Beitzel: Glenn Beck an exploiter of proper patriotism

By Dave Beitzel

Have you forgotten? Everyone remembers 9/11. That day tattooed itself onto our generation… Have you forgotten? Everyone remembers 9/11. That day tattooed itself onto our generation like the Kennedy assassination did to our parents’. But maybe you don’t remember 9/12 so much. You are not alone. Glenn Beck is here for you.

Recently, he created the 9/12 Project to remind Americans how united they felt the day after 9/11. According to his Web site,, we were ‘standing together to protect the values and principles of the greatest nation ever created.’ Thankfully, Beck provides today’s values and principles to join his movement. He discerned them from the Founding Fathers, who ‘built this country on 28 principles … culled from all over the world and from centuries of great thinkers.’ But they weren’t as great as the greatest nation ever created.

Beck then ‘distilled’ those 28 down to nine. Principle No. 1: ‘America is good.’ Bold. Some people might say it’s Jeffersonian — people like Glenn Beck.

Principle No. 2: ‘I believe in God, and He is the center of my life.’ Religion benefits many people, but it isn’t a prerequisite for patriotism. Beck’s statement manifests from his insistence that America was founded on Christian values. He must have ‘distilled’ the Treaty of Tripoli, signed and declared to the nation by John Adams, in which Article 11 read, ‘the Government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.’

Principle No. 7: ‘I work hard for what I have and I will share it with whom I want. Government cannot force me to be charitable.’ There’s more, but I can’t reveal them all lest the paper in your hands turns into a burning bush from the revelations.

Beck also posts 12 values — to complete the Project’s ‘9/12’ double entendre — such as ‘Hope,’ ‘Charity’ and ‘Personal Responsibility.’ On its face, Principle No. 7 might not jive with Value No. 6, ‘Charity,’ but Beck encourages plenty of giving.

The 9/12 Project currently advocates sending tea pouches to your congressional representatives. This symbolizes the Boston Tea Party, but without the messy rebellion — don’t get caught up in the revolution and forget to attach a proper postage stamp to your envelope. Apparently this is catching on with political challengers, leading a C-SPAN reporter to actually say, ‘Pat Toomey tea bagged Arlen Specter.’

Beck is reducing politics to this. He’s reducing the news to statements like, ‘America is good.’ That’s what gets ratings in a post-5/8 world — the date in 2006 that Beck’s TV program premiered on CNN, though it inevitably moved to Fox News.

Beck admits that he’s a recovering alcoholic, but he’s found a new addiction: God and Country. Every night, Beck mainlines a spoonful of stars and stripes, huffs some sacrosanctity and starts pontificating. In April 2008, Beck started America on the road to recovery, telling followers that America needed a 12-step program — and he provided a list that he ‘distilled’ down to six steps.

He claims to promote unity, yet Beck once said to Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim congressman, ‘I feel like saying, ‘Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies,’ and I know you’re not. I’m not accusing you of being an enemy, but that’s the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way.’

After he introduced the 9/12 Project’s tenets, this self-proclaimed bastion of brotherhood, this Jeremiah of jingoism who warns against a divided America, introduced his next segment by saying, ‘The climate change people are pulling a page from Nazis’ Hitler Youth. What are your kids learning at school?’

He’s a raging celebration of mediocrity, a demagogue and a charlatan masquerading as a prophet. He’s Howard Beale from ‘Network,’ a mad-as-hell paranoid schizophrenic breaking down live on-air. He’s a stricken animal, spiraling into the madness of rabies and unable to make sense of the bright lights and chaos that surround him. He whips the rubes into frenzy. Frothing at the mouth and feeling helpless, they follow their master’s commands.

Maybe Beck was right about some things, because I would like to forget that unquestioning herd mentality so prevalent on Sept. 12. There are a lot of other things I’d like to forget about that day, too.

Beyond the horrific images and zeitgeist of demanding war, I’d like to forget the endless lines of alpha-mourners who gauged their grief as more sincere than that of others — like Fox News anchor John Gibson, who ridiculed Jon Stewart’s emotional response to the attacks, fiendishly likening Stewart to a sissy and allowing a viewer to call his tears ‘phony.’

I’d like to forget the ambitious political goons who staged photo ops from the moment of the attacks and exploited a tragedy for a few witless votes. I want to forget about the craven entrepreneurs shilling merchandise and songs because patriotism sells, and there’s nothing to commemorate the lives lost like a No. 1 Billboard single.

I want to forget, but I can’t, or those wretches will do it again, just like Beck is trying to do right now.

E-mail Dave at [email protected].