Sunday, August 8, 2010

Country of the credulous?

Glenn Beck again invokes not-so-subtle racism directed at the President.We've caught Beck at the antebellum game of southern aristocrats. Beck urges his audience to study history. He's apparently confident that most will instead stick with People magazine and the National Enquirer.

Beck runs a clip of the President's recent address to the AFL-CIO. The President thanks union members for their work keeping special interests in check. Beck then throws a tantrum, marches up to the video screen, points to "AFL-CIO" in the backdrop and screams...

The AFL-CIO is a "special interest"? It's very important to note that Beck is using "special interest" in a pejorative context. He impugns current and retired AFL-CIO members as participants in special interest privilege.

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations is the largest federation of labor unions in the United States. It consists of 56 national and international unions, which represent more than 11 million workers, or roughly 8% of the U.S. workforce. The AFL-CIO also represents a wide swath of occupations, including: nurses; airline pilots, federal government workers; transit workers; postal workers; construction trades; fire fighters; miners; utility workers; merchant marine; police; longshoremen; and, others.

Bearing in mind that Beck's audience skews to an older, whiter, more blue-collar demographic, his slam of the AFL-CIO is more surprising than his racist rant at an 11 year old girl. Perhaps it's not as shocking as his history of on-air abuse, including cruelty towards a woman who had recently miscarried, but given that the Alliance for Retired Americans is an AFL-CIO affiliate claiming 3 million members, Beck's outburst potentially enraged far more than the 11 million people who are currently active union members.

How can Beck get away with an attack on his own audience? The video clip is mercifully short. The next thing he says reveals a game older than nullification:

"Planet of the Apes" is a not-so-veiled reference to the President's skin color. It also invokes 19th century hate speech, when blacks were commonly referred to as apes or monkeys. Beck used the AFL-CIO slam to set-up his real message, a racial taunt designed to resonate with his core audience.

Beck knows his audience will understand "Planet of the Apes". He's counting on them not to comprehend his cynical reuse of the slave master's manipulation of public opinion.

Antebellum aristocracy feared two things: (1) loss of slavery; (2) empowerment of the white underclass. Slavery, and only slavery, was the primary cause of Civil War. The slave-holding class effectively disenfranchised poor whites and owned a hugely disproportionate share of southern wealth, since slaves as an asset class exceeded the combined worth of all railroads and manufacturing businesses in America. Poor whites were kept in line by: (1) obsequence to aristocracy (inherited from their English Borderlands forebears); (2) a sense of racial superiority imparted to them by slave-owners.

Beck is repeating the cornerstone of the Great Southern Lie. TheRaven wonders, once again, if Beck hasn't gone too far. Unions have served to promote racial equality. Some of the individual unions and occupations slammed by Beck are well-integrated (police; postal workers) or known for disproportionately large minority representation (Federal government). Beck says that Obama's praise of the AFL-CIO makes him think that he woke up on the Plant of the Apes. If Beck isn't brought to heel by millions of outraged AFL-CIO members, the alternative conclusion is that we're living in a country of the credulous.

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