Dull your wits and sharpen your prejudices—Beck University is back again.
Now Beck’s temple of knowledge has a completely new curriculum, and this “semester” concludes with a sledgehammer course: “Presidents You Need to Hate.”
This did not come from The Onion. “Presidents You Need to Hate” is the actual name of the course, if you can call a one-hour lecture, divided into two segments, a course.
Students will already know whom they are supposed to hate, because the objects of hatred are right there in the course description: Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Beck U’s most treacherous “progressive” of all, Franklin D. Roosevelt. (Be sure to pay up and watch on December 8.)
A few months ago, at a joint appearance with Beck in Tyler, Rick Perry proudly proclaimed that Beck was, by God, “an honorary Texan.” Holding out the proclamation, Perry watched as Beck gave it a cursory look, and then—handed it right back to Perry, who was forced to walk off the stage holding the framed proclamation, as if it were a carnation turned down by his date.
Perry’s fawning might have gained him tea party support, but how proud can he be that he desperately sought the spotlight with a man who advocates hatred and who treated him, and by sad extension, Texas, with disrespect?
(And what about Teddy Roosevelt, anyway? Remember the Rough Riders, who trained and lived in San Antonio before charging up Cuba’s San Juan Hill in 1898? Teddy organized his famous unit in the bar of the Menger Hotel, adjacent to the Alamo. Beck’s last experience in the state was as a failed disc jockey Houston.)
If Beck’s current propaganda project, a sham university with hired shills for instructors openly professing—and promoting– the “value” of hatred, does not bring real ignominy down on Beck’s unscrupulous head, what will?
The course bluntly summarizes Beck’s mission. With his rambling musings about a fanciful past and the creation of his “university,” he tries to give his agenda a veneer of historical heft, identifying bad guys from the old days who are the direct ancestors of Beck’s bad guys of the present. All the bad guys are then demonized; they are not people with whom we disagree, they are people whom we now, openly, should hate. Not just hate because we don’t like their looks, or because of their occasional sensible utterances, but hate because they deserve our hatred.
Beck has now become the Joseph McCarthy of our time. In some ways, he has one-upped McCarthy. The senator from Wisconsin sputtered and perspired his way to outrageous accusations, gaining traction through suspicion, causing the fearful to imagine dangers where none existed and demand security where none was required.
But Beck often affects a boyish concern and the alarm of an innocent. He is the naïf just now being awakened by his self-appointed sages to an awareness of the corruption about him. Being awakened, he has found a sacred mission, to show us all how we have strayed from the wisdom and piety of our forebears. He must show us how much we need to embrace the misty past of Beck’s creation, impose it on real life, and inhabit a dream world that we create after the objects of our hatred have been vanquished.
Beck’s admirers are charmed and manipulated, rather than bullied, into his fantasy world, joining the Boy Himself on his journey of discovery, feeling as innocent and self-righteous as he, while learning—thanks be to God!– just how evil the bad guys are.
While imbibing his innocence, Beck’s followers learn that it extends to their most selfish needs and aspirations. The president is not only a bad-guy progressive but also not a real Christian because he believes that Christianity demands more than a concern for our own salvation. Indeed, the president believes that our salvation is in large measure dependent on their salvation, and after all, Jesus only cared for each person’s soul.
So Beck’s essential message is that selfishness is a sign of authentic faith, and that hating progressives is but the rage of the innocent upon being aroused. Not satisfied with one-upping McCarthy, Beck has gone on to one-up the very Puritans whose static Christianity he extols. For the original Puritans, hard, honest work and Christian charity were paramount. Beck’s followers can forget the charity, and by the way, the work does not have to be all that hard or scrupulous either.
The question is not: Is anyone listening? Many people are. The question is, how does this man keep getting away with these incitements to hate? How much more dangerous can a person be, even an apparent buffoon, whose message makes it easy for people to hate and easier to be selfish and scornful of the “other”? It is tempting to sit back and say, well, only fools would believe this stuff, and anyway, contesting such a person only brings him more attention. He will go away. The people will know better. This is America.
Beck will go away. So did Joe McCarthy. Didn’t he?
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of The Texas Observer. The author is solely responsible for its content.