Glenn Beck - No Thomas Paine - No Common Sense

(Originally posted Monday, July 27, 2009)

Glenn Beck's book is an ahistorical, incoherent and shallow rip-off of Thomas Paine and the high name-recognition of Paine's Common Sense (1776). Readers looking for history or Thomas Paine will be sadly disappointed. Beck appears to have never read Paine or, if he has, never thought about him. In fact, the greater question posed by the book is whether Beck has any cogitative ability whatsoever. Certainly, the book is mind-numbingly incoherent and rambling.

A few observations from the historian's viewpoint:

The oh-so brilliant point of Beck's 9.12 Project is to encourage people to return to the atmosphere of fear, panic and rage of 9/11. Just what we need, more unhinged.

Paine was a revolutionary reformer and progressive. Beck aspires to being a reactionary populist. There's a difference, people.

Most of Beck's text is a hackneyed and inaccurate appeal to the halcyon past (which exact period he does not name) and a prototypical diatribe against government intrusion without specifics or -- perish the thought -- specific solutions:

Glenn Beck, Libertarian, believes we need to get government "off our backs" and out of EVERYTHING, especially business. Go Glenn! Let's see ... well then we must suppose that he's "good" with the industrial solvent melamine in baby's food. Your kid lost their kidneys as a result? Pay for it yourself! And evidently Beck wants to return to the "good old days" of child labor. Ok and yeah, less regulation would been the solution to the current financial crash. Hell yes, more derivatives and less regulation, That's the solution! Exposure to Beck's economic blather -- it's not coherent enough to call it a critique -- is not worth the lost brain cells that will definitely slough from your cranium.

Beck's appeal to the days of yore is similarly historically challenged (can we still say "retarded" in this context?). For Beck, the Mexican American War of 1848 never happened; neither apparently did Jim Crow, the Spanish-American War, the extermination of Native American peoples, slavery, the Red Scare or the McCarthy hearings. The man is a historical dead-zone. Does he not know that at the time of the founding of the U.S., something less than less than 18% of white males could vote? We didn't even get universal white male suffrage until after 1842. Women struggled for 150 years before finally getting the vote in 1922 and blacks were brutalized and effectively disenfranchised until 1965, for Pete's sake. The good old days of when, exactly?

Inspired by Thomas Paine? It's a good thing that Paine's remains were long ago stolen from their grave from which they would otherwise now erupt and revolve. Don't purchase this book. I bought mine used for a fraction of it's cover price and it was STILL a waste of money.

© Kenneth W. Burchell 2009, All Rights Reserved.