Beck’s Absurd ‘Success’ Story

On his show Thursday, Glenn Beck offered a pair of ridiculous stories about bootstrappy Americans refusing help from the evil federal government in the wake of a natural disaster. They both sound like complete BS to me. Here he is talking about the first one, on which he models the entire story:

Glenn Beck told his radio audience Thursday that when he started his charity, Mercury One, the goal was to recreate the American spirit that existed in the 1920s.

In that era, he said, there was a devastating flood and the federal government attempted to offer assistance — only to be turned away by the people.

“When the trucks came, the people actually met those trucks in the streets with guns and said, ‘Turn your federal trucks around. We don’t need you here, we don’t want you here. We are a community that takes care of ourselves,’” Beck said. “And they actually turned the trucks around and sent them back home to Washington.”

He’s almost certainly talking about the great Mississippi River flood of April 1927, which left huge parts of several states under as much as 30 feet of water. But there is no evidence I can find that any such turning away of aid took place. In fact, quite the opposite happened. President Calvin Coolidge refused to send any federal aid for months as the southern governors and mayors begged him to do so. In fact, he refused to visit the area or to even make an appeal for private charity. The Red Cross bore most of the cost of the pitiful response. Coolidge didn’t propose to send any federal money at all until December, when his hand was forced by Congress, and then he demanded that it be a far smaller amount than Congress wanted to send. A bill to send aid was finally passed more than a year after the flood. So much for those bootstrappy, anti-federal flood victims. And now, the new story:

In the wake of the devastating tornadoes that rocked the Midwest over the weekend, Beck reported that thanks to the efforts and contributions of the American people, a group of individuals in Illinois has recaptured that American spirit and turned away the FEMA trucks.

“We have three Mercury employees that witnessed it,” Beck said. “FEMA trucks come rolling down the road … they come into one of these church parking lots, and the church and the people meet them at the parking lot and say, ‘Turn your trucks around. We don’t want you here.’”

Beck said the FEMA representatives said they were there “to help,” but the individuals responded with something along the lines of: “We got it covered. Our community has come together. We have it covered. Go find someplace else. Turn your trucks around. We don’t need you here. That’s our job.”…

“Success, America,” Beck said. “Success.”

One of the commenters on the article sums it up very well:

My home is barely one mile from the most significantly damaged part of Pekin. I can assure you that these morons did not consult with me before they decided to turn away aid that was paid for with my tax dollars. And I give away nit an insignificant number if tax dollars in a year, believe me. That’s what’s so baffling about the entire thing. What these guys did is akin to having a car accident, then when the insurance check comes in, ripping it up and sending it back to the insurer with a xeroxed copy of my ass captioned “PISS OFF I GOT THIS.”

I think next time these brave, self-reliant Americans want to drive, they should avoid all roads built with federal money (which is almost all the highways). Let them go off-road to show how resolute they are in avoiding federal help.

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  • justsomeguy

    So is that second story true or not? It seems like exactly the kind of self-serving exaggeration Beck is known for, but I could see this being either a wholly fabricated story or an actual one-off that was cherry-picked for being helpful to his narrative.

    I’m leaning towards total fabrication, if for no other reason than the part where it’s *ordinary citizens* who get the feds to back off. Not even, like, the mayor of their small town or someone who might actually have the authority to accept or deny assistance…. just ordinary people standing up and saying “no” to the overbearing government.

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/axp/ Martin Wagner

    Fucking libertarians, Jesus.

  • Aliasalpha

    So why did Coolidge refuse to send aid? Was there an actual reason or was he just some top hat wearing moustache twirling villain caricature?

  • Abby Normal

    If I had to guess about the truth of the second story I’d say FEMA trucks probably pulled into the church parking lot and were told, “You can’t park here. We have a service scheduled.”

  • barry21

    I’m glad that the members of a suffering community had their priorities straight. First order of business: repel assistance!

  • Larry

    Sure didn’t see help being turned away in OK after that devastating hurricane hit Oklahoma City this spring. Damn libtards, always wantin’ free stuff.

  • Larry

    #6, er, that would be a tornado, not a hurricane. Derp!

