Why Does Everyone Hate Glenn Beck?

Estimated reading time: 5 minute(s)

Glenn BeckI am a Glenn Beck fan.

If you weren’t immediately turned off by the title, I’d imagine that at least a handful of readers are now completely done with this post, and—quite likely—done with GregsHead.net entirely.

That seems to be the current climate in our country, especially in the political world, and especially surrounding the man Glenn Beck.

What I don’t get is why we decide certain people aren’t worth listening to, without really listening to them. I had a conversation with a friend not long ago who said something a bit “off the cuff” about Beck, and, me being an actual long-time listener to his stuff—and, thinking this friend to be a thinker, rather than just a spewer of recycled words—I decided to initiate a dialog with him about some of the misconceptions about this much-maligned media personality.

I am not writing this to defend Glenn Beck. You’re likely an adult, and you can decide who and what you want to listen to, and agree or disagree with. That’s certainly not in question.

What I am so puzzled by is (and I’ve mentioned this often here) why we say things—often at least skewed, if not untrue—about other people (or other “sides”) instead of listening to each other. We just are not listening to each other.

And sometimes, it’s just because of a name.

I started listening to Glenn’s radio show before the 2000 presidential election. A few things caught my ear. First, I did agree with most of what he said, and even though he was a Republican then, he seemed more independent thinking, not just a Republican party supporter. (I am not a supporter of any party.) Second, his stuff was really just funny then. It was pre-9/11. Third… he told a story about his daughters that was intriguingly close to how I think as a parent.

And so, I began to listen.

The strange part is, until just recently, Glenn Beck was fairly irrelevant. 🙂 He was just a funny guy on the radio. But then, as he has changed over the years, and his focus became more on “educating” the American people on the parts of history we’ve not been taught, or been taught perhaps differently than actually happened… all of a sudden, it became not only unpopular to say you are a listener or a fan of Glenn Beck, but it’s downright evil! You must be stupid!

Really?

Here’s the thing. Sometimes I wonder why people think what they do. I bet you do, too. Obviously, mostly when they see something completely differently than I do. “How can they think that???” I wonder. Well… because they have brains, and they have put the pieces together slightly different than I!

The biggest problem in our country currently—probably in the entire world, actually—is that we do not allow others to be different. I mean, we say we do… but we really don’t.

If so, it would be OK for people to like Glenn Beck.

Glenn has been talking this week about the attacks on him. There are attempts to boycott his advertisers, discredit him, etc, etc. Even the president called him out by name. There is also a process in the works to limit and filter content on the internet in our country. (See “Net Neutrality” page at Wikipedia. Primarily a technology thing, but opens the door for censorship.) In a lot of ways, people want to “shut up” Glenn Beck.

Same goes for the Tea Party Movement. (Which is often associated with Glenn Beck.) But I actually know many people who, if they are not part of this “movement”, are sympathetic to it. (Even some who don’t listen to Glenn Beck!)

Granted, there are some people out there who are just joining the latest trend or fad. Whatever “side” that may represent. But I’m guessing, based on the people I know on both (or all?) sides of the political spectrum that nearly all of us have good reasons for what we believe. They may be misinformed in some cases, but I’d say mostly we’ve had some reason or opportunity to form a worldview and a set of values and principles with which we align ourselves. Our choice. Not a “party line.”

(NOTE: I am not applying this to the politicians in Washington. I’d say people with principles and actual well-thought-out beliefs in DC are the rare exception, rather than the norm!)

We have a tendency to lump people together. Especially those who do not think like we do. (Though, sometimes we assume someone who thinks similarly on one issue, will think as we do on all issues, too.) It’s just not true. We are individuals. There may be some—even many—similarities, but we are not automatons merely following our marching instructions. None of us. Your side, or their side.

So let’s allow people to express themselves… for real. Not just say that we do. If someone thinks differently than you, let him speak. There is a notion that people are not smart enough to filter through all the “stuff” out there … and so those who are saying things that are completely opposed to what we think should be “silenced” … but perhaps that is the scariest thing we could say. Once we silence one voice, who’s to say you’re not next?

