Glenn Beck Puts Japan in Context

“Hello America. There is a lot of evil in the world.”

Yesterday, after admonishing President Obama for celebrating women’s history, Glenn Beck used his television program to complain about unclear comparisons, and how inarticulate some of the information that we’re presented with can be:

Right now we’re given bogus choices; we’re being told what we cannot do but we’re not given the other side of it. For example, we were told this or what? We know we don’t want this so it’s that. But then we’re not defining that.

This being a television program, Beck used imagery to explain what he means, pointing to a chalkboard that reads, “This OR ?” (?, indeed.) But what he really wanted to talk about was Japan. Beck foreshadowed this when he finally gave his first example of a false choice:

For instance…do you want the financial meltdown or do you want hope?

Beck has a point: that’s a pretty absurd thought. He has a knack for highlighting incoherent ideas.

Fascinated by the lack of looting in Japan (as others have been) Beck put the current crisis in perspective:

Japan: sheer panic; nuclear meltdown; the only thing that could happen that could make it worse is that Godzilla could actually be roaming the streets. RAAAA! It could happen…but yet…there’s no rioting in the streets; there’s no looting.

There have been several possible explanations for this; but, instead of an explanation, Beck offered an analogy:

This is their 9/11. This is the feeling of 8/28 or the 9-12 project.

In case you’re unfamiliar, these are three of Beck’s favorite numbers. They mark the tragic acts of terrorism that took thousands of lives in 2001, Beck’s own “Restoring Honor” event—it’s unlikely that he was referring to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech—and a political group that Beck created. So there hasn’t been looting reporting in Japan because it feels like something that Glenn Beck organized.

As points out, Beck took this worthwhile observation—that there hasn’t been looting in Japan—and bungled it again, when he compared the mature reaction in Japan to a bunch of drunken college kids destroying a car in broad daylight. First he described the situation in Japan by showing videos of people doing things like walking and eating a sandwich while he told an anecdote about someone in Japan taking two water bottles from a store rather than stealing all ten on the shelf (it’s unclear if he paid for the two bottles). Then comes the video of what appear to be college students in Albany, N.Y., celebrating St. Patrick’s Day by wearing green shirts and pushing a car down the street sideways, before jumping on it and, later in the video, smashing a TV on the sidewalk. Beck explained:

The world is changing…and we will be either this or that.

As Alloveralbany puts it:

In case you didn’t realize, America has the choice of being like the upstanding and stoic Japanese survivors—or rioting college students in Albany.

Thankfully, Glenn Beck is there to define the mysterious “this” and “that” for us by comparing two videos that are unrelated, except that they can both be unsettling. If he meant to suggest that there’s always a choice between good and evil in every situation, why show video from unrelated situations (except maybe that they’re both unsettling)? Was he simply trying to prove to his audience that both good and evil exist in the world? Beck should leave the YouTube commentary to Tosh.0 and refrain from talking about tragedies, unless he can manage to do so without comparing all heroism to his own organizations.

But at least he’s not celebrating women’s history.

BTW, here’s the video:

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Dylan DePice is a former CJR intern. Tags: , , , , ,