3 thoughts on “Boycott list of Fox News sponsors

  1. Posted by: “bigraccoon” bigraccoon@earthlink.net

    Fri Oct 23, 2009 1:50 am (PDT)

    How Mormonism Created Glenn Beck

    October 22, 2009

    With Glenn Beck now a mainstay in the national debate, the public is getting
    exposure to a peculiar strain of religious political conservatism rooted in
    Mormon culture.

    Glenn Beck leans forward on his elbows. His voice hushes. His eyes grow red
    at the corners. He presses his lips together and clears his throat. He
    cannot speak. The tears fall, and just for a moment the brashest voice in
    American conservatism today falls silent.

    This is what happens when Beck tells the story of his 1999 conversion to
    Mormonism.

    “I was friendless, working in the smallest radio market I had ever worked
    in… a hopeless alcoholic, abusing drugs every day,” Beck said in an
    interview taped last fall. “I
    was trying to find a job and nobody would hire me… couldn¹t get an agent
    to represent me.”

    That¹s when Beck’s wife-to-be Tania suggested that the family go on a
    “church tour,” which finally led (after some prodding from Beck’s longtime
    on-air partner Pat Gray, a Mormon) to his local Mormon wardhouse. Six months
    later, the Beck family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day
    Saints.

    “I was baptized on a Sunday, and on Monday” — Beck’s throat tightens again;
    he wipes tears from his eyes with his index fingers — “an agent called me
    out of the blue.” Three days later, Beck was offered his own political talk
    radio show at WFLA-AM in Tampa, Florida, the job that put him on the road
    from “morning zoo” radio prankster to conservative media heavyweight.

    Spiritual narratives of the I-once-was-lost-now-I-am-financially-sound
    variety are commonplace within Mormonism, which, like most of American
    Protestantism, has never been allergic to wealth. The institutional culture
    of the Mormon Church is strongly corporate, down to the dark suits, white
    shirts, and red or blue ties church leaders wear instead of vestments;
    Mormonism¹s most powerful public figures like Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman Jr.,
    and Bill Marriott Jr., come from the business world.

    But whether or not one believes that God rewards baptism with fortune, it is
    clear that Glenn Beck¹s conversion to and education in the Mormon faith
    after 1999 corresponds precisely with his rise as a media force.

    Beck, who was raised Catholic in Washington state, has produced, with the
    help of Mormon Church-owned Deseret Book Company, the DVD An Unlikely
    Mormon: The Conversion Story of Glenn Beck (2008); Mormon fansites
    invite visitors to learn more about
    Beck’s beliefs by clicking through to the official Web site of the Church of
    Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. But what these fansites don’t reveal is
    the extent to which Mormonism has given Beck key elements of his on-air
    personality and messaging.

    Teary Tirades and Mormon Masculinity

    Before 1999, Glenn Beck told jokes and pulled on-air stunts for a living. He
    developed the content of his current conservative messaging (an amalgation
    of anti-communism, United States-founder worship, and connect-the-dots
    conspiracy theorizing) after his entree into the deeply insular world of
    Mormon thought and culture. A significant figure in this world is the late
    Cleon Skousen (1913­2006), the archconservative and fiercely anti-communist
    Brigham Young University professor, founder of the Freeman Society, and
    author of 15 books, including The Naked Capitalist, The Making of America,
    and Prophecy and Modern Times. Beck, who first cited Skousen in his 2003
    book The Real America: Messages from the Heart and the Heartland, later
    started pitching Skousen’s 1981 book The 5,000 Year Leap on air in December,
    2008. He wrote a preface for a new edition of the book issued a few months
    later and in his March 2009 kick-off of the 9/12 movement
    declared Skousen’s book to be “divinely
    inspired.” In a recent article
    for
    Salon.com, Alexander Zaitchik suggested that Beck “rescued [Skousen] from
    the remainder pile of history.” But Cleon Skousen was never remaindered
    among the most politically conservative Mormons, for whom he has been a
    household name since the 1960s.

    It is likely that Beck owes his brand of Founding Father-worship to
    Mormonism, where reverence for the founders and the United States
    Constitution as divinely inspired are often-declared elements of orthodox
    belief. Mormon Church President Wilford Woodruff (1807­1898) declared that
    George Washington and the signers of the Declaration of Independence
    appeared to him in the Mormon Temple in St. George, Utah in 1877, and
    requested that he perform Mormon temple ordinances on their behalf. Many
    Mormons also believe that Joseph Smith prophesied in 1843 that the US
    Constitution would one day “hang by a thread” and be saved by faithful
    Mormons; this idea was given new life in the 1960s by former US Secretary of
    Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson, who cited Smith’s 1843 prophecy from the
    pulpit while speaking as a member of the Church’s Quorum of Twelve Apostles.

