In the years immediately prior to the financial crisis, I was a huge Glenn Beck fan. I used to listen to his radio show on the way to work every morning. He appeared, from my point of view, lucid and rational, and his then libertarian stripe was a quality that I appreciated. But, that was when he was just a little more than a “nobody.”
In 2009, Beck began regular TV shows on Fox News in which he presented a series of history “lessons.” At first, I enjoyed the history portion of the show as American history is my first love. As time wore on, however, the lessons began to be laced more and more with propaganda, and conflicts of interest became more and more noticeable.
It is worth noting that almost congruently with the start of Beck’s TV program, I discovered what would later be labeled market monetarism, and comparatively, Beck made no sense when it came to discussions about the crisis, inflation-o-phobia, the Fed and the like.
I thought, well, it is okay to be wrong. Lots of people were wrong about the nature of the crisis and still are. And through naivety, I thought, I will keep watching for the history content and follow my rule to take what I want and respectfully leave the rest.
The rule worked for a few more episodes, but failed the evening I sat through a 20-minute long segment of Beck’s ranting about the printing of money, the thieves that run the Fed, and the coming inflation apocalypse that was immediately followed by a commercial for Gold Line.
Knowing about what I believe to be a pretty good theoretical explanation of the cause of the crisis, and why unemployment was shooting up across the country, I was completely disgusted. There were millions of people who had been hurt by the severe disinflation, and who were frightened as the economy collapsed around them, trying to make sense out of what was happening – and they were being taken advantage of intellectually for a few bucks worth of gold sales kickbacks.
It was a defining moment for me, partly because of the knowledge I gained, and can’t unlearn no matter how much I have tried, writing my paper on the social history of the Great Depression that I have sitting in my basement, unfinished because I couldn’t emotionally handle the firsthand accounts of the humanitarian disaster that came with that economic calamity. In modern times we do have places and government sponsored programs were people who can’t find work and their families will be fed, which are good things. But the existence of these is no excuse for not lending due diligence to the information being broadcast regarding government policy calamities that can be remedied, and supporting nasty “makers and takers” rhetoric from the political elite.
But of course, to have completed due diligence for at least the monetary information being provided would have also meant other parts of the show’s content were completely wrong. There could be no other conclusion about the where actual negligence and responsibility for the calamity lay; and that place doesn’t have a “D” next to its name.
In my opinion, Beck was, at best, a negligent contributor to prolonging the misery of others during the largest economic and humanitarian disaster to hit this country in generations. And that was before he went completely off the deep end, forgetting his libertarian stripe, and became a major SoCon, bashing the lifestyle choices of those who dare exercise personal liberty to purse their idea of happiness that he doesn’t agree with, and joining those who wish to use government as a tool of social oppression and forced conformity. The libertarian radio talk show host that I used to love to listen to had sold his soul and then went bat sh*t crazy.
I am the first to admit that nobody is perfect. I recently retook a political philosophy quiz in which I had, at one time, scored in the far right-hand corner of the libertarian quadrant. I suspect that meant that my political sentiment at the time was borderline anarcho-capitalist, somewhere close to the deep end of idealist. My new score is a more in the middle of the same quadrant, a little to the left and a little toward authoritarian – but not much.
Today, I was somewhat surprised and encouraged Glenn Beck’s op-ed on CNBC about the meeting with Facebook he attended regarding the rumor about how Conservatives are treated by the platform. In his words, the most disturbing thing about the meeting was this:
I sat through a meeting that, to me, felt like I was attending a Rainbow Coalition meeting, that people (not me) had come with a list of demands.
I looked around the room, I heard the complaints, I listened to the perspectives, and not a single person in the room shared evidence of any wrongdoing. Maybe they had some, but it wasn’t shared. They discussed how Facebook’s organic reach and changes in algorithms has impacted their business. While at the same time admitting that Huffington Post has been struggling with the same issues. I heard people discuss community standards, pages being shut down, posts being removed — and I do believe that happens and it’s something Facebook could do better, and I hope they will — but we were not there because of that. We were there because of this ONE accusation on Trending Topics.
I sat there looking around and heard things like:
1) Facebook has a very liberal workforce. Has Facebook considered diversity in their hiring practice? The country is 2% Mormon. Maybe Facebook’s company should better reflect that reality.
2) Maybe Facebook should consider a six-month training program to help their biased and liberal workforce understand and respect conservative opinions and values.
3) We need to see strong and specific steps to right this wrong.
It was like affirmative action for conservatives. When did conservatives start demanding quotas AND diversity training AND less people from Ivy League Colleges.
I sat there, looking around the room at ‘our side’ wondering, ‘Who are we?’ Who am I? I want to be very clear – I am not referring to every person in the room. There were probably 25-30 people and a number of them, I believe, felt like I did. But the overall tenor, to me, felt like the Salem Witch Trial: ‘Facebook, you must admit that you are screwing us, because if not, it proves you are screwing us.’
What happened to us? When did we become them? When did we become the people who demand the Oscars add black actors based on race?
The brutal truth of it all is that those people have always been that way. They are at the heart of where all this government has come from, from Prohibition and protecting the gold standard at all costs during the Depression, all the way to the Great Recession and the proclamations that printing money is a sin that is unacceptable to commit under any circumstances, with any undue suffering having been caused by largess.
I stopped identifying with their hypocrisy long ago, and I suggest that Beck do the same because once your eyes start to open, there is no shutting them again. They don’t care about you, Beck. You were simply a useful tool.
PS: Some may think this to be inappropriate, but I haven’t heard “I was wrong.” So, I am reposting this from an old blog post, Glenn Beck in 2011: