Have I mentioned how MUCH I enjoy Roger Ebert's blog? The man lost his capacity to speak, and it's ignited writing endeavors more prolific than ever.
On Sunday, Ebert wrote a post about Glenn Beck's recent - ridiculous - tirades against social justice:
Pretty near everything Glenn Beck says strikes me as absurd, but he scored a perfect 10 when he warned his viewers against the dangers of Christianity. You already know all about it. Well, maybe not, because the usual defenders of Christianity, like James Dobson and Pat Robertson, were very quiet on the topic. Not even a peep from Pat about this man who showed every sign of having hired the best lawyers to draft his pact with Satan.
Many other Christians were not so silent Dr. David P. Gushee, Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University, wrote: "He managed to do something few have been able to do... he has united Catholics and Protestants, evangelicals and mainliners, Christian progressives and moderates and conservatives."
What were Beck's unifying words? "I beg you, look for the words social justice or economic justice on your church web site," he told his audience. "If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes! If you have a priest that is pushing social justice, go find another parish. Go alert your bishop and tell them, 'Excuse me are you down with this whole social justice thing?' If it's my church, I'm alerting the church authorities: 'Excuse me, what's this social justice thing?' And if they say, 'yeah, we're all in that social justice thing'--I'm in the wrong place."
Ebert continues and concludes:
Beck has strayed way, way off beyond conservatism, to a land where reason itself is an evil conspiracy. This is a growing trend. In Texas... "A prominent insider has told Infowars that Texas Governor Rick Perry and other establishment neo-cons have decided to deliberately target grass roots constitutionalists with dirty tricks campaigns in an effort to derail and hijack the growing liberty movement whose influence is threatening to blow the Texas gubernatorial race wide open." Yes. Rick Perry, indistinguishable from Democrats, mainstream Republicans, liberals, socialists, Nazis, elitists and believers in social justice.
This whole argument is described by a term widely familiar on the internet, the reductio ad Hitlerum. It is also known, Wikipedia explains, as playing the Nazi card. Anyone using this argumentum, it is believed, is signaling that his logical facility has jumped the rails. It is frequently used in a reflexive sense, as when your opponent accuses you of doing the same thing: "You guys called Bush a Nazi, so it's all right for the Tea Partiers to call Obama a Nazi." To the extent that this is accurate, it is an appeal to -- why, one's sense of social justice, actually.
I am writing this because I have a blog and I needed to vent. I am told repeatedly that Fox News is fair and balanced, that it has the largest share of the (actually rather small) cable news audience, and that it speaks for ordinary Americans. To the degree that this is true, Beck has left them all behind, watching his figure shrink on the far horizon of fanaticism. He has finally, definitively, said something that is completely Wrong from every viewpoint.
Does Glenn Beck speak for average Americans? His logic indicates they must be attending churches that preach Communism and Nazism from the pulpit every Sunday. Why are they so slow to catch on? Now that Beck has alerted them, where can they flee to worship? What will become of them? They have been cast out into the wilderness, where nothing makes sense anymore. The lonely, barren, ignorant wilderness, silent but for the gnashing of Glenn Beck.
I'm having conversations with some folks about the classroom dynamics at my seminary. I am wholeheartedly committed to relationships, dialogue and even fellowship with folks who I dramatically disagree with - and who think I'm a heretic. I'm not afraid of disagreement. I'm not angered by conservative values. Many of them make me better - and kinder. But what I have no patience for is the inane sort of hateful vomit Glenn Beck assails the airwaves with. It's not just wrong, it's crude, anti-intellectual and ignorant in the worst sorts of ways.