An Open Letter to Glenn Beck

Dear Glenn,

I know the odds of you actually reading this letter are slim indeed. I am, after all, a rather unexceptional twenty-eight-year-old housewife who can’t even keep a regular blog. And yet, I would feel remiss if I didn’t poke my head out of my hidey-hole and speak my piece.

You said on the air earlier this week that, at some point, you will have “really pissed off” each and every one of your listeners. I think that’s a fair assessment, but I find myself bewildered at the way that you seem to have heard in those words not a warning, but a challenge to be met before Monday.

Your radio show on Wednesday was less a talk radio program and more of an on-air head explosion about Barack Obama. It was also, to a lesser degree, about your incredulity at the fact that Newt Gingrich is leading among Tea Party voters — after declaring Gingrich and Obama to be essentially the same person, you asked what the hell we in Tea Party were thinking, and if our opposition had, in fact, all been because the Marxist-in-Chief is black.

That was about when my head exploded.

That was in Hour One of your podcast. I was so angry after hearing that most asinine of questions that I couldn’t even bring myself to listen to the rest of the show until the next day. When I did, I found to my relief that you did not make even the slightest allusion to race again, and was thoroughly happy to chalk up the aforementioned outburst as a temporary bout of insanity and move on.

And then I checked Twitter today.

I was enraged on Wednesday. I have since worked through it, and am now thoroughly in the Land of the Double Facepalm.

It’s not at all a secret that your preferred Presidential candidate is Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. And I understand that admiration can, at times, lead to imitation. But I think Bachmann’s “strategy” of saying a lot of smart things, followed by one excruciatingly, brain-meltingly stupid thing, followed by doubling down on that one stupid thing, is a page from her playbook you probably ought to have skipped.

But beyond that — What the hell, Glenn?!? What on earth happened to, “I know my audience”? Newsflash, dude: your audience is, for the most part, comprised of Tea Party types, and it’s a good bet, given polling numbers, that a goodly portion of your audience has been looking favorably upon Newt Gingrich of late. Hell, I’m guilty on all counts there. You know what you’ve done? You’ve just told groups like Media Matters that, “Yeah, you guys have been right all along — large swathes of my audience are totally racist.” And, what’s worse, in the same breath you’ve managed to make a longtime, loyal listener like me wonder if that thought hasn’t been simmering in the back of your head for some time — because to my thinking, the “racist” accusation is so mind-bogglingly wrong that it would never have even crossed my mind, let alone my lips.

There was a great comment on the Legal Insurrection post I linked to above, listing the reasons that Tea Party types can get behind a Newt candidacy — but for the “TL;DR” crowd, here’s my (shorter) take on the matter:

Look, I understand that the idea of Gingrich leading amongst Tea Party types is enough to make your head swim. Even — and perhaps especially — for those of us who are finding ourselves, if not in that boat, then moving in that direction, it is a serious “WTF?” moment. And if Gingrich was running his campaign in a way that made clear that he not only owns the Teddy Roosevelt Progressive Battle Flag bedroom set, but also the matching footie pajamas — if that were the case, then yes, your bewilderment would be entirely warranted. But the simple fact is that that’s not the case. It’s true that Gingrich has been running his campaign as a Progressive — but what you seem to have missed is that he’s running as the brand of Libertarian Progressive that, earlier this week, you not only said you could envision, but is an exact descriptor of your stance on foreign policy.

The implosion of the Cain Train seems to have led a lot of us Tea Party types to realize that we actually do want a guy who knows what in the heck he’s doing. Part of the siren song of the Gingrich campaign is that he is positioning himself as a guy who knows intimately the machine that is Washington D.C. (having been a part of it himself), and is committed to beginning the process of dismantling it. Add to this the fact that he’s shown himself more than capable of elucidating conservative principles in the face of hostile media elements; the fact that he’s willing, even eager, to dismiss the basic premise of an unfair question in a way that makes us cheer; and the fact that he’s reaching out to Tea Party types, rather than including us as an afterthought or overtly pandering to us — and you have a force to be reckoned with.

