Monday, December 6, 2010

Beck's historical analogy was ignorant, deceitful but clever propaganda (again)

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On December 1st, Glenn Beck tried to compare the United States to ancient Rome to declare that we're now teetering on the edge of moving from being a Republic toward becoming an empire. As is the case with much of the history conveyed by Mr. Beck, a man who has taken one college course on the history of religion, his story was flawed from top to bottom. He began his show by offering his listeners, as in the movie, The Matrix, two pills: a blue one makes it go away, "change the channel," and the red one was offered to learn about Beck's misunderstanding of ancient and 21st Century history.

one pill makes you sleepy, the other leads to confusion

Beck tried to maintain that ancient Rome became an empire under Octavian in 31 B.C. "because Octavian is the guy who established the political structure that was the basis that became the Roman Empire." Beck insisted that this was a quiet, peaceful takeover of Rome by Octavian, but according to actual historians reviewing Beck's claims, this is nonsense. "The people of Rome had gone from being citizens of a republic to subjects of an emperor and it all happened without violence, without votes or without fanfare. Didn't really even know and they were actually happy about it. Because they were bought off." However, T. Corey Brennan, a classics professor at Rutgers University and current visiting faculty member at the American Academy in Rome, told Media Matters, "The triumviral period (from 15 March 44 BC down to Octavian's victory over Marc Antony at the battle of Actium in 31 BC) was one of the bloodiest and most deeply traumatizing in Rome's history." Roman history professor Ray Laurence, of the University of Kent, similarly stated by email: "This is way off. From 44 BC to 31 BC, entailed the most violent series of civil wars Rome had seen." For more on how Beck got his ancient history flat-out wrong, see "Historians Dismantle Beck's Roman History Lesson."

What American president has initiated a transformation of the United States from a Republic to an empire? According to Beck, of course, it is President Obama. Apparently Glenn Beck was sleeping during periods of the Bush Administration.  In a 2004 Ron Suskind wrote in the New York Times Magazine that he:

...had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush.* He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'' [Emphasis added]

Obama is continuing many of the Bush policies in fighting this war on terror and has continued to increase the Pentagon budget enormously, but only a masterful deceiver would argue that Obama is the U.S. President who initiated the transformation of the American Republic into an empire. Obviously Beck was offering an opinion, but it was based upon sheer ignorance and/or a willingness to ignore facts, as is his wont. What President, if any, "established the political structure that [is] the basis that [might become an] Empire?" Remember the Bush Doctrine?

To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively in exercising our inherent right of self-defense. The United States will not resort to force in all cases to preempt emerging threats. Our preference is that nonmilitary actions succeed. And no country should ever use preemption as a pretext for aggression.

Despite the last sentence, the Bush Administration did "use preemption as a pretext for aggression" against the Bush family nemesis, Saddam Hussein. If any U.S. president resembles Octavian at all, it would be George W. Bush! That would made President Bush 41 the historical analog to Caesar.

For evidence that the U.S. is now becoming an empire like Rome in 31 B.C., Beck claimed that there were massive land grabs from Roman citizens during this period and asked his viewers, "Do you know how much land the federal government has just taken from the West in the last two years?" If the answer to that question is anything other than zero, zip, not any, than this researcher would appreciate a URL in a comment showing what land the government has taken in the last two years. In other words, Beck was asking a dishonest question which is also his wont. It sounded frightening though, and that is what really matters for Glenn Beck, the fear-monger-in-chief. 

dumbing down his listeners with utter nonsense

Addressing education in this country, Beck argued, "We have to dumb down the whole class. We don't let anyone excel any more. There are no winners because it makes you feel bad." Apparently, it is Glenn Beck who has taken the blue pill and slept through the last two years. President Obama's education policy is called "Race to the top," and it rewards states that achieve better educational results. It's difficult to tell with some of Beck's stupid and absurd ranting, but it sounds like he was complaining about No Child Left Behind, President Bush's educational policy. What is amazing is that there are millions of people gullible enough to swallow Beck's ridiculous nonsense and believe that they are being informed by a "historian" and not purposely misinformed by a pathological liar unqualified to discuss the history of the 21st Century, much less ancient Rome. Glenn Beck is living proof that you can fool some of the people all of the time. 

