Glenn Beck As Nemiah Scudder

I’ve mentioned before that Glenn Beck just creeps me out – it’s not just that his politics and mine are so different (they are) – I have watched O’Reilly and Michelle Malkin and others and don’t get the same stomach-churning sense of dread that I get from Beck.

Now, watching the video of his speeches at the Lincoln Memorial, I realize I was totally right in stating who he reminds me of – Nehemiah Scudder.

Remember him? From the Robert Heinlein novel …if this goes on? – where the United States is ruled by a theocratic dictatorship.

The story is set in a future theocratic American society, ruled by the latest in a series of “Prophets.” The First Prophet was Nehemiah Scudder, a backwoods preacher turned President (elected in 2012), then dictator (no elections were held in 2016 or later)

[emphasis added].

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58 thoughts on “Glenn Beck As Nemiah Scudder”

  1. Nah, doesn’t work for me. Remember the crowd scene in the beginning with the provocateur against the Jews? Beck isn’t anti-semitic. Recall that Heinlein had a weak spot for the Mormons? Beck is Mormon. Nor do I see Beck agitating to replace the government or calling for government enforced morality ala Wilson.

    On the other hand we have, “This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” If that didn’t send you screaming there is something seriously wrong with your crap detector. If the phony celebration at Denver didn’t smell of manipulative propaganda and call to mind the yearly return of Nehemiah on the big screen, perhaps you need to blow your nose.

  2. You’re not alone A.L. He creeps me out too when he talks about religion, but its a minor irritant. Sometimes he is spot on when hes not talking about religion but politics. Like Obama may well be racist.

    But I don’t think he will pose a threat of a theocracy. I do think he brings the fear of religion into the spot light. A lot of ultra left liberals are afraid of religion in general, ya know white hick Christians, or the occasional Morman from Utah that had the gaul to leave Utah (sarcasm). As long as I can still practice Christianity and keep my Halloween decorations without having my house graffited for devil worship by religo-nazis, or told I can’t have nativity scenes by left wing communists, Im happy :-P

  3. _”I’m not sure that going on the air for several hours a day trying to convince people that they should support limiting and decentralizing governmental power is the way to go about establishing a dictatorship.”_

    Good point.

  4. I found this article on one of Beck’s inspirations, “Skousen”:http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2009/09/16/beck_skousen interesting. (I’m sorry, it is a Salon article, so the first page or so is pithy, but it is the best summary of the man I can find).

    As for Beck himself, I’m not sure what to think of him. He seems genuine in his paranoia, but his information/knowledge of history is so thin, so conspiratorial, that I have a hard time taking him seriously.

  5. Jeez AL. Painting Beck as a religious dictator (who is also a sexual hypocrite, naturally) is spreading it a bit thick, no? Why not just compare him to the Martin Sheen character that Christopher Walken shoots in The Dead Zone?

    For my part, Beck reminds me of any number of people I knew when I was growing up in the dismal Seventies – people who read constantly but thought narrowly, and who could talk for five hours straight about how the Rockefellers ran everything in the world. Their political logic was arcane – all of their logic was arcane – and they went from Carter to Reagan without skipping a beat. Apart from that they were entirely ordinary people.

    I think people are right to point out that Beck’s political instincts are libertarian. But the better angels of libertarianism are optimism and the belief that the liberty of ordinary people is the true engine of human progress. From what I’ve seen of Beck, he tends to dabble in the dark side of historicism and conspiracy, though not as badly as Ron Paul. Conspiracy-think doesn’t empower people, it castrates them. Politically, I would not trust him, but I think his intentions are anything but sinister.

  6. Reality check: Do you know people who speak strongly about how America is a “Christian Nation” or how (Christian) religion is essential to a viable civic fabric in this country – who do not creep you out? Is it the (that) message or the messenger?

    And if you do, who are they? Just curious.

    Cheers
    — perry

  7. I don’t think what drives Beck is either religion politics. Drain the politics and religion out of Beck and you have a guy with an unstable background, being seduced by the adulation of the crowd.

    The trajectory of his delusions of grandeur are right on track. I am just curious what his next step will be. He sees himself as a martyr, now is getting direction directly from the All Powerful.

