Glenn Beck Needs a Time Out
In case you have spent the past week under a rock, Glenn Beck has done it again, shocking the media by urging listeners of his March 2 radio show to “look for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Website. If you find it, run as fast as you can.” Predictably, the Rev. Jim Wallis and other Christians have fired back, as recounted here by Amy Sullivan (via Andrew Sullivan).
Over at the Daily Dish, Sullivan weighs in, not altogether dismissive of Beck:
My own view is that there should be a collective and strong safety net for the poor, combined with, for Christians, a very powerful, indeed binding, injunction to give and give generously to others, and to take a personal interest in the needs of others. There’s a balance here, in other words, between social justice and statist redistributionism. And while Beck is obviously out of line – the Catholic Church’s teachings on social justice could not be further removed from Ayn Rand – I’m suspicious of the dangers of taking the virtue of social justice and turning it into the system of socialism.
While I think Sullivan’s assessment is spot-on, and consistent with Catholic social teaching, I’m not sure that the benefits of responding to Beck outweigh the costs. The remark, I can only imagine, was insincere on Beck’s part, and designed solely to boost ratings (in keeping with his previous remark on Obama’s contempt for white culture). I fear that by commenting on Beck and others like him — as I am admittedly doing here — we are only encouraging the behavior.
Glenn Beck is best understood as a child acting out for attention — even if that means bad attention. The difference, of course, is that when most children act out, they are grounded or sent to their room. When Glenn Beck acts out, FoxNews and other media outlets raise his salary — which was set to reach $18 million per year in 2009.
Our democracy has become deeply dysfunctional; I am sure of it. At the same time, you and I are as much part of that dysfunction as Glenn Beck is. Indeed, Beck feeds on our dysfunction. It’s time we gave him a time out.