By now, you have seen or heard the strange Glenn Beck on radio and TV shows or read one of his books. If you are scratching your head, go to the library and read Alexander Zaitchik's "Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance."
A short time ago, Beck started out as a none-too-successful morning DJ with a bare education who hadn't a thought about politics. He loved to party and was a mean tempered, self centered cocaine addict.
He developed a nostalgic vision of America (that never was) of his grandfather's day, sitting on a porch rocking chair, in a country, "the heartland," with a relatively small government and about 4 million white people.
There were no "evil progressives" leaving one to wonder how slavery ended or child labor, or, who brought about Social Security or the right of women to vote, among other things.
Glenn Beck expresses a strange populist, paranoic, conspiratorial vision of a world divided into ‘them' and ‘us'. Such beliefs, along with delusions of grandeur, righteousness, and self importance, power, emotional instability (likely bipolar) have been seen by those who have worked closely with him.
He is well known for using the airwaves to humiliate people personally. He has always had bursts of anger and difficult relationships, needing constant affirmation and attention. Kind of fits into the drug addict's persona. (my comment)
One of Beck's most infamous incidents was when a friend's wife was on the phone just after having had a miscarriage, and he put her on the open mic and humiliated her.
He moved into the spotlight when regulations were loosened and a few corporations took over most of the radio and TV news and talk channels. He began to talk politics, about which, he admitted, he knew nothing.
When he started picking up on the ACORN situation he would not let go, giving it negative publicity and eventually pushing till ACORN was defunded of its few million dollars. Of course he never talks of Phizer, which was fined billions for Medicaid fraud, or of military contractors' fraud in the billions. He was getting a growing audience and was rallying for far-right ideology. His humor was always berating the ‘elite' educated and he was the champion of the ordinary person. His programs attracted millions of listeners, distrustful of big government while he was protective of big corporations.
When he converted to the Mormon faith, he ended a lifetime of drugs and picked up the "testimonial" tears he is so famous for.
He quickly identified with the most fringe philosophical elements of the Mormon faith in the person of Cleon Skousen. Skousen raged against the intellectual elite, called black children "pickininies," and the slave owners, "victims."
Beck made Skousen's works, which have been called a "joke" by Zaitchik, required reading for his followers. From oblivion, and from the dust heap they are now on the best seller list along with Beck's own books.
Beck cries out, "We need to rescue our Constitution and go back to the founders," despite that the constitution was written as a secular document with no religious references.
The constant contradictions matter little in Beck's books such as "Common Sense," a sort of parody on Thomas Paine's famous pamphlet of the same name that helped spark the American Revolution.
Beck is thrilled with his following, lack of truth notwithstanding. Beck shouts support for Wall Street, which he calls the "victim."
Beck tries to isolate the urban poor and black people from the ‘heartland'. He called Katrina victims "scumbags" and unemployed people, "unamerican ." (my comment)
He sees the corporations involved in the government getting bigger but calls for a world which would leave corporate power free to pollute air, water, and land. He would end government regulations protecting worker safety, food, and the environment and denies global warming.
He supports corporations that support him but talks angrily against corporations that supported Obama or that dropped advertizing on his program when he became very offensive and a huge movement was launched against him by Moveon.
Beck is making millions leading his movement to "take the government back" From whom? The first black American president!
Such racist (although he denies that he is racist), paranoid, conspiracy theorists have existed before in times of hardship. Zaitchik feels that the Beck phenomenon is temporary due to "its operatic nostalgia, opiate history, and tin can Orwellian imagination."
My fear is that when Beck sells so much untruth and hate and lies to a largely fringe element that is armed, we cannot brush it off so easily. His divisive use of people and incitement has not gone unnoticed by Jews and others knowledgeable of the rise of Hitler Germany.