  • barry21

    Anyway, what could possibly be about the situation (assuming it actually happened)? There was a disaster, and people trained in disaster response were appropriately kept from responding to the disaster. Seems pretty good to me.

  • TxSkeptic

    Let them go off-road to show how resolute they are in avoiding federal help.

    Careful, Ed, those jackoffs with their big trucks & militia gear may just take you up on that one. Im sure they wont give a crap about who’s private property they rip their way across, either.

  • barry21

    @8

    *possibly be absurd

  • http://www.gregory-gadow.net Gregory in Seattle

    @Aliasalpha #3 – Coolidge’s response was basically “fiscally conservative libertarianism.” The Republican fiscal policy then was pretty much what it is today: minimal taxation, minimal action, and let big business deal with the details. Coolidge put his Secretary of Commerce, Herbert Hoover, in charge of organizing a private sector response, which was woefully inadequate.

  • Akira MacKenzie

    Gregory @ 11

    “Yer doing’ a good job thar, Herbie!”

  • arakasi

    It is distinctly possible that the 1st church told the FEMA drivers “We’re pretty good here – most of our parishioners kept power and water. However, the 1st Presbyterian up the road a bit got hit pretty hard, so you might want to set up there”

    Or am I giving Beck too much credit for not assuming that he invented the entire thing?

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Of course they turned away the FEMA trucks. They were coming to take The People away to the FEMA re-education camps for experimentation by Obama Hussein Barack’s Obamacare Private Army, so that the UN’s Agenda 21 forces could take over their town and plant trees all over their golf courses.

    Wake up, people!

  • Gvlgeologist, FCD

    If one of the lamestream media outlets had fabricated a story like this, the reporter(s) involved would have been castigated by other news outlets, as well as by Faux Noise. I understand that the “real” news outlets (and possibly FN as well) might not want to bring attention to this nutcase, but I really think that this BS should be nationally pointed out.

  • Abby Normal

    In fact, he refused to visit the area or to even make an appeal for private charity.

    One small correction, on April 22, 1927, days after the flood, Coolidge issued a proclamation asking Americans to donate $5 million to the Red Cross.

  • alanb

    Beck’s article is dated the 21st and thru The Google I find other articles dated the 22nd saying that FEMA just arrived to assess damage. As far as I know FEMA mostly does long-term help rather than act as a first responder. Mr. Beck’s veracity seems to be somewhat in doubt in my mind.

  • raven

    We have three Mercury employees that witnessed it,” Beck said. “FEMA trucks come rolling down the road … they come into one of these church parking lots,…

    This has been going around the net. It’s apparently completely false.

    What One Community Told FEMA That Has Glenn Beck … – The Blaze

    www .the blaze.c om/…/what-one-community-told-fema-that-has-glenn-be…‎

    5 days ago – Glenn Beck told his radio audience Thursday that when he started his charity, …

    in the streets with guns and said, ‘Turn your federal trucks around. … “And they actually turned the trucks around and sent them back home to Washington.

    Glenn Beck: Illinois Town Turns Away FEMA Trucks After Tornadoes …

    The Blaze is a Glenn Beck website. The story going around is that people waving guns told FEMA to go back to Washington and they did. Not confirmable.

    What I did find is that FEMA has been in Washington, Illinois since the EF4 tornado hit and are unaware that they had been chased back to Washington DC by christian patriot militia gunmen.

  • fmitchell

    Nearly every corporation gets subsidies, tax breaks, and grants, some dating back from the Great Depression. Why can’t US corporations show the same bootstrapping spirit as these brave citizen militias who refuse aid on behalf of other people? For shame, I say unto the CEOs and Boards of Directors of America. For shame.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/accidental-historian/ Geds

    Googling reveals nothing of Beck’s story. My guess is that if there’s any truth whatsoever to it the trucks pulled into the Baptist church but were told that the relief center was being set up in the United Methodist church across the way. Or they were told, “We can’t do it here, the roof is about to collapse and the building is unusable.”

  • Wylann

    I’m willing to bet real $$ that the story is a total fabrication. If his only evidence is that three mercury employees witnessed it, and there’s no video. It’s total bullshit.