Well tickle my armadillo! It's been a while since we checked in on Glenn Beck, hasn't it?
Thanks be to my horrible pagan gods, I've pretty much gotten over my obsession with Glenndolf. Why, it has been more than a year since I devoted a post to Beck - far, far too long, especially given that I have of late fallen back into my nasty habit of spending my mornings with Glenn and the rest of the "political morning zoo" crew he commands.
Even now that the FM dial has a feed from KLO , and thus I can once again enjoy the comedy fascist tantrums of one Dr. Michael Weiner (AKA "Michael Savage"), I still have a soft spot for the latter-day (saint) Orson Welles.
I especially like it - and always have - when Glenn badmouths and belittles academic "liberal elites" out of one side of his mouth while thoughtfully impersonating an academic out of the other. Obviously Our Boy Beck has some pretty serious jealousy and inferiority issues.
I've come a long way since the earliest days of my obsession with Professor Beck. Since then, I've waded through the toxic, conspiratorial garbage of WND , gotten to know professional racist Colin Flaherty , snuggled up with Paul T. Mero of local conservative wolf pack the Sutherland Institute - the list goes on and on.
That said, Glenn Beck has always struck me as the most professional right-wing media personality I've ever encountered, up to and including Rush Limbaugh (as an aside, I laugh gaily every time someone refers to Rush as a "radio giant" - they don't realize why that's funny, which is a little sad).
Beck may not be smart or particularly sane, but he possesses a sly animal cunning that belies his gopher-like appearance, and has both a natural gift for radio and a very well-developed sense of media savvy.
His rallies - most recently a "Restoring Love" rally that, to his credit, focused at least partially on promoting volunteerism - draw huge crowds. Through " Beck University " and other weird schemes, Glenndolf has cobbled together a cohesive worldview for his conservative fans, one based on conspiracy theories, moving goalposts, a hearty dollop of Jesus and historical revisionism. Quoth McClatchy News :
The right is rewriting history.
The most ballyhooed effort is under way in Texas, where conservatives have pushed the state school board to rewrite guidelines downplaying Thomas Jefferson in one high school course, playing up such conservatives as Phyllis Schlafy and the Heritage Foundation and challenging the idea that the Founding Fathers wanted to separate church and state...In articles and speeches, on radio and TV, conservatives are working to redefine major turning points and influential figures in American history, often to slam liberals, promote Republicans and reinforce their positions in today's politics.
The effort in Texas and nationwide is controversial, however, even among many conservatives. [Former Texas school board member Don] McLeroy was defeated in a recent primary after he led the campaign for a more conservative version of history, a defeat that the National Review, a leading conservative organ, called "sensible."
McLeroy wasn't alone in his campaign to rewrite the past in Texas - he had a major assist from non-historian evangelical nutjob David Barton.
Barton is a HUGE voice in Glennbeckistan. His revisionist, factually-challenged take on American history (in particular, the role that faith played in the lives of the Founding Fathers) has been a frequent and very loud presence in Beck's version of reality.
Unfortunately, Barton appears to have just touched the stove - he played so fast and loose with the facts in his most recent book (ironically titled The Jefferson Lies ) that the publisher has pulled it from shelves.
NPR has a dry but devastating takedown of Barton's lies Here are some highlights:
"You look up Article 3, Section 1 [of the US Constitution], the treason clause," [Barton] told James Robinson on Trinity Broadcast Network. "Direct quote out of the bible. You look at Article 2, the quote on the president has to be a native born? That is Deuteronomy 17:15, verbatim. I mean, it drives the secularists nuts because the Bible's all over it! Now we as Christians don't tend to recognize that. We think it's a secular document, we've bought into their lies. It's not."
We looked up every citation Barton said was from the Bible, but not one of them checked out. Moreover, the Constitution as it was written in 1787 has no mention of God or religion except to prohibit a religious test for office. The First Amendment does address religion.
On [Barton's] tours of the U.S. Capitol, for example, he claims that Congress not only published the first American Bible in 1782, but it also intended the Bible to be used in public schools...But historians say Barton is flat-out wrong in his facts and conclusion. Congress never published or paid a dime for the 1782 Bible. It was printed and paid for by Philadelphia printer Robert Aitken. At Aitken's request, Congress agreed to have its chaplains check the Bible for accuracy. It was not, historians say, a government promotion of religion. ...
"[Thomas] Jefferson, unlike the other presidents, closes his documents 'in the year of our Lord Christ,'" Barton said, not mentioning that this was a pre-printed form that was required by law.I suppose it's just the snobbish, tea-sipping liberal elitists at NPR and Ivy League colleges who are criticizing Barton, right? Well that's just typical. Oh, wait...
[Regarding Jefferson's role as a "civil rights visionary,"] Barton quotes Virginia law that prohibited Jefferson from freeing his slaves during his lifetime -- but Barton omits the section of the law that says Virginians could free slaves. Confronted by this, Barton said that Jefferson could not afford to free his slaves....
"You go back to the Founding Fathers, as far as they're concerned, they already had the entire debate on creation-evolution," [Barton] said on Daystar Television Network. "And you get Thomas Paine, who's the least religious Founding Father saying 'You've GOT to teach creation science in the classroom. Scientific method demands that."
Of course, that was years before Charles Darwin was born.
Warren Throckmorten, an associate professor of psychology, and Michael Coulter, a political science professor, both at Grove City College, a conservative Christian school in Pennsylvania, were also conducting their own review [of Barton's claims]. They published their own e-book that fact checked Barton called "Getting Jefferson Right."
Barton had written off other critics as "liberal elites," but this was a searing attack from within the evangelical community.
Throckmorten and Coulter aren't the only evangelicals who took issue with Barton's lies:
John Fea, chairman of the history department at evangelical Messiah College says that Barton is peddling a distorted history that appeals to conservative believers...Fea, who is an evangelical himself, says he believes that Barton is a danger because he's using a skewed version of the past to shape the future.
"He's in this for activism," he says. "He's in this for policy. He's in this to make changes to our culture."
It was around the time that Glenn Beck choked back on the slogan "the fusion of entertainment and enlightenment" and started using the rather pompous little slogan "the Truth lives here" that it became obvious what his (and Barton's) end game is.
Both Beck and Barton are in the business of reality alteration. They change the meaning of terms (making President Obama, a tepid centrist, a "Marxist"), change history, draw absurd webs of conspiracy that supposedly hide the "real truth" - and thus alter the past.
Beck loves to bust out Orwell's "1984" when ranting about the progressive plot to pull the wool over the eyes of the populace - isn't there something Orwell had to say about those who control the past?