Fear is an emotion. Fear is the name of a punk rock band from Los Angeles. According to writer Edgar Wallace, "fear is a tyrant and a despot, more terrible than the rack, more potent than the snake". And fear is a commodity that can be bought and sold on the open market. The ticker symbol is not FEAR, but instead listed as gold, silver, and other precious metals people flee to in troubled, uncertain times. Sometime fear can be a good thing. It can motivate us to seek higher ground, underground, or temporary shelter in the event of natural disasters and assorted calamities. The good people of Japan have and are continuing to come to grips with the well founded fear of radiation. Of course the effects of radiation are so devastating to human life, it has been reported that the Japanese government has downplayed the significance of any radiation release into the environment from those crippled reactors. Why? Well, it's a question that probably doesn't need to be asked. The reality of increased radiation exposure would only lead to more fear. More fear would lead to panic. And panic often leads to irrationality. Irrationality leads to Glenn Beck. Glenn Beck is the root cause of Japan's nuclear reactor debacle. There it is. I wrote it. It has no basis in fact. But it illustrates a point concerning multimedia sensation Beck - a lot of what he says on radio, television, the internet, the live stage – has no basis in fact. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank in his book Tears Of A Clown Glenn Beck And The Tea Bagging Of America wrote that "there are lies, there are damn lies, and there is The Glenn Beck Show". Fox News colleague Shepard Smith has referred to Beck's studio as the "fear chamber".
Fear mongers have always been with us. They've been around as long as fish mongers and whore mongers. But Glenn Beck has taken fear to a level of irrationality and profitability heretofore unseen in modern times. He is certainly not the only fear monger, but arguably its chief purveyor. His success is built upon fear. He has a propensity for crying and wrapping himself up in the Constitution and has garnered a rabid and loyal following. But as often is the case with such blowhards, they need enemies real or imagined to continue their "strangle" hold on their supporters. Beck's enemies are those so called 'progressives". They used to be "liberals", but that term has became so maligned over the years that new nomenclature was needed, although "progressive" has its own malevolent connotation according to Beck. Progressives are never progressive and liberals are never liberal. In Beck's convoluted thinking, they are communist and Marxist and hell bent on destroying the constitution and invoking one world government. He has deemed himself a progressive hunter comparing his undertakings to Nazi hunting. This has got to be a slap in the face to all who have suffered under authoritarian regimes and who have seen the devastating effects of evil firsthand. But again, Beck is the master of exaggeration and distorted facts. His ever present chalkboard is replete with conspiracy theories and names of those with "communist or Marxist" ties. Woodrow Wilson is a name that often appears on Beck's chalkboard. Who knew that one of the greatest men to ever occupy the office of the presidency of The United States of America had communist sympathies and has influenced countless generations to get their communist freak on. Beck says it's so and woe to those who say or think otherwise.
It's not like Beck is never called to task for the outrageous things he says or does. But again as often is the case with Beck, Limbaugh and any number of political commentators; when the heat becomes unbearable, they try to diffuse the situation by declaring themselves "entertainers". In Beck's case, he refers to himself as a "rodeo clown". But in doing so, Beck does a huge disservice to actual rodeo clowns. Rodeo clowns are indeed entertainers but they provide the added benefit of saving and protecting lives. They put themselves in the position of distracting bulls and broncs so fallen cowboys can slip away unscathed often to the detriment of their own safety. Glenn Beck is not saving or protecting anybody. He's actually pushing people into the abyss of fear, uncertainty, and bunker mentality. Beck pushes guns, gold and a weird deity of his own making. In fact one of the few sponsors that haven't abandoned him is a certain company that trades in gold. If the apocalypse is coming you don't want to be caught with paper currency. Only hard currency such as gold will do. However there is no indication that Beck gets paid in gold bouillon…at least not for now.
Why take Beck's lunacy so seriously? Simply don't watch, don't listen, and pay no heed to the self professed rodeo clown. That's easy for his detractors, but no matter how you might feel about Beck, he will continue to remain a commanding presence in the political and cultural realms for some time to come. His influence is so substantial, that prominent politicians and elected officials are at his beck (no pun intended) and call. And that is something to be fearful of. These same officials take positions and enact laws that the unelected Beck can take credit for and further widen his significant profile. Samuel Johnson may have famously said "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel", but he never met Glenn Beck. The paranoia and the irrational fear Beck promotes...well, that's the last refuge of a scoundrel.