Monday, April 13, 2009

Exposed! Glenn Beck's Intentional Lies and Distortions About the Progressive Movement Laid Bare

I am all for bringing extra guns (and bullets) to a gunfight--I don't ever want to lose for lack of shooting back. Frankly, it just isn't this respectable negro's style if you get my meaning. As demonstrated by my last post, I am disgusted by the April 15th, "we want to kill and depose our sitting president without having the nerve to explicitly say so nonsense." Therefore, I am left with no choice but to bring out some extra firepower to speak on the issue.

In this case, my call: you got my back? The response: hell yeah. The resolution: perfect.

Thus, I bring forth a guest post from one of our respectable negro allies, Wernor Herzog's Bear--someone who you all should be paying much closer attention to (if I do say so myself).

As we used to say re: Golden Age hip hop, this one is highly quotable:

The Abuse of History II: The Progressive Movement

In this installment of my series on the recent abuses of history in the right wing media, I'd like to address Glenn Beck's recent conflation of the American Progressive movement with fascism. The word "fascism" has long been rendered bereft of meaning due to its abuse by ideologues on both the Right and on the Left, but Beck and the far Right are now taking this abuse to another level. As I've already discussed in terms of Jonah Goldberg's atrocity of a book, the conservative attempt to call modern liberalism "fascist" rests on a giant raft of lies, distortions, and laughably facile connections. The moronic chain of reasoning usually works like this: Hitler wanted to limit smoking and so do liberals, and thus liberals are fascists. (Goldberg actually makes this connection in his book, believe it or not.) According to this logic, the American Lung Association must be staffed by a bunch of monocled, jack booted SS men.

We can take a similar example of distorted, willfully misleading reasoning in Beck's program last week. He tries to connect public anger towards the banking CEOs who ruined our financial sector with the situation in Russia before the Bolshevik Revolution, as if resentment and criticism of the wealthy is inherently Communist. Really Glenn? Here's a quick quiz, and try to guess who wrote or said the following quotations, answers provided below.

1. "The money power preys on the nation in times of peace, and conspires against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy."

2. "All accumulation, therefore, of personal property, beyond what a man's own hands produce, is derived to him by living in society; and he owes on every principle of justice, of gratitude, and of civilization, a part of that accumulation back again to society from whence the whole came."

3. "It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their own selfish purposes.”

1. Abe Lincoln 2. Tom Paine 3. Andrew Jackson

I am most upset, however, at Beck's smearing of the Progressive movement and associating it and FDR with fascism because they expanded the role of government, contradicting Beck's "strict constructionist" worldview. (Although I'm not sure how waging an unprovoked war to change another nation's system of government fits into a limited view of the government's role.) Yes, what a bunch of horrible people those Progressives were, advocating things like child labor legislation, the ability for workers to organize, clean food and drug laws, lessening the power of political machines, the direct election of Senators, a more equitable taxation system, breaking up monopolies, and giving women the right to vote. How awful for them to respond to tragedies like the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire, where 146 women perished when they couldn't escape, by making factories provide unlocked fire exits. How dare these fascist Progressives put such onerous restrictions on a business' right to make money! Shouldn't women like Jane Addams have just stayed home and made babies instead of providing education to the poor of Chicago and helping to found troublesome organizations like the NAACP? That's what Glenn Beck's intellectual godfathers would have told her to do. They also opposed all of the political causes that I mentioned above.

Now, I would be the first to admit that the Progressive movement had its flaws. It could take an elitist attitude towards the people it claimed to help, it did relatively little to address the oppressive racism of the early twentieth century, and some prominent Progressives like Margaret Sanger subscribed to eugenics. Beck tries to use this latter fact to make one his many facile connections between fascism and Progressivism, since Hitler believed in eugenics as well. I don't want to excuse eugenicists of any political stripe, but all the same, eugenics was a complex and multifaceted phenomenon, and Hitler represented a particularly extreme and racist understanding of it. Most eugenicists wanted to limit the ability for certain "undesirables" to reproduce, but did not want to euthenize the mentally and physically ill (a ala Hitler), nor did they believe in the propagation of a "master race." Based on Beck's reasoning, Eisenhower would be a fascist for building the Interstate Highway System, because he was inspired by the German Autobahn.

