The IUSB Vision Weblog

The way to crush the middle class is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation. – Vladimir Lenin

How not to criticize a fellow conservative

Posted by iusbvision on February 25, 2010

I have been a fan of Hotair.com for some time now. Ed Morrissey is one of the very finest political writers there is. AllahPundit can be a bit goofy sometimes and lets his emotional quirks occasionally get the better of him, but still he is a very good political reporter and analyst.

I have never seen a piece that I was so royally disappointed with, that just didn’t deserve to be on Hotair.com until now. The piece was long on accusations and invented narratives and short on verifiable facts.

The following is the “meat” of a piece on Hotair.com by CK McLeod:

You can be a fan of Glenn Beck’s – you might even be Glenn Beck himself – and acknowledge that his rhetoric is sometimes irresponsible. You can be thankful to Glenn Beck for his contributions to American conservatism – for helping to keep the political flame alive, even build it, during a bleakly dark time – and yet still wonder whether, going forward, his pet themes, favorite arguments, and customary stances aren’t counterproductive and divisive, where not embarrassing. In short, you can agree with everything J.E. wrote, yet still be concerned about the way that Glenn Beck habitually brings vindictive hatred and a self-destructive and dangerous extremism into conservative discourse.

As someone who at least halfway listens to Beck’s TV show almost every weekday, I well recognize that he and his fans are more used to getting this kind of thing from the likes of Arianna Huffington or Media Matters robots than from conservative bloggers. But please check the transcript of his CPAC speech (or cue the video to 5:20): Nearly the first words out of his mouth were “I have to tell you, I hate Woodrow Wilson with everything in me…” (emphasis added). Defenders of Beck’s will be quick to point out that the words were obviously offered in self-consciously exaggerated good humor, as you will see if you view the video, and note the smile on Beck’s face. Furthermore, he was jokingly responding to a specific statement from David Keene’s introduction, in which, while congratulating Beck for conduction a national political seminar, Keene referred to having written an article in college naming Wilson, along with Hitler and Lenin, as one of “the three most dangerous people of the 20th Century.”

Now, jesting about one’s hatred for a relatively remote historical figure, even a duly elected president, wouldn’t amount to much on its own – who cares how anyone feels about Millard Fillmore? – but any Beck viewer or listener knows that, hard as it may be for the uninitiated to believe, Beck is joking on the square here. Indeed, he has seemed obsessed with exposing a purported clear and very present danger of progressivism, which he identifies both with historical figures like Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Margaret Sanger, and with modern day progressives like the Republican 2008 presidential candidate or our current Secretary of State. (If you happened to watch Beck’s hour-long New York harborscape interview with Sarah Palin, then you might recall her reluctance to respond to his anti-progressive spiel, especially when applied to her former running mate. Beck later described her demeanor as remarkably “guarded” – as against criticism from her legion of detractors. My personal opinion is that, though she likes Beck and wishes to appeal to his fans, her political antennae, and perhaps her common sense and personal decency, were functioning efficiently.)

When Beck inveighs hatefully against Woodrow Wilson, he’s also inveighing against John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and many millions of other people, in both parties, and I would question the honesty of any regular Beck viewer who denied the evident fierceness of Beck’s feelings on this subject. If you think I’m exaggerating, then how do you explain away statements like the following, also from the CPAC keynote?

Progressivism is the cancer in America and it is eating our Constitution. And it was designed to eat the Constitution. To progress past the Constitution.

…and, again on cancer, while reacting to a statement of Theodore Roosevelt’s on income inequality:

[T]his is not our founders’ idea of America. And this is the cancer that’s eating at America.

(applause)

It is big government – it’s a socialist utopia. And we need to address it as if it is a cancer. It must be cut out of the system because they cannot co-exist. And you don’t cure cancer by – well, I’m just going to give you a little bit of cancer. You must eradicate it. It cannot co-exist. And we need big thinkers, and brave people with spines who can make the case – that can actually say to Americans: look it’s going to be hard – it’s going to be hard but it’s going to be okay. We’re going to make it.

This kind of language is not just exaggerated (and cliché): It’s pure demagogy, and it’s dehumanizing. Beck’s delivery and self-deprecation take the edge off… and I’ll now refrain from making the kind of historical reference that I tend to doubt Beck himself, in my place, would resist – much. I’ll just ask you to imagine the above with a few exclamation points, hand gestures, and a throbbing throng of the newly educated – live and in person, not across a warm TV screen.

