I like Glenn Beck. He’s a recovering alky like myself but is much more interesting to listen to. At heart Beck is an historian with a keen intellect and a knack for storytelling – the two elements that make history come alive. As an history student myself I find his shows to be relaxing yet informative, like a slow boat ride down a calm river that cuts through an enchanting but often overlooked landscape.
But I’m disappointed in his Restoring Honor rally held last Saturday, Aug. 28. Instead of drawing on the historical and secular ties that bind Americans together, he used the theme of religion. As a marginally religious person myself, I believe the last thing our country needs is more religion.
Instead what it needs is the restoration of the secular principles that were formulated during the Enlightenment and inspired our Founders. These ideals are harder to promote – which Beck does so well in his TV shows but failed to do last weekend. Instead we had more of a Moral Majority flashback which as a socially liberal libertarian I’d rather avoid. While I don’t like to see public life cleansed of all things religious (honestly, crosses on mountaintops don’t offend me – nor do mottos on the coins in my pocket invoking deities), I don’t want my private life to be subjected to God’s law – unless I have freely chosen to allow it.
Jeffrey Lord writing for The American Spectator had a similar sense of unease with Beck.
“The Beck rally, says Beck, was about prayer. About God. And God generally supplies the help. As John Fund reported over at the Wall Street Journal, the grass roots nature of this event was evident as hundreds of Tea Party members buckled down to do the hard work of making the event and other events associated with it actually happen and run smoothly. But the Tea Party as it has emerged has presented itself as a political movement concerned about economics and politics. Not a religious faith.”
The arrogance of atheists and ACLU types annoys me – but so do people who view politics as a place to proselytize. It’s a fine balancing act between Church/State that I value – and one that I don’t want to see erased. Beck has shown that he is aware of that line and respect it in his TV show. It would have been a better had he shown that same intelligence at The Mall in DC.
UPDATE: Lexington of the ChicagoBoyz disagrees.
Beck is building solidarity and cultural confidence in America, its Constitution, its military heritage, its freedom. This is a vision that is despised by the people who have long held the commanding heights of the culture. But is obviously alive and kicking.
Beck is creating positive themes of unity and patriotism and freedom and independence which are above mere political or policy choices, but not irrelevant to them. Political and policy choices rest on a foundation of philosophy, culture, self-image, ideals, religion. Change the foundation, and the rest will flow from that. Defeat the enemy on that plane, and any merely tactical defeat will always be reversible.
Beck is unabashed that God can be invoked in public places by citizens, who vote and assemble and speak and freely exercise their religion. They are supposed to be too browbeaten to do this. Gathering hundreds of thousands of them to peaceably assemble shows they are not. But showing that the people who believe in God and practice their religion are fellow-citizens who share political and economic values with majorities of Americans is a critical step. The idea that these people are an American Taliban is laughable, but showing that fact to the world — and to potential political allies who are not religious — is critical.
Beck is attacking the enemy at the foundations of their power, their claim to race as a permanent trump card, their claim to the Civil Rights movement as a permanent model to constantly be transforming a perpetually unjust society.
He is nuking out the foundations of the opposition’s moral preeminence…