The real problem with Glenn Beck’s Norway comments

Glenn Beck has become America’s right-wing sweetheart. The boisterous, overly emotional faker has captivated dim-witted audiences for years, and has ventured into the “non-fiction” and fiction realm of print, and even had the audacity to publish a children’s book. Although on the surface his anger and positions may seem sincere, and have surely mobilized a new generation of right-wing nut-jobs known as the “tea party,” Beck has admitted that he only looks for two things: money and fame. And he will do whatever it takes to get it.

Shortly after the news of the Norway bombing and massacre was released last Friday, Beck called the idea of having a politically-oriented summer camp “disturbing” and likened those attending to members of the Hitler Youth, the Nazi Party’s youth wing.

“There was a shooting at a political camp, which sounds a little like the Hitler Youth, or whatever,” Beck said. “I mean, who does a camp for kids that’s all about politics? Disturbing.” You can hear the clip here.

What Beck did not mention is that his political cadre – the 9/12 Project – held several summer camps including one in Tampa, Florida … disturbing, but not uncommon for this snake.

In the same show, Beck tied Anders Behring Breivik, the man who confessed to carrying out the two-pronged massacre, to supporters of “big government.”

“He is doing the work of a madman. He is doing the work of what all people who want big government always do, and that is commit terrorist acts,” Beck said.

If Beck had taken the time to read the manifesto, or even skim the thing, he would realize that this is the opposite of what Brevik urged. An ideological ally of Beck, albeit one who is actually willing to put his hateful words into hateful actions (unlike Beck who just wants to see the money), Breivik was a Christian, anti-Muslim, anti-Marxist, small government, right-wing, lunatic. Sound familiar?

Getting into every household

Having been mostly a morning shock-jock failure, by 2000 Beck began to devote more and more time, and eventually the entire program, to his political ranting. Taking pointers from Limbaugh and Hannity, Beck combined his over-the-top style, which got him fired from nearly every job he held previously, with his simplistic and largely incorrect political and historical rhetoric which made him incredibly popular, and incredibly rich. By April of 2010, Forbes Magazine said “Glenn Beck has managed to monetize virtually everything that comes out of his mouth.”

The same article revealed that Glenn Beck Inc, made $32 million between 2009 and 2010. In an interview Beck admits to being nothing more than an “entertainer,” and said he does not “give a flying crap about the political process.” In February of 2010 he told USA Weekend that “you’d have to be an idiot” to “not notice the temperature change” caused by global warming, and that he thinks mankind may play a significant role in the phenomenon. Beck has previously described himself as “a rodeo clown” and conceded, “If you take what I say as gospel, you’re an idiot.”

The missing Beck of the Left

The plain truth is that the idiots are out there, and they are listening. Glenn Beck epitomizes how the ruling elite can – through the right mouth, on the right face and with the appropriate amount of disinformation and theater – dilute and confound the working class. Playing off fears of Nazism and communism (Beck’s two favorite misunderstood fetishes) and compiling a completely incoherent historical framework, Beck has – along with his Fox News compatriots Fox News and Rush Limbaugh – bamboozled working people into believing that they have the same interests as Rupert Murdoch and the wealthy elite.

What Beck shows is that with the right amount of charisma and elitism, people will swallow just about any pill, no matter how bitter. The left, and certainly the radical left, has been unable to muster someone like him. Partially because of the dedication to truth-telling (something Beck does not worry about) and the inability to present said truth in a Beckist type of way, the ability to reach people in nearly the same way as Beck is completely lost on the left.

We need a Glenn Beck for the working class, and so far they appear to be waiting in the wings. However, in the age of watered-down online content and the tall and strictly controlled totem pole of cable news anchors and pundits, the ability for a thoughtful, truthful and reasonable Beck of the Left to come forward is retarded by the interests of the elite who own newspapers and cable stations. This is also why Beck has been so successful. Those of us who wish to challenge the elite and their interests are not given the opportunity to do so because of modern censorship. Therefore, we must reach people through unconventional means, and perhaps if the owners of cable news networks see a buck in it, they will give us a chance.

A longer version of this article appears at Kevin Gustafson’s blog.

Photo: David Shankbone // CC 2.0