You saw in his answer to your Medicare Part D question a man who thinks that government is the answer; I saw a man who was willing to move the Overton Window one step in the wrong direction in exchange for two steps in the right direction.

Does he have baggage? Good heavens, yes — but we know what it is, which means the odds of an October surprise are low. Might he be lying to us? Yes. Yes, he might. In fact, given his past, it is a distinct possibility, which is why I get the feeling that a lot of his support is of the wary sort, though perhaps that’s just me.

In the same interview in which you talked about the idea of the “Libertarian Progressive,” you also said that you feel that it’s too late for that kind of strategy to work domestically. That is a valid argument against Gingrich; so is, “He’s lying through his teeth about what he wants to do, gang.” But the fact remains that Gingrich is not running as the white supremacist’s alternative to Obama — not by a long shot — and because of that, your “racism” accusation is way the hell out of line, and you owe us all a serious apology.

Glenn, I’ve listened to and watched you since you started on Fox, and your influence has decidedly changed my life for the better. I learned more about critical thinking in that first sixteen months than I learned in sixteen years of school. I learned things about history and current events that I didn’t even know I didn’t know. As a former Useful Idiot for the Left, you gave me the resources I needed to tackle questions that I had thought beneath or below me not three years before. Beyond that, you’ve encouraged me to reconnect with the faith that I had begun to drift away from. Heck, I’m grateful enough for all the good you’ve done in my life that I even wrote and recorded a song about it!

I have defended you more times that I can count. My immediate family thinks you’re crazy and/or dangerous; when I recently told my sister that I pay to listen to you, she looked at me as though I had just expressed a desire to go streaking in a men’s prison yard. I’ve defended you to my husband, the man who started me down the path of conservative thought in the first place, but also a man who is so steeped in normalcy bias that I can show him a project that is in the works and he’ll respond, “That’ll never happen.” And of course, I’ve had friends call me crazy or foolish or brainwashed or even just walk away from me for supporting you.

I’m not telling you this because I’m looking for some sort of commendation, but to better illustrate the truly unenviable position into which you have put me and people like me. I have listened to and supported you for no other reason than I felt it was the right thing to do, because I believe in your message, but also because I’ve come to believe in you as a person. It makes me smile every time you refer to yourself as “crazy uncle Glenn,” because that’s more or less the way I’ve come to regard you. You’ve put your life, your fortune, and your sacred honor on the table for the benefit of people like me whom you will likely never know, and you have earned my respect in the process.

And now in a case of truly not seeing the forest for the trees, you have turned around and kicked me, and others like me, squarely in the gut. And it hurts. A lot.

Just let me ask you this: How many converts to your way of thinking do you expect to get by, A.) Being thoroughly unable to articulate our point of view in this matter, and then B.) Insulting us?

I suggest a thorough examination of that question before you do more harm to a movement that you yourself have worked so hard and given so much to help build up.

Sincerely,

Angela

[Update: I have gotten a lot of response on this, and posted a sort of addendum to clarify a few points. It can be found here.]

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16 Responses to An Open Letter to Glenn Beck

  1. dicentra says:

    Angela:

    You know and I know that Glenn doesn’t really think that Newt supporters are racists. That’s not how his mind works. You and I also know that Glenn is given to rhetorical excess and goes over the top nine times before breakfast.

    Glenn’s comments can be rephrased as “Newt is a white Obama,” and yes, even that is an exaggeration, his core point being that Newt is a progressive just as Obama is and that it’s mind-boggling why the Tea Party would chase after Newt just because he can kill Obama in a debate.

    It is indeed valid to debate whether Newt is as progressive as Obama. But it’s a mistake to viscerally react to what appears to be a race card but totally is NOT. The Left has unfortunately trained us to react emotionally to disparate elements of a person’s speech instead of sussing out the intent and going from there.

    The meaning of Glenn’s utterance is to be found in what Glenn meant, not in what we hear or how it might sound to others. It is imperative that we not accept the Left’s formulation of how language works, that “if it sounds racist to me, then you said something racist, regardless of what you meant.” This distortion of language is at the root of how they twist the Constitution to their ends. As conservatives, we have to reject their rules and not play their game.

