Let me start by showing you this screen cap from a recent roundtable discussion on civil rights, hosted by Glenn Beck on his Blaze TV network:
In addition to Beck, (back right), you have David Barton (front right), Ken Hutcherson (front left), and Rabbi Daniel Lapin (back right). All three men are regulars on Beck's network and on his eponymous radio and TV shows. David Barton is a particularly good friend, serving as Beck's fill-in anchor; Lapin has logged literally hundreds of appearances on Beck properties; and, according to Ken Hutcherson, he will soon have his own special airing on Beck's network.
So let's consider these three.
- Rabbi Lapin has said gay men should've been quarantined during the AIDS crisis.
- Ken Hutcherson has a truly disturbing rhetoric bank that accuses homosexuality of destroying God's plan, claims you have to either destroy or kill your political opponents, and compares his state's governor to a presidential assassin simply because she supported marriage equality.
- Beck's favored David Barton claims HIV/AIDS is God's punishment, says homosexuality should be regulated like cigarettes, says homosexuality will "kill the blessing" on our nation, and claims gays are flouting evolutionary law.
And then there's Beck himself. While it is fair to say that he has made strides in recent years to show that he has no real personal problem with marriage equality, he still engages in hyperbole around the issue. Just recently, he and Senator Rand Paul did that popular smear campaign thing of connecting gay people's loving unions to things like "zoophilia." Plus, in addition to the three regular guests who I mentioned above, has spend the past few years building up his profile through a cadre of surrogates who make up one of the most collectively anti-LGBT crews you could possibly assemble. He certainly helps push the anti-LGBT message.
Which leads me to this past weekend's New York Times Magazine. In an interview with the Times' Amy Chozik, Beck made yet another attempt to put himself above the fray. The exchange went like so:
NYT: How did your fans respond to your support of gay marriage?Beck: I don’t care. The point is that government shouldn’t be involved in marriage.NYT: Did you hear any reaction?Beck: Can we stop dividing ourselves? Do racists exist? Yes. Do bigots exist? Yes. But most of us are not. Most Americans just want to get along. Why can’t we do that? What has happened to us?FULL INTERVIEW: [NYT Magazine]
On the first part, great. Beck's view of getting the government out of marriage may not be my of your view, but it is a view. If he wants to move his conservative audience toward an "I don't care" mindset, then that is not the worst thing.
But on the second part, I have to wonder where Mr. Beck gets off acting as if he is so above and beyond it all. I mean, just look at the David Barton factor alone. No single media person has done more to raise David Barton's profile. This would be the same David Barton who has said of same-sex marriage, "Messing around with marriage will affect economic prosperity of a nation because you're violating the commands of God" and who says that "gay" is a misnomer because "Gay means happy, bright and cheerful and that’s not what homosexuality is.” In terms of anti-LGBT rhetoric, it's practically impossible to exceed David Barton (or Ken Hutcherson, for that matter). So how can Glenn Beck possibly draw a distinction between a "bigot" and the kind of voice that he fosters?!
I'm not even someone who uses the "bigot" label, preferring to always focus on the messaging rather than messenger's personal motivations. But Beck himself did use the "bigot" label in order to make his point that most Americans are not that and that we all should strive to just get along. How he can reconcile what he is preaching here with what he himself so regularly practices?!
In my view, he can't. If Glenn Beck wants to help us learn to get along on this issue, then he needs to stop promoting voices who claim that homosexuality is "barbarism" (Lapin), who equate homosexuality with burning your hand on a hot stove (Hutcherson), and who claim that it doesn't matter what the Supreme Court says because God has said gays are like murderers, fornicators, kidnappers, liars, etc. (Barton). Until he does get away from this kind of hostility, his "Why can't we get along?" question will remain hollow. Mr. Beck must first turn his questions inward and ask why he insists on dividing us.