Friday, 20 March 2009

Glenn Beck and Cleon Skousen: A Match Made In John Birch, Commie-Paranoia Nutjob Heaven

I fully intend to stop using Glenn Beck as a punching bag, but damn it, there are a few things that I just can’t let slip past me without comment. In a previous post, I linked to a video of a weepy Beck flogging his latest project/marketing vehicle, the so-called 9/12 project (the intent is to bring us all back to that kumbaya, trans-partisan state of nationalism that followed the greatest American tragedy in recent history).

As I stated in said previous post, I’m a big believer in giving people a fair shake, and so I have been giving the 9/12 Project’s website a thorough going-over. One thing I will admit that I like about the project is that it encourages people to read – and, unlike Michael Savage or Bill O’Reilly or any of the other pontificators of the right, Beck actually wants his followers to read *real* books, stuff like the Federalist Papers and Tom Paine’s “Common Sense.” There are some unfortunate right-wing revisionist biographies of various founding fathers tucked in there, but it was a better list than I expected.

As I was browsing, though, I came upon a book that Beck was promoting with unusual fervor, a book with zero name recognition and zero traction in other conservative circles. That book would be The Five Thousand Year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen.

The author’s name was weirdly familiar. Skousen…Skousen…Where had I heard that name before? Then it hit me. Not Willard Cleon Skousen, noted John Bircher, conspiracy theorist, and Utah Mormon McCarthyite?!

Dingdingding. You see, in the mis-spent days of my youth, I developed a fascination with Red Scare literature of the 1950s. I collected this stuff for pure kitsch value; these were the days when the Red Scare was still history and our political discourse hadn’t descended to the point where a bald unlicensed plumber was on the nightly news accusing a moderate Democrat of being a Stalinist.

I amassed a small but entertaining collection of such screeds as You Can Trust The Communists (...To Be Communists) and The Naked Communist. The Naked Communist, interestingly, was penned by one Willard Cleon Skousen, a compound polygamist by birth and a hard-core, “The Rockefellers are in league with Mao!” conspiracy nut. This same Skousen is the author of Beck’s recommended book.

Now, why would Beck include a book by a man possessed of questionable political acumen in an otherwise pretty decent reading list? Let’s parse this a bit. Skousen was a prominent figure in hard-right politics in Utah during the 1950s – 1980s. But Beck isn’t from Utah, so no partisan affiliation there (his annual hosting of the Stadium of Fire notwithstanding). Hold on a tic, didn’t Beck convert to Mormonism in 2000? Why yes, by cracky, he did.

Glenn, buddy, if you’re going to use your position in the punditocracy to promote conservative Mormon political theorists, you could probably do better than Skousen, a man who is widely regarded as a crackpot at best and a detriment to your conservative bona fides* at worst. Until Paul T. Mero cranks something out, ditch Skousen and throw a little Oakeshott or Nozick your audience’s way. The world will be a better place because of it.

* - I feel I can state this because of a piece from that most steadfast of conservative strongholds, the National Review, where Mark Hemingway opined as follows:

Who is Cleon Skousen you might ask? In answering that question, it’s hard to even know where to begin. Skousen was by turns an FBI employee, the police chief of Salt Lake City, a Brigham Young University professor, consigliore to former secretary of agriculture and Mormon president Ezra Taft Benson and, well, all-around nutjob...

Skousen’s Communist paranoia may have reached it’s apotheosis in 1970 when the Mormon church and BYU in particular began receiving a tremendous amount of external pressure to change the church’s policy on denying the Mormon priesthood to blacks. Skousen, then a professor at BYU, published an article entitled “The Communist Attack on the Mormons” and noted that critics were employing Communist tactics which were “distorting the religious tenet of the Church regarding the Negro and blowing it up to ridiculous proportions.” The Mormon Church reversed course on its discriminatory practices in 1978 and began ordaining black men to the priesthood.

Later in the 70s, Skousen accused the Council on Foreign Relations and the Rockefellers of puppeteering the election of Jimmy Carter to pave the way for One World Government, his new favorite topic. Things got so bad that the Mormon Church eventually issued an official communiqué distancing itself from Skousen’s organization, the Freemen Institute.


  1. I see here no mention of things that are actually in the book! And it is put out by the NCCS. Take a look into that organization and tell me what you think of it.