    It’s disappointing to me to see how nearly the entire starboard side of the blogosphere is reacting. Glenn shouldn’t apologize: we should, for reacting to his statement instead of understanding it.

    • angelaisms says:

      Sorry, not buying it. I’ve looked at this from every direction I can think of, and even in the absolute best case scenario, what Glenn did is analogous to trying to get a bee off of an allergic friend by punching him in the face. Perhaps his intentions were good — I’d like to think they were — but his methods showed an appalling lack of judgement.

      • dicentra says:

        Are you operating under the assumption that Glenn actually thinks that the Tea Party is racist, or do you accept that he doesn’t think that but that using an apparent race card was bad?

      • angelaisms says:

        I think I’ve made myself quite clear in that, in this case, his methods rendered his intentions irrelevant. Eric Boehlert is already crowing on Twitter about how Glenn Beck agrees that Tea Party is racist. It’s one thing for Glenn to say things about himself on the air that people will twist into a cudgel with which to beat him — he’s a big boy and can take care of himself and has made it quite clear that he doesn’t really care. But it’s quite another for him to start handing Media Matters weapons to be used against his audience.

        I read the “explanation” posted on The Blaze; I’ll be turning on my podcasts and, later, GBTV to see what he has to say for myself. But from what I can see so far, he seems to be doubling down yet again on stupid, which, for my part, marks a serious breach of trust.

      • dicentra says:

        his methods rendered his intentions irrelevant.

        Trouble with that is it gives the Left control over our discourse. They get the heckler’s veto. If they can make hay from something, we have to avoid it, and because they are maliciously determined to make hay from anything we say or do (or they’ll go ahead and make it up), we’re surrendering to their tactics even when we’ve done nothing wrong.

        These are two fairly technical articles, but I hope I can help you see something most people haven’t thought of before:

        Bill Bennett wrongly accused of racism.

        Rush Limbaugh wrongly accused of wanting the country to fail.

        First, certain conservatives are making the claim that it is standard business and political doctrine that communicators be aware of how they are likely to be interpreted, which conflates the idea of practice with rectitude. And the fact is, being aware of how your utterances may be interpreted by those who are looking to maliciously misrepresent them in a soundbite culture is a fool’s errand—one that is shown up by the very issue at hand: Bennett was careful to note that the hypothetical in question was morally reprehensible—and in fact used it to argue against utilitarian rationalizations for moral problems (a stand that implicitly rejects statistics-based racialist arguments)—but that important qualification was left out of many media representations of his quote, which allowed those who wished to embarrass Bennett to call him out. In this case, Bennett clearly was aware of how his words might be used, but that awareness could not prevent misuse. For Bennett to have avoided the “major failing” [some conservatives identified] he would have had to avoid the subject altogether. And to do so is to trade intellectualism for the kind of circumspection that has the practical effect of chilling free speech.

        Linguistically speaking, we have but two choices: either insist language be ground in the intentions of its utterers, or else conclude that we must each be responsible, in perpetuity, for whatever might be done with our utterance once it leaves our control. [Some conservatives] it seems to me, [are] choosing the latter—an unfortunate choice, in that it will forever codify a use of language that demands of its users the kind of overly-self-conscious self-censorship that is anathema to the free exchange of ideas. And if our goal is to hash out policy or to discuss potentially controversial issues, we simply must be able to do so without worry that parties invested in maintaining the status quo are allowed to silence us by assuming control over the terms of debate.

        [The political pragmatists’] thesis here is straightforward—and it matches the theses of many of those (including the White House and the Corner’s Ramesh Ponnuru) who’ve taken Bennett to task for his “impolitic” remarks. Bennett, the argument goes, is a seasoned political operative and a professional communicator, and so he should have known that certain people—from the perpetually aggrieved to those in whose interests it is to try to smear what they take it he represents—would use his remarks against him. Which is certainly true.