I’ve said here a bunch of times that this blog is not a political blog, and that’s really true. But lately I’ve just been amazed at how divisive the name “Glenn Beck” has become and it made me think that we’re still not listening to each other.

And so I ask you… why not? Are you?

I hope so.

And, if you are turned off by the name Glenn Beck, and have never actually listened to Glenn’s show, perhaps you could listen for a few days. (One day would not be enough, I don’t think, to get past any prejudice that has been built up.) Or you can read his very short book “Common Sense“, get a copy from the library or a friend. Then, if you still don’t agree, rock on. But we just can’t make judgements without listening. Without doing proper research. We all deserve a chance to be heard.

And we all need to just listen.

14 Comments

  1. I actually would probably like Glenn Beck a lot more if I didn’t ever listen to him. 🙂

    On a serious note, my disapproval of Glenn Beck is actually related to the issues you raise. I think his type of political rhetoric encourages the very error you (wisely) warn us against! His recent comments about social justice are a classic example. What he means is not that people of faith should not be involved with working for justice, but that they should not support churches who look to the government to do so. But what comes across is that churches should not be involved in social justice at all, which is unbiblical, un-Christlike, and damaging. The biggest problem is that he is plenty smart enough to understand both the distinctions and the consequences of failing to express them more clearly, and yet he continues.
    .-= Scott´s last blog ..Turn Your Pretty Name Around =-.

    Reply

    1. Scott, I agree with what you’re saying, but I think you’re mischaracterizing what Glenn has said. I think that most everyone tends to be mischaracterized (seems especially by people who think differently than they do) … partly because of the “not listening” thing. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not actually talking about you.) I mean, I have heard Glenn himself say the things he is accused of saying and he says over and over again how he does NOT mean that every church that says “social justice” is evil … that’s actually what is being reported, not what he has said. It’s crazy! Always, always, always go to the source!!! That’s my motto. Well, not really. But it is something I do. 🙂

      Point remains… for whatever reason, we’re really bad listeners. We just think we hear what people are saying. On all sides of the discussion. It’s kinda weird, actually.

      Reply

  2. I dunno… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5c4DqdleJuY

    “I beg you, look for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!”

    And he goes on to be insulting to and derisive of Christians who call themselves progressives. And later he seems to suggest that what justice is a code word for is Marxism. Bokay…

    Meanwhile, he doesn’t quote Amos, Micah, Isaiah, Jesus, or any of the 165 uses of the word “justice” in the Bible.

    Whatever spin he has put on it lately, and I listened to the show the following week where he talked about it and didn’t back off at all, he still has to be accountable for the original comments, or retract them.

    (By way of both full disclosure and further argument against Beck’s generalization: I am a pastor at a church with “justice” as a key value, and we are not socialists or Marxists.)

    I appreciate the discussion you’ve started, greg, and I agree 100% that people ought to go to the original source before spouting off about anything. I hope the discussion about this specific example doesn’t hijack that broader concept, which was your main point. 🙂

    Reply

    1. That’s perfect. Going to the source. Sadly, in this age of information, with so much information available, you also have to make sure you have a thorough context from the source. Your excerpt (video and text) from what Glenn originally said is spot on, but the context which I have heard several times has repeatedly clarified that Glenn only means the government-led variety of social justice. In his research, he has found that they are code words used to promote a view of government that includes “(forced) redistribution of wealth” … which is not biblical justice at all.

      (See my post on the importance of “justice” … I agree with you on its prominence! But, it’s important that it’s individuals and churches—groups of individuals—that are being generous, charitable, and helping people in need.)

      So… here’s an example of mischaracterizing, based on a misunderstanding, without the full context. WITHOUT context, it seems like President Obama wants to raise up an army (like, weapons, warfare army) who answer only to him and can defeat the US Military!!! So… when I found the WHOLE speech (linked in that post) … you see from the context that it was probably a poor choice of words, because he doesn’t mean weapons or military “power” at all, but people being involved in their communities, helping neighbor to neighbor to make their communities a better place to live.

