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Wayne Tesmer, Published September 12 2010

Glenn Beck invites criticism

James Carriere’s commentary in the Sept. 7 edition of The Forum castigating Kathleen Parker’s column for her criticism of Glenn Beck lacks merit and requires a response.

Had Parker written an article attacking (or criticizing), let’s say, Carriere or me, for some flaw(s) in our personal character, both he and I would be justified in protesting loudly and in public that we had been unfairly singled out by her.

As it is, however, Beck has made no secret of his problems with alcohol and drugs and, because he is a very public figure, he should be, and likely is, aware that he is fair game for critics to call attention to them.

He certainly feels free to be critical of President Barack Obama. Surely Beck and others would not be making such charges as Obama is a racist, he is not a citizen, he’s a Muslim, etc., if Obama were not a public figure. It has occurred to me that Beck may even be delighted by columns such as Parker’s.

Once you stand up in the public arena and begin to shout, you’d better be prepared for people to shout back at you. Accordingly, I do think that Parker and I have the right and even a responsibility to call attention to people we feel may be posing risks to the public. And I do think Beck has the potential to do real harm.

In my opinion (and I certainly am not alone in this), Beck is, among other things, a demagogue and a fear-monger. History should teach us to be wary of people with Beck’s talent (and he does have a very real talent). He has been compared to such infamous characters as Father Charles Coughlin, Huey Long, Joe McCarthy and even Adolf Hitler. (And don’t laugh – Hitler was successful in his early efforts because no one took him seriously and considered him a buffoon.)

And what is more frightening is that the likes of Coughlin, Long, et al., had to rely on the crackly sounds of early radio and grainy newsreels to get their messages across, whereas Beck has a far more powerful voice.

Like virtually everybody in this country/world, I am not able to independently research, study or judge the legitimacy and accuracy of the multitude of opinions that are circulating, nor the host of serious political, social and economic issues facing this country and the world. Like everyone else, I often must rely on other people with greater expertise and authority to assist me in making my judgments on these matters. For the life of me, I am unable to accept the rambling thoughts and opinions of someone such as Beck, who – like it or not – is a recovering alcoholic and drug user, has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and whose post-secondary education consists of one theology class at Yale that he failed to complete (see Wikipedia).

Finally, Carriere’s letter alludes to the positive messages that Beck espouses. I’m sure that Beck has said and done some positive things; however, perhaps these should be placed upon a scale with the many questionable/bad things that he has done (or could do) to see which way it would tip. After all, as it has often been noted, Hitler made the railroads run on time.