A way of understanding Glenn Beck

Kathy P. writes:

I have enjoyed your site for years—as does my large talky family. I’m not much of a commenter, but have some thoughts about Glenn Beck. I had listened to him a few times in past years because a friend liked him. He was too ADD for me. Last year I think he started to realize that America is actually in danger and began to try to find out what America was supposed to be—what shaped its founding and motivated its founders. As he read primary documents- not just textbook summaries—he got really excited.

I say all that because Beck is a “guy” in the midst of discovery of America and the West. I have seen this process many times with new homeschooling parents. As they begin to read history or science or anything really that they “took” in school and were bored with, all of a sudden they are seeing it with new eyes and as adults with more insight. The power of this is difficult for longtime lovers of ideas to understand. It’s like the world has suddenly gone from black and white to Technicolor.

The keys here are that this is a new, exciting, “why didn’t anybody tell me history was this exciting” emotional phenomenon; AND it is highly eclectic. He is following footnotes and references without any real guidance. So the discovery is uneven and circuitous and misses things that a planned curriculum would include. So the new info is not internally consistent nor philosophically unified. He cares about saving America and doesn’t see the whole picture of “The West”—the Christian West as the pearl of great price.

Sorry to be so wordy, but I think Beck is “in process” and that process is very uneven. But he is attracting people because many other people are on that same journey. And they care about America and the West, and Beck is giving them words and a story. All this is to say, he probably just needs exposure to many of the ideas that seem obvious to us now, but took a while to take root.

He most likely only knows what the media shows about Geert Wilders—and doesn’t know why he should be more interested. I think he’s worth educating. And everything he learns he shares with his millions of newby co-learners who have recently awakened to the dangers.

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Jim C. writes:

Kathy P gives a good analysis of Beck, who is no doubt a bright, entertaining TV performer. The problem with Beck is that he places people like Jefferson and Washington on a pedestal, forgetting that, if they were alive today, many people would be more openly hostile to their ideas. Be that as it may, Beck is especially enlightening when discussing the evil ramifications of Big Government; as such, his is important analysis.

The downside to Beck, like O’Reilly, is that he’s a PC liar, so don’t expect him seriously to address education reform, immigration, or crime.

Hannon writes:

Thank you for posting Kathy P.’s insight on Glenn Beck. I think she is right, even if some of his shortcomings in interpretation or coherence may cause alarm. Kathy’s take on Beck got me thinking that he is a sort of stepping stone between an informed (though not intellectual) conservatism and the more prevalent, superficial thinking that provides little more than a vote against Obama. One watches his show and wonders why the Republican Party is not similarly energized— and opinionated— about the many issues on the front burner these days. I suspect that Beck’s manner and subject choice both help viewers realize that history is exciting and it is imperative that we are involved in its making.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 15, 2010 01:31 PM | Send

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