Glenn Beck has a long history of denigrating young Americans. He has called them “useful idiots.” He has disparaged them as gullible waifs subject to indoctrination. When Al Gore told a young audience that they know more about some things than their parents, Beck ridiculed the notion as an assault on parenthood.
On Friday’s show Beck populated his studio with a congregation of alleged teachers. The purpose of these humanoid props was to serve as the backdrop for his sermon on the evils of unions and the stupidity of America’s children. In support of that message, Beck began with a citation from a survey on civics education by the National Conference on Citizenship (NCOC):
Beck: A report out this week that only 22% of eighth graders passed a basic civics test in the country. The conclusion? Millions of young Americans will be unprepared to be informed and engaged that a healthy citizenry, healthy democracy requires.
It’s true that a lack of understanding about the mechanics of our government is troubling, but Beck’s approach to this information is shallow and insulting. First of all, he implies that this is a new development, probably caused by our progressive, Marxist, alien president, and his teacher’s union thugs. But these results are almost identical to studies by the NCOC dating back to 1998. Beck also implies that this is unique to kids when adults in similar studies fare just as poorly.
What Beck fails to grasp is that there are millions of young people who are actively engaged in the affairs of their communities and their country. Just because they don’t correctly recall precisely how many amendments to the Constitution there are (an actual question in the survey), doesn’t mean they are ignorant or passive about important issues that touch their lives every day.
Beck himself contradicts his assertion that kids are apathetic dolts by rattling off a litany of events where young people have taken direct action to impact their world. However, he portrays these actions as reckless and insubordinate. For instance, he reprimands some Girl Scouts who protest certain processes in the production of their famous cookies because they contribute to destroying the Rain Forest and killing endangered species like orangutans. To this Beck responds “Keep killing the orangutans, the cookies are yummy.”
Then Beck complained about high school students in Tucson, Arizona who protested the cancellation of Mexican-American studies classes. He said that the classes taught students to overthrow the U.S. government and advocated returning states to Mexico. Needless to say, none of that was true.
Beck also criticized a group of young environmentalists who are taking action to protect the environment for their future. The folks behind the I Matter March are an inspirational collection of young people who are genuinely concerned about the destruction of the planet that they are going to inherit – and they are doing something about it. But to Beck this is an ominous sign of doom.
Beck: Out in California groups of teens are now suing the government for not protecting the earth. And they’re planning marches across the globe. They wrote on their web site ‘Our Climate, Our Future, Our Revolution.’ They say quote ‘Youth have the moral authority and the legal right, as the generation most affected by the climate crisis, to demand that our governments protect the atmosphere for our future.’ unquote.
To Beck, these are all examples of the decadent state of America’s youth. In Beck’s eyes. there is no way they can win. If they stand by idly they are aimless and without principles. If the act on their principles they are pawns of the defilers of all that is good in society. Beck warns that schools, which “used to teach discipline and respect for authority,” have become cauldrons of moral depravity.
Beck: Our children are not only being short-changed, they’re being turned into, I think, slaves eventually.
It’s ironic that Beck regards motivated, self-reliant youth to be on the verge of servitude, while pushing his own prescription of discipline and respect for authority. It’s an Orwellian recipe that boils down to this: Free Thought = Slavery. Blind Obedience = Freedom.
To further support his contention that kids are dopes, Beck grossly misrepresents information he sloppily copied from the Internet. His disdain for teachers is revealed by how poorly he conducts simple research. Perhaps this alcoholic, drug-addicted, dropout should have paid more attention when he was in school.
Beck falsely claims that after the news broke about Osama Bin Laden, the #5 search on Google was “Who dat?” (as in “Who is Osama Bin Laden”). Actually, it was the #5 search on Yahoo, not Google. He also said that 25% of searches overall were from those under 24. This, he said, means that “kids growing up today don’t know who the most wanted man in the world is.” But those overall searches were not asking just “who is” Bin Laden, but anything to do with him and the breaking news of his death. It was mostly people who knew who Bin Laden was and were seeking more information about the startling news that was just released.
Beck is going to great lengths to slander the integrity of America’s youth. He has an obvious disgust for the entire generation that is likely based on his assessment of himself at that age. I’m quite sure he was just as repulsive as the picture he is trying to paint of today’s young people. But these repeated assaults are more revealing of his own character (or lack thereof), than of his targets.
Shortly after he announced that he would be “transitioning off” of his Fox News television program, Beck told his TV audience that the reason he was leaving was because he wanted to “get to the youth.” He later told a live audience in Albany, New York that he intended to build a way to “deliver news directly to the youth of America.” But if this is how he plans to do it, he is going to fail miserably.
Beck’s fan base has always been the curmudgeon community. He preaches relentlessly of a gloomy future that encompasses the end of America and the forsaking of decency and values. He embraces an idealized fantasy of the past and the icons of an analog world that appeal to an elderly demographic (see the blackboards and antique TVs and other vintage props that grace his set).
Consequently, his disdain for youth is consistent with his target audience and his marketing profile. For Glenn Beck, hating young people is most definitely good for business. And what’s good for business is Beck’s first priority.
[Update 5/13/11] Beck made another proclamation of his intention to target a youth audience after leaving Fox. He told an in-studio audience of college students that…
“I am leaving Fox because if we lose your generation, we lose. And I have to concentrate on your generation. So I’m asking you, if you’re in college now, you stay in touch with as many people as you can, and then you tell us what you need. Because we’re working on some things so that when you come back in the Fall [unintelligible] gonna smoke ’em out.”
If Beck follows through on this, expect a barrage of phony, Breitbart-inspired videos slandering teachers and curriculum as Godless Socialism. He doesn’t care about young people or free expression in academia. He only cares about advancing his theocratic, rightist agenda and fattening his wallet.