30 August 2010

You're not outraged by this?

On the internet and in-person, I been talking around Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC yesterday. It seems like everyone is talking about it. And, although I consider myself a person with a diverse social group, I do have to admit that I do not have a social group wherein I'm finding many people who support the theory of the rally or the rhetoric that surrounds it.

In my extended family, I absolutely do have people who probably support this rally. I know that my partner's uncle believes that Glenn Was Right (except for the fact that the rally wasn't Christian enough). So it's not like I don't have the opportunity.

The thing that has struck me about many of these conversations is that people expect me to be outraged. They expect that I will have a litany of condemnation for this rally, for the rhetoric espoused, and the impacts these kinds of events could have.

And, certainly, I have a certain amount of sadness. I would be remiss in my position as a human being, let alone an educator, to not comment on the horribly racist and classist displays of rage that were applauded in DC this weekend. I would be giving in if I didn't note that rallies such as these were thinly-veiled excuses for lancing of hateful boils that will poison our society.

And then people ask if I'm outraged and all I can think of is this (problematic) response by The West Wing's CJ Cregg.

Am I outraged? I'm barely surprised.

This is coming from a man who is a stand up comedian who has explicitly stated in interviews in the NY Times that he's "not a journalist" and is "just a radio clown." This is coming from a man who has tried to translate his fake punditry to being a legitimate leader of the American Right. This is a man who has condemned families of victims of 9/11, insists on saying that President Obama has a "deepseeded hatred for white people," and who regularly wallows in conspiracy theories. This is a man who the far-right politicians and pundits condemn as racist and dangerous.

This is a man who makes money off of our attention, who preaches hatred as a standard to bear. This is a man who draws scarily-large popular following of people who don't appear to know that schools can no longer require children to say the Pledge of Allegiance because of the late insertion of the term "Under God" to catch Communists in the 1950s, who insist on believing that President Obama was foreign-born (which he tangibly is not) and that he is a Muslim (a faith he has never claimed). Because Glenn Beck does most effectively what we, as a culture, respond to - he trades on fear and ignorance.

On October 28, 2010, Glenn Beck brought together a rally where white, middle-class, conservative people were given a platform to vent their rage at a world that largely benefits them. He attempted to coopt the American Civil Rights movement and claim a "return" to a kind of values that never existed while riling up xenophobic and racist anger against others.

Am I outraged? No, bloggers. That is Glenn Beck, and we give him the power to do exactly what he does.

We watch his television shows, we listen to his radio, we buy his fear-mongering. We respond to what Glenn Beck does in a way that makes it effective. And it keeps happening.

Until that changes, I don't have the energy to be outraged. Just sad.

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