The following is reprinted in its entirety with permission of Alex Zaitchik, author of Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance, from OpenSalon.com, May 27th, 2010.
Alexander Zaitchik, author of Common Nonsense
America has this long tradition of twisted, odd, widely beloved and yet darkly dangerous right-wing cultural impresarios that pop up out of our landscape like cultural tornadoes, leaving huge swaths of derangement and destruction in their wake. Aimee Semple McPherson. Father Coughlin. Joe McCarthy. Once in a while, when the cultural cross-currents intersect just so, they rise on the whirlwind, gather huge followings, and lead their followers on a furious high-velocity turn that blows across the countryside in desperate pursuit of a utopia only they can see. These maunderings are typically mercifully short and usually end in disaster, for both the people who started the storm as well as those who got swept away in it. And all is forgotten — until the next time.