    Not a very interesting or bright guy who will have his time on the stage and wind up a very minor character. Nothing really to be concerned about. I hope he doesn’t wind up harming himself.

  8. _”Reality check: Do you know people who speak strongly about how America is a “Christian Nation” or how (Christian) religion is essential to a viable civic fabric in this country – who do not creep you out? Is it the (that) message or the messenger??”_

    Neither, from anything I heard.

    Did the word Christianity appear in Beck’s speech?

  9. The guy should not be underestimated, not when the White House seems to think that he’s Godzilla. Beck made them dump the ridiculous Van Jones. Most people had no idea Beck was talking about Van Jones, but the White House seemed to assume that everybody knew what he was saying.

    Why is every upstart orator such a threat to our beloved Republic? We complain mightily about elitism, rightly so, but we practice more than a little of it ourselves. People who believe in UFOs have a right to talk back to the State, too.

  10. Honestly, I was under the impression that we sort of are Judeo-Christian, and those same Judeo-Christian and puritan values are part of what makes us…unique. Pretty lucky, really. It could be worse, we could be communist anti religionists, scientologists, or Muslim. Sorry You’ll have to pry the Bible out of my cold dead hand, cause I AIN’T going to wear a friggin Burkha. Not happening.

  11. He could easily share the fate of MLK, and end up deader than a doornail—he is polarizing enough and ultra polarizing figures don’t always fare well for long in the USA. I also has this same worry for the likes of Palin, I could see some nut hunting her down because they don’t share her politics. Anyone seen the FB page plug the well (bp spill) with Sarah Palin?

  12. And my parting for the day comment…look on the bright side, at least Oprah wasn’t holding the rally. That woman give me the creeps, the way every one of her magazines has a picture of her on it. Megalomaniacal sort of like Beck.

  13. Perry, #9:

    Reality check: Do you know people who speak strongly about how America is a “Christian Nation” or how (Christian) religion is essential to a viable civic fabric in this country – who do not creep you out? Is it the (that) message or the messenger?

    That kind of rhetoric is usually followed up with calls to teach evolution in public school, to promote public school teachers to lead morning prayers, to spend my tax dollars on blatantly religious and exclusive displays, etc.

    So, no.

    That said, there are two other important things I want to say:

    First, I strongly support the right of everyone to practice his or her religion, as long as they’re not forcing it on me, or someone else, or spending my tax dollars on it. I know many religious folks who feel the same way and have no problem with my atheism. But there is a very high correlation between people who go on in the fashion you describe, and people who want to mandate religious compliance in one form or another.

    Second, I don’t take Glen Beck that seriously. Still, I think I know where A.L. is coming from, because there are some people you just don’t like. Even before Ron Paul degenerated into a froth of lunacy, he just struck me as being off, even though I should be endorsing his politics.

  14. As I recall the Scudderites were known for violent demonstrations when they first arrived on the scene in Heinleins Universe

    Does that sound like the crowds Beck draws or more like the crowds the Progressive’s draw???

    Now I recall a video of uniformed kids

    Obama Youth Brigade March in Formation

    that kind of creeped me out, Beck got anything like this in his agenda?

  15. Al, however is not the only one creeped out by Beck

    Here was ONE reaction by someone unhinged by his rally in DC

    ‘It’s a Free Country. I Wish it Weren’t’

    Now thinking like that IMO is more in the line of a dangerous

    If this goes on

    direction

  16. AL:

    … neither he nor anyone else on the left is an able enough demagogue to assemble a frightening mass movement.

    Al Gore is doing a pretty good job without even trying. When it comes to Armageddon rhetoric, he’s the biggest thing since Peter the Hermit.

  17. With respect to Glenn Reynolds, its a pack, not a herd. Those people aren’t being led around by the nose by any means, regardless of what the media thinks. For anybody that feels the self-interested elite have taken control of the levers of power and are running us into the ground, I don’t know how you can reject this kind of assembly. What would look better?

    As far as content- Beck I think is actually doing something rather clever. Rather than just engaging the statists on each issue (‘politics as usual’), he is making a philosophical argument that wrestles for the moral high ground.

    And before anyone cries foul- progressives have been camped out on the high ground (at least in their own minds) for a generation, and thats the mount we hear their sermons waft down from.