  2. For background information on Cleon Skousen based upon his FBI personnel file, see:

    1. Too easy to shoot holes in that website, you'll have to do better I'm afraid ernie. So many ways like do you really think the FBI files contained everything? For someone who it is claimed knew so little, he sure knew a lot. Have you heard him talk? Do you know where his information came from? I'll bet you have never heard him speak. I heard him talk about J Edgar Hoover. Skousen knew Hoover a lot more than is known by people such as yourself. Do you think the FBI always tells the truth?

  3. @Map Maker: didn't notice that until now, sorry: the "NCCS" (an Idaho-based NWO/Black Helicopter "think tank") is the new name for the Freeman Institute, the same organization that the church officially disvowed a few decades ago.

  4. Skousen is even creepier than I had previously thought. That explains a lot about his influence in Glennbeckistan. Thanks for the update Mr. Bernard!

  5. Nevertheless, Skousen's list of 45 Current Communist Goals for America, which was read on the House floor on January 10, 1963, was uncannily accurate in portraying the modus operandi and goals of the communist party, many of which have, regrettably, come to pass.

  6. I’m reading How the World Really works by Alan B. Jones, a collection of reviews of books Jones sites as giving one a primer on the truth about, well, how the world really works. In it is a review of The Naked Communist. Which led me to research it’s author, W. Cleon Skousen.

    One of the first things that Google showed me was the web site of Skousan’s nephew Joel Sckousen. Then all the other references to W. C. Skousen.

    My point is that verifying the validity of information is a rigorous process. Trying to sort through opinion and hyperbole to get the facts is time consuming and hard work. “Just the facts, M’am, just the facts.”

    I would like to respectfully suggest that the use of the words “nut job” adds to the difficulty in sorting fact from fiction, or hyperbole. Using those words serves the same function as any name calling: to influence by emotion rather than reason. I would like to submit that using such techniques weakens ones cause rather that strengthens it and makes it more difficult to sort fact from opinion.

  7. Okay ... understand that I don't write one syllable in defense of Skousen OR Beck. Your beefs with them are your beefs with them. I'm okay with that! The only reason I'm posting is for this link:

    It's a list of 45 goals of Communism to take over America, first published in 1958 by said nutjob Cleon Skousen in his "other" book, The Naked Communist.

    You say you're open minded? I had never heard of Skousen until I saw this list! Beck didn't turn me on to this list! I heard a local commentator read from it and ... it blew me away!

    I ask you simply to read and consider this list! THEN I ask you, can anyone, Republican or Democrat, deny that these so-called goals of Commmunism from 1958 have become the party platform of the Democratic Party? I mean, I didn't get Liberalism and Secularism Progression before I read this list! I didn't understand that so-called "modern art" that is shapeless, formless, and otherwise meaningless. I didn't get why the American Psychiatric Association mysteriously stopped diagnosing homosexuality as a mental disorder. I have never gotten the radical swing to the FAR LEFT of trade unions, or the overwhelming radical, Socialist, and Communist leanings of Hollywood, the media, academia, etc.

    It's ... all ... there!

    When the ACLU takes on the defense of a so-called artist who commits blasphemy or is anti-American, but won't defend a Christian kid disallowed to mention Jesus Christ at commencement, without this list, you can't make sense of that!

    As far as I'm concerned, IF Skousen was a paranoid nutjob then by God the Democratic Party played right into this lunatic's hands by just so happening to do all the things that Communists do and do all the things Skousen predicted they would.

    You sure he's a nut?

  8. Your the nut job, take a look in the mirror

  9. Anyone who goes to all the trouble to dis-credit Mr. Skousen or Glenn Beck for that matter should take a closer look at themselves. Your not fooling anybody, who cares? Your little following you have on here? Mr Bernard your the nut job!

  10. Hey ho there Space Cadet (Anonymous sounds so impersonal)! You're right that my unhealthy fixation on Glenn Beck got out of hand for a while. My only explanation is that all of his weird, esoteric ties to my home state of Utah fascinated me. He's like a traveler from Salt Lake City in the year 1953.

    As for spending time discrediting Beck and Skousen, that really wasn't my intention. They discredited themselves by being lying lunatics. Seriously, even the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints had to wash their hands of Skousen - and this is when Blacks were still denied the priesthood!! You have to be oe nutty son of a gun to get pushed out of the limelight when blatant racism is a-okay.