Furthermore, when Beck tries to make "judicial activism" a Progressive tactic, he forgets that the courts in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era continually gave corporations the rights of individuals under the Fourteenth Amendment. Using a "strict constructionist" interpretation of contract law, they struck down all kinds of legislation regulating work hours (which could be 12-14 hours a day at that time) and child labor as limits on the "right of contract." At least "judicial activists" like Earl Warren used their power to overturn segregation rather than endorse it (as turn of the century jurists had in the infamous Plessey decision.)

Of course, through all of his rantings, Beck and his minions use the word "fascism" without understanding what it actually means. Fascism is a very particular political ideology, it is NOT merely a system with an authoritarian leader or a single political party. Here is a useful definition from historian of fascism Robert Paxton:

"a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion."

Other historians have crafted their own definitions of "generic fascism," but all point to extreme nationalism as the key ingredient. That being the case, labelling the avowed internationalist Woodrow Wilson a "fascist" actually calls him the OPPOSITE of what he really was. And is there anyone on the American scene these days pushing an "obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimbhood" more than Beck, who keeps telling his audience that they need to "take their country back" from shadowy elements? Beck's show is a veritable cavalcade of militant nationalism, singling out an amorphous "them" that is to blame for America's problems, a "them" that somehow includes America's enemies in World War II, modern day terrorists, and supporters of Barack Obama's agenda. Is there no more obnoxious cult of unity than the anti-immigrant monoculturalism spouted by his fake, distorted Tom Paine actor? I wouldn't call Beck a fascist, but his paranoid style, messianic nationalism, villification of "them," and implicit endorsement of extralegal violence makes me very uneasy.

And as long as Beck is playing the game of political genealogy, I think it's time to put his intellectual forbears under the microscope. He likes to connect his worldview to that of the "Founders," abusing the image of men like Thomas Paine in the process, but his brand of conservatism had many supporters in the 1930s. Even though he likes to compare FDR and his supporters to Nazis, they actually wanted to get involved with World War II in order to arrest fascism's spread. (Hence Woody Guthrie's famous "This Machine Kills Fascists" sticker and leftist Charlie Chaplin's satire of Hitler in The Great Dictator.)

The radical Right of that time, however, shared fascism's obsessive hatred of Communism, rampant paranoia, and even its noxious anti-Semitism. Henry Ford, that captain of industry and entrenched opponent of organized labor, was an avid reader of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion who maintained his business in Nazi Germany even after World War II began. The Beck of that era's radio waves, Father Coughlin, mixed "we surround them" populism with praise for Hitler and Mussolini and a healthy dose of anti-Semitism. In fact, FDR's most virulent opponents hatched a secret plot to overthrow him in a military coup, which begs the question, who are the fascists here?

Beck wants us to "learn from the past," but he spews forth an ideology that calls for America to return to the very Gilded Age miseries that the Progressive movement rescued us from. We've tried radical free market ideology in the past: it failed in the nineteenth century, it failed during the Roaring Twenties, and it failed more recently in the form of a financial collapse brought on by irresponsible deregulation. Like Plessey, unregulated slaughterhouses, "trusts," and male-only suffrage, Beck and his misbegotten ideas ought to be swept into the dustbin of history.


RiPPa said...

There's nothing like goof ol' political polarization.

Al From Bay Shore said...

Breathe in. Breathe out. Take a deep breath. Look, I like to watch Glenn Beck. I share some of his politics BUT I also understand that he is partisan to the point of being ridiculous. Someone like you needs to go to the next level. Leave those partisan hacks alone. Yes, I called Glenn Beck a partisan hack. Read Salon. Read Camille Paglia. Find some Michael Kinsley and relax. Why do you do this to yourself?

What you did is like me, a republican, listening to Al Franken. This is very sadistic. Someone like you needs to hit the headlines and enjoy Obama's role in sicking the SEALS on the Somali pirates. Don't squander this moment by letting Glenn Beck raise your blood pressure.