    Beck is saying that something like a small government, low taxes, free enterprise, non-nannyism isn’t just a selfish interest, as it has been portrayed. Instead it is the preferred state of man under natural law, which for most translates to “god’s will”.

    Even the religious right rarely couches economic philosophy in those terms (as opposed to social policy), and for the mainstream conservative and many libertarians is has long been absent from the conversation.

    Who said something like “when god disappears from the state, the state becomes god”. I don’t take that as a call for theocracy. A critical component to our system is that certain rights and liberties are established by god, or a higher power, or the universe, or as a simple law of nature. And the farther we stray from those principles the worse off we become.

    So Beck argues that (for instance) a nannystate that stifles free enterprise and relies on the state to ‘partner’ with favored industries is ultimately _doomed_ to failure. And it is doomed not because it isn’t executed properly, but because it _can’t_ be executed properly, because it goes against the nature of society and mankind, because it goes against the freedom of the individual, which goes against the will of god.

    That philosophy will certainly scare a certain number of people, but it will ring true with _far_ more- particularly when the alternative is a state with _no_ largely cosmic underpinnings, where the good of society is the first cause. Damn near anything is justifiable if the good of the state is your ultimate arbiter.

  18. _”That depends on which rules we talk about here. Everyone I talk to (even different christian leaders) have a different definition of ‘natural laws’, and quote the bible in different ways to make their point. “_

    True! And that’s a wonderful thing! My point is, lets have that conversation. Right now anybody that starts talking about the role of natural law, or god, or morality is laughed off as a kook and potential theocrat. I think Beck is doing a service in demonstrating that you can talk about the moral underpinnings of the state and society in polite company… and that _a lot_ of people want to hear about it. The sophisticants from the New Yorker will scoff, but the folks as the polling booth have the final say.

    It is demonstrably possible to have a state with no religious affiliation based but based on moral principles derived from moral philosophies like religion. Of course that is true. A state _not_ based on such underpinnings is frightening. What are its goals and aspirations? And why? To an extent we’ve stopped asking those questions and gotten stuck in a ‘what can the state do for me’ mode.

  19. I do know this much: Never trust anyone who doesn’t drink at least one of the following: soda, tea, coffee,or alcohol. It leads to a purity and zeal us inferiors can’t match or understand. I don’t know why, its just that way. Just like my yoga instructor, who doesn’t eat anything COOKED, let that sink in, nothing COOKED, at all. She has a very strange otherworldly creepiness about her, at the same time seeming so saccharine.

    Because people who don’t need a crutch of some sort aren’t like the rest of us. Hence, my dislike of Beck, he’s too evangelical and pure for my average joe self. Double Macchiato please, steak, salad, and some wine.

  20. Lex at ChicagoBoyz has “a different take”:http://chicagoboyz.net/archives/15295.html on what Beck’s doing. Somewhat reinforced since Beck later read it on the air and called him ‘the only guy who actually gets it’. Worth a read.

    I’m reacting similarly to a commenter quoted in the CB post, to the effect that “As a conservative secular libertarian, I felt a bit left out … .” My own politics are rooted in something akin to natural law, partially by way of Rand, so I don’t think you need Christianity to arrive at that basis. But if Beck wants to put forth that derivation, as a bedrock for believers to see why our system of government works and is worth preserving, more power to him. So long as he doesn’t then go on – like theocons – to insist we must therefore accept some Christian form of government nannyism. If he can break that linkage, he’ll do a great service to the nation, libertarians and conservatives, and I suspect to Christians as well.

  21. MB, #25

    It is demonstrably possible to have a state with no religious affiliation based but based on moral principles derived from moral philosophies like religion. Of course that is true

    It may be true, but it is subtle. It has been a bone of contention with some people who couldn’t really grasp the difference between adopting “Thou shalt not kill,” (which I hope we all agree on) vs allowing wine but not weed (because they are Christian, not Muslim.)

    In that light, I think you have it backwards– religions develop “Thou shalt not kill,” not because religious insight is needed, but because they’re useful laws, and religion is useful in enforcing them.

    But religion also lacks any check and balance, and once you’ve established that religion enforces rules, the system will eventually run amok.