      From the snippet… he’s dangerous. In context—WHEN WE TRULY LISTEN—he’s just trying to help us be better neighbors: making us a stronger nation by investing as much effort/energy as we put into our military forces.

      SO… THAT is what I’m saying about Glenn Beck. What happens is people hear his name and they immediately dismiss him, based on what they’ve heard about him (or even some clips they have heard here and there). People do the same with Barack Obama, and whomever else is speaking publicly.

      Certainly we do it even in our everyday lives, as well. We’re—none of us—very good at actually listening to each other.

      To me, this abhorrence for all things Glenn Beck (in my opinion, without much if any merit) is another example of our inability to truly listen to each other. 🙁

      Reply

      1. One more thing… that I am not sure I have made clear, except perhaps at the end of the original post. It’s OK to not like Glenn Beck! 🙂 The problem is this crazy HATE for him, and anything associated with him, and often based on incomplete information (or misunderstanding).

        Just wanted to say that. 🙂 The bigger point is still that we could do a better job of listening to each other. 🙂

        (Speaking of that, I want to make sure also that Scott, you know that I know you understand what Glenn means by his “social justice” comments, you just wish he would say the words don’t always mean “Marxism” or “socialism”. Right?)

        Reply

    2. Greg, I am sorry to say this, but I not only disagree with everyone of your statements from start to finish, but as a scientist(hence picking the Alias J.A Wheeler) I must say that your blog caught my eye while doing a search. Your categorization of how people respond to Mr. beck is first and foremost what is called in some circles of academia as “blanket statements” They leave out large pieces of information about the topic at hand. Mr. Beck makes these types of statements to and this is one of my biggest problems with the man. You have to understand that as intellectual individuals, those of us who perform complex physics and engineering to provide you with all of the technology and materials you have , well…we ALWAYS listen to everyone with the utmost focus and detail to attention. It is in fact the content of what MR Beck says that we don’t agree with, not his political affiliation or name alone, though those things can sometimes have an effect as well. Beck almost always uses conclusive statements about hard sciences(for example drilling for Oil) without know much of the subject matter material he would need to even make such statements. Furthermore, your comparative analogy about the way people perceive him, to the way you percieved what President Obama said is facile to say the least.

      We are not taking pieces of what he said, we are taking the whole thing. And also, I am taking the whole point you made as well, when i say you are wrong. You mention the following

      “The strange part is, until just recently, Glenn Beck was fairly irrelevant. 🙂 He was just a funny guy on the radio. But then, as he has changed over the years, and his focus became more on “educating” the American people on the parts of history we’ve not been taught, or been taught perhaps differently than actually happened… all of a sudden, it became not only unpopular to say you are a listener or a fan of Glenn Beck, but it’s downright evil! You must be stupid”

      I do not know where to begin but to point out to you that your yourself described Beck’s previous credentials and his experience in radio. Then you jump to the fact that all of a sudden when the man decides to start…what? “Educating the American people on parts of history” as though Glen Beck is in a academic setting or a setting from field experience where he can even talk about these facts. Furthermore, he is simply incorrect when he cites to individuals like Madison, Franklin,Adams,Washington, and Jefferson by trying to pass information on them, which is usually wrong. These men were almost all Freemasons, who not only believed in the separation of church and state, but also in general looked down upon Christianity in their personal lives as being something of a growing evil. They recognized that the “new world” would have to function significantly different from all of the previous empires which had failed due to having CHRISTIANITY OR RELIGION at it’s core. However Beck does not talk about this attribute of our found fathers, nor the ones where they wanted to always have a balance of regulation and free enterprise in this country, or for that matter the idea that science and “the age of reason” should be the new religion of the America’s not Christianity. Jefferson was extremely scientific in the way he viewed America’s future. Wrapped up in technological achievement where everybody gains succsess not just the top CEO’s of major companies. However, Beck never discusses these traits of the founding fathers, but rather only the ones which he needs to make his narrow points of observation.

