Over the years that Glenn Beck has been a public figure there have been numerous representations of him as a rabid, right-wing, conspiracy-obsessed, extremist. All of which were true. In his inimitable way, and despite all the corroborating evidence, Beck countered such portrayals as smears and sought to cast his critics as Nazi sympathizers or worse. To that end he embraced Jonah Goldberg’s absurd fabrication of what he called “Liberal Fascism” – about as oxymoronic a word pairing as there ever was.
Last week, however, Beck sealed the deal. He let his true colors show by taking to the air and promoting the writings of Elizabeth Dilling, an avowed racist, anti-Semite, and Nazi supporter, who praised Hitler and called President Eisenhower “Ike the Kike.” With this testimonial Beck joins the likes of David Duke and the Stormfront crowd as admirers of Dilling’s commitment to hate.
This is really nothing new for Beck or the rightist faction from which he evolved. Beck and other conservatives have lately been advocating a distinctive philosophy they call “American Exceptionalism.” While its original definition had more to do with a unique quality that was attributed to a new nation of immigrants who were committed to forming a democratic republic, it has been twisted into something much uglier by modern conservatives. Whereas it once referred to a nation and people who were different, the New Exceptionalists define it as a nation and people who are better. It has undergone a transformation from American Exceptionalism to American Supremacy. In this form, America is considered to be entitled to a superior status among nations. It is stronger, more virtuous, and favored by God. And it is exempt from the moral boundaries within which other nations must abide.
No one embodies this doctrinal mutation more fittingly than Beck. In recent months he has blurred the lines between political pundit and religious cult leader. He has declared that the Constitution was the result of divine inspiration and is as immutable as holy scripture. He regards the nation’s founders as saintly. One of those founders, Thomas Jefferson, expressly disagrees with Beck. On the matter of Constitutional immutability, Jefferson wrote that “…with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times.” That’s hardly an argument for strict constructionalism. And with regard to the divinity of himself and his contemporaries, Jefferson spoke disparagingly of the arrogance of one generation dictating the terms of existence to their heirs, castigating those who would “…ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human.”
Of course, Beck could hardly be expected to understand that sort of ego-less self-awareness and humility. He is far to busy canonizing repugnant figures like Dilling and his political mentor, Cleon Skousen, another Nazi sympathizer. And he is also preoccupied with exalting himself as the only mortal with the transcendent vision to see the dastardly schemes being perpetrated by President Obama, unions, environmentalists and progressives.
Beck’s campaign for American supremacy is as bigoted as Hitler’s doctrine of a Master Race. The notion that one group of people, on the basis of their nationality, are better than others, is as repulsive as one group asserting superiority on the basis of skin color. Yet this is Beck’s unabashed position, and he promulgates it daily.
There is a glaring irony in the right’s promotion of American supremacy. Their delusion that they are better than everyone else contradicts their affinity for American Averagism. They abhor those they portray as elitists. If you graduated from Harvard you are automatically out of the mainstream. If you dedicate your life to public service you are out of touch with ordinary working Americans. And the highest standard by which a leader is judged is whether you would like to have a beer with him, as if the souse at the end of the bar sucking on a Budweiser is the best qualified person to negotiate a nuclear arms treaty.
So, in fact, the people who claim to be superior actually have an aversion to the real character traits that signify achievement. At the same time, they revere traits that are decidedly lowbrow. Yet these ignorant dullards have an absurdly high, and undeserved, impression of themselves and believe that they are best suited to lead the world.
Rightist theocons like Beck are hypersensitive to charges of racism or fascist leanings. They have spent many years trying to shield themselves from such connections, mostly by accusing their critics of the very same thing. But now Beck has come out of the Nazi closet with his endorsement of Dilling. It is the most blatant admission of his true bigoted self to date. And he can no longer hide from it. Neither can his enablers at Fox News And News Corp. If these people don’t want to be called Nazis, they ought not to praise them and promote their views.