    That doesn’t mean I think any specific religious person is stupid, or bad, or wrong, or evil. Religion doesn’t go wrong on the level of a person, it goes wrong on the level of people, as do most ideologies. I don’t, not just because of their religion.

    But I’d be a damn fool not to note the aggregate tendency, and to fear it.

  22. I’m with you Tim. I’m a pragmatic libertarian in my politics and a doubtful agnostic religiously.

    I think the commenter in the CB post is a little off base though, he suggests something that basically sounds like religious affirmative action:

    “He said Beck could have included him by having a non-religious person on stage”

    Although I’m not religious at all, it bothers me that the merest statement of faith seems to so severely alienate most of us folks of no faith. We are, truly, about the most intolerant and judgmental bunch around.

    I concede that I’m strange because where most folks with my background seem to be uncomfortable with religious folks, I’m quite ok with them as long as they’re not trying to convert me, and I think a general intent of this country was for folks to be free to be as religious as they please.

  23. I find it odd that Beck “creeps you out,” AL. He is a bit eccentric, definitely has an ego, like most people in the public limelight. But, I do think his mission, to contribute to the good of this country, is heartfelt and genuine.

    Supposedly he put his own money on the line, in putting together this rally. If the people did not come, he was holding the financial bag, so to speak. This is lot more than most people do, in order to carry their message to the people.

    Also, in reading a plethora of comments from people attending this rally, the common denominator was the love and good will that was felt by all. It was a peaceful coming together of people sharing the same values, which included leaving a spotless environment, after they had come, celebrated and were gone. Now, you can’t say that about the majority of groups congregating in DC. In fact, the post mortum reality of Obama’s inauguration event left tons of trash for others to clean up.

  24. Hes a man with a bad past. Theres some reason why he is disturbing, though not apparent to the untrained eye, I believe he is hiding something very bad about his past. While at times he is very convincing, I find Beck contrived and like he has everything to prove and something to hide which he was never criminally charged with, but is overcompensating for. Those closest to him, indeed, even his wives or children know nothing or choose to overlook whatever it is. But it is there, nonetheless.

  25. Hes a man with a bad past. Theres some reason why he is disturbing, though not apparent to the untrained eye, I believe he is hiding something very bad about his past. While at times he is very convincing,

    Juliet, I think that a lot of people here agree with your comments about Barack Obama but please tell us about your concerns about Glen Beck.

    ;)

  26. Beck, comes across as pert and insincere. Not by fault of his own though. Its the dichotomy of his appearance and voice not matching his message. He appears like too much of a car dealer-esque everyman or insurance salesman to be delivering messages as a superior authority, especially religiously intoned messages. Trying too hard to be casual, when nothing he is talking of is actually casual. Too weird for me.

  27. _”See, I’ve never met an atheist who had trouble talking to someone religious.”_

    Or talking at them anyway.

    In my experience, atheists have much in common with people that don’t own a TV set- you’ll never get through a conversation without hearing about how they don’t own a TV set.

  28. When 9-11 Mosque builders refused to back down last week, it was their constitutionally protected right to be insensitive to the victims families. Well, I don’t see how this church shouldn’t have the same right to be insensitive. Americans do not have to be PC. Petraeus should be prepared for any eventuality the war may take. That is his job.

  29. alchemist:

    There aren’t many atheists who, for example, tell people that you’re not allowed to build a church/mosque/synagogue (whatever) … Movements show up when a group decides that there is only one true belief, and that it is their duty to espouse/convert others to that belief. For me, Beck et al walk dangerously close to that line.

    Religious freedom is not based on the idea that all religion is whatever, any more than free speech is based on the idea that one person’s opinion is as good as another’s. If all religion is whatever, then there would be no problem with a state church, like the one that has existed for centuries in Britain.

    If it is dangerous to firmly hold beliefs, and obnoxious to convert others to your beliefs, then politics is the second biggest offender in the country, after sports. And when people try to convert me to their zealous beliefs regarding biodegradable plastic, they often do so with force of law. But I dare not say more about that for fear of offending some people’s religious beliefs.

    Of course, it’s always the other guy’s belief that is dangerous and proto-fascist, especially when your own beliefs seemed threatened by imminent apocalypse – and this might not be the best time to have a sober discussion about this. I think the current climate is producing an optical effect that I call Beck Magnification.

