Glenn Beck's black & white (or, enough Teddy-bashing!); About that CPAC "Statue of Liberty" finale

Glenn Beck bashed Theodore Roosevelt in the CPAC speech and Beck bashed TR again today. Painting TR’s presidency in black and white (and to Beck, it’s all black) is just wrong.

The Progressives of the Progressive Era (1890-1920) did some very good things and some very bad things, and we should acknowledge both. Teddy’s progressive philosophy was a far cry from the progressives-on-steroids Alinsky-Obama model of today. Glenn Beck had people at CPAC and in his studio audience today booing Theodore Roosevelt, as if he had been Haman of a Purim play, or as if he had been Stalin or Mao or Hitler.

Progressives (especially in the Progressive Era, like TR) were not all collectivists (Marxists, Socialists, Communists, Anarchists, what have you)–the really toxic stuff. In 1912, TR’s Progressive Party (“Bull Moose”) ran against Eugene Debs of the Socialist Party.

Theodore Roosevelt is now lower than Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the Beck calculus–TR’s three evils being that he had been earlier than FDR, that TR was a Republican (who should have known better), and that TR is John McCain’s hero.

Thomas Paine, in contrast, is not demonized by Glenn Beck. Paine is a hero. From CampusProgress:

Trying to make ‘Sense’ of Glenn Beck
The conservative icon’s latest book blends Beck’s typical hyperbole with a gross misrepresentation of Thomas Paine’s political views.
By Michael Corcoran
August 3, 2009
Paine in his own time was radically progressive—in some ways socialist—and on most issues would be way to the left of the typical parameters of debate in Washington D.C. In the 1775 writing Agrarian Justice, Paine became among the first in the colonies to advocate for a “guaranteed minimum income.” Sounding a lot more like Eugene Debs than Beck, Paine’s proposal was to “create a national fund, out of which there shall be paid to every person when arrived at the age of twenty-one years … for the loss of his or her natural inheritance, by the introduction of the system of landed property.”

I don’t hate Teddy Roosevelt and I believe that all of you should at least give him a fair shake, before blasting TR’s image from Mount Rushmore. Picking on a long-dead guy and distorting his record is wrong.

My parents were both born in New York City (I was born in a suburb) and my late father (who was a Republican) admired TR, telling me several of his quotations. TR’s house on East 20th Street in New York City is a landmark that’s worth a visit. When I ran for Manhattan Borough President, I held an event at the Metropolitan Republican Club (which features a huge bust of TR) and I spoke before the TR Club.

The Daily Caller quickly addressed the issue; this slightly longer interview is from Matt Lewis’s own website:

TR Author Responds to Glenn Beck’s Criticism
James Strock — author of “Reagan on Leadership” and “Theodore Roosevelt on Leadership” — just emailed me his thoughts on Glenn Beck’s criticism of Teddy Roosevelt:

TR—a great student of history as well as one who made history—cautioned: “There is nothing cheaper than to sneer at and belittle the great men and great deeds and great thoughts of a bygone time—unless it is to magnify them and ascribe preposterous and impossible virtues to the period.”

It is impossible to know what TR would have thought of our challenges today. But we know that he was a voracious learner, immensely creative. To take him, in amber, and thrust views expressed in 1910 may be amusing but it’s not serviceable.

Here’s an article from More or Less Bunk:

Glenn Beck throws Theodore Roosevelt under the bus.
I look forward with bated breath to reading Beck’s forthcoming defense of tainted meat, denying women suffrage and child labor.

Here’s an article at FrumForum::

Beck’s Small Tent GOP
February 25th, 2010 at 12:33 am by David Jenkins
At the recent CPAC gathering, Fox News commentator Glenn Beck, in an apparent jab at Senator John McCain (R-AZ), said, “We have a guy in the Republican Party who says his – his favorite president is Theodore Roosevelt.” He then proceeded to skewer one of America’s most beloved presidents as a socialist.
Beck fails to mention that immediately prior to the snippet he read, TR compared successful entrepreneurs to great generals who deserve to be glorified. In his speeches, TR is very clear that while he sought equality of opportunity—“a square deal”—he abhorred any notion of trying to equalize outcomes, which he makes clear later in the speech:…

From David Horowitz’s NewsReal:

Joe Klein Needs History Lesson in Progressivism
2010 February 25
In 1912, when Theodore Roosevelt led progressive elements out of the Republican Party, the plank of his “Bull Moose Party” called for tariff reform, stricter regulation of monopolies, women’s suffrage, prohibition of child labor, measures to combat political corruption and the like. This was the foot in the door for increasing government control over our lives, but just one foot.

