It’s difficult to make me mad. My ex-wife used to say I was “long fuse, big bomb.” Now she says other things about me but even those don’t make me mad. Yesterday, though, a good friend forwarded an email I suspect he thought I would enjoy: instead, it infuriated me and time has not softened my response.
The email was a teaser for Glenn Beck’s April 23 program. It was a forward from Glenn Beck’s show itself and it lead with this:
“The left is begging, BEGGING for a tea partier to lash out in violence. They’ve been constantly warning people about it, but also constantly humiliated by the footage they are forced to show. It’s completely peaceful.”
My friend concluded with, “The left is out to get us—any way they can.”
Bernie Madoff got 150 years in prison for hoodwinking investors out of billions of hard-earned dollars. But Glenn Beck and others from both political persuasions (Keith Olberman, Ann Coulter, et al) are hoodwinking millions of Americans out of something far more precious than money and even harder to recoup: hope.
I applaud what I call the “Madonna School of Marketing:” be outrageous, be crazy, be different, make money. It’s the American way. I’m probably too mainstream, too center and too unable to create a media image contrary to my personal beliefs to be filthy rich. The center is crowded. There’s lots of room at the edge. Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh, Keith Olbermann—they’ve all created a product that many Americans value. These money-making mouths of misery say out loud what others might contemplate but normally toss aside and give the ridiculous the perception of legitimacy. Good for them. They’ve created an industry from nothing and found a way to market their intellectual property. Caveat Emptor.
The sad part, though, is the cost to the country. Not the financial cost but the cost to the political process. These pundits and their fringe ideologies have created a victim mentality in their listeners. The idea that the “Left is out to get us” reeks of smoky back room deals designed to subvert American interests. AM radio and TV bombast create an US vs THEM mentality; a GOOD GUY/BADGUY approach to politics and inherently assumes that “our side” is not doing the same thing. If the left is indeed out to get us, I assure you “we” are out to get the left. In fact, once could easily make the argument that the entire purpose of the Republican Talk Radio machine is to “get the left.” Beck’s email is designed to foster suspicion of the motives of the left.
Yet his idiocy and hypocrisy are boundless. In the same email Beck noted:
“Glenn celebrates Earth Day: How does Glenn celebrate Earth Day? The only way he knows how – leaving the lights on!
Glenn’s Special Ops charity auction heats up!
As if helping the finest men and women in our country isn’t enough of a reward, this charity auction to benefit the Special Ops Warrior Foundation…..”
The links between changing our nation’s energy paradigm and national security are so well established it’s not worth the time to enumerate them here. Yet Beck flaunts his flagrant disregard like a toddler, “Neener, neener.” I can’t imagine a more irresponsible, immature response. Except to follow it up with a self-serving plug for his support of our troops. Clearly unaware that energy efficiency on the battlefield is a primary concern for the US military; so much so that there is a new office of the Director of Operational Energy Plans and Programs who reports to the Secretary of Defense and whose sole responsibility is to improve energy on the battlefield. Energy, for the military, is critical weapon of war, yet Beck thinks himself clever to at once congratulate himself for his extravagant consumption and then have the balls to hold a benefit for the very men who put their lives on the line to protect the movement of fuel on the battlefield and ensure the flow of fuel across the world.
The resultant fear from pontificators like Beck prevents the open discourse of ideas. No more do we enter into political discussions with the desire to find solutions; rather we discourse to prove ourselves right. Abraham Lincoln is well known for installing a cabinet of rivals and ensuring that each of them had a voice. Never defensive over conflicting view points, always open to dissent, Lincoln understood the value of fostering collaboration to achieve the best possible outcome. One cabinet member noted, “He was the best amongst us.”
Our fear of “them” has made us intellectual cowards, unwilling to challenge ourselves to read and discuss conflicting ideas. Problem solving requires us to take in as much new data as possible and then apply that data consistent with under girding truths.
If a conspiracy is to be found, it is mostly likely to be found in the conference room where Beck’s staff meets before the show to outline the day’s program. If the product is the manipulation of the American mind, then new marketing ideas are constantly needed to move the product. Perpetuating the delusion of the listeners is job 1.
The resultant divisiveness angers me. I’m mad at those who market their product at the expense of American interests. But I’m madder at the deluded consumers who buy this dribble.