  30. Sorry, my fault, wasn’t clear enough, what I meant to say is to espouse/convert others to the idea that only that belief SHOULD BE TOLERATED, everything else should be verboden.

    I have no problem with people trying to convert others (as my post implied). I do have a problem with people saying: “That opinion does not fit our belief, and therefore is invalid”

    _Of course, it’s always the other guy’s belief that is dangerous and proto-fascist, especially when your own beliefs seemed threatened by imminent apocalypse_

    Not following you here… who is on the verge of Apocalypse? Do you mean global warming?

    Juliet: _Well, I don’t see how this church shouldn’t have the same right to be insensitive._

    They do have the right. However, Petraeus is asking nicely: Please, if you care about the troops, don’t burn the Koran. You have the right not to listen to him. But we have the right to call the church jerks if troops die in the ensuing riots.

    You do support the troops, don’t you?

  31. Ofcourse. However, whether the Koran is burned or not, Muzzies always find some reason to riot, burn American flags, molest goats, whatever lower instinct of the week is running the show.
    Ensuing riots will happen wherever Islam goes. First it was the Danish cartoonist that was so incendiary, then it was myriad threats to anyone who speaks out against Islam, last week calling to kill Geert Wilders and the French First lady, etc. Give an inch, they’ll take a mile. Now, soem reason NASA should make muslims feel good.

    Sorry, not buying that line of reasoning. Emotophobes like me see it plain and simple, and don’t enjoy being swept up in the fear. Islam is going to act out no matter what we do, so the Church might as well burn the Koran accordingly, (and for somewhat dumb reasons), and the military might as well get ready for some b.s.

  32. Alchemist #38:

    See, I’ve never met an atheist who had trouble talking to someone religious

    Really? Never? Never ever?
    Never met the guy who busts out the Invisible Pink Unicorn in casual conversation? Or the Pastafarians? I’m not talking about bringing it up once Church-State separation is already on topic, and the religious folks are pressing anti-evolution school-board agendas, I mean dropping the IPU bomb on unsuspecting innocents.

    I’m an atheist, and I sure as hell have. Atheists can be intolerant assholes, too– it’s just that as a drastic minority, they’re harder to find, and as a disorganized one at that, they have no way to make the assholery stick.

    I agree with the rest of the post, but that one strains credibility.

    Juliet, #41:

    When 9-11 Mosque builders refused to back down last week, it was their constitutionally protected right to be insensitive to the victims families. Well, I don’t see how this church shouldn’t have the same right to be insensitive.

    It is hard to take seriously anyone who burns books, or supports burning books.

    Glen #42:

    If it is dangerous to firmly hold beliefs, and obnoxious to convert others to your beliefs, then politics is the second biggest offender in the country, after sports.

    I find most political discussions obnoxious for that very reason, so at least I am consistent. Moreover, what is obnoxious about attempts to convert is not the first attempt, but the second through Nth attempts after the first one is brushed off.

    (And yes, this also means atheists trying to convert religious folks away from their religion.)

  33. alchemist:

    I do have a problem with people saying: “That opinion does not fit our belief, and therefore is invalid”

    Then you’ve got a problem, indeed. Religious and non-religious people say this all the time. Values of all sorts are defined by what they exclude. If tolerance means everything is reduced to indistinguishable mush, then that’s not tolerance, but anti-intellectualism.

    You talk about a line, and Beck being dangerously close to it. Lots of people talk about such a line, from Bill O’Reilly to the “hate speech” yalpers.

    When it comes to freedom of conscience, be it religious, non-religious, or anti-religious, and the right to peaceful expression of that conscience – there is no line, period.

  34. Juliet, #50:

    Why would you say that with venom? If you are the espouser of forgiveness, then why the venom?

    A fair question, which deserves a fair answer: Because when I’m saying it, I’m saying it to someone who ought not to need my prompting to think about it. I reserve it for ostentatious Christians like Terry Jones, especially ones in positions of authority, like pastors and leaders, who not only miss the point but willfully reject it.

    Because when I’m saying it, I’m calling someone a hypocrite.

    Are you expecting better from HUMANITY?

    I’m demanding better Christian leaders.
    Why aren’t you?

