Glenn Beck is back, and with a more urgent message than ever. In a powerful speech to the Faith and Freedom Coalition today in Washington, DC, Beck sounded alternate notes of alarm and hope, ending with a clarion call for unity among people of God. C-SPAN caught the whole speech, which can be watched at their website here.
And make no mistake, attention was paid to Beck’s speech, which touched on everything from the differences between the American Revolution and the French Revolution to the dangers posed by the television show “Glee.” He also, in a vintage Beck move, teared up while talking about a Hungarian consulate to Sweden who would write letters to the Nazis that placed Jewish citizens under Swedish protection, allowing them not to wear the yellow star. CBS News (video below) described the speech this way:
At the Faith and Freedom Conference, a gathering of religious conservatives in Washington, D.C., media personality Glenn Beck attempted on Friday to displace fears that Christian conservatives might have about supporting a Mormon for president.
Beck, who is a member of the LDS church, did not specifically mention presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, but said it is absurd that “we can’t stand together because you don’t go to my church and I don’t go to your church.”[...]
However, Beck, who just signed a 5-year, $100 million contract for his radio program, added that Christians “can’t be against something. I am not against Barack Obama,” Beck said, adding that they need to be “for something much, much bigger.”[...]
He concluded his speech with tears as he talked about the “gray period” the country is in and the need to “give your children opportunity” just as his mother “was a force for good despite the odds.”
And it was more than just CBS News paying attention. Fox and CNN carried live video feeds, and even liberal media outlets pricked up their ears. Business Insider called the speech a “softer version” of Beck’s usual message, noting the absence of a chalk board, and the lack of any mention of specific politicians’ names (except for President Obama). They also noted that Beck had taken what they saw as a less partisan stance:
“The world will either become incredibly dark, or it will become incredibly light. We cannot remain in the gray,” Beck told the crowd, according to a live video feed from CNN.
As for political labels? Beck has no need for them anymore. He preached supporting leaders for the “content of their character,” and not the parties or ideologies to which they prescribe.
During his closing, Beck teared up when describing the story of a man during World War II who worked to help save Jews and died in that pursuit, saying passionately, “It only takes one person to save the world.”
Beck also used the speech to advertise for his three-day “global Tea Party summit,” held in Cowboys Stadium in Texas in July. He is calling the event “Restoring Love.”
Not everyone, however, was so complimentary. Talking Points Memo, in an article that reeked of barely masked snideness, took special note of Beck’s remarks about the television show “Glee,” a show whose production values he praised while bemoaning how “horrific” some of the messages involved were. They also mentioned Glenn’s “Oedipus Project,” so named because, to quote Glenn, “the Left will be making out with me and they’ll never see it coming.” Watch TPM’s clip below:
But of course, Glenn spent far more time talking about history, and putting the struggles of the conservative movement in historical context, than he did talking about “Glee.” And some of what he said in the speech might have surprised more than a few liberals gleefully watching in anticipation of potential racism. Beck spent a sizable portion of the speech explicitly attacking the system of slavery in the South and comparing Southern treatment of Prisoners-of-War to the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust. He also explicitly denounced the doctrine of Manifest Destiny for its arrogance.
“What we did to the native Americans was ‘MANIFEST DESTINY!’” Beck thundered, shaking his arms in imitation of a blustering conqueror. “‘GOD IS ON OUR SIDE!’ God is not on man’s side! We must be on His side!”
Beck also, in a move that might have surprised secular viewers, admitted that institutions of organized religion can go wrong, so wrong that they inadvertently lend credence to anti-religious thought. He listed the Salem Witch Trials and the French Catholic Church in the lead up to the French Revolution as examples of this, claiming in the latter case that the Churches had become “an arm of the Government,” a powerful argument for separation of Church and State.
Yet, Beck argued, the alternative, even to these debased forms of religion, was and is much worse, quoting a book from the era of the French Revolution that encouraged the creation of chaos and iniquity. And because this alternative corresponded more closely to human nature, Beck argued, religion as an institution is always in jeopardy.
And given that religion is always in jeopardy, Beck’s ultimate message is more vital than ever – people must unify, regardless of denominational differences.
“‘First they came for the Catholics.’ Declare yourself a Catholic!” Beck exclaimed. “Your fight is my fight. My fight is your fight.”