Monday, August 30, 2010

Post No. 146e: Article of Interest on Glenn Beck

The following article by Christopher Hitchens, concerning the "Glenn Beck movement," appeared today in Slate.

We will not make any introductory comments. We await your comments.

White Fright

Glenn Beck's rally was large, vague, moist, and undirected - the Waterworld of white self-pity.

(c) 2010 Slate

One crucial element of the American subconscious is about to become salient and explicit and highly volatile. It is the realization that white America is within thinkable distance of the moment when it will no longer be the majority.

To view the remainder of the article, click here.


  1. C Hitchens is not one with whom I normally share philosophical agreement, but his article on the Glenn Beck rally seems to touch on the very important, and probably missed, fears about the coming “White minority. While my relatives were not on the Mayflower, they landed in Braintree in the Boston Harbor in August 1635. We came, as everyone else who has ever come to this country, as foreigners. Like many others fleeing religious intolerance we came to find a new sense of freedom. For nearly 400 years we have had our difficulties with the concept of freedom and acceptance of those less fortunate. Perhaps we fear that as a minority we will become the less fortunate, dependent upon the charity of the new leadership class. No wonder we are frightened after remembering how succeeding classes of immigrants coming to this country were treated.

    So it may be that Glenn Beck’s fear is that roles will shift and he wants to be sure he has cast his lot with those he thinks will become the new order. I think Mr. Hitchens has hit the nail on the head with the close of his article:

    Saturday's rally was quite largely confined to expressions of pathos and insecurity, voiced in a sickly and pious tone. The emotions that underlay it, however, may not be uttered that way indefinitely.

  2. Dan:

    Good to hear you back amongst our commenters. We value your thoughts.

    You make a very interesting point about role reversal. Imagine if a coalition of minorities treated the current majority in the same manner as the minorities were treated over the past 400 years.

  3. Yes, Inspector, imagine that. While you are imagining that possible nightmare, try imagining that Hitchens got it all wrong. Try imagining that these "white people" weren't in fear of being in the minority but that they are in fear of the US becoming a Balkanized third world country in debt to the Chinese and unable to defend itself. Because, looking on that stage, I saw a lot of people of color. I did not see just White People. I am atheist but I understood the message. I don't care what color you are or what your primary language is, I care that you want a responsible government that does not lay insurmountable debt on my grandchildren, that you really love this kind of republic, that you believe in the possibilities that are unavailable in most of the world but exist here. None of that requires a "Whiteness" of any kind.

    Hitchens' take was an attempt to diminish, not reveal, what the 8/28 rally was about.

  4. Your take is also a reasonably plausible one. Quite frankly, we do not really think that this is about race per se, but rather about control of decisions, direction, and the future.

    (A review of our pieces over the years will reveal that we believe that when the analysis goes deep, very little in life is about race, which we believe to be a superficial symptom through which people express their frustrations, but more about opportunities and power over available resources.)

    What's more interesting from our perspective is that "The Folks in Control," however one might characterize them in terms of race, status, class, wealth, geographic location or whatever, allowed this situation to develop over arguably the last 50 - 100 years, and now there are complaints by a vocal group of concerned citizens.

    Is it possible, as postulated by some, that the the liberal, conservative, progressive, corporate and banking interests, and libertarian POWER FORCES in our society are laughing all the way to the bank, and that the minions with little money and power (the members of the Institute included) are the ones complaining? And that because of new technological advances in communication and the power of the Internet, the voice of the minions is now saying, "Stop! Enough is enough!"

    Is this arguably populist movement somewhat similar to the one led by "the Great Commoner," William Jennings Bryan at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th Centuries?

    Is what we are witnessing simply the most vocal leaders of the perhaps 80% of those citizens at the bottom of the heap?

  5. The only thing I would rather see than this idiot in a dress is nationwide gales of laughter at his idiotic blathering.

    With two wars still in progress, I know of no one lending more assistance and comfort to our enemies.

    Didn't we once call that treason?

  6. In the Fifties, we blindly thought that race was not an issue. Until it was revealed just how bad minorities were being treated. Yet those of us in the North laid it all on those of us in the South, ignoring the de facto segregation all around us and the blatant bigotry of everyday life. Those of us in the South pointed at the hypocrisy of the North to justify the de jure segregation and outrageously blatant bigotry all around us. Until, finally, it was plastered all over the TV screens and people began to wake up. But not all the way. Just enough to make themselves feel good about having "done something".

    We are still waking up. I think what Beck's rally and the Tea Party Movement is all about is finding a common ground where honor and principle do not conflict with reality. The question is Did the people who attended and the many more than watched it grasp that message or just see it as justification for a more simplistic one?

    I worry that the "us vs them" mentality on both sides will win out in the end.

  7. Glenn Beck haters who did not see the Restoring Honor Rally will comment about it as if they had. He recently was called "scum." The rally was called a KKK meeting. Beck is discrediting his accusers by the minute!

