Calvin Freiburger

Three Guesses What the Left Thinks of Glenn Beck’s New Book

Posted on June 18 2010 5:00 pm
Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College. He also writes for the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.

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If you guessed “far-right garbage,” give yourself a cookie.  John Avlon reviews the punditry giant’s just-released The Overton Window for the Daily Beast, and, wouldn’t you know it, his diagnosis dovetails nicely with the thesis of Avlon’s own book (funny how that works out…).

Avlon finds Overton to be “an instructively bad book because it offers a complete color-by-numbers picture of the contemporary Wingnut psyche,” exposing Beck (and, by extension, his conservative allies and sympathizers) as a paranoid crank (perhaps-unwittingly) ginning up the fears of various malcontents on the verge of armed rebellion.

Glenn Beck has his moments of rhetorical recklessness and strange priorities (I’m especially wary of his closeness to Alex Jones fanboy Andrew Napolitano and neo-Confederate revisionist Thomas Woods), so it’s entirely possible that The Overton Window (which I haven’t read) goes off the rails in places.  But I’ve heard enough Beck to know that his grasp of America’s founding principles is basically solid, and that his efforts to educate the public about progressivism are extremely valuable.  Moreover, there are several telltales in Avlon’s piece that reveal what’s really irking him:

[T]he book is essentially a love letter to any group that might have seen themselves as implicated in the Department of Homeland Security’s report about the rise of extremism from the far-right in the age of Obama. In fact, a recasting of that document is a featured irritant in the introduction, portraying the government as targeting otherwise peaceful citizens who they characterize as ‘‘militant anti-abortion or pro-life organizers,” “home schoolers,” “Minutemen”, “Tea Partiers,” “militia organizations,” “tax resisters,” “patriot movement” members, “gun rights activists,” and “9/11 Truthers”—to name just a few of the groups unjustly clustered under the term “Constitutionalists.”

Um, Earth to John…that’s not a “recasting” of the DHS report—that’s what it actually did:

Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.

Next, Avlon introduces us to Beck’s fictional “Founders’ Keepers” resistance group, and their revolutionary rhetoric:

We’ve done everything that could be done to avoid the storm that’s coming. Our voices have not been heard. Time for simply hoping for change and praying for peace is gone. If our government won’t answer our appeals and do what’s right, if they’ve forsaken their oath to defend the constitution then an appeal to arms and the grace to God almighty is all they’ve left us…If not now, when!…Will we be stronger when they’ve taken our guns away when a cop or a paid government thug is standing on every corner enforcing the curfew? No! I say if war is inevitable then let it come on our terms.

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