    Many key elements of Beck’s on-the-fly messaging derive from a Mormon
    lexicon, such as his Twitter-issued September 19 call: “Sept 28. Lets make
    it a day of Fast and Prayer for the Republic. Spread the word. Let us walk
    in the founders steps.” This call to fasting and prayer may indeed have been
    an appropriation
    of the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, but it is also rooted in the
    traditional Mormon practice of holding individual, familial, and collective
    fasts to address spiritual challenges.

    Even the overt sentimentality Beck now indulges from time to time was formed
    within the cradle of Mormon literary culture. Take, for example, his novel
    The Christmas Sweater (2008) (co-authored by Mormon writer Jason Wright) and
    its accompanying children’s picture book, which tell the story of an
    impoverished twelve-year-old boy who rejects a “handmade, ugly sweater” his
    widowed mother knits him for Christmas, only to watch his mother die in a
    fiery car crash hours later. This punishing sentimentality is a consistent
    feature of Mormon storytelling from Church-produced cinematic classics like
    Cipher in the Snow (1973) and The Mailbox (1977) to the New York
    Times-bestselling novel The Christmas Box (1995) by Mormon author Richard
    Paul Evans.

    Finally, Beck’s oft-ridiculed
    penchant for punctuating his tirades with tears is the hallmark of a
    distinctly Mormon mode of masculinity. As sociologist David Knowlton has
    written, “Mormonism praises the man who is able to shed tears as a
    manifestation of spirituality.” Crying and choking up are understood by
    Mormons as manifestations of the Holy Spirit. For men at every rank of
    Mormon culture and visibility, appropriately-timed displays of tender
    emotion are displays of power.

    Peace on the Religious Right between Mormons and Evangelicals?

    Indeed, Beck, who grew up without a father, narrates his conversion and
    personal transformation around a series of tearful bonding moments with
    Mormon men, from the Sunday School teacher who first taught him about the
    Mormon concept of Zion — “Tears started to roll down his cheeks, and he
    said, ‘It can only happen if I truly love you and you love me”‘ — to his
    baptism by immersion by his longtime friend Pat Gray, who was so choked up,
    according to Beck, that “he couldn’t get the words out.”

    Not typical of Mormon masculinity are Beck’s high-decibel swings between
    bombast and self-deprecation. Such demonstrative excesses are socialized out
    of most Mormon men during a regimented process of masculine formation that
    begins with entry into the lowest ranks of Mormonism’s lay priesthood at age
    12, intensifies during compulsory missionary service from age 19 through 21,
    and continues throughout a lifetime of service within hierarchical
    priesthood quorums. A textbook example of the traditional Mormon “man of
    steel and velvet

    ” is Mitt Romney, whose inability to connect with the Republican base may
    have as much to do with his lack of familiar jocularity and chest-thumping
    outrage as it does with the perceived weirdness of his Mormon beliefs. As a
    convert, Beck missed out on crucial early years of Mormon male
    socialization. Consequently, his renegade persona may endear him even more
    to his Mormon male fans who might like to comport themselves as he does, but
    feel they cannot.

    It’s true that his Mormonism sometimes gets Beck into trouble with
    evangelical Christians, who have long antagonized Mormons by denying the
    authenticity of their belief in Jesus Christ and deriding the Mormon Church
    as a cult. Last December, James Dobson’s Focus on the Family Web site pulled
    a Beck column
    , citing concerns about his Mormon
    ties. Still, Beck’s spectacular rise suggests that evangelical conservatives
    (especially those under 40 who may not remember the anti-Mormon cult
    crusades of the 1980s) are increasingly willing to set aside their
    reservations about Mormons when it suits their pragmatic and political
    interests.

    Glenn Beck marks an unprecedented national mainstreaming of a peculiar
    strand of religious political conservatism rooted in, and once isolated to,
    the Mormon culture regions of the American West. That Mormons are capable of
    leveraging disproportionate political influence with decisive results was
    one of the great lessons of California’s 2008 election season, wherein
    readily-mobilized Mormons
    , who make up 2% of California’s
    population, contributed more than 50% of the individual donations to the
    successful anti-marriage equality Proposition 8 campaign, and a sizeable
    majority of its on-the-ground efforts.

    How much traction Glenn Beck can muster remains to be seen. But if the
    American religious right has sometimes been imagined as a monolithic product
    of the evangelical Deep South and Bible Belt, the rise of Glenn Beck
    suggests that those who would understand American conservatism might also
    look West, toward Salt Lake City.

    View this story online at:
    http://www.alternet.org/story/143381/

  2. Pingback: Murdoch’s Fox News’ euphemism on nazis | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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