        But why must an awareness of such dictate a surrender to it?

        Descriptions about how communication can be made to function are no substitute for the insistence that it be made to function as it should—in a linguistically coherent way that is dependent on appeals to the utterer’s intent, and so therefore refuses to give equal weight to the whims and motivations of interpreters who wish to use their interpretations as a rhetorical cudgel (in this case, quite disingenously) against the utterer. Each time a conservative makes such excuses for linguistic surrender in the guise of world weary linguistic pragmatism (which it is not; it is a feint toward relativism and certain pernicious post-modern ideas of language that undercut its moorings), they cede a bit more control over future debates to their opponents.

        I refuse to do so. And while I can understand why many on the left wish me to be cowed by their linguistic presumptuousness, what I can’t understand is why so many on the right allow them to get away with it. (bold mine)

        We can’t take the country back or the culture back unless we also take the language back. Telling Glenn and other conservatives to be careful what they say or we’ll get bludgeoned by it is the same as telling a battered wife that she can avoid the beatings by getting dinner ready on time.

        The Left are bullies—malicious bullies—and the only way to stop being bullied is either to punch back so hard they’ll never bug you again or refuse to enter their arena and play by their rules. Glenn is more than aware of how the Left operates, and he has made a conscious decision to refuse to let them set the terms of the debate. You may call it “doubling down,” but what he’s actually doing is fighting for his right to speak on his own terms, not the Lefts.

      • angelaisms says:

        And yet again, you’ve missed my point entirely. I’m done.

        Edit: Okay, one more try.

        And what you’re saying is that it’s 100% A-friggin-okay for him to punch us in the face cause, “He meant well! Chill out!” And he’s come out this morning himself to say, “Guys, I didn’t just punch you in the face! That black eye? All in your head. And you can know this because I’ve totally been against punching you in the face in the past.” The reactions of MMFA types isn’t, “Ohs noes, they might call us names,” but the fact that, intentionally or not, Glenn has now himself given credence to all of that name-calling — and you don’t even have to take him wildly out of context to do it!

        Okay. Now I am done.

      • dicentra says:

        It’s one thing for Glenn to say things about himself on the air that people will twist into a cudgel with which to beat him — he’s a big boy and can take care of himself and has made it quite clear that he doesn’t really care. But it’s quite another for him to start handing Media Matters weapons to be used against his audience.

        That’s exactly the point I addressed in my response.

        Whatevs.

      • dicentra says:

        OK, it does look like I’ve missed your point somewhat. I’ve been all over the ‘sphere talking about this, so I’ve been uniform rather than tailored in my responses. For that, I apologize.

        I can’t seem to call up The Blaze right now (looks like a DNS problem), but if I could, I’d link to the explanation article, which includes the segment from his radio show, before the Napolitano appearance, where he “plays the race card” for the first time, only it includes plenty of caveats about “of course I don’t think the Tea Party is racist,” and it’s much clearer what he is doing with “Must be race, what else?”

        He looks dead tired on the Napolitano show, so his delivery was deadpan and he omitted the caveats. It’s not logical to say that the first time he used the “race card” he was being sarcastic or facetious but the second time he was being serious. So the second time was a repeat of the sarcastic first time, but he was too tired to finesse the delivery.

        What happened is that The Right Scoop picked up the Napolitano spot and posted that, without the segment from the radio show as background. People saw Beck’s flat delivery, sans caveats, and it sounded very much like he was serious.

        And hearing what sounded like the race card being played must have hurt, for real, and the explanations afterwards would therefore sound like a fake apology.

        Unfortunately, the analogy to hitting someone falls apart here, because whether someone hits you by accident or on purpose, you still get hit. In this case, Glenn didn’t actually throw his fist at all: people just misunderstood his words (understandably), their feelings and sensibilities were hurt, and now it seems like Glenn is being a jerk for not apologizing.

        I figure he’s not because it’s a losing game to apologize for being misunderstood, especially when so many people “misunderstand” him on purpose and use it as a cudgel. It sounds like he thinks his fans got his meaning the first time, so no apology needed if he never actually played the race card in the first place.

