Glenn Beck's been in hot water the last few days because he decided to mock
Barack Obama's 11-year old daughter Malia. Talking in a half-child half-baby voice, Beck asked a series of questions that show the worst of his character and the extent of his animosity toward President Obama. Much of his opposition to Obama, it is clear, is not based on intellectual or philosophical differences, but rather on a visceral hatred.
Much of Beck's act, I suspect, is meant purely to expand his business empire and his media footprint. The history lessons, the crying and his large output of material are not meant to help educate people. His exploitation of the Civil Rights movement and the shameless comparisons he makes between himself and Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Thomas Paine and others are only what ordinary demagogues do. Mark Lilla says in the most recent issue of the NY Review of Books that demagogues will frighten people into not trusting anyone but the demagogue. That's what Beck does.
But Beck can step out of his new role of charlatan and allow his old morning-zoo persona to come back. The first question he asked, imitating Malia, was the same question that the real Malia is said to have asked Barack one morning: "Why haven't you plugged the hole yet, daddy?"
Beck has apologized for doing this impersonation, but as others have pointed out, he didn't apologize for bringing family members into a political discussion (after previously demanding that everyone "leave the families alone"). The implications of what Beck said next as Malia have even bigger questions that he needs to answer.
The last one he asked was about why Sarah Palin hasn't been sent to a camp yet. This plays into his paranoid conspiracy about how Obama will arrest or shoot tea partiers/dissenters. His use of the word "camp" implies the FEMA concentration camps that he floated on his show early last year, but has since denied ever bringing up.
Elsewhere he asks, in imitation, about Obama being a "puppet for George Soros and the Center for American Progress." That's conspiracy gibberish that Beck has used more and more often on his show over the last month (talking about the "New World Order" and so on).
But the oddest thing he says is one of the least discussed, at least so far. At one point Beck says in his imitation voice: "Daddy, why do you hate black people?" And his producer, doing an impression of Barack says "I'm half black." And Beck says "Yeah."
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Does Glenn Beck really think that Barack Obama hates black people? This after he said that Obama had a "deep-seated hatred for white people," and a "racist" a year ago that resulted in more than 100 companies to stop advertising on his TV show.
And what does Glenn Beck really think of black people? Especially since he is so willing to exploit civil rights heroes for his own selfish ends.
Robert O'Connor is a journalist from St. Paul, Minnesota. His work has been published by the Chi-Town Daily News, Newcity Chicago, The New Indian Express, the Twin Cities Daily Planet and others. He's also worked in radio at Radio K (University of (more...