Beck is a liar and a charlatan, a gifted propagandist to be sure; but that just makes Fox out as anything but a news outlet. If there are a class of people being dumbed down, ironically, it is Glenn Beck's viewers who actually believe what this pseudo-historian claims. People with just common knowledge should know that Beck is doing this country a grave disservice with his persuasive lying. 

Update, 7/25/2011: Glenn Beck is no longer on Fox, but he is still considered a "historian" by his gullible and uninformed followers. The following clip is an interview by Jon Stewart of genuine historian Scott Miller, who wrote the book, The President and the Assassin: McKinley, Terror and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century. After listening to this, you'll understand that Beck has the point in time when the United States began its transformation from Republic to Empire off by over 100 years!

This is not to suggest that President Obama is not continuing on the of foreign commitments that McKinley began; he is. The point is that Beck was not qualified to be on Fox pretending to be a "historian."

* Update, 7/24/2012: It turns out that the "senior adviser to Bush" who conveyed to Suskind that the United States "is an empire now" was none other than Karl Rove, a man who knows a lot about creating "our own reality." 

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Unknown said...

Thru emminant domain the federal government take land, (property) every year, against peoples will. Oh I guess that is ok since they pay them for it!!?? Beck is over the top, but he is always telling his audience to go & get the information he is spewing for themselves, to check what he is saying. When it came to Obama's link to the "neo-marxist" Saul Alinski, I did look into that myself & he was 100% correct. Obama himself once said in a speach that Alinski is one of the great mentors of his life. I read Alinski's book "Rules for Radicals" & Obama seemed to follow the Alinski doctrine from the time he became a community organizer right up until he became president. Alinski even advoctes lying to attain political office in his book. The progressive rant is "the means justify the ends" Obama lied thruout his campaign, telling who ever he was infront of, whatever they wanted to hear. Shit, Beck is harmless compared to our Saul Alinski loving president. But no one has ever called Obama out on that, & gotten an answer from the president. Glenn Beck?? give me a break!!! I haven't heard him lie about the progressive movement, or Obamas ties to it from the begining.

The Glenn Beck Review said...

Steve, I was just pondering what Beck's followers must share. Beck is disdained by reactionary Alex Jones, conservatives are finally coming around to criticize Beck, liberals and radicals have been mocking and criticizing Beck for years, evangelicals think Beck's religion is a fraud and a cult. Who's left? What do Beck's millions of followers all share? A hatred for Obama.

Tell me, Steve, what "lies" did Obama tell on the campaign trail? You tell me his campaign lies, and then I'll explain to you the difference between a broken promise and a lie. Most reactionaries calling Obama a liar don't seem to grasp that.

While we're on the subject, how many times did you post comments on blogs bitching about the lies that took us to war in Iraq? Those were real lies and tens of thousands died. Were you complaining then Steve or are you really a racist deep down?

Beck isn't just "over the top." He's a liar, a fraud, a hypocrite and a yellow propagandist who manipulates his viewers!

You have heard Beck lie about the progressive movement, you just chose not to investigate his claims.

lasvegasgirl6 said...

Beck is blowing the dog whistle for all the racist Obama haters and only they can understand this lunatic because they share the same damaged brain!

The Glenn Beck Review said...

I don't know as I'd go that far. Beck's brain is damaged specifically by severe ADD (attention deficit disorder) and alcoholism with the possibility of being a dry drunk based upon a number of factors.

I'd argue that he shares hatred for Obama and a profound ignorance with his gullible followers. That's why I added the final video clip above, to show that Beck is not only a deceiver (propagandist) but he has no historical perspective for a supposed "historian."