Glenn Beck's Twisted Brain: Pol Pot Less Reprehensible Than Woodrow Wilson, Tiger Woods, and FDR

Knowing who Glenn Beck is, and the type of discourse he engages in, it would be the height of foolishness to expect a reasoned discussion of U.S. history within the pages of Arguing with Idiots. But this is getting absurd.


In his chapter titled, "U.S. Presidents: A Steady Progression of Progressives," Beck treats us to his list of the "Top Ten Bastards of All Time." The occupants of that list, in ascending order, are Pol Pot, Robert Mugabe, Teddy Roosevelt, Bernie Madoff, Adolf Hitler, Keith Olbermann, Pontius Pilate, FDR, Tiger Woods, and Woodrow Wilson. That's right, in Beck's book, mass slaughter of millions of innocents makes you a less reprehensible person than the presidents who won both World Wars for the United States.

The whole reason the list exists is so Beck can go on an extended tirade against Woodrow Wilson, who earned the top spot because he "[s]hredded our First Amendment by arresting thousands of people for speaking against U.S. involvement in WWI." This, of course, is in reference to the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918. And Beck is right -- both acts were horrible offenses against the First Amendment and resulted in the unjust imprisonment of many Americans, including, ironically, many members of socialist-leaning industrial unions that Beck finds so objectionable.

But if the Sedition Act was so heinous an offense as to make Wilson history's greatest "bastard," then shouldn't John Adams be on Beck's list as well? After all, Adams signed into law the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, which made it illegal for anyone to "write, print, utter or publish" anything "false, scandalous and malicious" about the government. Does that not count as "shred[ing] the First Amendment"? You could even make the case that Adams was worse than Wilson, because he was actually there when the First Amendment was drafted and ratified.

That wouldn't fit into Beck's theology, though, which is borrowed from his intellectual guide, the discredited far-right conspiracy theorist W. Cleon Skousen, and will not entertain even the slightest criticism of the Founding Fathers. In Beck's and Skousen's view, the Founders were divinely inspired and infallible, whereas Dwight Eisenhower was a communist and Woodrow Wilson was worse than Hitler.

But in fairness to Beck, if he had included John Adams, that wouldn't have left room on the list for Tiger Woods, who's on there because "[h]e's got a Swedish-supermodel wife, a gazillion dollars, and he plays golf for a living... bastard!"

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