  35. Juliet, #53:

    Ah ha. Now theres a question so relevant and loaded I had to chuckle. As a “atheist” how does one demand better Christian leaders in your view?

    I’m content with calling out the book-burners, for now.

    For the rest of your questions, see #46, above.

  36. Alchemist, #56:

    Fair enough, and in that respect you’re a better man than I am, since it’s often the jack-asses that stand out in my memory more so than the reasonable people.

    But having been the IPU-bomb-laying atheist in my checkered past, I kinda felt obligated to point out that they do exist.

    In one of those deeply ironic twists, that sort tend to be very outspoken, and so are disproportionately represented in the various vocal atheist movements…. where they end up antagonizing most everyone they meet. (P Z Myers, I’m looking at you.)

  37. Glenn Beck is not a religious leader of any kind. He’s a guy who spends an hour a day bashing Woodrow Wilson and FDR, in a dead-dog afternoon time slot, scoring higher ratings and more advertising revenue than CNN and MSNBC get in prime time. And this is a matter of such concern that Congress is trying to shut down his advertisers, and the White House demanded that a public official be fired because they were afraid she might be mentioned on his show.

    Something is indeed seriously wrong here, the question is with whom.

  38. I’m not sure that going on the air for several hours a day trying to convince people that they should support limiting and decentralizing governmental power is the way to go about establishing a dictatorship.

    Honestly AL, based on the views that you’ve expressed and the candidates that you’ve supported (see Chuck’s first post), I think that you’re more likely to end up supporting a dictatorship than Glen Beck (and I don’t consider that a likely prospect either).

  39. Forgive the delay … Perry, I know lots of people who say things like that. I disagree with them and with some of them I have engaging debates.

    None of them seem to have the manipulative power and platform that Beck does. It’s not so much the “content of his beliefs” that bother me (at all)…it’s that my visceral read of him is that “this is a guy who could put together a scary movement if he chose to.”

    Yes, the violence today is virtually all on the left; bluntly they are punks, and as much as Obama might wish he could, in the late night hours, neither he nor anyone else on the left is an able enough demagogue to assemble a frightening mass movement. (Frightening government policies and creeping stupidity, yes)

    Does that make my position any clearer??

  40. It’s funny that you mention Oprah, because Beck is clearly leading his empire in the ‘Oprah’ direction. There’s his political books of course, radio & tv show of course. Then there’s this weekends evangelical rally, almost separate from politics. Then there’s the book club. He’s written a 24-esque beach thriller. The Beck holiday special (The Christmas sweater). The Glen Beck stand up comedy tour(really, I wish I were making this stuff up). And now he’s starting his own news site “the blaze” (although not up yet, comparisons are made to Huffington Post).

    In each of these he draws himself as an everyman, stuck in mad world, or a collapsing world. Although many are not ‘political’ per se, they draw the same connections, creating a veil over the world in the same way that Oprah does.

    He’s clearly more than just a ‘political figure’ at this point. He’s a conglomerate of ideas that is quickly expanding beyond his relationship with Fox News. It wouldn’t shock me if his influence outgrew Limbaugh in the very near future.

    I should also mention that we have many mormon friends who think he’s “their hero”. I feel ill every time I hear it.

  41. “…he is making a philosophical argument that wrestles for the moral high ground.”

    Mark,

    Have you ever seen one of Beck’s performances with a piece of chalk in his hand?

    His philosophical arguments are on the level of those on the level of A Dr. Bronner’s soap label.

  42. _”when god disappears from the state, the state becomes god”_

    This could also be argued the other way: “When the state combines with God, the state becomes God”. See, for example, the History of the catholic church and European government. Or the modern oligarchy of Iran (which is only controlled by a untouchable ‘religious’ figure.). Either way, when a state allows only one worldview, it’s generally to consume power.

    Now, currently the US does a very good job of not favoring any world view, and allowing them all to exist simultaneously. That’s a pretty amazing feat in my eyes.

    When people say that the US should be reinstated as a “christian nation”, my initial fear is the return of the ‘single world view’, that we must bow down before a specific set of rules and guidelines that are NOT in the constitution.

    _And the farther we stray from those principles the worse off we become._

    That depends on which rules we talk about here. Everyone I talk to (even different christian leaders) have a different definition of ‘natural laws’, and quote the bible in different ways to make their point.

