Those of us with long commutes by car find strange opportunities to hear what’s going on in the world. Because when you’ve traveled long enough in the car, you grow sick of just about everything you hear on the radio. Classic rock? Who needs to hear the Doobie Brothers “China Grove” for the millionth time? Classical? Sure, it’s contemplative and soothing. But classical music is a little too soothing when you’re prepping for a merge onto the Edens Expressway during rush hour.
That is why some of us drift into dangerous parts of the dial, where Talk Radio lives.
Normally one can listen to the academically banal fare of NPR with little concern. But its mix of news and locally produced features on social justice and political corruption leans a little liberal for some people’s tastes. And of course the local Progressive stations with their Left Wing opinion-makers are out of the question for self-respecting Republicans or Tea Party stalwarts.
Fortunately for the tastes of Right Wingers, the Radio Dial has a host options. One listens to the Right Wing side of the dial to find out what talkers like Michael Savage, Sean Hannity, Michael Medved, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck have to say.
And here’s the truth. Essentially you can dilute Right Wing radio down to three talking points most days. 1) Government is bad. 2) Liberalism is Evil. 3) Liberal Government is really bad and evil. That’s about it, other than they also hate illegal immigrants, the gay agenda and the so-called liberal media. Truly the liberal media is considered the worst of those last three evils.
A few really outrageous hosts like to drift away from these topics t to spice things up a bit. And December 7, 2010 was one of those days for Glenn Beck. Because that was the day Glenn Beck predicted the end of the world.
I chanced upon Glenn Beck’s radio show by hitting the button for AM 560 in Chicago. This station (WIND) likes to call itself “Intelligent Talk” to help listeners feel like they’re smart for listening. This is a trick Right Wing media uses to ingratiate their listeners: Tell them how smart they are, and how everything they hear will be fair and balanced. Yet get this. A new study shows that watching Fox News actually makes you stupid. ” World Public Opinion, a project managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, conducted a survey of American voters that shows that Fox News viewers are significantly more misinformed than consumers of news from other sources. What’s more, the study shows that greater exposure to Fox News increases misinformation.”
Those of us who have learned to read between the lines know that every word spoken on Right Wing media has been processed through a conservatively ideological filter known as “talking points.” But as I listened carefully to what Glenn Beck was saying on December 7, 2010, I recognized a brand of talking points in his morning diatribe that comes straight out of the evangelical Christian tradition that believes the Book of Revelation can be used to accurately predict the end of the world.
Glenn Beck freely mixes his political vision of America with his religious visions on how the world is turning out. He happily ties the words of the Constitution to a literalistic interpretation of the Book of Revelation and anything else he finds convenient to draw upon from the Bible to make his weird points about morality.
So it was that Glenn Beck launched into a diatribe against liberalism that ripped pages right out of those books from the Left Behind series. The following is a paraphrase of what Glenn Beck was telling his faithful this sunny morning in America, and I paraphrase: “You and me are about to see not just the finger of God,” Beck said in doleful tones. “We’re about to see His whole arm come down to wreak vengeance.” Then Glenn went into a prayerful mutter, speaking in tongues, as it were, to assure his faithful that they were the protected ones. Only those evil liberals would be Left Behind to suffer whatever fate God and this forsaken country known as America has in store.
Glenn Beck and a few other nutty preachers in America would have us think that all the signs in the Book of Revelation have lined up to produce the end of the world in 2012. Most notably, Glenn Beck shares this worldview with none other than Harold Camping, the Family Radio preacher who warns his listeners daily that the the world is going to end in 2012. Problem is, Camping and his ilk have predicted the end of the world many times before. They were wrong. And they will be wrong again. Because they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.
But that doesn’t stop men like Glenn Beck from getting revved up to predict that the Rapture will be upon us any day. His sociopathy toward those he hates is carefully spoken in the coded language of scriptural apocalyptic fervor. Yet Beck makes it clear that those who stand clearly on the side of Republican, God-fearing politics and country will be saved, while the rest of America, especially those whom he hates for actually trying to implement the social gospel of Jesus Christ through compassionate politics–can expect to be Left Behind.