  8. Douglas said:

    "I think that what Beck's rally and the Tea Party Movement is all about is finding a common ground where honor and principle do not conflict with reality."

    Probably 99% of the time Douglas, we understand and appreciate the concepts you convey in your comments, even if we do not specifically agree with each and one of them.

    This time is different, and were having difficulty with this one. In our minds, "honor and principle" are not only vague terms, but terms that are personal to the holder, the viewer / observer, and dependent upon the circumstances and subject.

    For a group of people to somehow find common ground on such amorphous concepts is intellectually and conceptually impossible at first glance. We'll have to think about that one for a long time.

    Whatever the number of attendees at the rally, we doubt that even 5% of them could find common ground / agreement on even a set of 5 religious principles.

    Our sense is that the attendees are concerned about the general direction in which our country is headed, and the fact that we are no longer the "world leader" (if we ever we were) in charge and control of our own destiny. Our suspicion is that there is some general discomfort, uneasiness, and UNCERTAINTY about where we are MIGHT be going, because no one really knows. It's no longer entirely within our control, especially if "outsiders" can enter our country and attack us.

    We're surprised that you did not focus on our "Folks in Control / Power Forces" comment above. How did we minions allow our country to get to this point, only to start yelling in the last few years? Anyone with even bare minimum intelligence and experience had to see this coming 25-50 years ago.

    The reason why we didn't complain: Those of us "who matter to the politicians and leaders" were still managing to live well and sit pretty. We saw what was occurring, but not enough of us felt the direct and constant pain. It's different now.

  9. Mike J. Baron:

    Welcome to our forum and thanks for your comment.

    You said: "Glenn Beck haters who did not see the Restoring Honor Rally will comment about it as if they had."

    That's probably true. There is probably also a difference of opinion / perception between those who saw all of it, saw only snippets or parts of it, attended all of it, attended only parts of it, who read the transcript of speeches, who read or saw the interviews of attendees, and so on.

    It is our suspicion that the vast majority of people making comments made them based on their feelings about Glenn Beck prior to the rally. It is also our suspicion that they feel that any people attending the rally or supporting any comments by Beck are Beck clones, in their entirety.

    There is virtually nothing logical or scientific about how people form their opinions about emotional issues, especially when it comes to security, comfort, family, religion, home, and people we don't know or understand.

    Uncertainty brings out something less than desirable in US ALL. What is troubling is that we're having all of this "tension" between well-meaning citizens, no matter the side of the fence on which they sit.

    It is our strong suspicion that if magically by Labor Day, unemployment shot down by 8%, personal incomes increased by 15%, we deported any potential terrorists, and we could acquire a guarantee that things would not change for several years, lots of the clamor would quickly subside.

    The problem is that it's not going to happen. We are heading into uncharted waters, and people don't like that. They like security.

    There are no more guarantees in life.

  10. Inspector, I think that believing there is little common ground is a Bad Thing. I am not an optimist, per se, more a pessi-optimist in that I expect the worst and hope for the best. I think there may be plenty of common ground with room for all sorts of supposedly different ideas. As for the differences in religious principles perhaps we should remember the adage "the devil is in the details" and consider the commonality of religious beliefs on the whole; how we should treat our neighbors, the question of charity, the rights of individuals (free will. The "principles" which dictate how these should be viewed are details, not truly principles.

    When this nation began, it was not united, it was fractured. there was a lot of squabbling and disagreement among the colonies as well as among our Founding Fathers. Yet they found common ground. A common enemy in the rule by the Crown. They found certain principles upon which they agreed and used that to unify. After the successful conclusion to the revolt, we almost came apart under the Articles of Confederation. The Constitution became the binding document of principles. The question is always of the honor (the character) of the people in adhering to those principles. Instead of citizen politicians, as the Founders envisioned, we have created a new "ruling class" of career politicians.

    I don't mean to say that illegal immigrants (or all immigrants) or Islam or whatever is the One True Enemy of the People. I want to say that we once had guiding principles that we believed in even if we didn't follow them perfectly. That failure to follow them didn't mean the principles were flawed, just that human beings are.

    We must find common ground or we shall continue to divide and that can only lead to, well, disaster. I think the common ground is there, in the Constitution and in our history, with all its faults and flaws. Because we learn from those faults and flaws and we strive to improve.

    Equality under the law.
    Individual freedom.
    Property rights.

    These are the core principles, I think, and ones we should focus on.

  11. Douglas:

    We suspect that someone has hacked into your computer. We would recommend running a scan. (Smile.)

  12. In just a few minutes, at 7:30pm Eastern, C-Span2 Book TV will present a panel discussion on the Tea Party phenomenon. For further information, click here.

  13. Glenn Beck haters who did not see the Restoring Honor Rally will comment about it as if they had. He recently was called "scum." The rally was called a KKK meeting. Beck is discrediting his accusers by the minute!


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