  43. AL says,

    None of them seem to have the manipulative power and platform that Beck does. It’s not so much the “content of his beliefs” that bother me (at all)…it’s that my visceral read of him is that “this is a guy who could put together a scary movement if he chose to.

    Does that make my position any clearer??

    I’m more confused now, actually.

    If you were convinced that Beck’s goals were absolutely benign, would you still find him creepy? Is there some fundamental flow in the man’s character himself that makes him incapable of effecting good? You talk about Beck in front of a crowd the way others might talk about a child molester in front of a school…

    Sure, any competent demagogue is dangerous. But “manipulative power” can also be spelled “charisma” and “leadership”. Would you have found George Washington creepy, had you met him at a rally on the eve of the revolution? Seriously.

    Cheers
    — perry

  44. Again, it’s not putting a march together, or his beliefs. There’s something about the guy himself…the faux emotion, the strength masquerading as weakness…I don’t know but my hackles go up in a why that they really don’t for any other commentator…

    Marc

  45. _Although I’m not religious at all, it bothers me that the merest statement of faith seems to so severely alienate most of us folks of no faith. We are, truly, about the most intolerant and judgmental bunch around._

    Really? Last I checked, there weren’t many atheists that protest religious events or gatherings. There aren’t many atheists who, for example, tell people that you’re not allowed to build a church/mosque/synagogue (whatever). Last I checked, there have been relatively few killings/firings in the name of atheism. (I am deliberately talking only American modern history here, and ignoring communism, as I consider that to be a different bird altogether).

    _I concede that I’m strange because where most folks with my background seem to be uncomfortable with religious folks_

    See, I’ve never met an atheist who had trouble talking to someone religious. Often, it makes for great conversations. My super atheist grad-school roommate used to invite Mormons in all the time. He didn’t hate them, he didn’t protest them, he didn’t have trouble being around them. (Unlike the mormons, many of whom looked nervous as hell with a gay classmate)

    Now, what I do have trouble with, is religious movements. Movements are completely different things (even in atheism). Movements show up when a group decides that there is only one true belief, and that it is their duty to espouse/convert others to that belief. For me, Beck et al walk dangerously close to that line.

    Now, AL again is trying to focus on the way of telling that message, not the message itself. I missed that Heinlein book, but it definitely matches the tenor of today. Beck (et al) seem to cradle people in those misunderstandings with sayings like “You already know everything you need”, and “Don’t trust the facts, trust your gut”. (Note, I’m paraphrasing heavily based on what I see, not any specific speech)

    Feelings are great, but they are also easily manipulated. When someone makes that appeal, I start to get really nervous that manipulation, not education, is the intent

  46. Juliet #45:

    So your basic line of reasoning is, “Some of them are assholes, so we get to be assholes, too?”

    That’s kinda sad, as it does nothing to elevate that group of book-burners in my eyes, only to put them a lot closer to the level of the violent Muslims they’re protesting, with the added benefit of being hypocrites.

    Seriously. Here is a phrase that I, as an atheist, use only very rarely, only very deliberately, and only with venom: What, exactly, would Jesus do?

    Whatever it is that he’d do, it probably doesn’t involve a good ol’ fashioned southern book burnin’, or any other incitements to religious violence. It might involve… I don’t know… forgiving them. It was a Thing with him, the whole forgiveness motif. They wrote that down, somewhere.

  47. “Some of them are assholes, so we get to be assholes, too?”

    I’m not meaning to say two idiotic things make a smart one. I think you have me wrong.I think the 9-11 Mosque is preposterous and I think burning Korans is preposterous. But both are so-called freedom of expression and can occur, in spite of what you or I think.

    Taking on the 300 mile above earth view, and saying, Muslims create a lot of Havoc, and so can everyone else. Its not a case of two wrongs make a right. Its a case of, its probably going to happen, so it needs to be dealt with. Its also a human thing, my religion Christianity says that humans are just humans and make many mistakes at any time because they are not divine, but human. I am human, I can try to forgive even if it is counterintuitive, but it doesn’t mean its an automatic response to negativity and it doesnt’ mean me or any other human is automatically a perfect compassionate deity and neither is any human being. These things take work. In my opinion, not being religious is just giving up faith in on believing in the intangible. But its your right.

