FDL Book Salon Welcomes Alexander Zaitchik, Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance
The biggest Big Liar on the American scene today is Glenn Beck. Two million Americans watch his show on FOX every day. Many millions more listen to his radio show.
How big a liar are we talking about here? Try this one on for size:
“We will reclaim the civil rights moments — because, dammit, we were the people who did it in the first place.”
— Glenn Beck, May 26, 2010
Gobstopping, isn’t it — how you can just rewrite a dozen of most agonizing, contentious, and important years in American history in one sentence like that? Where do you even begin to set the record straight?
America’s government may be the first one in the history of the world that started out with the expressly stated goal of making its citizens happy. Jefferson set out “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence. Madison added “to promote the general welfare” to the six purposes of government in the Constitution’s preamble. Both believed that democracy was the system most likely to deliver on the promise of helping people live happier lives.
Back in 2007, at the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly (the church’s big annual national gathering), I had the remarkable experience of hearing Amy Goodman moderate a panel of extraordinary gentlemen. One was Daniel Ellsberg. One was Mike Gravel, then a contender for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. And the third was Robert West, a former president of Beacon Press, which is owned by the UUA.
I was in the front row for this spellbinding bit of group storytelling, along with my daughter, then not yet quite 17. “This is what heroes look like,” I told her. “Take a good look — because this is what your faith and your family will expect of her on the day that history knocks on your door and insists that you take a stand.”