        It’s a bad misunderstanding, and the only way to prevent it would to be to listen to every word Glenn Beck says in the order he says it and to contemplate and absorb and catalog his every rhetorical device.

        Which, that’s not possible, so the misunderstandings happen.

  2. On two occasions I posted a comment, one of them regarding an article about the American Jobs Act, and I pointed to a part of the actual act that they seemed to have ignored.

    I’d written an article that explained how the American Jobs Act was placing unemployment under protection of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It was even kindly picked up by Trevor Louden.

    However, The Blaze tried to say it was nothing, and the reason: Those picking up the article focused on the Sovereignty portion of it, instead of the Civil Rights Act being mentioned some 15 times.

    I tried to point to the part of the article that made this important, and the Blaze decided to erase my comment.

    I wrote them and received no reply, no apology, nothing. Yesterday Andrew Breitbart pointed out that Glenn Beck hired the former CEO of Huffington Post, I think it was, and that explained well to me what’s going on: Glenn Beck let the enemy in, and now they, as per usual, are Progressively destroying him from the inside out.

    Had to share because this whole racist Tea Party thing seems more a PR Stunt as Glenn Beck’s regularity is gone for those who do not pay for GBTV, and he’s losing relevance and capacity as a king maker. I’d thought that this wasn’t so important to him, and was a big part of why he left fox, however, it seems ego is getting the best of him, likely driven by his recent management hire.

    Thank you for reading,

    Toddy Littman

    • angelaisms says:

      My policy on comments is to approve any that are neither profane nor spam. Hence, my approval of your comment here is not tacit agreement.

      The MO of someone who is simply looking for ratings is to pander to their core audience, not try to alienate it. I’m not saying that Glenn and his affiliates/associates are perfect, but I don’t think this is a publicity stunt.

    • dicentra says:

      Yesterday Andrew Breitbart pointed out

      I dig both Breitbart and Beck, but the two of them had a nasty falling out awhile back, so you can’t trust what one has to say about the other. It’s sad, but there it is.

  3. StopHim2012 says:

    Glenn’s problem is very simple, he seems to think that George Washington is going to come riding out of the clouds and rescue us from the evil progressive movement, Well I have news for you, as bad as Glenn and even I want that to happen we are all sadly mistaken, His attack on the Tea Party is a sign of panic, that maybe come November 2012 we all may have to go to the polling booths with a cloths pin on our nose to vote for either Romney or Newt to insure we buy just a little bit more time in saving this country, and that means even you Mr. Beck,

  4. dicentra says:

    Glenn’s problem is very simple, he seems to think that George Washington is going to come riding out of the clouds and rescue us from the evil progressive movement

    Actually, Glenn has been pretty clear for awhile that George Washington isn’t showing up, that there’s not really anyone we can elect as POTUS to fix this thing, and that the solution to our problems cannot and will not come from Washington D.C.

    That’s why he’s decided to take matters into his own hands and help communities become so self-sufficient that meddling or assistance from the federal gubmint will be unneeded and unwelcome.

  5. Lou says:

    The Tea Party supported Cain because he was a non-politician “outsider”,
    now they support the Newt,and hes the ultimate DC “insider”,only because he can “debate”.I think the Tea Party is seriously LOSt and misguided by the MSM.What happened to our “principals”??Newt is a SNAKE.Hes not a Conservative,his record is anything BUT.I dont agree with alot of what Beck says,but he sees it and I see it,and that is the Tea Party supporting this man that made millions while we were suffering the worse financial crisis since the Depression is unbelievable.The Tea Party is throwing away all we stand for and represent,and Newt is the complete opposite of that.While the OWS movement is growing,we the Tea Party are crumbling.This Tea Partier refuses to be a sheep and refuses to support big Government Newt.I still have my values and principals.

  6. tim says:

    Ron Paul 2012, the father of the Tea Party, the only choice, balance the budget year 1, 100% Constitutional voting record,

  7. Pingback: Tweets « Trying Times

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