Allow me to share some Tao with you...

To get the good is to get rid of the bad.

Drop this Glenn Beck stuff and you'll be left with the headlines -a Black Commander in Chief having the testicles to flex his military muscle by using the world's preimer Special Forces unit.

You got plenty of time to be angry at Glenn Beck, he ain't going nowhere.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Wernor Herzog's Bear.

Glen Beck is just parroting various right-wing publications in an attempt to scare people. And the pablum he's spewing isn't even recent propaganda... it's actually about 70 years old.

Most fascist states enforce aggressive social Darwinism. And as a result, they don’t always have a clear cut economic policy.

If you take a look at the historical economies of 1930s and 1940s Italy, Spain and Germany - they're all over the place. None of them economically jive with each other, none of them economically agree with each other. And none of them even agree with themselves from year to year. You often find people within the same party and the same movement completely disagreeing with each other. A fascist economy is a schizophrenic economy. The only thing they have in common is that they all claim to be a "third" economic choice (opposed to socialism and free-market capitalism).

And while Fascist Italy did embrace corporatism... and while Reagan and Herbert Hoover did attack FDR's 'New Deal' as being corporatism... corporatism does not equal fascism.

Corporatism was embraced by Italian Fascism because it puts the money in the hands of the elite and the powerful (i.e. the military, the party leaders, the industry leaders, etc.)

But that's about as far as the connection between fascism and corporatism goes...

If Beck wanted to be thoughtful, he could have made a very interesting program about how the U.S. is overly corporate. And that we need to watch out for that.

But that doesn't sell airtime or get ratings... And Beck knows that...

So he throws the "F" word into the ring in order to make things "sensational". That way, he can win over Joe Sixpack, who may not know any better, by scaring the crap out of him.

Fascist states want a single-party system. They believe that nations and races are in conflict and only the strong survive - rampant social Darwinism. They suppress critics and dissension. And they’re almost always anti-liberal, often radical and usually believe in "armed" politics.

I think Beck is making HUGE leaps of logic that don't add up.

-Bill the Lizard

Noah Odabashian said...

Yo, straight up

Glenn Beck is a stupid asshole. Now I know this isn't as eloquent or well thought out as this dope post, but it is from the heart and, in my opinion, sums up who Glenn Beck is.

I first found out that Glenn Beck was a stupid asshole when I watched his show on Illegal Immigration. Needless to say, I was shocked and disappointed that someone could adhere so vehemetly so blatantly ignorant and racist ideas.

Thank you for keeping tabs on this stupid asshole, I know it is painful and frustrating. Plus, there is always stuff to comment on, this stupid asshole Glenn Beck is prolific with the bullshit he spews.

I am not looking forward to this April 15th thing, sounds scary and dangerous. We all should be equipped with cameras and video recorders to catch what goes down.

Why do I go to school in a red neck area?

Again, this blog is dope

msladyDeborah said...


Intelligent commentary on the subject of facism and socialism.

I was a member of a socialist party for well over a decade. I bet that there are not a lot of people who can not honestly define the theories.

It is also true that all movements have flaws. Human beings make political theory a living reality. There is no way that any form of government is perfect.

Anonymous said...

Negros (and white trash) are the "undesirables", your progressive movement wanted to wipe out. Now we have abortion, which claims many of your kind. I've got an Idea, lets make abortion government funded and really thin you undesirables out. Better yet lets add some sterilants to the water in the inner cities so all the tap water drinking minorities can't keep multiplying. You've taken this race thing too far. Enough Americans died freeing the slaves, but your race still fails to excel the way all other immigrants have and do.
Work ethic and self reliability needs to be your focus not picking sides with the democrats because they continue to bribe you with welfare checks, unearned scholorships, jobs, and promotions at work. Earn your respect and social status the way everyone else did. This takes generations to breed such ethics. Ween yourselves from the government's teets! Now there's a progressive thought.

Robert Wenzlaff said...

There is one flaw to the above argument.

Hitler and the German Nazi pary did not ionvent facism.

The "facia" (see the back of any dime), is a bundle of rods bound around an axe head. It represents the right of the government to use force to control the actions of the people, and it is a symbol that goes back to Roman times.