Glenn Beck is a Right Wing Nut Case who unquietly loves to hate. He speaks in terms that cloister the identity of his targets, yet those of differing nationality, race or sexual orientation are consistently called enemies of America on Right Wing Radio. All are fair targets for Right Wing hatred because it is the idea that brown and yellow and red and otherwise off-color people who are supposedly undermining the virtues of the all-white, all Republican, all Christian America. And goddamn those Muslims. All terrorists.
But given that this was the first time actually listening to Glenn Beck’s radio program, I did not expect to hear in such lucid terms just how far afield and how religiously hateful Glenn Beck’s theology and ideology doth lie.
But here’s the sad truth: For all his supposed media savvy, Glenn Beck is no more sophisticated than that cartoon guy dressed in sackcloth holding up the sign that says “The End Is Near.”
That’s Glenn Beck! A nutty, cliché, sad sack of a human being with nothing original or insightful to say. We know that millions watch and listen to Glenn Beck every day. Yet how many can actually point to one constructive thing Glenn Beck has ever contributed to the betterment of America? Claims to his popularity are exaggerated beyond recognition. He holds a rally in Washington and attracts a few thousand people. Yet Fox News and other media parrots claim he draws hundreds of thousands, perhaps even a million. All lies. Just like the rest of the exaggerated, half-baked opinions coming out of his mouth every day. I hear and read excerpts of his work by reading fact-checking sites that track such things. At least democracy and the free press is still working in some ways in America.
It was compelling to hear the real Glenn Beck raving on with nary a verbal seat belt in sight. I guess it proves people love to watch an accident in progress. Glenn Beck’s radio show creates an audio gaper’s block. I picture people sitting slack-jawed in the passenger seat as the spinning lights of the Right Wing radio police converge on the scene, making a spectacle of the scene where there should not be one. The entire operation turns out to be a carefully manipulated deceit, like a crash scene in a chase movie.
Glenn Beck has no more connection to God than that creepy dude holding up the sign that says “The End is Near!” Yet Fox News and their fans apparently adore him for his overwrought sincerity. In so doing they place themselves with all the other clamoring sociopath religious fanatics wishing for the end of the world so they can take pleasure thinking about the demise of their enemies.
Yes, rather than loving their enemies as Christians are instructed by Christ to do, Glenn Beck and his ilk instead choose hatred. The haters always get to hear what they want to hear when they tune into Glenn Beck. Hate. Hate. And more hate. But the hatred is hard to recognize because it is guised in a cloak of patriotism and delivered with that peculiar brand of Christian, holier-than-thou gall.
Some of us have the decoder ring to decipher all this nonsense. We know well the secret to Glenn Beck’s success. It is just like the moment in the move A Christmas Story when little Ralphie finally gets his Orphan Annie Decoder Ring. He tunes in the radio to hear the codes that will help him decipher the meaning of the secret message on the ring. Ralphie faithfully writes down every number that corresponds to a letter. Then he reads the message only to find out what it actually says: “DRINKYOUROVALTINE!”
Oh my God! Ralphie sputters in disgust. “A crummy commercial!?”
That’s what you get when you listen to the likes of Glenn Beck. A crummy commercial for Right Wing Talking Points. The show offers nothing of more significance or value to society than the secret message conveyed through the Orphan Annie Decoder Ring. Crummy commercials. All that haughty righteousness and carefully scripted Right Wing outrage is designed to do just one thing: Get you to listen to the shows so that the advertisers will pay their bills. The hosts get rich while the audience gets stupid. Why else would some of them call themselves “dittoheads?”
Then they all go out and cast votes for candidates advocated by the rich hosts. And those candidates are in turn paid off by special interests with ties to the media companies and interests of the rich hosts. It’s a rather sick little cycle, you see, made even sicker by the fact that God is pulled into the cabal as if He were a special agent for their interests. It’ all a crummy commercial for a corrupt brand of American virtue.
Those Fox hosts like Glenn Beck will be the first to tell you they’re living the American dream, and that you should follow them. But be careful how close you follow these false prophets. Their message really is bound up in false truths. Like knowing that the end of the world is about to come. Read the Bible. These people don’t know jack, much less Jesus.