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Anthony Badami '11: I hate Glenn Beck

In an effort to squeeze out negative energy (new year, new semester, new outlook, you know the drill), I must take this conspicuous opportunity to lay open my feelings against a most conspicuous man. He is someone who absorbs more attention than he will ever deserve. He is a man capable of and culpable for widespread political, moral and social distortions, demagoguery and the cheapest form of falsification. He is a mendacious sleaze and an anti-intellectual agitator. He is, of course, Glenn Beck.

My fundamental issue with Beck is not his stupidity, blatant bigotry or baffling ignorance. Rather, my real grievance lies in the narrative that Beck represents; he promulgates a hyper-paranoid, quasi-conspiracy view of the world, all the while portraying himself a man of the soil. He even goes so far as to slander that once useful word, "populist." 

How arrogant can this man be? How far do the depths of his shallowness reach? He shuns Marxist or Communist thought, while expressing a deep disdain for the state's intervention in the personal sphere. (Marx himself reproached this state vs. citizen distinction entirely.) It is fairly obvious from even a brief viewing of his daily tirades on Fox that Beck has probably never read a single word of Karl Marx, nor any other kind of sophisticated (pardon my elitism) philosophical text.

The drivel that escapes his mouth is remarkable in its idiocy. After the Anti-Defamation League dubbed Beck the country's "fearmonger-in-chief," Beck fired back (with his usual acerbic wit) that the ADL was as helpful to the Jewish people as the "National Organization for Women (was) for the plight of women." Wow. NOW, as you may know, has made immense strides in protecting the reproductive rights of women — a potential solvent to many of the world's most grave social and economic issues.

When Beck interviewed Rep. Keith Ellison, this country's first Muslim Congressman, Beck challenged Ellison to prove that he was not "working with our enemies." Beck prefaced this astoundingly doltish comment by asserting that he did not subscribe to any sort of "political correctness."

Again, I'm at a loss for words. While I understand the desire to move away from rigid, political euphemism, there is a difference between doing that and spewing whatever half-baked nonsense that comes to mind.

To suggest that it is more "patriotic" to go with gut feelings than contemplation is to show both a severe lack of thoughtfulness and a supreme aptitude for provincialism. In other words, Beck's most deplorable effect is lending legitimacy to those individuals who prefer a comfortable and unprocessed political or cultural belief as explanation.

We need not think too hardily either about his comments on Obama's supposed detestation of whites. (I mean, Beck's not saying that Obama "doesn't like white people," just that he has a "deep-seated hatred" for them. Duh!) Their meaninglessness is palpable enough.

But one Beck scheme I find particularly striking is his creation of the 9-12 Project, a confused and misguided faction veiled as a political movement. Through this organization, Beck has attempted to recapture and sustain what he believes to be the feelings of solidarity and strength expressed by Americans in the days following September 11th.

The values and aims of the project are enumerated in his manifesto (his word, not mine), which, among other things, contends that the real patriot expresses an unwavering belief in God (not exactly a sentiment in line with the secular founding of our country), holds the family as the most sacred unit (does this veneration extend to gay families?) and attests to the deeply profound and insightful declaration that "America is good."

You may know the fallout from this project as the Tea Party, or Tea Baggers, whose refined tactics include (but are not limited to) stampeding D.C. venues like stray cattle and barking fanatically and incessantly at politicians with whom they disagree. 

It is difficult to say from exactly where Beck derives his moral and philosophical purview. Founders like Jefferson, Madison and Adams, were either deists or Unitarians, separate from modern Christian orthodoxy. Indeed, the United States is the only democratic government in the developed world that establishes as a principle the separation of church and state.

On Beck's book, "Arguing with Idiots," I have but two comments. First, his inveighed conflation of Nazism with communism, Fascism with progressivism and Liberalism with Stalinism, showcases more of a bizarre fetish with mating "isms" than it does any kind of intellectual illumination. Second, his unsubstantiated claims regarding immigration, national security and affirmative action border on the absurd and embrace the farcical ("Well, Asians are getting high test scores! Why aren't Blacks?!").

All in all, the various crusades of Beck do a disservice to conservatives, to liberals, to reason, to Americans, to journalism, to politics, to robust debate and to the future of humanity. I hate Glenn Beck, you hate him too, and with that off our chest, let us move on to issues, people and ideas that matter. Happy semester.

Anthony Badami '11 is a political theory concentrator from Kansas City, Mo. He can be reached at anthony_badami at


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