Thursday, April 02, 2009

After reading the chapter on demagogy (specifically pp. 389-90) in Gordon Allport’s book The Nature of Prejudice (1958), I immediately thought of Glenn Beck (and others) — minus the antisemitism, which is not apparent. It also brings to light the hatreds toward Obama’s “radical agenda” (see Hannity, Sean). If you take out the antisemitism and racialism, it’s a living mirror to what we see right now coming from the Right:

“In their volume Prophets of Deceit, Lowenthal and Guterman have analyzed a large number of similar speeches and tracts. There is a sameness of protest and hatred in all of them. What the demagogue is saying seems to boil down to the following points: You’ve been cheated. Your social position is insecure because of the machinations of … New Dealers, communists, and other agents of change. Sincere and plain folk like us are always dupes. We must do something.

“There is a widespread conspiracy against us. It is being engineered by devils — by Wall Street, … internationalists, the State Department. We must do something. The conspirators are sexually corrupt too. [e.g., O’Reilly et al constantly deplore the “gay agenda” and decry gay marriage and other affronts to Christendom] They ‘roll in wealth, bathe in liquor, surround themselves with the seduced daughters of America.’ ‘Oriental exotics debauch youth for the purpose of wrecking gentile morale.’ Aliens enjoy all the forbidden fruit. Our present government is corrupt. The two-party system is a sham. Democracy is a ‘trick word.’ ‘Liberalism is anarchy’ [or mob rule, or a mental disorder]. Civil liberties are ‘silly liberties.’ We cannot be universalistic in our ethics. We must look out for ourselves. We can’t trust the foreigners. Internationalism is a threat. [see the debate on immigration — Beck, among others, warns that a “North American Union” is coming and the borders will be opened and the demographic nature of America will change]

“But we can’t trust our own government either. Alien termites bore within. Washington is a ‘Bolshevik rat’s nest.’ Our enemies are low animals: reptiles, insects, germs, subhuman. [there was an editorial cartoon in the Columbus Dispatch in 2007 depicting Iranians as roaches] Extermination is called for; we must do something. There is no middle ground. The world is divided. Those who are not for us are against us. It is a war between haves and have-nots; between true Americans and ‘foreigners.’ … [Hannity, a few nights ago, seriously asked, “Why do we care so much about what the rest of the world thinks of us?”] … But with disaster around the corner what can you do? [“I’m sorry (weeping); it’s just I love my country, and I fear for it”—Beck] Poor, simple, sincere people need a leader.

“Behold I am he. It isn’t the American nation that is wrong; it is the corrupt men in office. Change the personnel. I am available. I’ll change the whole smelly mess. You’ll have a happier and safe life. The situation is too urgent to permit the luxury of thought. Just give me your money, and I’ll tell you later what to do. Everybody is against me. I am your martyr. The press … [and] the stinking bureaucrats are trying to shut me up [see the “conservative” talk radio hostility to the Fairness Doctrine]. Enemies plot against my life, but God will protect me. I’ll lead you. And I’ll ignite the public mind everywhere. ... Maybe we’ll march on Washington. ...” [and throw “tea parties”]

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