      You them make another statement here:
      “So… here’s an example of mischaracterizing, based on a misunderstanding, without the full context. WITHOUT context, it seems like President Obama wants to raise up an army (like, weapons, warfare army) who answer only to him and can defeat the US Military!!! So… when I found the WHOLE speech (linked in that post) … you see from the context that it was probably a poor choice of words, because he doesn’t mean weapons or military “power” at all, but people being involved in their communities, helping neighbor to neighbor to make their communities a better place to live”

      Now your above statement also assumes that most people in the world think like you. Seemingly uneducated on the hard sciences, or law, medicine, or not part of the intellectual academic community which does not make these types of basic mistakes in assumption. We read full statements, research items from their original source material, and are involved in such rigorous attention to detail it would kill a man like Glen Beck to ever spend one moment of his life gathering ACTUAL statistical and scientific data to back up his point. Beck has made a fool of himself time and time again. What makes you think people do not want to listen to him “educate the country”…in fact what makes you think Glen Beck is educated enough himself to even attempt to “educate the Country” and I am sorry but please point out what historic events are being taught wrong in schools? I will point out some, but I assure you they are not the same ones you will point out.

      They religious dogmatic practices of conservative American’s rubs off into the school system and THAT my friend is what causes history to be misunderstood. The fact that we still teach our children that Mummy’s were found in Pyramids, and they built them using ropes and pullies, or the fact that we teach Hinduism as a polythestic religion, those are the items which are being taught wrongly in our public education system. The topics you and Mr. Beck bring up, are just empty, they area about why “GOD” wouldn’t agree with Gay marriage, or how we have untapped reserves in the United States…which will save us.

      Not realizing that when Glen Beck says there are “untapped” reserves in the United States, he doesn’t understand even the FIRST rule to the Laws of Entropic systems, and how to extract or cultivate energy without putting more energy into the process then you are getting out. NO we do not have Oil reserves that will yield more energy in the long run then it takes to manifest and drill those rig sites in the first place. There is a lot more I could say, but every line that comes out of Beck’s mouth is uneducated to say the least.

      Reply

      1. One thing I wanted to add for all readers/posters to this site, is that “Glenn Beck” says many things… But to think for one moment that Glenn Beck is just one man coming out with whimsical thoughts on air/tv is a very grand misconception – his name actually represents an enormous brand and teams of people who sit in the background of his persona, looking up/researching and validating NEARLY every claim he makes. He is not one uneducated blowhard with a microphone. You can’t disregard him as one person – he, “glenn beck” is actually a representation/collaboration of a lot of long hard research and work done by many people. Just a point to be made.

        Reply

  3. Ooo! One more thing! I actually hope that if—using the specific example that spawned this article/post—if you are not a fan of Glenn Beck, and after a fair “listen” to him in his own words or thorough research done in several places… that you DON’T become a fan of his!! AND, that we can still “get along” 🙂

    That’s what I think I know is true of Scott (posting comments here) and I. We may not agree on details big or small, but we can still connect on things we have in common, and listen to and learn from each other on things we do not.

    Letting each other be different is a major key to all of this. Let people like to listen to Glenn Beck, and even agree with what he says… and still have a drink with them. Let Glenn say what he has to say, and still sit at the table with him.

    That’s a big missing piece of life in America today. Wish it weren’t so… we’re way too divided. (And not listening to each other… can you tell that’s on my mind?!?) 🙂

    Reply

  4. So my problem is that Glen represents a growing trend in media, not necessarily in conservativism (although that’s part of it), towards sensationalistic reporting. For this group, everything means the end of civilization as we know it, and it’s in no way limited to conservatives, it spans everyone – conservatives love to talk about Obama or Social Justice or Liberals as being the end of America, Liberals love to talk about Climate Change or Conservatives being the end of the Western World … it doesn’t end! When will people realize that this sensationalizing what we say for ratings is actually hurting everything? Instead of thinking about balance, moderation, considering all sides of an issue, hearing others (as you say), each side makes an effort to polarize the views into one of two categories instead of showing the reality of the multiplicity of sides. There are many, MANY viewpoints, but arguments like this only work if we can make people believe there are only two viewpoints. I had a student come to me with a book written against evolution, and the guy basically says that you either believe in six-day young-earth creation or you believe in naturalistic god-absent evolution, which is ludicrous, but it’s a perfect example of the prominence of the “straw man” argument in today’s society. Glen is a problem for me because he continues that trend, and he knows it. The context, as you say, is important, but he’s a part of the media, a group that ought to be carefully aware of how they present themselves. Glen seems, to me, to aim for controversy, to spark anger instead of discussion, and this is not the mark of those working for helpful change, it’s the way of the alarmist.

