Yesterday, I was honored to find one of my old blog postings highlighted by Glenn Beck. Beck decided to open 2010 on a defensive note, attempting to dismiss all criticisms of his broadcasts as baseless personal attacks. Wishing to rebut charges that he was racially insensitive, he quoted from a County Fair post I wrote last September titled, "Beck, Jones, and race." The piece ended with the following two lines, which he read on air:
It seems clear that to Glenn Beck, individuals like Barack Obama and Van Jones are African-American before they are anything else. And for him, that appears to be a major cause for concern.
Then he offered his response: “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
The content of my posting, which Beck chose to ignore entirely, consisted of a list of recent statements from the host that led me to conclude that, as I wrote, “Beck is obsessed with race and seems deeply uncomfortable with minority Americans in general, especially those in positions of power.” The examples mentioned included the following:
- In February 2009, Beck pushed the idea that Mexican immigrants want to “reclaim” California and Texas.
- In May 2009, he called Sonia Sotomayor a “racist” on at least three separate occasions.
- That same month, in an attempt to portray Sotomayor as an unqualified affirmative action pick, Beck dismissively referred to her as “Hispanic chick lady.”
- In June 2009, Beck said Obama was elected because of his race instead of his policies.
- On the July 22, 2009, edition of his radio show, Beck portrayed the Democratic health care reform effort as “the beginning of reparations,” a theme he repeated on both his Fox News and radio shows on July 23, saying on his radio program that Obama plans to “settle old racial scores through new social justice.”
- On July 27, 2009, Beck stated that he believes Obama “has real issues with race.”
- The next day, he said Obama had “exposed himself as a guy” with “a deep-seated hatred for white people.”
- On July 29, 2009, he defended his remarks, stating once again that, “I think the president is a racist.”
My September post also referred to an August 24, 2009, profile Beck put together on Van Jones, in which he went out of his way to portray Jones as a black militant. The piece came not long after an August 11 broadcast during which he said:
BECK: I want to talk to you about the green movement root. I couldn't figure out why the green movement -- here is Van Jones. This is a convicted felon, a guy who spent, I think, six months in prison after the Rodney King beating.
It was perhaps the single biggest lie Beck told about the former administration official. Jones was arrested in San Francisco (not Los Angeles) during a peaceful protest related to the 1992 Rodney King verdict, which had occurred several days after the riots ended. Jones was released after a few hours and was later awarded compensation as part of a settlement of a class-action lawsuit against the police alleging they had illegally arrested numerous individuals. The idea that Jones was a “convicted felon” who had spent months in prison was ludicrous -- and yet Beck didn't correct the accusation until December 4.
The August 24, 2009, Beck profile reviewed the episode as well, and the graphics Beck chose speak volumes. He first selected an unattributed and undated image of Jones talking to a police officer.
He then superimposed that image over video footage of flaming wreckage from the L.A. riots even though -- to reiterate -- Jones was not in LA and his arrest did not occur during a riot.
The intent, especially within the broader context of the piece, was obvious: to portray Jones as a dangerous and radical black militant.
And Beck's attitudes on race and ethnicity show no signs of changing. In December, he said that the Ganges River “sounds like a disease,” and then, seeking to belittle Jamaica, claimed that he had never heard of current Olympic record holder and Jamaican national Usain Bolt. “I don't even know what flag that is,” he said. “It's like a vacation country. Is that Jamaica? Does anybody know?”
These are but a few of the many instances during which Beck has appealed to the fears and prejudices of certain members of his white audience. His actions are as deliberate and premeditated as they are indefensible. Beck may wish to deny such a charge, but his record speaks for itself.