 

Look at this piece very carefully and take out the word Beck and put in Limbaugh, Malkin, Huffington, or any other name and it really changes nothing.

Beck says that progressivism and traditional Americanism cannot ultimately coexist. Beck has used the evidence from countless history books, biographies, economists, historians, legal scholars and others to make his case.  McKleod, who admits that he only “half listens to Beck” says that Beck’s critiques of progressivism are pure demagogy, and yet provides us with verifiable fact ZERO that Beck is factually or historically incorrect about what he says. Politico.com hired a bunch of professors to “fact check” Glenn Beck on his history of communism/progressivism documentary and found no errors.

I ask you Mr. McKleod, your observations of Beck are based on what?? You don’t like his sometimes flamboyant style? If you don’t like his style just say so, but to attack his factual credibility, when story after story he has broken was proved true after the elite media and White House called him a liar and all sorts of names. Yet you conveniently leave that out.  

What we have here is the typical nonsense that is often posted at the Daily Beast; XXX is this and XXX is that, what he says is this and what he says is that. XXX’s motives are this and XXX’s motives are that. Appeal to authority A said this about XXX and appeal to authority B said that.

Yet, we are left with no facts to verify for ourselves, there is not even the attempt to provide objective evidence that we can see and judge for ourselves. So what are we left with? XXX (Beck) is all these bad things because CK McLeod says so. I could take most of Mcleod’s column, take out Beck’s name and insert Malkin, or Huffington, or McLeod’s name and it would be just as valid/invalid.

Fortunately the commentors at Hotair, who are a very smart bunch, totally destroyed this piece by the numbers and it deserved it.

Here is my comment:

Mr./Ms. MacLeod,

This is not a very good column.

I see the same tactics in this column that are used on the Daily Beast. Glenn is this, Glenn is that, Glenn has bad motive a or bad motive B, the other guy says that Glenn will have bad result A or bad result B.

This all avoids the key argument. The truth.

Glenn hates Woodrow Wilson, you build a narrative around that lone snippet that is convenient for you, but you avoid the key question. WHY does Beck hate Wilson?

Could it have been that Wilson had thugs that were violent, that he was a proved racist who resegretated government, that he was steeped in social darwinism who thought that the Constitution was obsolete nonsense that got in the way of his dream of an engineered society?

Anyone who loves freedom and limited government should hold many of Wilson’s views with a certain degree of contempt.

What I don’t see from Beck’s critics is “Beck’s argument is wrong because of verifiable evidence X and verifiable evidence Y”.

I love Mark Levin, and he is right that the political consequences of the Tea Party and Beck in some cases maybe that the vote is split 3 ways and the leftist wins.

But this is also a reflection of a greater truth, the Republican Party is not entitled to my vote simply because I oppose statist leftism, like any candidate and any party they will have to earn my vote on merit and performance period.

Voting for you just because you are not the other guy is no longer good enough. The GOP needs to perform, keep its promises and show real leadership.

UPDATE

Scholar Jonah Goldberg on Woodrow Wilson:

GOLDBERG: Well, he creates the first propaganda ministry, he unleashes 100,000 propaganda agents on the United States where he sends them out sometimes without revealing their identities to give these speeches in all public places to persuade people to support the war, to distrust Germans, to hate immigrants. Wilson creates these, under Wilson, the Justice Department creates the American Protective League at a time where 250,000 badge-carrying goons who were allowed to beat people up in the street, arrest people in mass arrests, do home break-ins without warrants, spy on people, do government background checks, carry badges. They were just basically what, you know, what were called a bunch of sort of street gang political goons who could do the Government’s bidding at will. Wilson closed down scores of newspapers and magazines, threatened thousands of others with closing them down, used the mail service, which back then was like the Internet and mail combined. I mean, it was where everyone got their information, used the postal service to clamp down on all dissent. One woman who spoke in her own home about how she liked Lenin was given six months in jail. One guy refused to stand up for the Star-Spangled Banner at a baseball game, was shot in the back. Another guy refused to sing the national anthem at a liberty bond drive, was beaten senseless. These guys were not convicted of anything because they were just doing their patriotic duty. Even if you buy the caricature of George Bush and Joseph McCarthy, if you buy the cartoon version of what’s out there, they still, still look like co-hosts of romper room compared to what Woodrow Wilson did in this country.

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