In 1924, the Conference for Progressive Political Action adopted a progressive plank that went beyond mere government regulation and called for government ownership of the nation’s railroads, timber forests, coal, ore and oil fields. It also called for massive income redistribution through sharp increases in taxes for the wealthy and “taxes upon excess profits.” Sound familiar?

Yes, by the end of the Progressive Era (1890-1920), the brand had seriously dipped into collectivism. But let’s look at TR’s progressivism. This was an age of the robber barons, of the few very rich (Rockefeller, Carnegie) and great mass of immigrants working 10-hour days in swearshop firetraps. There was no middle class. There were few, if any, laws for public health and safety.

Women vote and run for office today because progressives like Teddy Roosevelt fought for it. Does Glenn Beck think woman suffrage is a bad thing? He never mentions it, does he? Because, to him, progressivism is a cancer, and every progressive person and idea is a cancer, and you can’t have just a little cancer. It’s all bad. Doesn’t everyone think that Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann are assets to our Republic?

Isn’t child labor a bad thing? Does Glenn Beck want his kids to work 10 hours a day in a coal mine? After Upton Sinclair published The Jungle, there came meat inspection laws and yes, an early version of the FDA. Glenn Beck, put yourself in TR’s shoes. You’d do nothing? Or wouldn’t you establish basic industry procedures and try to make damn sure there’s no diseased meat on your plate? TR tried to break up corruption–is anyone against that? The 1912 Progressive Platform advocated good roads–horrible idea, right? The 1912 Progressive Platform called for building two battleships a year in peacetime to build a strong defense. The Progressive Era also gave us the Boy Scouts.

TR developed national parks and sought to preserve forests. However, to compare that to the global warming, tree-hugging, eco-nut crowd of today is ridiculous.

Does anyone think that TR would at all be like Barack Obama? Does anyone think that TR would go around the world apologizing for America? Does anyone think that TR would call terrorism an “overseas contingency operation”? Does anyone think TR would openly declare that he won’t invest in weapons systems and will not weaponize space? Does anyone think that TR would hire an Eric Holder or Janet Napolitano or John Brennan or Van Jones? Does anyone think that TR would establish a new position of FCC Diversity Czar? Does anyone think that TR would consult with SEIU and ACORN before he makes a move? Does anyone think that TR would bankrupt the coal industry? Does anyone think TR would go for the cap & trade hoax and massively increase costs of American business? Does anyone think that TR would say that America should defer to the UN, and that we’re just one nation, exactly the same as all others?

Glenn Beck blames the Progressives for the income tax, but 16th Amendment was basically written under the administration of William Howard Taft, a Republican. Beck also blames the Progressives for Prohibition, but I didn’t see that in the 1912 Progressive Party Platform. A lot of people of faith supported Prohibition–from the Women’s Christian Temperance Union to the Mormons. A past Beck show credited TR with this 1902 strike phrase: “To hell with the Constitution when the people want coal!” I have found no contemporary evidence that TR ever said it, although others have said things similar to this.

Some of the Progressive Platform is still debated today. The Seventeenth Amendment brought the direct election of senators, breaking up what had been an old man’s club. This web site, for example, argues that the 17th Amendment should be abolished. However, would Scott Brown ever have been a Massachusetts senator under the old system, with senator selection given to state legislators?

Painting Theodore Roosevelt in only black and white and projecting him into the Barack Obama progressive of today is wrong. I sure wish Glenn Beck wouldn’t do this every night and I’m saddened that he did it at CPAC.

I made a comment about this and boy, did I get bashed for it. I was accused of nitpicking. Glenn Beck did this twice, and it was the grand finale at CPAC, and it’s unbelievably crazy if you know the truth, so it’s worth another look and a fuller explanation.

This is the first time Beck used these symbols:

The Message Behind Obama’s Broken Promises
Thursday, February 04, 2010
By Glenn Beck
Let me show you first — this is a picture of the Colossus of Rhodes. They didn’t have digital camera in 280 B.C. So, this is artist rendering of what it was. This was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It took 12 years to build. It stood about 107 feet high. I believe that’s the height of the Statue of Liberty.

