Birth of a demagogue

by fp on August 28, 2010

in Religion

Glenn Beck is a pathetic figure, but today was his day. He stepped up to the microphone and took his place in the pantheon of great American revivalists. From Billy Graham to Billy Sunday, from Oral Roberts to Aimee Semple McPherson, those Americans who are poor and hopeless and white have always had a tent show to attend, a charismatic figure to heal their lame-itude and miseducamate them in ways at once horrible, ridiculous, and sad. Wiping tears from his eyes as he invoked the power of his “black-robed regiment,” Beck scanned the crowd hoping to find the “next George Washington,” perhaps an eight year old boy who would be “inspired by the giants around him” that pleasant summer afternoon on the National Mall. My reaction to the day’s events oscillates among feelings of apathy, embarrassment, pity, and outright hostility. But whatever my feelings, I don’t think we should let the moment of Glenn Beck’s beatification pass without notice.

Image swiped from Seattle Weekly blog posting by Caleb Hannan

The shock troops of the right dismounted from their buses and spread out across the National Mall today for an afternoon picnic and a chance to sit in their lawn chairs and listen to Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck hector and harangue. Billed as the Million Moron March, Beck’s acolytes sipped tea and massaged their bunions in the hot sun as they waited for the leader to appear. There were thousands of them. We won’t know the crowd size because crowd estimate reporting has proven too controversial for America’s press and for the American government. Somewhere in an FBI office there are officials with crowd photos who could provide a pretty accurate guesstimate of the number of people there, but their data won’t become public. I’m fine with that. Let’s hope they’ve got good enough pix to spot the next Timothy McVeigh’s out there in the audience.

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William "Papa" Meloney August 28, 2010 at 5:56 pm

As a master showman and propagandist GB cloaked himself in greatness not his own. Usurping the hard work of others and their causes he has set the foundation for his own primacy. He is now legend in a version of history that only he will read. All too soon we will hear of the great assembly that he presided over. We will hear of a mandate, handed down by God and anointed by his people. Any minute now we will hear his ringing endorsements for his chosen few, such support buoyed by his newly claimed legitimacy.

All that having been said I endorse the efforts of Glenn Beck and the Tea Party. They alone have the strength and audacity to speak out against the lame and ineffectual Republican Right. I say let their voices of decent and derision be heard in every quarter. Let the G.O.P. be dealt with by the party of GOD.

While it has been a day filled with the theater of Shakespeare, “Sound and fury, signifying nothing” I can take great comfort in the fact, the incontrovertible truth, that Mr. Barack Obama is and will continue to be President of the United States of America.

Frank Paynter August 28, 2010 at 6:27 pm

They surely are a self important lot, legends–as you say–in their own minds. I pretty much agree with your analysis. The wretched tea partyists are but faint reflections of Mr. Ross Perot. We all know what he did for the GOP!

karoli August 28, 2010 at 6:55 pm

I intentionally left all access to media behind and rode my bike for the entire time he was bloviating. I don’t regret it one bit. Reports I’m seeing have the crowd at 87K, which I’m sure will become eleventy zillion in the strange and twisted mind of Glenn Beck.

William \"Papa\" Meloney August 28, 2010 at 9:14 pm

King’s ‘dream’ was radical economic message
By Roland S. Martin, CNN Contributor

. . .
First, we need to stop calling it the March on Washington. It was officially called the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. If you leave off the “Jobs and Freedom” part, it sounds like black folks just went for a walk that day. Upset with the lack of economic opportunities for blacks at the time, as well as the voting rights injustices, the organizers wanted to put pressure on Congress and the President Kennedy administration to put their muscle behind a comprehensive civil rights bill.

No, the 1963 march had nothing to do with some hokey values espoused by a radio/TV windbag. It was a day to assemble a mass of people to represent a show of strength and to get leaders in Washington to listen to the urgent need across the country.

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