  48. Seriously. Here is a phrase that I, as an atheist, use only very rarely, only very deliberately, and only with venom: What, exactly, would Jesus do?

    Why would you say that with venom? If you are the espouser of forgiveness, then why the venom? It never ceases to amaze me how easily wounded Atheists are, so easily offended at the thought that humans try to be good, but sometimes fall short. Are you expecting better from HUMANITY? Are you expecting humanity to be God-like, good, and achieve what Jesus did? Humanity is full of sin. Its a great goal to be divine, but few, if any, achieve what Jesus did, and some even give up completely on trying and are hence nonbelievers in God altogether.

  49. Juliet, I suppose that any soldier should as well. and, when their is an upsurge of activity against our troops after this action your reply will continue to be, “Too bad, they knew what they were getting into. After all, they volunteered.”

    I must say, I think your Eye for an Eye thinking on this is not only ignorant, but quite frankly pathetic.

    Your lack of Respect for Petraeus appals me. He is ten times the man you are. Especially seeing the fact that you hide behind a woman’s name.

    I hope you take a lot of satisfaction in the possible and avoidable deaths and injuries to young men and women to defend this type of free speech.

    I will congratulate on writing the most odious post I have seen on this board.

    I will not be coming back as long as you are allowed to post here . Some filth I will not tolerate, even when spouted by those of your ilk, who are spurred by emotional instability.

    This sort of poison damages the integrity of the site. So, I won’t be posting until the trash is removed.

    Been nice to know you fellows. AL and Joe K., Godspeed

  50. I’m demanding better Christian leaders.
    Why aren’t you?

    Ah ha. Now theres a question so relevant and loaded I had to chuckle. As a “atheist” how does one demand better Christian leaders in your view? By demanding? By cajoling? By ignoring God? By joining a seminary or becoming a Pastor or even a Nun even with doubts? By befriending religious folks, but always feeling smarter than them for not being gullible enough to be religious? Standing back and trumpeting your disbelief in hopes someone will change your view? Browbeating true believers, or sneeringly looking down the nose at the perceived to be pathetic individuals who go to main holiday services and fail at reaching all they are called to do by their Christian leaders in a comittment circle?

    I at a different life stage did most if not all of the above except become a religious leader myself. But here’s the thing, I know several young religious leaders in training who were kicked out of religious programs and then went to another religious training program where they could become better. It is taking a lot of work on their part.

    The point is not “are they/you/I perfect yet?” the point is striving to get better at being the positive the religion hopes we embody and or so I believe.

  51. Juliet, I suppose that any soldier should as well. and, when their is an upsurge of activity against our troops after this action your reply will continue to be, “Too bad, they knew what they were getting into. After all, they volunteered.”

    I never said that, those are your words, not mine. I said troops should be prepared for the b.s. that follows, cause like it or not, those Korans at some point are getting burned.

    Yea, and I served five long fucking years in the Army and I am female. Have you?

    I must say, I think your Eye for an Eye thinking on this is not only ignorant, but quite frankly pathetic.
    You know whats pathetic, you think you can twist arguments around with impunity.

    Your lack of Respect for Petraeus appals me. He is ten times the man you are. Especially seeing the fact that you hide behind a woman’s name.
    Hide? I am a woman, and I served, did I mention five long fucking years, asshole. And Petraeus has a job to do, so do those soldiers, and when I was a soldier, so did I.

    I hope you take a lot of satisfaction in the possible and avoidable deaths and injuries to young men and women to defend this type of free speech.
    Yea, the freedom of speech to inform you that you are on a blog, read by lots of people, and you don’t know who I am. And just because I am not one of the regulars, you show stunning rudeness.

    Emotional instability? I took my meds, but you might want to double down on yours.

  52. I think we’ve killed this conversation, but I thought I would reply to above. You’re right I do know atheists who go over the deep end. I just don’t freely recall them, because I don’t make friends with them (I basically ignore them, which means they don’t stick in my memory).

    I tend to like people who like to talk, to share ideas, to badger ideas through a conversation. So it makes sense that people who like to do this, also don’t have trouble talking about things outside of their belief system.

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