This morning I read a very disappointing column by Stanley Crouch at the New York Daily News website about Beck and his big rally this last Saturday at the Lincoln Memorial. I confess that I’m not a regular reader of Crouch but for some reason I had long thought that he had both an acute and sane take on things. But his column, which I’m not going to link to because it was such drooling nonsense, was essentially a hate-filled attack on what Crouch thinks is hate.
Another piece on the Beck rally that I read this morning was by Ross Douthat, a columnist for the New York Times. This one was a smug and condescending admission, by someone who actually watched it, that it was essentially a feel good non-sectarian religious event that urged its attendees and watchers from around America to get right with God. That, of course, is always an insult to the Left in America, any sort of suggestion by more everyday Americans that God is the foundation of what’s good about America. So Douthat was free to embed as many of the usual worried (about religion and patriotism) premises in his piece as he pleased, while seeming to dismiss the event as little more than a pep rally for ordinary conservative Americans (code for most of the Left, as it apparently is for Stanley Crouch, for racist, xenophobic, well, make your own list). Douthat was essentially saying that it was mighty big of him, Douthat, not to repeat the trope and to tone it down to background noise, because the event whipped up nothing more, really, than…piety.
I did not watch the event from beginning to end, but I am familiar with Beck’s daily show on Fox News Channel, during which he rambles across a landscape of interests that include the Founding Fathers, the mind-numbing radicalism of Barack Obama, the economic disaster we are living through and, this is really the one that worries Beck, the economic obliteration that is still out there on the horizon waiting for us.
I have pieced together enough of the rally by now, via the video record (I did see the last 15 to 20 minutes of it live) and various accounts of it that I have a consistent and clear picture of the event. The best description of it that I have seen is that it was very much like a “tent revival,” perhaps the first one for a new endeavor called Glenn Beck Ministries (which I don’t think he would take as an insult in any way; he seems that committed to God).
But what was Beck’s motive behind this rally? What really drove him to it and the message of religious revival that he put out there?
From watching Beck over time I think that he believes, and it’s not far from what I believe, that the economic shit is about to hit the fan in the United States and that the strength needed to get through what is coming will ultimately come from God. He’s serious about that, I believe, and I don’t disagree with his premise, though in truth we cannot know what is coming. But that is what I believe was the real purpose of the rally. Nothing to do with race, nothing to do with hate, everything to do with drawing strength from God.
I think that Beck sees, pretty clearly though he gets irritatingly goofy, seemingly at the drop of a hat, that the America part of America, meaning the fundamental values of liberty and enterprise based in fidelity with the Judeo-Christian heritage, has been shoved way to the side. The dominant cultural and political forces are collectivist and postmodern and secular. Beck connects that situation to the economic collapse he sees on the horizon and, again, sees a return to fidelity with God’s will as the first step toward righting that problem.
Perhaps I’m projecting my own understanding onto his outlook, because that is certainly what I see myself, although I perhaps see it with differences of coloration and more as a long-term cascade of bad and frankly indecent ideas about to bury us. Beck has been studying the problem, thinking about it, and has thrown his hands up, not in exasperation and defeat, but to God, and is asking for His help. If you do not believe in God, you won’t get that. If you do, you might.