Glenn Beck's message and meaning

I spent my time intermittently watching Glenn Beck's puffery on Fox News on Aug. 30. Although some would dismiss this man as a buffoon and others would watch him to be amused, he is a window to a large and lost segment of America that won't let the past go.

Mr. Beck preened in his evening program on Fox, by being secretive, he had trapped the mainstream media into stereotyping his attempt to bring his admirers and followers to the Washington Mall to celebrate "country, God, enlisted men and women and the greatness" of America as a potentially fractious and racially tense event.

Instead, he gloated, that his rally had been a peaceful, thumping success, with at least 500,000 present, including pastors galore, African American pastors among them, and also a rabbi and an imam. It gratified him no end that a flock of geese punctuated the rally by taking to the skies, as if on cue from God, like an Air Force aerial formation. He had commanded that the rally be apolitical and the attendees had come through. There were no political slogans or banners or vituperations and Sarah Palin, a politician, even in her sleep, had also come through for the man, in her speech, no more than the humble mom of an enlisted son.

It was coincidental that Mr. Beck's rally happened on the anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. The man milked that fact for all it was worth. Much to the consternation of the Rev. Al Sharpton, Mr. Beck has claimed Martin Luther King for all Americans, including the conservatives and has asserted it is time for Americans of all stripes and persuasions to claim the civil rights movement. In his many bombastic shows, Mr. Beck has made much ado about American history, of which he claims he is an ardent student and the American Constitution, to the purest form of which, he says, he genuflects.

Mr. Beck is the worst of his kind, a man who craves attention and unfortunately has the platform from which he can scream for it and get it. If he had his rally and went home quietly for history to judge its significance, then he would have shown the American honor, he says, we must treasure and recapture. George Washington, whose memorial Mr. Beck was so proud to have as a backdrop for his rally, was a humble man, who could have been king of America, if he had wanted, but chose to retire and return to Mt. Vernon. Our first president would have been astonished at Mr. Beck's pomposity and self-anointed guru status over a segment of America susceptible to his snake charms. And Lincoln, who from his memorial was consigned to watch Mr. Beck's clever verbal acrobatics and misty eyed patriotism, if alive today, would have seen through this man and recognized him for the Elmer Gantry he really is, a thorough demagogue, who by pitting himself against progressive ideology, becomes the illusory rain maker for those tired of a long season of drought, sorrow, losses and war.

In a rapidly changing world where power shifts and balance of power tilts wherever economic success lies, America's greatness is not guaranteed. America must now work harder to keep her greatness and she must make many financial sacrifices to be a splendid beacon on the hill. She must share the stage with rising nations whose values are different from her own. She cannot go to war or crush her enemies without forming global coalitions, and it is clear, considering what is coming to pass in Afghanistan, Iran, Somalia and Yemen, she cannot defeat terror with the might of her army or the diminishing vastness of her wealth alone.

Mr. Beck's retaliation to progressives who accuse him of divisiveness and racism, is a childish rant that racism is not the sole province of conservatives, that under the progressive President Woodrow Wilson, during World War I, Germans were tormented and killed in America and under progressive President Franklin D. Roosevelt, during World War II, Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps. How does that cheeky provocation absolve Mr. Beck?

In math and in science our students have fallen way down when compared to students from other parts of the globe. American kids are into entertainment, fun, reality television, social networking and high tech gadgets of all sorts. Respect for authority, for teachers, parents and elders is largely absent. Conservatives love to blame liberals for all the social maladies and the general erosion of values in America but the offspring of conservatives, the children of the church goers, the prayer sayers and the Sunday school teachers seem just as susceptible as or even more susceptible than children from liberal households to illegitimate births, truancy, dropping out of school, drug use and other American as apple pie, adolescent maladies. The Bible Belt of the South, a conservative stronghold, is littered with stories of violence, illegitimate births and statistics of unacceptable school drop out rates among teens. Sarah Palin herself, a bastion of aphorisms about God, country and other "salt of the earth" virtues has been in the eye of a storm of family crises, played out in the media, which included the out of wedlock pregnancy of her daughter Bristol Palin, papered over with the conservative "value" to keep the baby rather than to abort.

Even Glenn Beck must accept that conservatives too may be fueling the decline of America and a rally for "God, country and honor" is no more than a jingoistic, ego gratifying, theocratic exercise engendered by his need to show up the "mainstream media" and assert himself as the next pastor of the illusory world of infotainment. His followers should wake up and start savoring their tea away from his ilk and that of Ms. Palin.

Mr. Beck poses as though he is an outsider, a man reviled by those with a progressive agenda, while he himself has no motive other than restoring America to her once glorious days with pure people power to spark that restoration. This man has no power whatsoever to restore America to her greatness and the people of America, conservative or liberal, can only do so if they foster the next generation to be smart and curious life-long learners who will chase the American dream through research, hard work and dedication to good causes, including service to the downtrodden. Glenn Beck's self serving voice is not an essential inspiration to this cause.

The "mainstream media" is now a much vilified and marginalized entity and in my opinion with Mr. Beck's star on the rise, he is more mainstream than the once mainstream media. Now that, to me is a frightening realization to digest.

Usha Nellore, Bel Air

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