Beck shows a 1754 painting by Mario Larrinaga. The painting shows a statue disproportionately large. Scholars now mostly agree that ships didn’t sail beneath the legs of the statue; it would be too difficult for the ancients to construct that in bronze.

You can get a sense of how huge this thing was. We’re not sure but we think that it was in somewhat of a slouched or relaxed position, because of the confidence people felt by the people of Rhodes. They have become an important economic port in the ancient world and felt invincible. I don’t even know where Rhodes is, do you?

Yes, my wife and I went to the Greek isles on our honeymoon.

There is no evidence of the stance of the statue. No one has any idea if it stood in a slouched or relaxed position. Beck is looking at a painting made 2000 years later. It’s as if I drew a picture of Jesus right now, and told you that we don’t know what Jesus looked like, but he probably looked something like what I just drew 2000 years later!

Now, let me contrast this with the Statue of Liberty. Here’s the Statue of Liberty. This was built by the French. It was a gift from the French to us, but it really was meant to wake Europeans up out of their system of liberty that was modeled after the Colossus of Rhodes. This was really a thumb in the eye of Europe.
But the difference in its stance speaks volumes and it was meant to. First of all, you’ll notice that he is holding arrows and a bow, right? What is she holding? She’s holding the tablet of law.

You’ll notice that he’s holding arrows and a bow? Yes, in a painting made 2000 years later, the Colossus is holding arrows and a bow. There is no historical evidence that the Colossus held arrows and a bow. To contrast something we don’t know (from 2000 years ago) to the Statue of Liberty is insane.

Someone should have critiqued and corrected the argument, but Beck repeated it at CPAC and actually made it worse:

If you know anything – look it up when you get home. The Colossus of Rhodes. A giant statue that stood astride by the harbor holding a lamp, like this (posing).


The Colossus of Rhodes was the idea behind the designer of Lady Liberty, but totally different. The Colossus of Rhodes is like this (posing) and then – watch this, watch the – watch the cameras. Like this (posing) – and they all put up – this – you guys are so predictable.
We got him looking stupid. Quick, take it!
The Colossus of Rhodes – you know how they’re standing. And they have arrows – he had arrows, okay?

Taken from a painting made 2000 years later, now being told to misinform CPAC.

Here’s what we always get wrong. And when we come to this understanding, when we truly change in our minds this one error in history, I think we will blaze to life again.

We always read Emma Lazarus’s “The New Colossus” wrong? Did he speak with Emma for the correct version? We will “blaze to life again” by reading the poem another way?

The poem on the Statue of Liberty – it’s always read like this:
(reading) Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, the tempest tossed, to me. And I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
Well if you read it like that and you really think it through, what are we? A hospital?
What are we? Are we – is the Statue of Liberty saying to Europe, guys, Europe, you’re never going to make it with all that refuse. Send it over to me, we’ll take care of it over here. We’ll – we’ll just – we’re just trying to set you – guys you’re never going to succeed with all that riff-raff, come on, send it over here, you guys can get busy and do some work. That’s not what it means. It was never intended to read that way. Remember, the Statue of Liberty was mocking the old system. The Statue of Liberty was used to ignite inside the French, liberty. Look at America. Look what they’re doing. It was meant to be read like this:

Beck confuses two different things–the statue (by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi) and the poem (by Emma Lazarus). Lazarus viewed the statue as ‘Mother of Exiles.” Bartholdi didn’t design his statue so people could leave France as fast as they could. The poem should be read tenderly, as a mother comforting masses yearning to breathe free.

Beck then proceeds to read the poem like Kenneth Branaugh in Henry V, leading troops into battle.

(reading) Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, with conquering limbs astride from land to land – here, at our sea-washed sunset gates shall stand a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is imprisoned lightning, and her name: Mother of Exiles. From her beacon hand glows worldwide welcome. Her mild eyes command the air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. Keep your ancient lands, your storied pomp cries she, with silent lips. Give me, give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse from your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, the tempest tossed, to me. I hold – I hold my lamp beside the golden door.

Thunderous CPAC applause.

I thought that the reading was completely wrong for the poem, and I still think so.

I urge you to judge for yourself.

Glenn Beck is an entertainer who gets most things right, often brilliantly so. He also, unfortunately, gets many things wrong–and repeats the errors.

It is most important to take him up on his frequent statement–“Read history!”–and to keep an open mind.