October 30, 2010
October 03, 2010
Her thesis is that "long-dormant ideas" and "once-obscure texts by dead writers" have shaped the movement. (I find it amusing that she considers Hayek to be obscure, but I digress.) She says of authors like Hayek and Skousen, author of The 5000 Year Leap, that:
They have convinced their readers that economists, the Founding Fathers, and indeed, God, are on their side when they accuse President Obama and the Democrats of being “socialists.” And they have established a counternarrative to what Tea Party supporters denounce as the “progressive” interpretation of economics and history in mainstream texts.
All told, the canon argues for a vision of the country where
government’s role is to protect private property — against taxes as much
as against thieves. Where religion plays a bigger role in public life.
Where any public safety net is unconstitutional. And where the way back
to prosperity is for markets to be left free from regulation.
I think she's attributing parts of the movement to these books when really she wants to attribute them to Glenn Beck, but that dead horse has already been beaten, so she focuses on the books he promotes on his show. I admit that I am out of the loop these days, but I have watched some Glenn Beck lately and I must say that I am impressed with his new approach to bettering America. My summary of it is that he is moving away from pointing out how much Washington stinks these days and is instead truly trying to encourage Americans to "be the change you want to see in the world." His plan calls for self-reflection and self-improvement, with a focus on "faith, hope, and charity." He wants everyone to commit to becoming a better person, and once we're all better people, we will have better people running for office as virtuous candidates for whom we can vote. We are a nation of individuals, and we will be a better country once we are better individuals. It's a long-term strategy, something quite interesting to promote nightly on a news show.
Glenn Beck does encourage people to strengthen their religious devotion on the way to becoming a better person. If the NYT wants to characterize that as "where religion plays a bigger role in public life," um, OK. I think that's a negative oversimplification of what he's proposing from a journalist who wants to scare readers into thinking he is advocating the blurring of church and state, but maybe I'm nitpicking. I think the scare tactic of saying that "any public safety net is unconstitutional" is more egregious though. It's funny because it's technically a true statement, but by not explaining it, the article leads readers to conclude that Tea Party folks are Scrooges who are out to screw the poor. I have never heard anyone say anything of the sort: they resent the safety hammock, not the net. And Glenn Beck regularly encourages his following to tithe, either to a church or a charity of their choice. He wants people to be more charitable, not less.
It wasn't as bad as it could've been, but the undertone of contempt was clear. And I bet she thought she was being fair and balanced.
The most interesting part of the article was this, in my opinion:
“You don’t read it,” Mr. Bramley said, “you study it."
Across the country, many Tea Party groups are doing just that, often taking a chapter to discuss at each meeting.I think this would've made a much better thesis. Glenn Beck is prompting postal workers and regular folks to read substantive books. I read Hayek last year and found it dense as well; the fact that Glenn Beck's viewers are devouring these intellectual tomes and creating book clubs to discuss them is phenomenal. People are setting aside their Harry Potter and Twilight for Frederich Hayek!
But one would have to be less contemptuous of Tea Party people to write that story.
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