As I was turning on TV earlier in the week (my wife keeps the set permanently on FOX), I heard Glenn Beck complaining about the Black Panthers. Viewers were then shown a picture of a presumed Klansman in a truck carrying a noose. Supposedly this is what the Black Panthers were planning to do, by looking tough in the presence of approaching voters near a polling station in Philadelphia. Beck then began screaming about how we were ceasing to judge people by “the content of their character,” a reference to the government’s failure to take action against the Panthers’ interference with voting procedures. For the next five minutes Beck dwelled on the idea that “Dr. King gave his life to prevent this from happening.” Indeed King, who had spent his life bearing witness to the truth, would be truly upset to see “how we’ve blown his legacy.”
Three observations are in order here. One, there is nothing in what the Panthers were doing that looked as they were planning a lynching. It’s not even clear that the white guy shown earlier was about to engage in the same quaint custom. Two, I couldn’t imagine that the real MLK would have been entirely unhappy with what Beck disapproved of. King favored all kinds of favors and set asides for his race and would undoubtedly have been delighted with a lopsided black voting majority in Philadelphia or anywhere else that brought his soulmates to power.
An isolated phrase from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech admittedly reveals very little about the speaker’s leftist politics, but perhaps Beck could bestir himself to notice what else King said and wrote. Perhaps Beck could even be induced to stop quoting that magic line that he uses in his monologues once he discovers more about King. But then perhaps he shouldn’t. If he keeps on long enough with his drippy routine while inventing new black founding fathers, he may achieve a victory of sorts, by lifting the GOP’s share of the black vote from 2 to 2.1 percent. But I certainly won’t listen to him as he engages in this Herculean task.
Three, I can’t figure out what makes Beck congenial to a rightwing movement, if that is an accurate description of his followers. Most of what he says is incoherent and except for nonstop invectives against the spendthrift government, he has exceedingly strange views for someone on the “far right.” He goes on and on about fascist dangers, lavishes extravagant praise on Martin Luther King, bewails America’s history of racism and gushes over designated minorities. Beck is particularly incensed against those who interfered with Radical Republican Reconstruction, and he has been skewering the late Robert Byrd since his passing for having hindered the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. But when I ask self-described conservatives who is their favorite public figure, Beck’s name invariably comes up first.
Obviously those who write for this website, or for VDARE, would never be given enough public exposure to rise to Beck’s prominence. And I would never expect to see a presentation of the Reconstruction era on FOX that didn’t sound like the NAACP venting. But among those who do pass muster with the liberal-neocon ruling class, is a repentant druggie and GOP shill the closest we can get to “rightwing” media balance? If that is the case, then the disgust that John Derbyshire has famously expressed for the “talk-show Right” may be entirely on target. I, for one, find all of this as odious as John does. And I can’t determine why anyone would think that antifascist noisemaking is recognizably rightwing. The game of beating up on Obama while shamelessly fawning on minorities is a Republican, not a rightwing practice.