Dispatch #5 Handling The Glenn Beck Believers Jay Gilchrist GBVD
You mention Beck to most progressives and they make a face and a dismissive gesture. We never bother to listen to anything he says.
You mention Beck to a progressive who has tried to debate a believer and they might say they confronted them with withering factual logic…. and it had no effect whatsoever.
The Jan 3rd Edition of The Nation Magazine has a column on How to be President in a Fact Free America. Gary Younge, a black journalist from England, says some people prefer the reality they want over the one they actually live in. These Fabrications grow when real change proves elusive. Most, though, faced with the option of believing falsehoods or gaining tangible benefits like a job or healthcare will forget their illusions.
False belief will eventually bump up against solid reality. Hopefully reality will come in a softer package than a battlefield. The recommendation that keeps popping up is that Democrats, especially the President, need to fight against falsehood by repetition of the facts.
Door to door activities won’t succeed if what is delivered is a point by point refutation of Glenn Beck. It might work to keep up a flow of facts from day to day reality. Dana Milbank just had his book on Beck published (Tears of a Clown, Doubleday, 2010).
Milbank takes 257 pages busily refuting Beck’s apparent Paranoid fantasies, often quoting exactly where Beck contradicts himself, occasionally even letting truth escape his mouth. In one example (pg 99), the Arizona victim of a dying liver who the state could not afford the quarter million dollar transplant costs serves Beck as a death panel kickoff rant. The grain of truth here should worry us. Transplants are so expensive and such life and death issues. Bankrupt states will have to draw a line on indigent patients. Insurance companies will continue to balk at big bills especially if they see their profits heading towards zero. Eventually believers will say, “ See – those death panel rumors were true”
Beck is not crazy (but swimming in multimillion dollar wealth and privilege, he has probably already deluded himself into believing he is savior-like figure leading a mass movement). He does have power. His constant rants cost Van Jones his lower mid level job in the administration. With so many battles to fight, the administration finally caved on defending Van Jones with facts.
The dizzying gusher of untruths, like a fire, take little effort to start but hours to put out. Direct refutation seems too big a job for us in the Valley.. University of Pennsylvania’s FactCheck.org is kept busy. When the factual data is finally released Beck is long gone, onto more distortions.
Beck has a two wheeled strategy. One is his rapid fire distortions where the tactic is to constantly repeat that he cannot disprove something, or hasn’t gotten a call to refute it. The other is his constant assertions of a negative hypothesis. He knows it is impossible logically to disprove a negative. Therein lies our challenge –
Unless you’re educated enough to know you can’t disprove a negative you can be influenced by Beck. You may be suspicious, but may tend to be taken in. We need to have a gusher of factual truths available for voters to easily find and gradually trust.
‘Truthiness’, Cobert’s famous word invention, is enough to seal Beck’s grasp on power but it’s not enough for us to have to refute it. Educate and Communicate