This Christmas, Glenn Beck sent out a message to all of his followers that demonstrates the inherently myopic thinking of the religious right in America on several levels. Beck’s words are demonstrative of the false narratives fundamentalists operate on when confronting real problems.
The thinking goes beyond simple misunderstanding by conflating every imagined wrong in America into a nice little feel-good piece of fluff. A prime example is the list of ills facing America that seem to have the God-fearing Beck depressed.
“Free condom dispensers are being placed at Philadelphia high schools for the holidays” is talked about just before “the unimaginable tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary.” Beck says “these stories and infinite others pummel our sense of ‘merriment’ into submission, leaving us dazed and confused about the world around us.”
Beck obviously doesn’t understand what infinite means, but let’s look at what he’s doing here. Making a horrific event like the Sandy Hook murders a moral equivalent to something he doesn’t agree with lessens the former while conveniently advancing the latter. The world of the fundamentalist is easy for them to understand because it is so black and white.
Every event is either sinful or good in the eyes of God. In that context, a person never has to actually confront a problem like gun violence in the United States of America. If it’s bad, Satan and the progressives are to blame. If it’s good, give thanks to God. Beck will even let you know which is which.
The Solution is Always the Same
In this narrow worldview, the solution is always the same, God is the answer to every question. If only America would return to an imagined glory based on following the tenets of faith. There’s no need for gun control or better mental health services, just prayer in schools and demonizing of progressives. It’s intellectually lazy to the core.
Beck also infuses the tired idea that his ilk are actually the inclusive ones. He writes that the National Nativity Defense Force (is there such a thing?) shouldn’t be the sole focus of Christians on Christmas. They should also be concerned with the poor and less fortunate. Beck says that where the common ground with non-believers should lie.
“Non-Christians, atheists, Muslims, Jews, Wiccans, and everyone in between can come together,” according to Beck, around the “knowledge of the Christmas story.” It’s an old tactic that says it’s just fine to believe what you want, as long as it’s the same as me and my followers. You can be different, as long as you know I’m right.
The Christian extremists who make up most of Beck’s audience often speak of freedom and liberty. What they really mean is the ‘freedom’ to be like them and the ‘liberty’ to worship their God. Anything else will get you tossed in with Satan and the progressives.