In my bid to transcend reality and become the next Monitor of the DC Multiverse, I monitor (obviously) as many media "signals" as I can. One thing I particularly enjoy is my daily rendezvous with Glenn Beck and his lovable sidekicks Pat and Stu. I used to catch at least 1-2 hours of Beck every day: now that he's no longer re-broadcast from 4 to 7 PM, I can only usually get in about an hour of Beck.
This morning, Glenn Beck took me by surprise by indirectly endorsing and lauding non-violent direct action. The set-up for this turn of events is as follows: ten members of Jewish Voice for Peace attended Pastor John Hagee's annual "Yay, Israel!" Rally for the purpose of standing and disrupting services to bring attention to Hagee's unwavering, ultra-hawkish support for Israel and its treatment of the Palestinian population.
If you're familiar with Hagee, feel free to skip this paragraph, but if the name vaguely rings a bell or you have no idea who he is, here's the ten cent run-down. Pastor John Hagee is a member of that peculiar group of radio and television evangelicals who specialize in offering a politically right-wing view of current events that is “backed up” by biblical prophecy and/or ancient history. I would wager that about 60% of Hagee's television program is usually devoted to hawkish Zionism*, 30% to the topic of Iran, and 10% to assorted lunacy and interviews with attractive, toothy guests with uniformly startling and unsettling googly-eyes. This googly-eye phenomenon is something that I'm going to have to look into, as I'm beginning to suspect a “They Live”-style alien conspiracy – have you gazed into the eyes of Michelle Bachmann (sp?) lately? In the words of William S. Burroughs, “But I digress...”
Back to the demonstration at Hagee's megachurch and Beck's reaction to it. The ten protesters, scattered individually throughout the crowd, rose from their seats at a prearranged, coordinated time and began loudly declaiming that Hagee “has blood on his hands,” etc. etc. (I'm not disputing that Hagee, a Zionist, hawk, and all-around nut doesn't have blood on his hands - that's just such a cliche thing to shout at him).
Glenn Beck's first reaction to this was to lament the fact that poor, persecuted Christians aren't even safe in their own churches any more. He then lobbed a half-baked hard line pro-Israel rant around for a while. Beck's recent wild hair is Israel – the religiosity that has permeated his show since his “8/28 Rally” has predictably re-re-re-minted Beck as a fervent Zionist. Beck's lack of knowledge about Middle Eastern issues is no impediment to him spouting off about them. At any rate, Beck plugged his newest rally, which is actually scheduled to take place in Jerusalem (!). Where this is going is anyone's guess, but in the midst of the so-called “Arab Spring,” Beck and Palin and Bachmann et. al.'s hard-right Zionism, fueled by an evangelical belief that Israel has a starring role to play in the imminent apocalypse, is tone-deaf at best and intentionally provocative at worst.
Beck surprised the hell out of me, though, I have to give him that. As he went full-on LDS and waxed testimonial**, he again compared his listeners to the civil rights activists of yore. Then, astonishingly and to his credit, Beck returned to the subject of the protesters at Hagee's church. To paraphrase Beck (I don't have the transcript handy), “These people stood up, alone, for what they believed in. They were arrested for what they believe in [I can't confirm that they were actually arrested – the impression I get from the limited reports available seem to indicate they were removed by security. -Ed.]...What will you stand up for? What will you be arrested for?”
Maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised. Beck, after all, has been flogging the bones of the civil rights movement from a right-wing revisionist standpoint for more than a year, and he lauded the scream-fests at health care town hall meetings as civic engagement at its finest. When it lines up with his agenda (such as he actually has one other than “make controversial and entertaining radio”), Beck is all about non-violent direct action. This was, however, the first time that I've heard him play fair and praise the NVDA of people whose agenda he despises.
Well done, Beck. 20 points to Slytherin.
* - Hagee's program can sound like a bedtime story for adults whose brains aren't quite wired up right sometimes. In his version of reality, Israel is a plucky underdog pitted against bloodthirsty, inhuman monsters bent on preventing the return of Christ - upon said return, by the way, I imagine that the marriage of convenience that has lasted thus far between hard-right Zionist Jews and hard-right Zionist Christians might get a bit bumpy.
** - See here