In the "note from the author" that precedes Glenn Beck's profoundly terrible new novel, The Overton Window, Beck explains that the book is a work of "faction," which he defines as "completely fictional books with plots rooted in fact." And while he has stressed that the plot of the book is fiction, he has frequently implied that the events are a real world possibility, claiming that while writing the book for "over two years," he had to "change it several times because things kept happening. This time I hope the ending stays fiction."
Beck also explains in the note from the author that the book, which follows the limited-government adventures of Noah Gardner and Molly Ross, takes place at a time in history "very much like the one we find ourselves living in now." This is true, insofar as the world of The Overton Window is very similar to the fantasy world Beck constructs on his radio and TV programs. The "facts" that the book is "rooted in" track very closely with the frequently false things Glenn Beck has spent the last year and a half fear mongering about. When viewed in this light, the last 16 months of Beck's public meltdown start to look like a publicity stunt for this "factional" novel.
In a USA Today profile on Beck, Overton Window ghostwriter Kevin Balfe explained the "team approach" Beck and his "contributors" adopted: "Glenn has a three-hour radio show every morning. That's obviously 100% Glenn. But if you wanted to translate that into a book, you could take those transcripts. But then, someone has to go in and make it sound good to read in that format."
Indeed, the book does read like someone just transcribed Beck's radio shows and put them into a novel - though they appear to have overlooked the "make it sound good to read" step.
Conspiracy theories in the book match conspiracy theories from Beck's show
In the author's note, Beck explains that the words "Republican or Democrat rarely appear in this book, and when they do, it's in an equally unflattering light." Another word Beck mostly avoids is his favorite pejorative, "progressive" (though it pops up every now and again).
However, though Beck avoids outright labeling scary ideas in the novel as "progressive" or Democratic, those who have spent significant time listening to Beck's radio show and watching his Fox News program - i.e. the people who will buy this novel -- will immediately recognize that several of the societal ills and conspiracy theories discussed in the book are things that Glenn Beck frequently blames on progressives and the Obama administration.
As we previously documented, the similarities between the plot of the novel and Beck's on-air conspiracy theorism start early. In the prologue, we are given our first glimpse of evil PR exec Arthur Gardner's master plan to destroy the country, which hinges on the intentional "collapse" the economy and the "system." Beck regularly accuses Obama and Democrats of trying to do both.
One of the major plot devices of The Overton Window is a leaked government memo that appears early in the book detailing the various groups - including tea parties, libertarians, and 9-11 truthers - that the US government will start identifying, monitoring, and detaining. Beck frequently fearmongers on both his radio and TV shows about the Obama administration labeling the tea parties terror groups so they can turn anti-terror policies against them (including "rounding up" citizens and assassination).
Beck's fearmongering about detention camps for American citizens often expands to talk of "death camps," as it did during the health care reform debate last October when Beck claimed that the "elites" are "taking us down the road of a progressive utopia that only ends in death camps." More recently, as part of his war on "social justice," Beck attacked the Jewish Fund for Justice's Simon Greer, saying that putting "the common good" first "leads to death camps."
Speaking of Beck's animus towards "social justice," that too makes its way into The Overton Window -- twice. During a speech at a Founders Keepers rally (which sounds like the opening monologue to countless Beck shows), Beverly Ross, Molly's mother, says:
People who, for their own gain, would replace equal justice with social justice, trade individual freedom for an all powerful, all-knowing central government, forsake the glorious creative potential of the American individual, the beating heart of this nation, for a two-class society in which the elites rule and all below them are all the same: homogenized, subordinate, indebted, and powerless.
As it turns out, there are "people" in the book who would do such a thing -- the shadowy group led by bumbling supervillain Arthur Gardner, who plans to set off a nuclear weapon, blame the blast on the Founders Keepers, and establish a governing structure for the country. And by another happy coincidence, Gardner's group explicitly invokes "social justice" in the PowerPoint presentation laying out their evil plans, as presented on page 150:
- Education: Deemphasize the individual, reinforce dependence and collectivism, social justice, and "the common good"
Beck frequently assails progressives for championing the idea of social justice, which he has classified as a way for progressives to "poison" churches based on "forced redistribution of wealth with a hostility towards individual property."
But "social justice" isn't the only way the evil plan sketched out in The Overton Window mimics Beck's laundry list of complaints against progressives. Here's another example:
- Expand malleable voter base and agenda support by granting voting rights to prison inmates, undocumented migrants, and select U.S. territories, e.g., Puerto Rico.
In April, Beck discussed the supposed "progressive plan for power, beyond your wildest imagination" that hinged on Puerto Rico's self-determination vote. Beck later attacked the "despicable" media for ignoring his conspiracy theory.
- Associate resistance and "constitutional" advocacy with a backward, extremist worldview: gun rights a key
Just last month during a speech at the NRA, Beck agreed with Mao's quote that "power comes from the barrel of a gun," then asked, "why do you think they want to take yours away?"
A bit later in the novel, after the PowerPoint plan to destroy the country has been uncovered, Molly remarks to Noah: "There's a cancer in our country, Noah. We've both seen the X-rays." Surely by coincidence, Beck has repeatedly used cancer analogies to describe progressives, like his remark at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference that "progressivism is the cancer in America and it is eating our Constitution."
