The Unending Irony of Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck’s total lack of self-awareness is truly awe-inspiring. On his show last week he criticized a Nebraska state senate candidate for associating with Grover Norquist who is “truly one of the most dangerous men supposedly on our side.” And he cautions that people ought to know all about the people they’re standing up with politically.

“Grover Norquist is truly one of the most dangerous men supposedly on our side,” Beck said. “He, I believe, is the George Soros shadowy figure who is not who you think he is.”

When co-host Pat Gray tried to play devil’s advocate and defend Osborn by saying maybe he only knew about Norquist’s anti-tax efforts and not all of the other “dangerous” stuff Norquist is supposedly doing, Beck wasn’t swayed.

“You’re a senator,” Beck said of Osborn. “It’s your job to learn about these things, if that’s your job. If you’re going to be a senator, you had better learn about who the people are you’re standing next to! It’s your responsibility:”

Says the man who is constantly promoting unrepentant liar David Barton. And who claimed he doesn’t know any anti-gay conservatives while wearing a hat in tribute to Ken Hutcherson, one of the most virulently — and violently — anti-gay preachers in the country. Irony!

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  • Gregory in Seattle

    With Beck, it ceases to be irony and instead becomes blackwhite:

    …this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink.

  • Artor

    Was Orwell prophetic, or was this shit going on just as bad when he wrote 1984? It’s hard to imagine anyone as intellectually corrupt as our current crop of Teabaggers, and it’s hard to imagine Orwell writing what he did without thinking, “Nah, that’s over the top,” unless he had concrete examples to point at. Who were the self-unaware, self-deluded idiots of his day?

  • Gregory in Seattle

    @Artor #2 – Nineteen Eighty-Four (the title is spelled out) was written in 1948. Sadly, Orwell actually did have concrete examples of Oceana, Ingsoc and The Party. Among others:

    * The Thought Police was based on the USSR’s People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (abbreviated by way of Russian as the NKVD), the “political police” which sought to maintain doctrinal purity during the Stalinist era. Thought Crime was derived from the Japanese Kempeitai, a military police force that arrested people for unpatriotic thoughts.

    * The practice of “revising history” was lifted directly from the Stalinist procedure of “cleaning” print references and reissuing touched-up photos after once honored members of the Communist Party had been purged.

    * The practice of thought criminals making a public confession is based on the show trials of the Stalinist era, where undesirables were coerced into making false confessions and create an excuse to have them disgraced and executed.

    * Newspeak was derived from efforts by British socialists to simplify English and make it better able to express socialist thought and goals.

    * Doublethink was coined by Orwell, but it expresses a very ancient observation about how fanaticism to a set of beliefs or doctrines can be so strong that facts cannot dislodge it.

  • John Horstman

    @Artor #2: He was reflecting on the rise of fascism and how it could happen in a (supposedly) democratic state. A number of the social (discursive) engineering techniques he explores were innovations of the Nazi propaganda ministry, and others were the result of Orwell considering how near-future technological innovations might be utilized by a fascist state. I’ll leave it to you to determine whether that makes him prophetic, but I think the short answer is “to some degree, both”. His concrete examples were largely drawn from the rise of the Third Reich.

  • John Horstman

    And, of course, the USSR and Imperial Japan, as Gregory in Seattle points out; authoritarianism was all the rage.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Orwell’s most famous novel also has a lot to do with the politics of “the West” following WWII. “We have always been at war with EastAsia” reflects how “the dreaded Bolsheviki” became “our staunch ally Uncle Joe [Stalin]” in 1941-1945 and then flipped back into “the Communist menace behind the Iron Curtain” with the Cold War starting up immediately thereafter.

    As an honest observer of political dishonesty – and one who didn’t make much money at it – Orwell was the anti-Beck of his generation.

  • Dave Maier

    reissuing touched-up photos after once honored members of the Communist Party had been purged

    There’s a great bit in one of Milan Kundera’s books about one guy who was disappeared from an official photo, leaving only his hat behind, which he had lent to one of the others in the photo – like a Cheshire cat, only with a hat instead of a grin.

  • busterggi

    “Glenn Beck’s total lack of self-awareness is truly awe-inspiring. ”

    None of these right-wing nutjobs would recognise their reflection in a mirror, as bad as parakeets that way.

  • Modusoperandi

    Huh. I agree with Beck, although for radically different reasons.

  • lpetrich

    In “1984”, George Orwell pictured our planet divided up between three Stalinist superstates that perpetually fight each other and change alliances with each other.

    Oceania: the British Empire and the United States. Britain was seemingly the dominant nation in it. Its ideology: English Socialism, abbreviated to Ingsoc.

    Eurasia: Continental Europe and the Soviet Union. Its ideology: Neo-Bolshevism.

    Eastasia: China, Korea, and Japan. Its ideology: Death Worship or Obliteration of the Self.

    George Orwell certainly got it right about the shifting alliances of international power politics. He also got it right about how left-wingers would fiercely fight each other, rather than be what the Right believes about them: unified and indistinguishable villains. He had direct experience of that in the Spanish Civil War, which he participated in. He was a member of a faction that was targeted by a pro-Soviet faction for not taking orders from Moscow.

    Around when he published his book, Josip Broz Tito decided that he did not want to be Joseph Stalin’s lackey and made Yugoslavia independent. Despite Stalin’s bragging that he only has to shake his little finger and that would be the end of Tito, he decided not to fight it. When Nikita Khrushchev was the Soviet Union’s leader, China and Albania broke away because he supposedly departed from True Communism. Some years later, the Soviet Union and China even got into a fight over some islands in some rivers that border the nations, but Soviet officials decided that it was not worth starting World War III over. Then a few decades later, Vietnam conquered Cambodia, then ruled by the infamous Pol Pot.

  • Nick Gotts

    Newspeak was derived from efforts by British socialists to simplify English and make it better able to express socialist thought and goals. – Gregory in Seattle@3

    Do you have a reference for that? I’ve never heard it before.

  • Nemo

    So, what is Norquist doing that Beck doesn’t like?

  • Modusoperandi

    Nemo, Norquist criticized Ted Cruz. Beck loves Cruz.