Beck, Jones, and race

Blog ››› ››› JOHN V. SANTORE

Over the past two weeks, Glenn Beck has waged a relentless assault on Van Jones, President Obama's green jobs czar. Beck's attacks and vitriol have become especially pronounced since Color of Change, the African-American issues organization Jones co-founded in 2005 (he left in 2007 to pursue other projects), began a highly successful boycott campaign that has resulted in 57 advertisers dropping Beck's program in just a matter of weeks.

But the content of Beck's case against Jones belies something deeper. For example, Beck has emphasized that Jones sported a Black Panther patch on his book bag when he arrived at Yale Law School, and has reduced some of his past civil rights work to nothing more than campaigns designed to free Mumia Abu-Jamal and his (exaggerated) participation in the Los Angeles riots after the Rodney King verdict. (Just watch his August 24 biography of Jones to see proof of that.) While Jones' past is undoubtedly steeped in African-American issues, he was brought into the Obama administration to focus on green jobs -- pure and simple. And yet, for Beck, the focus is always directly or indirectly on Jones' race.

This is entirely consistent with Beck's mindset. Beck is obsessed with race and seems deeply uncomfortable with minority Americans in general, especially those in positions of power. In February, he pushed the idea that Mexican immigrants want to "reclaim" California and Texas. In May, he called Sonia Sotomayor a "racist" on at least three separate occasions, adding that she is "divisive" and "not that bright." He also once dismissively referred to her as "Hispanic chick lady" in an effort to belittle her credentials and portray her as a pure affirmative action pick. (In case you were wondering, affirmative action also qualifies as racism in Beck's book.)

Revealingly, Beck is convinced that ACORN, the activist organization that focuses on minority issues, is seeking to overturn American society as we know it.

Regarding Obama, he has had immense difficulty seeing past the president's skin. He said Obama was elected because of race instead of his policies. He has portrayed the Democratic health care reform effort as "the beginning of reparations." And he has said that Obama plans to "settle old racial scores through new social justice." So it should have come as no surprise when Beck, who believes it is actually Obama, not himself, who "has real issues with race," said the president had "exposed himself as a guy" with "a deep-seated hatred for white people." The next day, he said, "I think the president is a racist." The Color of Change boycott started soon afterward.

It seems clear that to Glenn Beck, individuals like Barack Obama and Van Jones are African-American before they are anything else. And for him, that appears to be a major cause for concern.

Person
Glenn Beck
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