A similar cast of villains
Beck's book boasts a variety of moments in which the characters -- evil or otherwise -- talk about the various political and historical figures who, in their own way, have contributed to the downfall of the United States of America. In yet another strange coincidence, these same folks regularly pop up in Beck's nightly rants against the alleged "progressive" agenda to destroy the country.
Here's Arthur Gardner explaining on page 26 how his insidiousness is owed to the evil geniuses who proceeded him:
He stepped to a neat stack of identical folders at the near corner of the table and took the top copy in his hands. "Your answer is in here;" he said. "I am a strategist, and a man of some modest renown in that sense, though in this case I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm standing on the shoulders of giants -- Woodrow Wilson, Julian Huxley, Walter Lippmann, Cloward and Piven, Bernays and Ivy, Saul Alinsky. The list is long. All I've done here" -- he held up the folder -- "is to crystallize the vision of those who've come before me, those who dreamed of a new and sustainable progressive nationalism but never saw their dreams fully realized.
"Because we must, we will finally complete what they envisioned: a new framework that will survive when the decaying remains of the failed United States have been washed away in the coming storm."
Wilson? Lippman? Cloward? Piven? Alinsky? Where have we heard these names before...
Proving Glenn Beck right
When not using The Overton Window's characters to smear his own ideological opponents, Beck set them to validating the many facets of his eccentric and paranoid worldview.
For example, anyone who follows Glenn Beck knows that he believes the growing and chaotic progressive conspiracy encompasses all aspects of our lives, right down to the clothing we wear. And that's why Beck has a special dislike for Che Guevara t-shirts, insisting that they are part of the indoctrination process for today's youth and including them in his "documentary" on how progressivism is the natural outgrowth of communist genocide.
Che t-shirts also get their own bit role in The Overton Window, as we learn that they were the brainchild of the Noah's evil father. From page 33:
Near the beginning of the walk were the relatively small potatoes: crazy Pet Rock-style fads that had inexplicably swept the country, the yearly conjuring of must-have Christmas toys (murders had been committed for a spot in line to buy some of these), a series of manufactured boy bands and teen pop music stars, most of whom could neither carry a tune nor play an instrument. On a dare, Noah's father had once boasted that he could transform some of the century's most brutal killers into fashion statements among the peace-loving American counterculture. And he'd done it; here were pictures of clueless college students, rock stars, and Hollywood icons proudly wearing T-shirts featuring the romanticized images of Chairman Mao and Che Guevara.
Beck also has a penchant for cloaking himself in the words and actions of great civil rights figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, a none-too-subtle hint at Beck's sense of historical self-importance. On page 51 of The Overton Window, Noah approvingly nods at the tea party-like "Founders Keepers" group's "smart PR move" in invoking these same "peace-loving spirits":
This music and the mood it was creating, it was a smart PR move if they could make it work. If their enemies were trying to paint them as a bunch of pasty-white NASCAR-watching, gun-toting, pickup-driving reactionaries with racist and violent tendencies, what better ploy could these people make than to subtly invoke the peace-loving spirits of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi? If nothing else it would drive their critics on the left right up the wall.
One of the better unintentionally funny moments in The Overton Window happens just after Noah has learned he's been betrayed (gasp!) by Molly and that her mother is in the hospital. Noah goes to visit the dying mother on pages 221-222 and she tells him where he can find Molly, reveals that she was friends with Noah's mother, and passes along some required reading from the Bible:
"I sent Molly away, but she isn't safe yet;' she said. "She's waiting now, near the airport. Look in the top drawer of the nightstand. She called and told one of the nurses where she'd be and they wrote it down for me."
"Okay," he said. "I think I'd better get started, then." He moved to place her hand down on the bed at her side, but she didn't let him go.
"Do you know what we're fighting against, son?"
"Yeah, I think so. Some pretty evil people."
She offered a look that seemed to suggest his naivete was something she longed for. "Ephesians 6:12 -- look it up when you get a chance."
"I will," he said.
"There's more to you, Noah. More than you might be ready to believe. I knew of your mother many years ago, and the good she wanted to do. That's what Molly saw in you: she told me. Not your father, but what your mother's given you. And I see it, too."
There are two things you should know about Ephesians 6:12. First, what it actually says: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Second, Glenn Beck loves to quote that passage when talking about how we should be fighting "the machine."
Lastly, one of Beck's favorite things to do is muse, on the air, about his own violent death, typically in the form of a declaration that you can "shoot" him "in the head," but there will be others who carry on the fight for freedom. And -- wouldn't you know it? -- the prologue to The Overton Window concerns a freedom-fighter informant who gets shot. In the head. And the rest of the book details the efforts of those who carried on the fight for freedom.
From page 3:
"We don't have the time; just listen now. They're going to stage something soon to get it all started. Just like that two-point-three trillion dollars that's missing, there are eleven nuclear weapons unaccounted for in the U.S. arsenal, and I've seen two of them--"
A glint of brilliant red light on the wall of the booth caught his attention. He turned, as the man behind him had known that he would, and let the phone drop from his hand.
Eli Churchill had enough time left to begin a quiet prayer but not enough to end it. His final appeal was interrupted by a silenced gunshot, and a .357 semi-jacketed hollow point was the last thing to go through his mind.