I’m a big fan of Glenn Beck. His show has the most cutting, spot-on satire in news commentary today. I only catch the show when I happen to be driving when it’s on, and I’ve only seen the TV shows in the form of YouTube clips. Beck speaks to me, and my students have even said that I remind them of him. However, what I’ve heard in recent weeks makes me worry.
This came most forcefully to mind just within the last several days, as my wife and I were driving home and caught the last few minutes of one show. Beck was ranting about the coming political apocalypse and doing so with phraseology deeply steeped in LDS doctrine. Now, I don’t mind that his commentary is infused with language based on beliefs that he and I share, and by no means was he explicitly promoting his sectarian beliefs, but I still found his references to a plan for us to prove ourselves in a life of enduring good and evil to be, in this context…over the top. Frankly, he was getting a little hysterical. Suggesting that people, for instance, save some food is perfectly rational (even the Wall Street Journal has done so), but I don’t know that it does our political or our religious beliefs any good to frame them together in breathless doomsday scenarios.
And make no mistake about it: Beck has become a Malthusian through and through. I’m also a libertarian-leaning conservative, and as such see our society in desperate straits, but Beck’s clarion call lately has been “depression and revolution.” An economic depression is a very real possibility, but…revolution? I get the impression he isn’t talking about peaceful “tea party” protests.
Beck’s also taken to citing the “we’ll save the Constitution when it’s hanging by a thread” prophecy, but I’m not sure how he sees that happening. I mentioned that line to a friend in conversation once a few years ago, and he opined that we’re already fulfilling it now, not by dramatically seizing the reins of public policy somehow, but by being a significant community that lives the ideals of the Founders.
And that appears to be the impetus behind another of Beck’s new fetishes: the 9 Principles and the 12 Values (of Highly Effective Citizens, perhaps?). If this is a grassroots effort to reinvigorate America by promoting traditional living, then great. But in light of Beck’s other obsessions these days, I wonder if this is an effort towards a quasi-secession (another radical idea that seems to be enjoying burgeoning support).
Pseudo-scriptural language + seeing one self’s movement as fulfillment of prophecy + obsession with imminent revolution = jumping the shark. You’re a brilliant guy, Glenn, and your perspective is appreciated and necessary. But, please, try to reign in the fringes of your ideas before you make the good stuff look crazy.