Glenn Beck, Prophet?

Glenn Beck at Restoring Honor rally Washington, D.C., August 28, 2010 © Luke X. Martin | Flickr

One of my first contributions to Deliberately Considered was an essay on Glenn Beck (“Beck and Call”), a commentator who at that moment (February 2, 2011) was riding high. But who hears Glenn Beck today? He has a website that requires a subscription. In the past year, Mr. Beck has become marginal to the public debate, and perhaps in becoming marginal, the sharp fringe of the Tea Party has become so as well. He was the tribune for the aggrieved during the Tea Party Summer.

Last winter – back in the day – Glenn Beck was a roaring tiger. His claws were thought so bloody that when he attacked Frances Fox Piven, one of the leading activist scholars of social movements, a string of professional organizations rose to the lady’s defense, including the American Sociological Association and the Society for the Study of Social Problems. After the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, many progressives concluded that Professor Piven was next in line for assassination from the rightists roiled and boiled by Beck.

Today we frame Glenn Beck’s symmetry as less fearful. Those who worried that Professor Piven was walking on a knife’s edge might be surprised that her latest book, published in August, is entitled Who’s Afraid of Frances Fox Piven: The Essential Writings of the Professor Glenn Beck Loves to Hate. Glenn Beck has become Professor Piven’s marketing tool. Without Glenn Beck’s opposition, Piven’s writings might seem less essential. (As a fellow former president of the Society for the Study of Social Problems, I am pleased that her deservedly influential writings have become essential. I am attempting to find someone of equal stature to hate me. The placid readers of this flying seminar know that I try my best.)

However, my point . . .

Read more: Glenn Beck, Prophet?

Obama's Iftar Dinner Speech

Obama delivering Iftar Dinner Speech

In his remarks at the Iftar Dinner at the State Dining Room of the White House, President Obama continued to discharge his responsibilities as Storyteller-in-Chief with distinction.

He clearly illuminated fundamental principles of the American polity. He highlighted their long history, and he applied the principles with their historical resonance to a pressing problem of the day. Yet, the politics of the day, concerning the so called “Ground Zero Mosque,” confused matters, and his attempt to respond to the politics has added to the confusion.  I hope in the coming days and months he addresses the confusion.   But, in the meanwhile, we need to remember what the issues are apart from the silly interpretations of the 24/7 news machine.  His remarks should be deliberately considered.

Today, remembering the significance of the speech.  Tomorrow, a consideration of the confusion which followed. Obama welcomed his guests, including members of the diplomatic corps, his administration and Congress, and offered his best wishes to Muslims from around the world for the holy month of Ramadan.  He recalled the several years that the Iftar dinner has been held at the White House, as similar events have been hosted to celebrate Christmas, Passover and Diwali.  He observed how these events mark the role of faith in the lives of the American people and affirm “the basic truth that we are all children of God, and we all draw strength and a sense of purpose from our beliefs.”  The events are “an affirmation of who we are as Americans,” with a long history, illuminated by Obama by citing the words of Thomas Jefferson in the Virginia Act of Establishing Religious Freedom and remembering the First Amendment of the Constitution.

This tradition of religious diversity and respect has made the United States politically strong and open to vibrant and multiple religious traditions, the President noted, making us “a nation where the ability of peoples of different faiths to coexist peacefully and with mutual respect for one another stands in stark contrast to the religious conflict that persists elsewhere around the globe.”

Yet, he recalled, there have been controversies, most . . .

Read more: Obama’s Iftar Dinner Speech