    I suppose in closing it's flattering that you called me a nut job by my proper name, and even went so far as to say I have a "little following" (I assure you I have no following at all - my last reader was a homeless guy with WiFi and a laptop under a bridge, but he traded the laptop for street drugs). Thank you.

    If you ever feel a burning need to actually make a cogent argument, present evidence, or generally engage in a discussion beyond "neener neener you're a nutjob," please let me know!

    1. "even the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints had to wash their hands of Skousen"

      Is that why Monson paid tribute to Skousen at his funeral?

      "and this is when Blacks were still denied the priesthood!! "

      Did you know CR, that in his views on government, Joseph Smith expressed his views against slavery as it was and is unconstitutional? He even prophesied the Civil war and where and why it would start. He was correct, it happened as he said it would. Joseph Smith and the Church have always believed in the constitution. You may argue it was unconstitutional for the priesthood to be witheld from blacks but was it? The church has never been against black people, you may scoff but it was not the Lords time for black people to receive the priesthood. They could become a member and enjoy the blessings that come from being baptised and as far as I know, enjoy blessings of the temple too. To tell you the truth, having the priesthood brings responsibility, sometimes I could do without the responsibility and just being a member would be ok with me. So what was racist CR? Women can't hold the priesthood either. What do you say about that? Sexist? What about a womens only gym? Sexist? What about a greek club that only allows greeks? Racist? It seems racist is a term that only applies to whites. People should take a racist chill pill and stop jumping on that when a whiff of racism, real or imagined, occurs.

  11. Good gravy, I had no idea this old post had attracted so many comments! I'm sorry for not responding more promptly, and in this case, I can't really respond individually. If you feel I've left you out, drop me a message and we can talk one-on-one. I'm really a pretty nice guy once you get to know me. :-)

    Accusations that I haven't read Skousen or his dire warnings carefully enough: I've read every paragraph of "The Naked Communist," and while I haven't read the entirety of "The Naked Capitalist," I feel that I read enough to dismiss Skousen. The term "nut job" is loaded, so let's just say that Skousen's beliefs are outside of the Overton window* for almost any time or place in America. He thinks a global cabal of the wealthy (who are never explicitly called Jewish, but the whiff is very strong - seriously, read it for yourself, his obsession with the Rothschilds is fantastic) and of communists is out to destroy the U.S. Constitution, which was divinely inspired. That last isn't so out of touch, as many Americans believe that our Constitution is sacred, but the "global cabal" stuff....come on.

    Now, "Anonymous" the second (not the gentleman who I replied to above) - I'll be honest, I think you've been badly misled. The list of "Communist goals" was cooked up by Skousen - he might as well have made up any list at all and claimed it was the goal of Communists.

    It's laughable both in substance and on it's surface. Have you ever studied what life is like in a Communist country? Have you read Capital or the platforms of the CPUSA (now pretty much defunct), the Socialist Worker's Party, or any ACTUAL communists? In debates this is called "moving the goalposts."

    1. CR, Skousen knew a lot more than you give him credit for. There are things he knew about, such as an intercepted cable revealing the soviet goals for taking over the world by 1970. He wasn't talking out of his backside CR. If you read the Naked Capitalist you would have read in the early part about the woman from the Communist party in America. Who did they go to see in the Waldorf Towers in case of emergency? Furthermore any instructions from these 3 men (3 wealthy american capitalists) was ratified by Moscow.

      He also knew about meetings (the minutes of the meeting were accidentally discovered) of some wealthy American Capitalists setting out to manipulate the government and to bring on war to acheive change. Think Andrew Carnegie for one. You really don't know what Skousen knew or didn't know. He knew a hell of a lot more than he is given credit for.

      As to your description of communism, as I said, a soviet communication was intercepted revealing the soviet goals for taking over the world. Communism these days seems different to what it was 50 years ago. Were you around then? You had Stalin, a man who murdered millions of his own people, you had Mao who murdered 10's of millions of his own people. Is that the communism you're talking about. What about communist countries that in the past would not allow freedom of religion? I wonder if you have a clue what communism was 50 years ago. You probably don't know about how Stalin helped bring on WW2 or how he helped the Japanese into WW2. Before you go off half cocked, maybe research a bit, you may learn something.