July 11, 2014

It's kind of sad, isn't it? Glenn Beck, America's own Dusty Rhoades, for whatever reason, is trying to do the right thing this time. (As Karoli wrote earlier this week.) He tells his followers that it's morally wrong to use the plight of immigrant children for political gain.

That's a pretty powerful statement for one who has fed the real right-wing crazies for a long time, and it's hard to argue with.

It's morally wrong to use the plight of immigrant children for political gain.

Even Glenn Beck knows that.

And I'm not going to decry his motives. I'm not going to turn into a right-winger, where they dehumanize the opposition as monstrous and monolithic. He is doing the right thing this time, and I don't really care about his possible motives, because something good comes out of it. I'm hopeful that he means it, and I'm going to take him at his word.

It's morally wrong to use the plight of immigrant children for political gain.

And the sad thing is, the attack dogs to whom he's always thrown the red meat, heightened the suspicion, and manufactured the paranoia of the day, are too far gone to accept that. Glenn has managed to hold onto some small shred of his humanity, and when he talks some real sense for once, his own people turn on him.

Listen to him explain why the immigrants are coming here. He's telling the truth.... this time. There's a real human impulse in there, and if we ridicule it and snuff it out, what hope is there for change -- ever? People don't wake up one day and say, "Wow, everything I ever thought was wrong!" It begins like this, with a small crack that lets the light it.

His online followers are absolutely furious. For days, I've been watching the Twitter rants and wow, people are losing it. But I do see the occasional ray of light. Matt Lewis at the Daily Caller writes:

Of course, there is still a question of motive. Let’s concede the obvious point that it’s probably good for people to see public displays that demonstrate conservatives aren’t heartless. This might not be the purest motive, but I would suggest — contra Nolte — that this sort of demonstration has a positive cumulative effect on the conservative brand. (And if other conservatives think this makes them look bad in comparison, what’s stopping other deep-pocketed conservative leaders from joining him? Perhaps they should…)

Beck isn’t hogging all the attention, in any event. My understanding is that Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert and Utah Sen. Mike Lee are currently planning to join him on this trip. Now, if you’re cynical, you would suspect that this will give them cover to pursue their anti-immigration reform policies– but maybe this actually comports with their values. It’s possible for someone to oppose immigration reform and still want to help people in need — which is the point of Beck’s project.

Additionally, isn’t it possible that Beck and Gohmert and Lee will — having seen the plight of these refugees — come away changed or have a different perspective? One wonders how bad things must be in Guatemala or Honduras for a mom and dad to pay a coyote to smuggle their child into a foreign land. Perhaps this will result in some introspection…

Yeah, I'm cynical about Louie Gohmert and Mike Lee. But you never know. Sometimes staring human suffering in the face changes people.

And sometimes extremists just get tired. Years ago, I interviewed a powerful state legislator who was known for his extremism, and he told me off the record how crazy his followers were, how nothing was ever quite pure enough to make them happy.

He resigned. A lot of people were shocked. I wasn't.

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