There was enough material, in other words, to justify almost any
interpretation of the event. A Beck admirer could spin “Restoring
Honor” as proof that left-wing fears about the Tea Partiers are
overblown: free of rancor, racism or populist resentment, the
atmosphere at the rally resembled that of a church picnic or a high
school football game. But a suspicious liberal could retort that all
the God-and-Christ talk and military tributes were proof enough that a
sinister Christian nationalism lurked beneath the surface. (I’m sure
The New York Review of Books has already commissioned an essay on that
Similarly, one could call the rally a gross affront to the memory of
King, who presumably wouldn’t have cared much for Beck’s right-wing
politics. But one could also call the day a strange, unlooked-for
fulfillment of King’s prophecies: 47 years after the “I Have a Dream”
speech, here were tens of thousands of white conservatives roaring
their approval of its author.
Herp derp derp. Coulda been anything! Don’t have to make up your mind! Don’t have to think about it one way or the other! Don’t have to be worried or outraged or even overjoyed! I went to the Glenn Beck rally and all I got was bored outta my skull. Coulda just as well been at a Michael Moore movie! Don’t bother paying any attention, kids, it’s all just one thing.
I have the same question at the end of Douthat’s column as I have had reading most of the Beck coverage this past weekend: To what end is he doing this? For what purpose? Does he need something to do? I am willing to teach him crochet. Is he just out for money, for himself? There are more fun ways to get rich, at least for Douthat, than spending time each week telling people they don’t have to give a shit about the world. He could make bazillions, for example, as a consultant, or in PR. I do not understand why, if your entire columnist thing is that nothing really matters that much, you continue to get up in the morning. What the fucking fuck?
Now more than ever, Americans love leaders who seem to validate their
way of life. This spirit of self-affirmation was at work in
evangelicals’ enduring support for Bush, in the enthusiasm for the Dean
campaign among the young, secular and tech-savvy, and now in the
devotion that Palin inspires among socially conservative women. The
Obama campaign raised it to an art form, convincing voters that by
merely supporting his candidacy, they were proving themselves
cosmopolitan and young-at-heart, multicultural and hip.
Good Lord. His inability to see voting for Obama as anything other than some kind of trendy statement is just so transparently petulant. Ross, I’m sorry the girl in the Obama shirt wouldn’t fuck you.
For a weekend, at least, Beck proved that he can conjure the thrill of
a culture war without the costs of combat, and the solidarity of
identity politics without any actual politics. If his influence
outlasts the current election cycle, this will be the secret of his
WHAT FOR? I keep reading stuff likeAli’s excellent piece:
Indeed, a lot of my time leading up to the Glenn Beck rally was
about fear. After the delightful James Withers and I agreed to go, I
realized that I didn’t understand Beck’s fans (followers?) at all, and
so I assigned myself the task of watching every episode of his show
that aired during the month leading up to the rally.
It was not an easy month – I’d only seen clips of Beck’s show
before, and it turns out the full hour can be hard to take. He
prophesizes imminent economic collapse and ticks off examples of the
nation’s ongoing moral collapse. He compares our current society to
long-dead civilizations and the Weimar Republic. He breaks out the
chalkboard to spiderweb out vast, decades-long – generations-long –
He yells, over and over, that the country is on fire.
And thinking, “Okay, and … buy Glenn Beck’s books? Attend the rally and then … what?” It’s the same thing that pisses me off about a lot of our cheap-ass life-coach hustler culture, that it seems to lack specificity. The older I get, the more I just want to be excused from the meeting until there’s a task needs performing, like, if it’s all the same to you, I don’t need more motivation, I need instructions I can carry out. Rededicate our country to God? God and I are fine these days. The couples counseling is really helping. What is the fucking POINT?