Paul Smith – The Corsair
Conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck has quickly become a rising a star on the Fox News channel. And it’s not hard to see why: he’s a very skilled entertainer. He knows how to rile up a crowd with an act that’s equal parts carnival clown as well as dopey, red-faced mad prophet.
However, the meteoric rise of Beck’s popularity is also somewhat troubling. While he may be entertaining, he also has almost no idea what he’s talking about.
And in the process, he is not only wildly misinforming his audience about important political issues, but he is scaring them into believing the government is turning into some kind of Nazi-Communist regime.
But let’s first demonstrate that Beck has consistently made factual errors before assailing his overall laughably erroneous thesis on government.
He claimed the current health care bill offers insurance for dogs. It does not.
He claimed America is the only country in the world that has automatic citizenship upon birth. This is not true; Canada, Brazil, and Romania all do the same thing, just to name a few.
He claimed that Andy Stern, head of the Service Employees International Union, was the most frequent visitor to the White House. No, he wasn’t. Many other people had visited more times than Stern.
He claimed the founding fathers would have approved of states seceding from the union. Only someone vastly unfamiliar with the founding fathers could make such a ridiculous claim.
He claimed John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, has “proposed forcing abortions and putting sterilants in the drinking water to control population.” Holdren said no such thing.
He gave credence to the wild conspiracy theory that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was building concentration camps for a possible government take-over and rounding up of citizens. This one was so untrue that Beck eventually had to offer a correction and bring someone on his show to debunk the theory.
He once asked Pastor John Hagee whether President Obama was the anti-Christ.
He claimed that Obama was a racist. But he didn’t just call him a racist, Beck said Obama “has a deep-seated hatred for white people or white culture.” A few moments later Beck suggested, “I’m not saying he doesn’t like white people.” Actually, that was exactly what he said only seconds before.
While there are many more ridiculous claims to list, the most dangerous aspect of Beck’s song and dance routine is his constant insistence that liberalism or progressivism is some kind of Bolshevik plot that will lead to the hideous demon spawn of Hitler and Chairman Mao.
Beck has seriously convinced a large part of his audience that the election of Barrack Obama and Democratic majorities in Congress is paving the way for a totalitarian socialist dictatorship. Not only is this completely fallacious and preposterous, but it demonstrates that Beck has absolutely no coherent understanding of the concept of socialism.
The classical definition of socialism is an economic theory concerning government or public ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods. The intricacies are too vast to discuss in full here, but classical socialism has much in common with Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ ideas about communism.
However, not only is the classical form of socialism (government in complete control of the means of production) in absolutely no danger of ever happening in America, but this kind of socialism is not even what Beck is referring to.
What Beck and many other modern conservatives call socialism is any form of government or taxpayer-funded enterprise—basically any publically-funded endeavor whatsoever.
This kind of thinking would mean that not only are government-entitlement programs forms of socialism (some of which are almost universally supported by politicians and citizens alike, such as Social Security and Medicare), but this would mean that every local fire department, police department, and public school are all part of the socialist conspiracy.
This would also mean that the entire military and veterans programs (which are paid for by taxes) are socialist endeavors. And, for that matter, this would mean that every government employee whether they be a postman, a soldier, a congressman or a Supreme Court Justice are all just pawns in the socialist game.
The reality is that almost every form of democracy on the planet has some hybrid of free-market capitalism along with tax-payer funded social programs.
The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank, ranks countries each year by an “economic freedom index” which they define as “an absolute right of property ownership, fully realized freedoms of movement for labor, capital, and goods.” This means they rank the countries according to which have the freest markets in diametric opposition to the classical ideas of socialism and communism.
Guess which countries consistently make it to the top of that list: Hong Kong, Singapore, Ireland, and Australia—countries which all have a form of publicly-funded universal healthcare along with many other taxpayer-funded programs.
And for the record, President Obama is not a socialist. In fact, judging by the way his administration has crafted policy, he’s not even a progressive and is barely a liberal.
The Obama administration governs with a centrist ideology that has kowtowed on many issues to corporate interests just like every other president’s administration has for the past several decades.
But Beck has no interest in selling this kind of nuance to his audience. Instead, he chooses to fire up his viewers by shedding crocodile tears, scrawling madcap conspiracy theories on his chalkboard, and soothsaying about the day the brown-shirts will come to abort your babies and send your families to the concentration camps.
Beck may be entertaining, but his rhetoric is dangerous. He wants you to be afraid, but he has neither the facts nor the intelligence to back it up.
So, the next time you watch Beck’s show, don’t be frightened. Just use this mantra to pacify your mind: This man has no idea what he’s talking about.