This is a guest post from Hasan Afzal, Director of Stand for Peace.
Today is Glenn Beck’s last episode, of ‘The Glenn Beck Show’, for Fox News. It comes after twenty nine months of ‘political commentary’ which has included a tirade of abuse against, who he calls, ‘progressives’ (a convenient euphemism for labelling American liberals as gay-loving, Christian-hating, Muslim Brotherhood agents) and tarnishing the reputations of anyone he disagrees with.
The politically neutral fact-finding website, PolitiFact, has surveyed a few of the things Beck has told his audience. Of the 23 instances they reviewed, only 3 were deemed ‘half-true’ or ‘true’. 6 of his statements (a majority) were deemed ‘false’ and 5 were of down-right ‘pants on fire’ quality.
As we say goodbye to Glenn from Fox, here are my top three reasons you should be glad to see the back of his show:
- Beck did his bit to fan the flames of racism shortly after Obama was elected. When Obama was asked a question about the arrest of Henry Louis Gates (as the police thought he was breaking into a home – it was his own home). Beck concluded that Obama’s intervention was a confession of his hate for white people. Specifically, Beck said “I’m not saying he doesn’t like white people. I’m saying he has a problem. This guy is, I believe, a racist.”. It took over fifty companies removing their ads from his programme for him to apologise.
- Beck told his audience that the H1N1 vaccine would cause ‘neurological damage like it did in the 1970s’, a reference to the people of Fort Dix in New Jersey who developed rare cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome after taking a vaccine. Of the 46 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine administered in the United States, 117 people were treated for a ‘serious adverse event’.
- Despite not being Jewish, Beck compared Reform Judaism to radical Islam. He said “Most people who are not Jewish don’t understand that there are the Orthodox Rabbis and the Reform Rabbis. Reform Rabbis are generally political in nature. It’s almost like radicalized Islam in a way where it’s less about religion than it is about politics.”. He said this as he discussed criticism from the Anti-Defamation League for calling George Soros a ‘nazi collaborator’.
Putting to one side the smears he has peddled, it can be argued that Beck’s most devastating effect has been on the American right. Beck has been the gang-leader of those who paint Obama as some undercover-Muslim, socialist, white-man-hating elite which has left the more rational elements of the right completely isolated.
A good example of this is the selection of keynote speakers in the Conservative Political Action Conference, the mecca of American conservatism, in recent years. In 2008, President Bush gave the keynote address. But in 2009, it was Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio-host who told his audience to ‘take back America’ and in 2010, it was Glenn Beck.
American Conservatism has turned into an soundbite-ready, albeit entertaining, reactionary fringe production. Thanks, Glenn.