My Relatives Don’t Understand Why I Don’t Like Glenn Beck

Even when I believed, I had a problem with a common fallacy in LDS Cultural thinking. It’s an equation that doesn’t add up, but I hear it all the time: If X = Mormon, then X = Good. The logic makes sense . . . sort of. In theory if the Mormon church is The True Church(TM) and Mormons are following God’s Plan of Happiness(TM), then yes, it follows that observant Mormons would be both correct and good at all times. I also understand that people within a religious or cultural community frequently support one another and do business with one another. That’s just fine, too. It makes sense to work with people you know and trust, and whose values you share. But sometimes this mentality goes too far.

During the Olympics, I saw friends cheer on “the Mormon from Australia” in a snowboard event. They did not begrudge her beating two Americans for the gold, because she was Mormon, and they said that a Mormon winning was better. I bit my tongue when I thought to myself that the athlete deserved to win because she performed the best. Her religious affiliation shouldn’t be the motivating factor for how they felt her victory. But since Mormons think of their religion as a religious, cultural, and even quasi-ethnic or national identity, it kind of makes sense.

Usually the X=Mormon therefore X=Good theorem is harmless enough. If you support a business because it is Mormon-owned, it’s possible you’re missing out on a non-Mormon company that might be marginally better, then who cares? Where it becomes harmful is when a bad person who happens to be Mormon is endorsed by LDS culture just because of the religious connection. I believe Glenn Beck’s popularity among Mormons is due not just to his right-wing politics, which most mainline Mormons share, but the fact that he is one of us. And since Mormon = Good and Glenn Beck = Mormon, Glenn Beck = Good and any rejection of Glenn Beck = Bad.

I have never cared much to get my news or political insights from entertainers on the radio or on television. TV can’t provide truly in-depth coverage, and the quest for ratings compromises neutrality. Even then, some journalists still do their best to behave with professional decorum. Glenn Beck is a terrible example not only of a journalist, but he’s also a bad example of what it means to be a Mormon. When my Beck-worshipping relatives put him on the TV, I see a man who:

  • Touts his lack of expertise on everything as a sign that he is right
  • Is so emotionally unstable that he makes teenagers look mature
  • Traded in his alcoholism for an addiction to hating those who are different from him
  • Engages in hyperbole and stretches of logic that make me wonder if he is, after all, just parody
  • Uses hysterics and melodrama to scare people, rather than using facts and logic to convince them
  • Screams at people so loudly that his vocal cords give out
  • Frequently mentions that he’d like to kill people with a shovel

Don’t believe me? Listen to him for yourself.

I don’t care how you feel about Mormonism. I don’t want anything to do with someone like that. And the idea that rejecting Glenn Beck is some kind of betrayal of Mormonism based on the “If X = Mormon then X = Good” equation scares me. I have seen signs of backlash against Beck building among Mormons who disapprove of screaming, crying, and talking about murdering people in public. But it’s going to take a bit more than that to overcome the Beck = Mormon = Good logical train wreck.

7 thoughts on “My Relatives Don’t Understand Why I Don’t Like Glenn Beck

  1. The thing is…even “X = Mormon = Good” thing doesn’t work. I mean, you see it with Glenn Beck, sure, but you *don’t* see it with Harry Reid.

    So really, it’s much more discerning.

    Really, I think the reason plenty of Mormons like Beck isn’t because he’s Mormon (because his stuff isn’t so often Mormon-centric)…it’s because the people who like Beck happen to be agreeing with all of his superconservative positions.

    • Do you think it’s because Reid is a Democrat? If Harry Reid were a Republican, would Mormons talk up the fact that he’s the highest ranking Mormon elected official in history? I have heard people treat Reid as a bit of an oddity — Beck fans don’t really know what to do with him.

      • Maybe it’s the Republican thing. Maybe Reid would have to walk the walk with conservative positions.

        I guess the question is…how well do members like Mitt Romney? On the one hand, he’s a “Republican”. On the other hand, he has (previously) supported many liberal ideas (although, after flipping on issues to seem more conservative, maybe people don’t remember).

        • My perception is that Romney is another outlier because he is an Easterner. But most Mormons seem to view him favourably. My parents were certainly disappointed that he didn’t become the King of America, and attributed his loss in the primaries to “persecution.” (From whom, I wondered? The Republican voter base??) His flip-flops on abortion, for example, seem a moot point. When he vetoed the morning after pill, he had to have known the strongly pro-choice legislature would overrule him. He keeps his good standing on Mormon issues, without actively doing anything to force in Conservative agendas that erode moderate and liberal support. Now that I think of it, Romney took no part in the Proposition 8 campaign. He’s opposed using the term “marriage” for gays, but supports full spousal-like rights for civil unions. It’s a fine line, and as a politician he walks it well.

  2. Beck is a total whack job but if you don’t listen to his show you don’t understand how sarcastic he is. He’ll ramble for 20 minutes about how he thinks we should kill all of the polar bears in Canada because he doesn’t like hockey. Just so he can spend the next 30 minutes making fun of himself.

  3. More and more, I think that Glenn Beck is a prankster acting out a parody to mock all who believe what he says.

    His normal tactic is to blame what the conservatives do on liberals somehow. His new novel is even worse – he describes what Rupert Murdoch and other rightwingers have been doing to shift the national discourse rightward in America, and talks about how Bush used 9/11 to advance his own political gains while silencing everyone who was opposed to him – but somehow says it’s the liberals who are doing it.

    It’s a blatant farce, and the only thing more amazing to me than that people take it seriously is how well it is selling.

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