Glenn Beck, Your Summer Of Rage Is Here

To dismiss Whitestock as "more religious than political" is to forget that for Glenn Beck's audience, politics are never separate from religion. Interviews with his audience members confirm what I've said for a long time now: conservative orthodoxy has become a cult, and Glenn Beck is a cult leader. And no, I am not exaggerating. As marketing guru Patrick Hanlon puts it,

One of the things that helps great companies endure—aside from innovation and product—is culture. Companies that survive their founders have a community and a culture uniquely their own. If that culture is attractive, consumers are drawn to them like iron filings to a magneto. The act of creating such enduring culture is one of the key responsibilities of leadership. (Emphasis mine)

Beck is not merely self-promoting, but rebranding right wing Judeo-Christian identity politics. In his book Primal Branding, Hanlon identifies seven elements of the successful brand: (1) a creation story, (2) a creed, (3) rituals, (4) icons, (5) sacred words, (6) non-believers, and (7) a leader who overcomes opposition. All seven elements were present last Saturday, and they were all aimed squarely at the demographic for which Beck and Goldline aim: willfully ignorant white evangelicals. Sarah Palin drew the charismatics, the rabbi and the Indian chief invoked the Book of Mormon, and Alveda King was a sop to African-American prosperity gopel. The substitution of faith for fact was complete when the Reverend C.L. Jackson called Beck "a son of God." This was Beck's attempt at covering his racism with religion; but it only works on the kind of suckers who buy bus tickets to a revivial.

Moreover, Whitestock came amid a new "silly season" of right-wing Islamophobia afflicting the country like a bad flu. There was no imam among the token interfaith chaplaincy praising Beck; this was deliberate, as Islam has been turned into the new monolith of evil for the right to invoke McCarthy-style. Understanding this structure of the new right is the first step to unmaking it.


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