Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Why Beck’s Jingoism Appeals to His Many Followers

I happened to be in Washington this past week, so I went to see the crowd at Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor rally on Saturday (8/28). It's not often that I'm able to see a large crowd of people who have been taken-in by jingoistic sloganeering, and it was a rather unsettling experience for me.

Jingoism is marked by a rabid nationalism and militarism expressed in an aggressive militaristic foreign policy.

Beck's call for "supporting our troops" and "restoring honor" to our great nation is propagandistic patriotic sloganeering at its best.

Beck's use of terms such as: God, faith, hope, charity, honor, family, life, liberty, freedom, and rights are, in Beck's hands, emptied of their true meanings and given nationalistic propagandistic meanings.

I hope that Beck's followers come to understand the true meanings of the terms Beck uses.

Beck's 8/28 rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington occurred on the 47th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., where he gave his famous I Have a Dream speech.

Beck endorses Dr. King and what he stood for, and this is Beck's (and his handlers') weak point.

As I've said before, I write about Dr. King's legal-social philosophy often, because I believe his is the best philosophical basis for legal-social theory: natural law. And because, as Dr. King noted, this legal theory is also the philosophical basis of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

At issue here is: Justice. What is it? And how do we know whether or not our nation is acting justly?

Does Beck have the answer? Is Beck the man who, like Dr. King, can lead us our nation on the path of justice? Can Beck tell us how to go about building a more just society?

I think not. (Nor am I (by far) the only one who thinks he is not.)

If Beck knew what justice was he wouldn't be supporting the unjust wars that our troops are fighting; nor would he be supporting Israel and its unjust treatment of the Palestinian peoples; nor would he be supporting the unjust War on Terror and the unconstitutional USA PATRIOT Act.

The unjust nature of these is obvious and yet Beck seems oblivious to these injustices.

Rather than taking a stand for what is right and for what is true, Beck takes a stand for what is wrong and for what is false: preemptive war, torture, wiretapping, warrantless searches, suspension of due process for terror suspects, etc . . .

The purpose of Beck's (upcoming) 9/12 rally, so he says, is to help Americans recapture the feeling of unity we all had immediately after the terror attacks of 9/11. Personally, I can't imagine a worse thing for Americans to do that to put themselves (willingly) right back into the very terror-induced mindset that, ten years ago, shut down most of our critical thinking skills, which opened us up to be influenced and manipulated by the government propagandists. The last thing Americans need is a return to that non-thinking, duped, reactionary, vindictive, hyper-patriotic, overemotional mentality.

As for 9/11, Beck has never questioned the official government story. And yet the terror attacks of 9/11, which were perpetrated by elements of our own government, were the greatest injustices of our time. Beck talks about freedom and justice but it was the very injustice of the 9/11 attacks (which killed nearly 3,000 people) that led to the most drastic reductions of freedoms that Americans have ever known.

The core concern, I think, of the TEA party folks has been to regain the people's ability to regain control over our currently bloated, corrupt, and unjust federal government. For the most part, the TEA party folks are ordinary, hardworking Americans who are simply fed up with the feds. I can relate to this yet I can also relate to the many other injustices within our society, which Beck considers (= brands) Leftist (e.g., peace, reforming the drug laws, economic injustices). Beck appeals to these TEA Party folks because he uses terms they are familiar with (e.g., freedom, socialism, the Founders, Marxism) and he comes across to them as one who is learned in the subjects of history and political science yet Beck is simply using these terms and the concepts they represent as buzzwords in order to create an intellectually thin jingoistic lens which his followers can use to view (i.e., understand and make sense of) the world.

I have my own issues with both the Left and the Right yet Beck seems to be assured that it is the Left—and only the Left—which is a real threat to America. This appeals to most Americans because Americans value individual freedom and liberty above all else. This individual liberty and freedom stems from our rights, which are inalienable because they come to us from our Creator. This is outlined in the Declaration of Independence, a document Dr. King used to hold America's feet to the fires of our asserted ideal: that all people are created equally and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights . . .

This is something the Left often forgets: that the greatest civil rights leader of our time—Dr. King—stood on natural law, with eternal moral standards that created the legal and philosophical foundation of inalienable civil rights which Dr. King used (so successfully) as a fulcrum to gain the liberation of his peoples during his oppressed times (i.e., the American Negros of the 1950's-60's).

Dr. King was an intellectual, as well as a man who knew what justice—and injustice—was. He could recognize an unjust law or situation (like the Vietnam War and poverty) and organize against it in order to build a more just society. Glenn Beck, on the contrary, seeks to perpetuate the current injustices and legitimize the illegitimate within the minds of his followers in order to build a more unjust society.

One writer has suggested that Beck (and his handlers) has (have) managed to co-opt the TEA Party by duping its older—less tech savvy—members, leaving the younger, upstart, Ron Paul, End the Fed, 9/11 truth revolutionary types out in the cold. I think this is true, but I also think there is more to it than this. Not all of the TEA Party people at Beck's rally were old; many were middle aged or younger. I think these people simply haven't bothered to think-through—critically—the issues that are at stake today. Nor have they bothered to think about what justice is. Sadly, it's Beck's anti-intellectualism, sloganeering, and jingoism that actually appeals to so many people, which engenders a "My Country Right or Wrong!" mindset.

Just wrap indefinite detentions and torture in the American flag and everything's okay . . .

Beck has ridiculed Ron Paul and his supporters, as well as the 9/11 Truth crowd, yet these people were the founders of the TEA Party movement—ordinary citizens who could see the injustices of preemptive wars, torture, eavesdropping, suspension of due process for terrorism suspects, etc . . .

Mr. Beck sets himself against the very people who know what justice is while portraying himself as an authentic spokesman for justice. He uses the skin of the truth (freedom, justice, rights) and stuffs it with lies (don't question 9/11, support preemptive wars, support Israel) in order to make it palatable to his listeners/viewers/followers.

It doesn't take an Einstein, however, to see the injustices which America is guilty of . . . but it does take someone with a heart and a thinking mind; someone who knows what justice is.

Something Glenn Beck seems oblivious to.

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