I crosspost here part of a piece I did for HNN.
“I don’t believe in change over time.” I wish Glenn Beck would come out and say just that.
I’ve watched quite a few of Beck’s 5:00 p.m. dispatches from disturbia. I’ve seen his maniacal chalkboard talks on fascism and communism, with brisk arrows drawn to “progressivism,” “social justice,” and “unions.” I’ve heard him tar the labor movement with the brush of nineteenth century racism, conveniently ignoring the Knights of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations. I’ve spent too much time observing him weave far-fetched moral conspiracy tales on a range of subjects. Maybe I get some sick pleasure watching Beck cry crocodile tears for his American Babylon.
Beck’s political grandstanding and maudlin theatrics are offensive enough. (I can think of no better ipecac for the typical humanities professor.) But it’s his ahistorical theories of the past that disturb me most. Beck, like many conservatives, Christian or not, is incapable of coming to terms with the notion of change over time. What was true for bewigged, knee-breeches-wearing, slave-owning nabobs in eighteenth century Virginia must be just as true for a minivan-driving NASCAR dad in 2010. (Still, few of those NASCAR dads would adopt some of Ben Franklin’s woolly polytheistic notions.) Did America’s public schools once allow Protestant-styled prayers in the classroom? Then they should do so still. Were women once the caretakers of hearth and home? Then maybe they should still be. Didn’t learned folks once believe that the Grand Canyon formed in a matter of days during the flood of the Old Testament? Or was it millions of years in the making, as modern geologists would have us believe? The flood story—biblical, less complicated, more interesting—makes more sense. >>>