Glenn Beck’s Propaganda Fest

I have been trying to figure out what Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally in Washington was about (8/28/2010). “Faith, hope, and charity,” was the theme. It was a “wake up” call (literally) to call people to prayer and traditional values. It was basically a religious revival, with a strong emphasis on the greatness of Glenn Beck. He took a number of jabs at the media, hinting that they would underestimate the numbers of people in attendance. There were about 300,000 people in attendance. The whole event was an appeal to religious and patriotic emotions, tying together religious faith and American exceptionalism. This use of faith and patriotic sentiment is not new. Conservative politicians have used these emotions to stir up their base throughout our history. What was different is that Beck seems to be trying to connect conservatism with minority civil rights—never mind the fact that it was conservatives who fought against virtually every attempt to give additional rights to any group, from women and minorities to labor and immigrants.

The rally repeatedly invoked Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech, which was given on the same date 47 years ago. Beck essentially claimed Martin Luther King as part of his own political movement. He referred to “justice” repeatedly, even though months earlier he told people to leave their churches if they spoke of social justice. He equated the concept of social justice (a central message of Dr. King) with communism. Now, he is claiming justice as part of his own movement. To drive this connection home, he had King’s niece, Dr. Alveda King, speak.

He contrived an “honor” or “merit” award, comparing it to a purple heart, for civilians who have made a difference. Three of the four recipients were from minority groups—an unlikely selection at a conservative rally, including an American Indian, a African American, and Dominican Republic American. All three were committed christians. Of course there was another award given to John M. Huntsman (who was not in attendance), a Salt Lake City Mormon who has contributed large portions of his vast wealth to charity.

Now, if Beck is trying to bring the conservative movement and the Republican Party toward a belief in minority rights, equality, and social justice, I would commend his efforts. This would be a welcome position. It would also be a strategic approach for Republicans, given that demographic changes in the coming decades will not favor their current positions on policy around race and class. But this is not what Beck is trying to do. He is after a united religious movement that can be shaped toward right-wing positions. Just listen to one of Beck’s shows (radio or TV), and the guy comes across as racist, an advocate for the rich, and a religious quack. At the rally, he dismissed critics who call him a fear-mongerer, even though that is exactly what he does for living.

If you want to understand Beck’s world view, take a look at the books he recommends, starting with books by Cleon W. Skousen. When Beck recommended Skousen’s book, “The Five Thousand Year Leap,” it’s dead sells grew overnight to repeated printings. It sparked a legal battle between Skousen’s C&J Investments, his National Center for Constitutional Studies (formerly the Freemen Institute), and his surviving family members (source). Beck wrote the forward in a new printing of the book. Skousen’s books are riddled with conspiracy theories and false history. He was a huge supporter of the fringy John Birch Society. Skousen was denounced by mainstream conservatives—including William Buckley—because of his extreme right-wing views.

In one of Beck’s recent books, “Common Sense,” he continues his attempt to own all the important figures of American history, carefully ignoring the beliefs and actions that run counter to the extreme conservative world view of Beck and his disciples. “Common Sense” is names after Thomas Paine’s influential pamphlet from the era of the American revolutionary war, outlining the case for American independence. Beck doesn’t mention Thomas Paine’s beliefs about religion, as outlined in his book “The Age of Reason.” Here are a few quotes that Beck would like to ignore: “All institutions of churches…appear to me no more than human inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit”; “The Christian theory is little else than the idolatry of the ancient mythologies, accommodated to the purpose of power and revenue, and it yet remains to reason and philosophy to abolish the amphibious fraud”; “[The Bible] is the history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind.” These ideas are inconvenience for someone who wants to connect all the important figures with today’s religious right-wing, in an effort to marry extreme patriotism and religious fervor to create an easily-controlled political force.

In Beck’s book, he uses his typical scare tactics, proclaiming that, “our Republic is in jeopardy,” that we “have reach the end of American sovereignty.” The book makes some of the more absurd right-wing claims: “Compassion and capitalism go hand in hand”; “Capitalism isn’t about money, it’s about freedom”; “Socialism and fascism have been on the rise for two administrations now”; “Russia converted to a flat tax and the results were amazing and immediate; “Progressives felt that democracy and socialism are twins since both ultimately had their power stem from the people”; “All governments of every stripe are fascist in nature”; “Progressives love to rely on experts”; “We don’t teach real American history anymore”; ‘Going green’…is simply about leaders who want more control over our businesses, economy, and personal lives”; “Religion is a unifying force and a counterbalance to state power”; “When the sales of guns goes down, it means that the American people have more trust in their government [and vise versa]…it’s just common sense, right?” These statements give us a small idea about Beck’s views.

More than once during the recent rally, Beck referred to the need to not look at the “scars” of American, but to look optimistically toward a netter future. Noam Chomsky calls this the doctrine of “change of course.” Chomsky explained this doctrine:

The content of the doctrine is: ‘Yes, in the past we did some wrong things because of innocence or inadvertence. But now that’s all over, so let’s not waste any more time on this boring, stale stuff.’ The doctrine is dishonest and cowardly, but it does have advantages: It protects us from the danger of understanding what is happening before our eyes (source).