    A good article I found (not that I agree with all of it, but it’s still interesting) takes one side: Article
    .-= Chris’s last blog ..Relativism, part IV: The Medieval Ethos =-.

    Reply

    1. If there’s anything I dislike, it’s sensationalism, especially in reporting. That being said, I have to disagree with Chris that Glenn participates in sensationalism. What he does do is speak his mind on controversial issues that are ripe for sensationalizing. It is the reporting done ABOUT Glenn that is sensationalistic. Probably the thing that I have taken away most from listening to or watching Glenn is to THINK FOR MYSELF, ask questions and make my own decisions about the world around me. That seems to me to be one of his main goals. One thing that continually impresses me about Glenn is that he is decidedly not sensationalist because he does his homework. I think you would be hard pressed to find something that he has talked about that he has not spent significant time researching. That being said, I think people hate Glenn probably for the reason that Chris mentioned- people are tired of the arguing and since Glenn is painted by so many in the media as a hater or an arguer, they don’t bother to give him the time of day. I think there are those that have perpetuated the polarization so well to discourage dialogue, dialogue that it seems to me Glenn welcomes and encourages.

      Reply

  5. I know that people put a lot of things out there these days. And some of us believe it, and some don’t. So take this for example. Someone makes up a story about Glenn hating kids, or something idiotic like that. Some begin to believe it and hate on Glenn. What I’m getting at is that, Glenn is usually hated for things that people make up. And for the other haters out there, I’m not defending him. But just think about this. I’ve watched Beck for a few years now. I’ve found out that everything he usually says, is mostly correct. He finds out things, does his homework, and proves everyone that what he says, is a proven fact. Not an opinion! But like I said I before, people hate on him because of what they hear. But there are other reasons to why Beck is hated. Today, people just wanna here what they want to. They don’t like hearing what others have to say. And that is a big part of why people hate Glenn. And another reason is to what he says. He proves the the things he says, are facts. I mean come on, everything he has told us, is happening right now! I’m just stunned on how people can’t accept that. To be honest, I feel that people are afraid of what he says and really don’t know how to deal with it properly. So one last thing. Glenn Beck backs up what he says and proves what he says are facts, not opinions. He exposes the truth and people call him a nut job. So before you make hateful comments, do your research first. And I agree with Greg on here, you can hate Glenn or not hate him. That’s up to you. But always have a reason for what you do. Feel free to comment back on this.

    Reply

    1. Good point, Rider, on the fact that people might just not want to deal with what Glenn is bringing to light (or putting together). Sometimes the easiest thing to do, rather than deal with hard stuff, is to push it away, dismiss it (and in the case of Glenn Beck, even painting him as evil or at least insane.)

      The problem really isn’t Glenn Beck. It’s us. We have been complacent as a people for far too long, and so we just believe what is fed to us, rather than “doing our homework” and finding out the truth from the source (best we can). It can change, but it’s going to take a fundamental transformation of America. To be sure.

      Reply

      1. Exactly Right. And I just want to add a few things to all of this. The more people push away the truth, and ignore what goes on around them, the more we will pay for it in the end. And I know some people may think that’s a pretty big thing to say, but that is exactly what will happen. I just hope, no I pray that we will wake up and stand up to what is happening!

        And as for Obama helping this country, he is actually making it worse. But it’s not our fault. He mislead us. And now were going to suffer for it. Call me crazy or whatever you want. But deep down you know it’s true.

        Reply

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