Does anyone truly take Glenn Beck seriously, or do most who watch him simply take his posturing, his grandstanding and his extreme fearmongering as a form of delightful entertainment in the same vein that Jon Stewart does? It would seem that far fewer people are taking him seriously, especially on television. The Neilsen Ratings show his average viewership in January down from the previous year by over a million viewers (from 2.9 million to 1.8 million). So it should have been no surprise to Mediaite or anyone else Friday that, during his radio show, Beck hauled out his latest “End of the World” theory in light of the aftermath of the revolution in Egypt.
“If this were going to lead to freedom it would be great,” Beck said on his radio show. “But I am struck by the overwhelming feeling of a growing evil that is palpable.”
Beck was watching events unfold in Cairo as he spoke. He went on to describe the problems he foresees within the coming days. “This is going to spread. This is the beginning,” he said, his tone one of carrying the onerous burden of bad news. “Now that you have gotten Mubarak out, you have emboldened every revolutionary on planet Earth.”
Reading from a “worst case scenario” from a gleaning of reports from TheBlaze.com (which Glenn Beck owns), Beck noted all the unstable governments in the Middle East, northern Africa and a few outliers (Ivory Coast, Pakistan, Turkey) and how they all seemed to be be either falling or on the verge of falling, all of them moving toward what he refers to as an “Islamic state” and toward some shadowy prophetic “caliphate,” a topic Beck has touched on before when entering into his chalkboard-supported doomsday theories. The list was extensive.
But Beck found no reason to rejoice in the resignation of the Egyptian president and the new-found freedoms being promised by the military and the vice president, Omar Suleiman. In fact, he quoted extensively from a speech made by Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which was delivered the same day Mubarak resigned. He noted that Ahmadinejad predicted the rise of an anti-Western, anti-American and anti-Jewish movement that would sweep and eventually take over Muslim-dominant countries.
Beck sees a Muslim domino theory possibly already in progress. Tunisia was first with its ousting of its president. Then the King of Jordan dismissed his country’s government. Then President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt resigned after 18 days of continuous protests by the people of Egypt. Demonstrations in Syria, Yemen, Algeria and other nations were noted.
What Beck fears most is Muslim dominance of the Middle East. He fears the rise of the caliphate-oriented philosophy as a guide for statehood and a modern state’s laws. He constantly fearfully refers to the institution of sharia law, which are societal laws that adhere to the dictates of the Koran. Whether his fears are founded or not, he simply ignores the fact that much of the popular movements sweeping the nations of northern Africa and the Middle East are of a democratic nature and that, if it is the will of the people, then an “Islamic state” should be the model used to govern. It should not matter to Beck or anyone else that the governments of these nations govern by sharia law, only that once installed these governments rule with humanity and fairness.
People like Beck like to play upon the fears of the unknown. Most do not understand the Muslim way of life, the teachings of the Koran, basic Islamic philosophies, world views, and Muslim ideas about social equality and governance. Beck likes to play the Jewish card as well, constantly referring to Muslim leaders that spout anti-Jewish rhetoric. However, what is not usually talked about is that Judaism is not what is hated (in fact, Muhammad dictates in the Koran that the people of “The Book” — which includes followers of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity — should be protected), but instead what is reprehensible are the ideas of Zionism, which many Muslims view as the unlawful taking of Palestinian homeland.
Regardless, Glenn Beck plays on all these fears to set up his domino theory, then tosses in the idea of the overshadowing “evil” uber-government that would be an Islamic resurrection of the caliphate. The problem here is that Beck is conflating two differing ideas: simplistically, with apologies to GlobalSecurity.org, the Muslim idea of political rule through elected caliphs and the politico-religious view of rule via imam descended from the holy Ahl-al Bayt, or the “People of the House of Muhammad.” However, religion is viewed as a personal issue among Muslims; rule by caliphate is socio-political and a separate issue. For those further into Islamic prophecy, though, and something that Beck also uses to his advantage when spreading his doomsday theories, many Muslims believe that a reestablishment of the caliphate must occur before the Mahdi, the Islamic holy redeemer, returns for the Day of Resurrection, or Judgment Day. (What many Christians do not know is that prophecy notes that the Mahdi will rule alongside Jesus Christ.)
That which we do not understand and cannot control is the central issue in Beck’s fear-mongering. Ignorance drives the fears that come with the uncertainty developing in an area of the world that has been dominated by Western politics and Western-propped regimes for centuries. The region has become extremely unstable in the last few months, much of the unrest due to soaring food prices, rampant unemployment, and oppressive and corrupt governance. Whether or not true democracy takes root will ultimately be up to the peoples of the respective lands of Africa and the Middle East as they make their voices heard in the streets, forcing each government to make concessions to the popular political will. Whether or not the governments will ultimately end up democracies is as yet unknown as well. Whether or not they become “Islamic states” — which, when viewed from a religious perspective, many already are — and morph into some confederation, Ummah, or pan-Arab caliphate also remains to be seen.
People like Glenn Beck, mostly conservatives with an American manifest destiny world view, liked the status quo in the pan-Arab world, an area existing at odds with the American ideas of democratic governance. For the most part, it was controlled. What wasn’t understood could be ignored. Now that the peoples of those nations have begun to rise up and demand human rights and free elections, they are also demanding to be reckoned with, understood, and appreciated. They can no longer be ignored. And Glenn Beck wants you to fear that dissolution of ignorance because it doesn’t fit into his own world view, which has little time or room for democratic or non-democratic Islamic nations ruled by sharia or secular law.
But with enough fear, control just might be reestablished…