Beck doesn’t want us to look back on the actual history and crimes of conservatism. The only history he want us to think of is that of religious believers beating the British Empire, that we were kind neighbors praying with the Indians, and that we are the chosen people of the planet—destined to rule all others. Never mind the annoying facts of history, like slavery, Jim Crow, hemispheric imperialism, inequality for women, brutal exploitation of labor, etc. He want us to look at the greatness of American, and use those feelings to change the diverse face of America to one of religious extremism and the propping up of conservative power (after all, “capitalism is compassion”). Beck wants to claim all that is good about America as part of his movement. He speaks of Washington, Lincoln, and Dr King as if they are the ultimate conservatives. Don’t mind little facts like King’s anti-war focus or his fight against inequality. He want to make support of the troops and veterans his own cause. He wants religion to be permanently associated with his extreme brand of conservatism. He attracts people guilty of self-induced historical amnesia; people who refuse to see anything outside of their ideological view, contrary evidence be damned. The people could appropriately be call Beck disciples. The rally was a huge masturbatory fest for Glenn Beck.

This revival should be studied for decades as the ultimate propaganda event. Overall, this was the message of the Glenn Beck rally:

Lincoln monument + I have a Dream + Christian American Indians + religious revival + family/freedom/honor/military + allusions to the civil right movement + right-wing pseudo-history + Disneyland-like music/narration + break out in crying every 12 minutes =

…Glenn Beck is the Hero of the World.

(See videos of Beck on my post 10 worst conservatives)

The 10 Craziest Glenn Beck Quotes of All Time

Ridiculous, Paranoid and Insane Utterances by FOX News Channel’s Glenn Beck

By Daniel Kurtzman, Guide

1. “This president I think has exposed himself over and over again as a guy who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture….I’m not saying he doesn’t like white people, I’m saying he has a problem. This guy is, I believe, a racist.” –on President Obama, sparking an advertiser exodus from his FOX News show, July 28, 2009 (Source)

2. “I’m thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I’m wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. … No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out. Is this wrong? I stopped wearing my What Would Jesus — band — Do, and I’ve lost all sense of right and wrong now. I used to be able to say, ‘Yeah, I’d kill Michael Moore,’ and then I’d see the little band: What Would Jesus Do? And then I’d realize, ‘Oh, you wouldn’t kill Michael Moore. Or at least you wouldn’t choke him to death.’ And you know, well, I’m not sure.” –responding to the question “What would people do for $50 million?”, “The Glenn Beck Program,” May 17, 2005 (Source)

3. “When I see a 9/11 victim family on television, or whatever, I’m just like, ‘Oh shut up’ I’m so sick of them because they’re always complaining.” –”The Glenn Beck Program,” Sept. 9, 2005 (Source)
4. “The only [Katrina victims] we’re seeing on television are the scumbags.” –”The Glenn Beck Program,” Sept. 9, 2005 (Source)
5. “I think there is a handful of people who hate America. Unfortunately for them, a lot of them are losing their homes in a forest fire today.” –on why people who lost their homes in forest fires in California had it coming, “The Glenn Beck Program,” Oct. 22, 2007 (Source)
6. “I have been nervous about this interview with you because what I feel like saying is, ‘Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies. … And I know you’re not. I’m not accusing you of being an enemy, but that’s the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way.” –interviewing Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim U.S. congressman, Glen Beck’s show on CNN’s Headline News, Nov. 14, 2006 (Source)
7. “Al Gore’s not going to be rounding up Jews and exterminating them. It is the same tactic, however. The goal is different. The goal is globalization…And you must silence all dissenting voices. That’s what Hitler did. That’s what Al Gore, the U.N., and everybody on the global warming bandwagon [are doing].” –”The Glenn Beck Program,” May 1, 2007 (Source)8. “So here you have Barack Obama going in and spending the money on embryonic stem cell research. … Eugenics. In case you don’t know what Eugenics led us to: the Final Solution. A master race! A perfect person. … The stuff that we are facing is absolutely frightening.” –”The Glenn Beck Program,” March 9, 2009 (Source)

9. “You have the artwork of Mussolini there, here in New York at Rockefeller Plaza.” –analyzing the artwork decorating Rockefeller Plaza, which he said contained a hammer and sickle, Glenn Beck show on FOX News Channel, Sept. 2, 2009 (Source)

10. “O-L-I-G-A-R-H-Y.” –misspelling “oligarchy” on his chalk board while claiming he had deciphered a secret code that he said was proof President Obama was trying to create an “Oligarhy,” Aug. 27, 2009, Glenn Beck show on FOX News Channel (Source)

Bonus Quote

“You know, we all have our inner demons. I, for one – I can’t speak for you, but I’m on the verge of moral collapse at any time. It can happen by the end of the show.” –”The Glenn Beck Program,” Nov. 6, 2006 (Source)

Funny Quotes About Glenn Beck

“Satan’s mentally challenged younger brother.” –Stephen King, writing in “Entertainment Weekly” (Source)

“Finally, a guy who says what people who aren’t thinking are thinking.” –Jon Stewart, on the “The Daily Show” (Source)

“The comfort of today’s mythical homespun aw-shucks-TV-totalitarian-Lonesome-Rhodes Glenn Beck is that everyday he gives away the essential truth that he is an idiot.” –Keith Olbermann, on “Countdown With Keith Olbermann” (Source)

“Even the leather-winged shouting heads at Fox News look like intellectual giants next to this bleating, benighted Cassandra. It’s like someone found a manic, doom-prophesying hobo in a sandwich board, shaved him, shot him full of Zoloft and gave him a show.” — Buffalo Beast, naming Beck in its annual list of the 50 Most Loathsome People in America (Source)