Glenn Beck has hit back effectively against his critics – from the Left as usual, but some also from the Right – who believe that his warnings about the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood are sheer lunacy. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews – who is apparently trying to take Keith Olbermann‘s place as the network’s leading left-wingnut – has compared Beck to the extremist John Birch Society. On the Right, the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol criticized Beck’s “hysteria” and used the same absurd John Birch Society comparison. But unlike his critics who engage in wishful thinking, Beck has used the words of Muslim Brotherhood leaders themselves, quoted fully in context, to demonstrate their ambitions for a sharia law-based caliphate completely at odds with a truly democratic, pluralistic society. Beck’s linkages of Muslim Brotherhood ideology to communism and socialism have also been mocked as the product of a loony conspiratorial mind. However, once again, Beck has the upper hand with the facts. All of these ideologies share a common hatred of capitalism.
For example, the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi has said:
[T]he collapse of the capitalist system, which is based on usury and securities rather than commodities in markets, shows us that it is undergoing a crisis and that our integrated Islamic philosophy – if properly understood and applied – can replace the Western capitalism.
Radical Islamists, socialists and communists are all opposed to the Western way of life, which exalts individual liberties, in favor of a governance structure that compels all to live and believe in a certain way commanded by their particular ideology. As Beck has pointed out on numerous occasions, their vision of the correct end state is very different, but their commonality lies in what they see as the Western democratic capitalist enemy in their way. The enemy of their enemy is their friend. However, one criticism of Beck that does hold some truth is that he is long on pointing out the problems and short on suggesting solutions. Jon Bershad, for example, wrote the following on Mediaite:
So, Glenn, you’ve told us that the Muslim Brotherhood is going to take over if Mubarak steps down. You’ve said that Mubarak is a bad guy and we never should have allied with him. Well . . . we did. That’s done. So what should America do? What should Obama do that would make you happy?
The question is whether that is really Beck’s obligation, when successive U.S. administrations have been unable to figure out how to balance stability in the region with adherence to our democratic values. Beck has made clear his opinion, shared by the Obama administration, that continuing to support the dictator Mubarak’s hold on power would be a mistake. Like the administration, he is sympathetic to reform but cautious.