The Schizoid Factor

By Fred Mittag

 

glennSchizoid contradiction is the characteristic affliction of today’s conservatives. Every Republican voted against the stimulus bill. Glenn Beck said it was a secret attempt by Obama and Pelosi to make America “socialist.” Then Republicans returned to their districts to bestow stimulus checks before God and TV cameras. Like deluded poseurs, they became the saints who made these benefits possible. Psychiatry treats this type of disorder. 

Conservatives are now opposed to measures that they themselves introduced only a short time ago. Paul Jackson is among these conservatives, as may be discerned from his column in El Ojo del Lago. Jackson boasted in August, and not for the first time, of the scholarly works that “line” his shelves. And also not for the first time, he cited Glenn Beck’s “impeccable research.” It’s not possible to reconcile this incongruity. If Jackson’s library contained any “scholarly works,” he would be obliged to declare Beck a charlatan and a rogue.

Beck is hawking gold for a sponsor who is under investigation, and he lately peddles “Beck University.” For $79 dollars you can order course materials to learn that people who say the Constitution provides for “separation of church and state” are liars, just like Joe Wilson shouted to President Obama, “You lie!”

Beck is in cahoots with David Barton, who has appeared on his Friday night “Founding Fathers” series as a guest “expert.” Barton is a lecturer for Beck University. Barton invented quotes that he attributed to the Founding Fathers. These were widely cited by other religious writers to prove that America is a Christian nation. But then historians exposed Barton’s citations as counterfeit. Barton is the author of The Myth of Separation, in which he states his belief that Christians were the ones who were intended to hold public office. Uh, oh.

Barton was listed as a “new and special speaker” at a retreat sponsored by a far right Christian ministry called “Scriptures for America.” They are virulently anti-Semitic and racist. They spread hysteria about Jews and homosexuals and are linked to neo-Nazi groups. Jackson boasted of his pro-Jewish credentials (El Ojo del Lago, Dec., 2009), and now eerily praises Glenn Beck, whose university faculty is demonstrably anti-Semitic.

Jackson writes that he has met “many a pontificating professor” and that he had rather the U.S. government be run by the first 400 names in the Boston telephone directory than by the faculty at Harvard.  If Jackson owns “scholarly works,” they were assuredly written by Harvard faculty and other “pontificating professors.” 

Jackson himself pontificates when he talks about “reaching out.” He wrote, “If you denigrate ... your political opponents you can never then seek an accommodation with them ....” Nice platitude, except that his hero is openly racist. Beck stated that Obama has a “deep-seated hatred of white people.” Beck accused the NAACP of racism. As one commentator put it, “Beck lecturing about racism is like an arsonist discussing fire safety.”  

Newsweek ran an article about Beck simply titled “Hate.” Cokie Roberts called Beck “worse than a clown” and “more like a terrorist.” Time Magazine accused Beck of coming close to treason. A science magazine, Discover, called him “an idiot.” History professors have commented on Beck. Steven Marks called Beck’s assertions “a complete lie.” Alan Wolfe said Beck “lives in a complete alternative universe.” Joseph Palermo analyzed why Beck is dangerous, even though he’s a joke.

It’s slapstick humor to proclaim Beck’s research “impeccable.” If scholarship were analogous to marksmanship, Glenn Beck couldn’t hit the side of a Texas barn. Jackson admits he has surrendered his brain to Beck’s care: “ ... Beck has destroyed my long-term admiration for President Woodrow Wilson, a fellow I now view as an out and out elitist. . .” Among conservatives, “elitist” is an accusation of being educated. Beck, a troubled youth, barely made it out of high school. Woodrow Wilson had an extraordinarily successful academic career. 

Historian Arthur Schlesinger in 1948 asked 55 prominent historians to rank the presidents of the United States. Wilson ranked in the first quartile. C-SPAN, almost 60 years later, asked the same question of more than 60 historians in 2006. Woodrow Wilson ranked number six from the top. Beck has misled Jackson, and now Jackson is misleading his readers.

Beck is emotionally unstable, a tearful buffoon who appears not to have recovered from his drug and alcohol addiction. He is promoting racial hatred and political division. Freedom of the press permits schizoid behavior, so a free citizenry must apply the necessary critical thinking skills to combat it.

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