Thursday, September 17, 2009

Glenn Beck's extremist inspiration

Recall that I had agreed with Little Green Footballs that Glenn Beck was showing his "dark roots" of John Birch Society type intellectual influences when he went on tv and promoted a bizarre conspiracy theory about Rockefeller Plaza being a secret tribute to fascism and Marxism.

Alexander Zaitchik, writing at Salon, explains how Beck's political views have been heavily influenced by Cleon Skousen, who "was too extreme even for the conservative activists of the Goldwater era, but Glenn Beck has now rescued him from the remainder pile of history, and introduced him to a receptive new audience."

What has Beck been pushing on his legions? "Leap," first published in 1981, is a heavily illustrated and factually challenged attempt to explain American history through an unspoken lens of Mormon theology. As such, it is an early entry in the ongoing attempt by the religious right to rewrite history. Fundamentalists want to define the United States as a Christian nation rather than a secular republic, and recasting the Founding Fathers as devout Christians guided by the Bible rather than deists inspired by the French and English philosophers. "Leap" argues that the U.S. Constitution is a godly document above all else, based on natural law, and owes more to the Old and New Testaments than to the secular and radical spirit of the Enlightenment. It lists 28 fundamental beliefs -- based on the sayings and writings of Moses, Jesus, Cicero, John Locke, Montesquieu and Adam Smith -- that Skousen says have resulted in more God-directed progress than was achieved in the previous 5,000 years of every other civilization combined. The book reads exactly like what it was until Glenn Beck dragged it out of Mormon obscurity: a textbook full of aggressively selective quotations intended for conservative religious schools like Utah's George Wythe University, where it has been part of the core freshman curriculum for decades (and where Beck spoke at this year's annual fundraiser).
The article goes on to note Skousen believed, like Robert Welch of the John Birch Society, that Dwight D. Eisenhower was a Communist agent; and that Skousen was "the nation's most prominent Birch defender."

Skousen went on to help develop one of the modern incarnations of one world government conspiracy theory

Skousen laid low for much of the '60s. But he reemerged at the end of the decade peddling a new and improved conspiracy that merged left with right: the global capitalist mega-plot of the "dynastic rich." Families like the Rockefellers and the Rothschilds, Skousen now believed, used left forces -- from Ho Chi Minh to the American civil rights movement -- to serve their own power.

In 1969, a 1,300-page book started appearing in faculty mailboxes at Brigham Young, where Skousen was back teaching part-time. The book, written by a Georgetown University historian named Carroll Quigley, was called "Tragedy and Hope." Inside each copy, Skousen inserted handwritten notes urging his colleagues to read the book and embrace its truth. "Tragedy and Hope," Skousen believed, exposed the details of what would come to be known as the New World Order (NWO). Quigley's book so moved Skousen that in 1970 he self-published a breathless 144-page review essay called "The Naked Capitalist." Nearly 40 years later, it remains a foundational document of America's NWO conspiracy and survivalist scene (which includes Skousen's nephew Joel).

In "The Naked Communist," Skousen had argued that the communists wanted power for their own reasons. In "The Naked Capitalist," Skousen argued that those reasons were really the reasons of the dynastic rich, who used front groups to do their dirty work and hide their tracks. The purpose of liberal internationalist groups such as the Council on Foreign Relations, argued Skousen, was to push "U.S. foreign policy toward the establishment of a world-wide collectivist society." Skousen claimed the Anglo-American banking establishment had a long history of such activity going back to the Bolshevik Revolution. He substantiated this claim by citing the work of a former Czarist army officer named Arsene de Goulevitch. Among Goulevitch's own sources is Boris Brasol, a pro-Nazi Russian émigré who provided Henry Ford with the first English translation of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion."
Zaitchik also notes that Skousen's extremist ideas have become the backbone of Beck's "9/12" movement.

Beck continued to mention the book during 2008, but his Skousen obsession really kicked in as the 912 concept began to take shape. Even before Obama's inauguration, Beck had a game plan for a movement with Skousen at the center. On his Dec. 18, 2008, radio show, one month before Obama took office, Beck introduced his audience to the idea of a "September twelfth person."

"The first thing you could do," he said, "is get 'The 5,000 Year Leap.' Over my book or anything else, get 'The 5,000 Year Leap.' You can probably find it in the book section of, but read that. It is the principle. Please, No. 1 thing: Inform yourself about who we are and what the other systems are all about. 'The 5,000 Year Leap' is the first part of that. Because it will help you understand American free enterprise … Make that dedication of becoming a Sept. 12 person and I will help you do it next year."
That Glenn Beck is using his Fox News platform to mainstream extremist ideas (and extremists themselves) has long been obvious. We need more David Frums out there calling Fox out on this.

The audience for Beck’s Friday night special were each given copies of two books. One of them was Cleon Skousen’s Five Thousand Year Leap. Skousen, who died in 2006, is one of the legendary cranks of the conservative world, a John Bircher, a grand fantasist of theories about secret conspiracies between capitalists and communists to impose a one-world government under the control of David Rockefeller.

There’s always been a market for this junk of course. Once that market was reached via mimeographed newsletters. Now it’s being tapped by Fox News.


C2H50H said...


Thanks for this. It's fascinating.

ernie1241 said...

I am the author of the report on Skousen which Alex Zaitchik mentions in his article

The complete report is here:

Both Skousen and his admirers misrepresented his FBI career.