comes to leaders. I voted for Obama, but i don't agree with him on everything. Heck, i love Bobby Kennedy to pieces, but i can tell you right now that...well...there are some things i'd have done differently had i been him.

Sansego said...

Thank you for your post!

I'm with you on RFK. To me, he is still the political leader I admire the most. It saddens me that he was assassinated. How awesome it would have been, to have been born while he was President (from 1968-1976). I think he would have made a great president.

I agree that charisma can be used for good or bad. George Clooney uses his charisma for good, Glenn Beck--not so good.