I was reading about the late historian Howard Zinn, and I found out that, among other things, he was no fan of President Woodrow Wilson. He once said:

“One of the things I want to do is to create a new set of heroes… instead of Woodrow Wilson, who was a racial segregationist and who got us into World War I, I would suggest Helen Keller. She protested against World War I.”

Now, for those of you who don’t know, Zinn was quite the left-wing radical, and proud of it. But you know who else doesn’t care for President Wilson? Popular TV host Glenn Beck, who says things like:

“Now, let’s look at one of the early 20th century progressives — I hate this guy — Woodrow Wilson, lauded by modern day scholars, ranked eighth on a U.S. news survey of our greatest presidents. Who did they survey? Your professors. Ask them why…. 

Wilson, this SOB — I hate this guy — he had different ideas. He started — he started to do all kinds of things. He imprisoned non-nationalized Germans in internment camps. Who the first people to round them up and put them into a camp? Woodrow Wilson. He had 6,000 people forced into internment camps. Wilson also made the decision to re — listen carefully — re-segregate government offices.”

It’s not a terribly big deal, in the scheme of things, but I do find it sort of amusing that both a far-left, socialist professor like Zinn and a right-wing anti-communist, anti-progressive, anti-socialist like Beck both hate the guy.

Of late, Glenn Beck has been going on about various weird incidents involving animals and insects and President Obama, culminating in repeatedly using the phrase “The bees know”, and even selling a t-shirt with that phrase.


The reason I mention this otherwise minor thing is to point out what an interesting technique Glenn Beck brings to his radio and TV shows. He traffics in conspiracy theories and hints of Satanic omens and the End Times, all while mixing it in with humor, political satire, semi-libertarian philosophy and other, more uplifting Christian symbolism.

Conservatives often complain that Jon Stewart is able to quickly move back and forth between being serious and being funny, and that this makes him immune from serious criticism, because he can always say he’s being an entertainer. This is true to an extent, but Beck is way ahead of Stewart in this area, in my opinion.

It’s remarkable that the man can go from being humorous to being serious the way he does and inspire such loyalty and devotion from his fans. (And no, I don’t think he has charisma, but I may be wrong.) I mean, most public figures and politicians do this to some extent, but Beck can go from very over-the-top humor to, say, apparently heartfelt patriotic sentiment very quickly, and diminish neither the humor nor the sentiment that appeals to his audience.