Facism is not inherently a racist ideology, although when government control gets extended to the point of getting to decide who lives and dies, as it did in Nazi Germany, it certainly can be used to enable a racist state - as it did in Nazi Germany.

Facism is simply absolute control of the people and means of production by the governmet. While many of the Progressive reforms as stated in above arguments were arguably necessary, they all do lead in the direction of more government control. So if Hitler is ideologically sitting on the North Pole, the current crop of Progressives may not be anywhere near Hitler.

They are however leading us north...

This is the danger of divisive politics. The arguments of the Right vs. Left debate are usually phrased in terms of East-West movement (does either party support dangerous factories?), but ultimately we are being lead Northeast and Northwest without ever noticing that the government is encroaching more and more upon our freedoms.

Anonymous said...

Look guys, listen to this Glenn Beck and weigh his knowledge against anything the Libs have and you will find freedom being spewed like a Philipino Volcano into an empty Progressive hole. You can't dig out of it unless the Government gives you a shovel. Look at the history of our country and all the shit it had to go through to even have a sense of freedom. We still ain't free but we have the best freedom in the world right now. At least until these government cronies let us be. Both parties are corrupt and we need to get them outta Washington. It will take great sacrafice, but look what our founding Fathers went through just to have a little freedom. They went through hell. I dare say that there is not one American today that would march overnight without shoes just for a chance to route the British from Trenton like George Washingtons men did. Why did they do that??? Freedom moron, that's it, it was freedom for the black man and the white man and anyone one else that held that belief. I say kiss my buttocks if you think Government owes you something. I say make your own way the way our founders have set the system to help you do.

Anonymous said...

good article, my question is would you think also that maybe Glen Becks view and advocacy of revolution and such,could also have "roots" tied to his Mormon,"kingdom of zion" beliefs? and his near idolizing of whacked out Cleon Skousen?

Unknown said...

Glenn Beck is the knife and everyone who follows him is the lamb. Remember he is "not a reporter", nor does he "check facts" but some follow him as if his word is golden. This will be the downfall of democracy. Democracy depends on the truth and citizens making good choices based on accurate information. OK, lets go back to pure capitalizism. The coal mines, the sweat shops, the dress factories....Search the Colorado Mining Massacre where Rockefeller banished workers to tent camps and left women and children with no food then burnt it down in fear of unionization. Killing infants in mother's arms. Lets go back there, where corporatations have the rights of human beings!!!!

bccnp1 said...

Beck’s worldview and perspective which he views life by is blurred by his Mormon religion.

You know the religion where Joe Smith was visited by God the Father and the son along with Maroni who gave him a golden tablet and later
John the Baptist visits him. That Joseph Smith. Yeah the guy who wanted a communal setting “opps communism” for his flock.

The same guy who believed the Garden of Eden was in Missouri.

This is where Beck chooses to anchor his brain.

Beck thinks the “end of the world” is at hand as is pushed by his church and their writings.

They also see other Christians as deceived.

It is rather funny all these very Christian people listening to a guy who thinks they are a bunch of ill-informed reprobates. Ha!

How many times does this guy have to be wrong before he loses all credibility?

He uses fear to push his talking points and rake in the

His conspiracy theories all fall apart with the exception of those who want to believe this stuff.

If you believe his conspiracy theories then you might as well believe all the other stuff Beck holds as true in his religion.

Jesus visited America. God lives on the planet Kolob. Jesus and Satan are brothers. Swallow it all.
Drink down the kool-aid of Cleon Skousen now pushed by Beck.

Then when the end comes you can be living off Becks magic seeds with all his other friends waiting for the Mormon God to give them a planet to rule.

Go ahead it is your right and his to believe this.

But it is all propaganda and Beck is guilty of doing what he points his finger at everyone else for.

Be afraid, let the pictures he show scare you and his
twisting and making a mountain out of a mole-hill.

Everybody is out to get you. The Muslims, the communist, the socialist, the liberals, the fascist, the Beast and the Anti Christ and they
are all the same person. Huh?!