Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fun with quotes or: a taste of his own medicine

If you watch Glenn Beck's program, one of the tactics he likes to use is to read from some obscure radical literature, then to take some innocuous quote from someone he doesn't like and then conclude that because it reminds him of the radical quote, that that person is linked to all kinds of extremists and is secretly carrying out a radical agenda, implementing a conspiracy to overthrow the US government or some such.

Take for example, the segment I noted yesterday about The Simpsons and Everybody Loves Raymond signalling the triumph of the Weather Underground at subverting American society. That segment actually kicked off with Beck using the tactic described above on Michelle Obama:

Beck kicked off his show tonight claiming that the Weather Underground manifesto just might be "the story of America." The cast of characters in tonight's episode of "who's helping Obama destroy America" included -- gasp -- the New Black Panther Party, Mao, Obama's parents, the Tides Foundation, and the people of Springfield.

In a moment of pop-culture analysis for the ages, Beck aired footage of Michelle Obama saying, "Barack knows that we are going to have to make sacrifices. We are going to have to change our conversation. We are going to have to change our traditions, our history. We're going to have to move into a different place." He then asked, "What does that mean?" before reading from the Weather Underground manifesto. Beck then said:

The most important aspect of any family is the wife-mother, and she's just a reactionary capitalist plot to destroy women's rights? What? I mean, I thought I was supposed to be the conspiracy theorist.
This is not a standard that Beck would want to be employed universally. Otherwise, I would be able to conclude that Beck is secretly trying to install an American fascist regime.


Because Beck is always talking about Christianity and divinity being the basis of the American government, that being a devout believer is necessary to save the country and such. And that reminds me of this quote from the "Jayhawk Nazi" Rev. Gerald Smith in The Plot Against America, "Christian character is the true basis of real Americanism." I'm not sure if that's an actual quote (the book is historical fiction) but it is an accurate reflection of Smith's general belief and message. For example, White Protestant Nation observes that Smith formed the Committee of One Million "in 1937 to save Christian America from communists and unions."

And tell me this doesn't sound like Beck: "To millions I am a racketeer, crackpot, and lunatic. To other milliions I am a crusader, a lover of truth, and a devotee of those vital principles on which our whole civilization depends." What's more, this essay from Smith, sounds an awful lot like Beck, with Smith expressing his desire to preserve Christian America from communist world government and such.

We believe that the destiny of America in relationship to its governing authority must be in the hands of our own people. We must never be governed by aliens. We must keep control of our own money and our own blood. In other words, we must be true to the Declaration of Independence. That is Nationalism. Like General MacArthur, we believe that the spiritual symbol of our statesmanship is the Cross, which is indeed the symbol of Christianity. We believe that the inspiring dynamic out of which America grew is Christianity. We believe that there would be no real America such as we love and for which we are willing to die if there had been no Christianity. Thus, when a Christian is a Nationalist he becomes necessarily a Christian Nationalist. This movement, which now reaches into every state and community of the Nation, launched its campaign some years ago in relationship to ten high principles to which we have committed ourselves.
If you subtract the naked racism and/or replace the named enemies (Jews) and organizations (Jewish ones) with Beck's preferred scapegoats (progressives and progressive institutions) you will notice a remarkable thematic similarity.

So by using the Glenn Beck standard of reasoning, we can conclude that Beck is secretly, yet deliberately trying to carry on the legacy of Rev. Gerald LK Smith.

Of course, I'm being facetious, and do not think for a moment that Beck is trying to follow in the footsteps of Smith. But the more important point is the one that I've been making about the way that Beck presents a mainstreamed, generic form of hate that resembles more obvious, previous forms of prejudice and bigotry, resulting from a combination of parallel thinking and memetic evolution.

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