I stumbled across a joyous surprise this afternoon. Historian Ron Radosh has a must-read post about the debate within the Conservative Movement about Glenn Beck.
Radosh injects a much-needed historical perspective into the discussion and provides an example for how intellectual conservatives should work to keep Beck from straying too far:
Indeed, I would agree that Beck does often go over the top. Wehner is correct that Beck throws out words like American imperialism, and last week I heard him complain about how America became an Empire. He does not seem to comprehend that many of these assertions are those of the Left and men like Van Jones, whose job in the administration he rightfully fought against because of Jonesâ€™ Communist views. No one seems to have told Beck this or stopped to correct him.
I have my own tiff with him. In the chart he put on this famous blackboard on Friday, he put Woodrow Wilson at the bottom as the centerpiece and creator of the radical statist or socialist country that he fears America is becoming. Â He rattled on about the number of political prisoners Wilson had in jail, and the war he brought the nation into. Now I realize Beck gets his view of Wilson from a chapter in Jonah Goldbergâ€™s Liberal Fascism, but aside from this, I doubt whether Beck has read anything else about Wilson. If he had, he might have realized that Wilson was an opponent not only of the Bolshevik regime in Russia, but of Americaâ€™s domestic radicals at home. The people Wilson thought of as dangerous to America were the counterparts of those Beck is fighting today. Yes, Wilson violated civil liberties, and used the Espionage and Sedition Act of 1918 to imprison dissenters- including my own cousin, who became the subject of a major Supreme Court case, Abrams v. United States.
He was even kind enough to link to and discuss my recent post on the Time Magazine story:
Yet, as David Swindle points out in his piece on the article, the left-wing Media Matters condemns the article as a pro-Beck puff job, while the conservative News Busters site regards it as a generally fair assessment. Swindle himself argues the unfairness of equating Beck with the fringe Right long ago expelled from the ranks of conservatism by William F. Buckley Jr., but he does praise the magazine for admitting that some times, Beck gets it right.
Be sure and read all of Radosh’s post. He has an absolutely fantastic conclusion which I wholeheartedly endorse. (I made a similar argument in my Conservative Chessboard essay earlier in the debate.) Radosh’s contribution to the discussion is yet another reminder to read his memoir if you have not already and make his blog one of your regular reads.