Wednesday, March 09, 2011

I Generically Ridicule, Therefore It Is Wrong

I was hunting around on the web for a Document some Glenn Beck listener had found, I think in her attic, entitled "Progress and Democracy in Rhode Island" and had sent it in to him, and he had read from it in his 2010 CPAC speech.

And in that search I ran across this New Yorker article written by one George Packer who, of Glenn's speech said at the outset, "I watched so you don’t have to."  (Well whatever you do, don't go look for yourself.  You might make up your own mind before I make it up for you!)

The first thing he did in the article was introduce us, in the end not to a person, but to the name (of a real person) whom at first he subtly disparages by referring to her as part of a group of "aging" people who are turning to "radical" "anti-government" politics for answers.  He brings up the President of Sandpoint Idaho's Tea Party, Pam Stout.

Apparently he tells us all about her so we don't have to go look, but look I did, and it turns out she was the lady David Letterman had on one night.  You can watch the whole thing here.

He then goes on this long rambling tirade typecasting her as someone who would have been a Shay's Rebel (maybe1), a follower of  Senator John C. Calhoun of South Carolina in the 1850's (I assume because he used "states rights" to defend slavery - which I'm certain Mrs. Stout would not - but that doesn't mean arguing "states rights" is defacto a defense of slavery), a fan of William Jennings Bryan (who was all over the map with political positions -- Packer mentions "free silver".  I doubt you could get Mrs. Stout to argue for free anything from the government.)  Then he went on to pinning her to Huey Long, then Father Caughlin (whom Packer identifies as "right wing".  George, you might want to go read a little more about Caughlin before you go there2) -- but the general gist of it is that Pam Stout is unprincipled and scared and easily lead by demagoguery-peddling populists.  Which of course, by strong inference, he says Glenn Beck is.  There are no facts presented to back this up.  I'm sure he did the research "so you don't have to".

Do go watch the video of Pam if you haven't seen it.  She comes across as a well-informed, reasonable, very calm, nice lady.  I think she represented the movement well.

So really, the first part of the article was Packer assigning a 1950's intellectual's opinions on the paranoid fringe, afraid of change -- to Pam.  With absolutely no evidence.  It's just so.  Don't look it up.  He's writing this for you so you don't have to.

Then he goes on to talk about how, while he watched the speech he could see how this fictional version of Mrs. Stout would be attracted to Glenn Beck.  He basically observes that Beck comes across as a nice guy who has overcome personal demons, and he's self depricating and openly emotional, and that if he can get back up on his feet -- so can America.

Well God forbid!

He then goes on to paraphrase and quote Beck -- mostly accurately -- on the history of Progressism mostly with respect to Progressivism in America.  There is an underlying tone of ridicule, but he directly challenges none of what Beck says.

So the gist of the article seems to be that Beck is a demogogue because the easily led, uneducated old people fearful of any change are attracted to him.   Only the person he dragged out as an example upon any inspection at all seems to fit perhaps only one of those qualifiers -- if you consider 62 "old" (ageist!!!!).   And while Glenn Beck was shown to be emotional and appealing -- one thing he was not shown to be was ... wrong.

1. "The financial situation leading to the rebellion included the problem that European war investors (among others) demanded payment in gold and silver; there was not enough specie in the states, including Massachusetts, to pay the debts; and through the state, wealthy urban businessmen were trying to squeeze whatever assets they could get out of rural smallholders. Since the smallholders did not have the gold that the creditors demanded, everything they had was confiscated, including their houses."

2. Caughlin turned against the New Deal he initially supported because it wasn't left wing enough for him. His newspaper was called "Social Justice" -- hardly right-wing terminology, and he formed his own group, The National Union for Social Justice -- when he grew impatient with the New Deal. Though all of this can be found independently of Glenn Beck, if George Parker actually listened to Glenn Beck, he would have been aware of this.  And as anyone who listens to Glenn Beck knows, he encourages and expects his audience to go verify things for themselves.  Unlike George - who watches speeches so you don't have to.


Severian said...

To be fair, Phil, leftists really have no choice when it comes to historical ignorance. I think it was Ann Coulter who said that a conservative discovered to be an adulterer and a tax cheat and a drug addict would be exiled to the land of wind and ghosts, whereas if you call a leftist an adulterous, tax-cheating drug addict it just means you've read his autobiography.

In other words, if I, or you, or Ms. Stout, or anyone else found that our "tea party" views could be used to make a serious case for the re-imposition of slavery, we'd be horrified, and honor-bound to spend a good long time doing some serious soul-searching. Leftists, on the other hand, take their basic worldview from a belief system that directly murdered tens of millions of people.... and they're perfectly ok with that.

Shamelessness is the flux capacitor of the liberal personality -- it's what makes progressivism possible.

philmon said...

Sev, your comments make my posting worthwhile. Your insight is great, as always.

As a buddy of mine said when he read your comment, "Snap!"

Severian said...

awww, shucks!

Hey Phil,

you work in academia too. Any tips on setting up a blog anonymously? Can such a thing be done? I'd like to do some work in higher ed other than janitor, which is all I'd ever get if my opinions were known.

(such, of course, is liberal "tolerance" and "respect" for "diversity").

philmon said...

Severian ... if you send me an email at cluebattingcage at Gmail ( dot com, of course), we can switch over to my REAL email address (I assume you have a non University address as well) and we can talk about it, as they say, "offline".

pst314 said...

Funny that such a dishonest smear appeared in the New Yorker: The New Yorker prides itself in its army of fact-checkers who supposedly guarantee that no inaccuracies (much less falsehoods) appear in its august pages. But in fact, as we see time and again, these fact-checkers may work tirelessly to make sure that the writer is correct about the color of the ties that Father Coughlin wore, they will never tell the writer that Father Coughlin was a leftist.