Sometimes I think Glenn Beck is saying the crazy things he does just to get attention from liberals for being so crazy. It's the Ann Coulter model of right-wing punditry: the more outrageous the better for your ratings.
But Beck isn't as smart as Coulter. He's also more of a Bircherite populist, and he's convinced himself that the more mawkish the better he'll appeal to that sensibility. Unfortunately for Beck, he is also handicapped by not having a very firm grip on reality in the first place (not that this ever stopped other right-wing millionaire pundits). It shows up in his great fondness for right-wing populist conspiracy theories.
So after resorting to the good old Bircher standby -- "Commie! Obama's a Commie!" -- the night before, on his show last night he veered completely to the other side of the road and accused liberals of incipient Nazism:
Last night, I told you that we were on the road to socialism. Some comedy, you know, coming your way. Well, tonight -- oh dear, this may not go well -- when I finish this story, some may believe we're on the way to the Hitler Youth.
What inspired this analysis? It was a snippet of a quote from Al Gore, given to a crowd of schoolkids:
Al Gore: There are some things about our world that you know that older people don't know.
What, exactly, is wrong with this innocuous and fairly common-sense observation about the nature of generational change? It's an attack, apparently, on the sovereignty of parenthood:
Now you've got the former vice-president of the United States and a Nobel Prize winner looking your kid in the eye and telling them, 'You know what? You know things that your mom and dad don't.'
... The government and its friends are indoctrinating our children for the control of their minds, your freedom, and our choice and our future. It must STOP! Because history -- when properly taught -- has already shown us where it leads. This is what Nazi leader Josef Goebbels said about the Hitler Youth:
If such an art of active mass influence through propaganda is joined with the long-term systematic education of a nation, and if both are conducted in a unified and precise way, the relationship between the leadership and the nation will always remain close.
Well, what's next? If Mom and Dad decide to keep the temperature above 72, should our 'Gore Youth' report Mom and Dad? Should they also report groundings and spankings every time Daddy comes home to watch that evil Fox News?
Yyyyyeah, Glenn. Lotsa people out there talking about doing just that, big guy. Now excuse me while I take the next elevator.
So, in case you missed that, today's broadcast from Planet Beckazarro: Al Gore raising environmental awareness is the exact same thing as the state-sponsored Hitler Youth.
Or is it Communism? Agh! We're so confused! Where's Jonah Goldberg?
A little later, while interviewing the teenager who recorded it and her poor dissed Dad, Beck gives us a fuller context of the quote previously snippeted:
Gore: When I was your age and the Civil Rights Revolution was unfolding, and we kids asked our parents and their generation, 'Explain to me again why it's okay for the law to discriminate against people for the color of their skin color? And when our parents' generation couldn't answer that question, that's when the law started to change. There are some things about our world that you know that older people don't know.
Why would that be? Well, in a time of rapid change, the old assumptions sometimes just don't work anymore because they're out of date.
Sounds eminently sensible to me, but hey, I'm just a raging left-wing radical to guys like Glenn Beck.
Eventually, Beck wrapped up the episode by ranting with the ever-willing Bernie Goldberg, who has found a nice safe home at Fox, where he gets to be on display while Beck runs shots of Nazis around him. Nice gig, Bernie.
Meanwhile, here are some other quotes from Nazi leaders about propaganda and its value for Glenn Beck's consideration:
Hermann Goering, Hitler's second in command: "Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."
Ernst Rohm, chief of the SA: "The people want wholesome dread. They want to fear something. They want someone to frighten them and make them shudderingly submissive."
Dunno about you, but Glenn "The Apocalypse Is Coming" Beck sooner comes to mind when I read these quotes than Al Gore. And he has a hell of a lot bigger audience than a bunch of schoolkids.