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Glenn Beck puts on his tin-foil art critic's hat -- again

August 28, 2010 |  3:07 pm

Beck Chip Somodevilla Getty Images
Glenn Beck brought his traveling demagoguery circus to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, and in the process restored, if not honor (as the religiously inspired political event was billed), then at least his reputation as a slippery and ill-informed art historian-slash-critic.

Last year it was nutty conspiracy theories about Diego Rivera's mural for New York's Rockefeller Center, plus his unwitting use of historically socialist and Communist graphic motifs for the logo of his so-called "9-12 project," both promoted on Beck's Fox News television show. This time it was an erroneous -- and unintentionally very funny -- take on the design of the Washington Monument in the center of the National Mall.

Pointing to the place about 150 feet up the Egyptian-style obelisk, where the color of the stone suddenly changes, Beck gravely exhorted the crowd to note the "scar" on the founding president's memorial. It happened, he said, when construction was halted for the national trauma of the Civil War -- the apparent implication being that Saturday's rally would perform some necessary plastic surgery on race-related social divisions splitting the country.

Well, close but no cigar. In fact the "scar" predates the Civil War.

Beck 3 monument KAREN BLEIER AFPGetty Images Work on the long-planned Washington memorial was finally launched during the presidency of James K. Polk, a Democrat, in 1848. Costs for building blocks were being sponsored by citizens, states, territories, foreign dignitaries and others. But after six years of work, and long before completion (almost 30 years later), funds largely dried up. Construction didn't take place during the War Between the States, but it had already long-since stopped -- in 1854, six years before South Carolina seceded from the Union and nearly seven years before Confederates opened fire on Fort Sumter.

When building ceased, a private group of political activists grabbed the project's reins -- but they promptly made a huge mess of things. Among other problems, they were rabid anti-Catholic nativists, religious fanatics who believed only native-born Americans should hold any public office. They stoked popular fears that waves of Irish and German immigrants were overwhelming the United States.

When Pope Pius IX donated a building stone from the Temple of Concord in Rome for the restarted Washington Monument project, the activists had it destroyed. Through in-fighting, ideological division and bursts of election-related violence, the group fell apart after two years The shoddy work they had done on the monument had to be removed. Hence the "scar" we see today.

What were these hardy exemplars of fear-mongering religious nativism called? The Know-Nothing movement -- all of which might help to explain Beck's heartfelt misdirection to the crowd.

--Christopher Knight, Times art critic

Follow @twitter.com/KnightLAT

Photos: Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally; Credit: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images; Washington Monument; Credit: Karen Bleier, AFP/Getty Images; Martin Luther King "I Have a Dream speech; Credit: AFP/Getty Images

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Comments () | Archives (60)

Gosh ! Gooly ! and Gee ! What a hatchet job from a highly overeducated personage with limited marketable skills whose view of himself far outshadows any real ability he might possess.

Like a broken clock that displays the correct time twice a day he too occassionally tells the truth.

I can smell the fear from the left.
I sense a storm coming. Can you feel it?

for those who do not know or cannot remember, glen beck is the modern day father coughlin and just as loony and racist as the good father was when he championed the dictator in europe in the 1930s.
WWII brought a crashing end to his radio program when we had to go their and fight his ideal.

Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin will say and do whatever it takes to keep themselves somehow 'relevant'. Beck says we need to return to 'traditional American values' but somehow his values are so skewed that he calls the president a racist. I want nothing to do with his values because racism and hatred don't figure in my definition of American values. As for Sarah, well, she's just a quitter, chasing big dollars because she knows her run is finite and she will need some dough to keep her in the style she has become accustomed to.


Wow! I'm glad the writer caught that mistake.
I wouldn't want any of the 300,000 attendees or millions of followers to get hung up on the peaceful look at rebuilding a broken country's filmsy morals so that future generations may return to our Declaration of Independence greatness.
Way to miss the point! This article's POV is exactly what's wrong with this country. The media does not get it. I'm sure Edward R. Murrow must be rolling over in his grave.

Several people wondered how the mainstream media would cover this event. The LAT sure did not dissapoint, left-wing until they go completely banrupt.

Boycott Fox

Tin foil hat?

Is that what Martin Luther King, Jr. wore too?

Goodness. The inflammatory tone out here on the west coast - simply because the "arts" critic for the LA Times did not appreciate Mr. Beck's exercising of his first amendment constitutional rights.

Mr. Knight - were you alive when Rev. King spoke on the mall at OUR Lincoln Memorial - I was. And when Mr. King was assasinated I cried. And mourned his loss. But HIS right to speak and to draw historic numbers to listen to him is as protected and sacred THEN as Mr. Beck's is NOW.

Did YOU even listen to a word Mr. Beck spoke. I bet not. You should have - he spoke of love. And tolerance. And his country. And God. I believe a whole lot of what Mr. King also transmitted to the world - all those years ago.

Why cannot more than ONE person have a DREAM - and talk about all of THAT to his country, Mr. Knight?

Tin foil hat, my goodness NO.

The ahistorical Knight is the lame-o who doesn't remember that yes, there were clear and intentional communist images in the Diego Rivera mural in Rockefeller Center (maybe he doesn't recognize Marx, Lenin & Trotsky).
Knight was shocked, shocked, when Glenn Beck (not an Official Art Critic like Knight) had the nerve to comment on it and to point out other communist & fascist images that still exist in Rock Center.
This obviously should have been left to the Official Art Critic who can't even get his history of the Washington Monument straight.

all the loyal beck fans defending their man...a herd of sheep, or lemmings falling off the cliff with the moron. Hey, and a bit of advice: just by saying "the rest" of america agrees with you doesn't make it true no matter how much you want it to happen. The truth is you are all a bunch of far right wing nutjobs. Have fun teabaggin', the rest of us will be living in something called reality

beck is the ANTICHRIST!!!

Wow, the left wing haters are out in force today. There is an odor of fear in the air and it is coming from the left.

Rich and powerful Americans do not want a civil war which will disturb their privileged positions. Speeches by Glen Beck attract only radical whites listeners who want to restore the nation to a time when power was only in the hands of an Anglo Saxon majority, this could only be possible if Obama voters were crushed and sent to concentration camps to be gassed. The law forces the majority to share power with the nations minorities and fortunately it has prevented a terrible civil war.

this is the same sort of 'uninformed, doesn't care to become informed, believes anything the talking head will say, and will repeat word for word' base that allowed Hitler to become powerful. they targeted and took advantage of the simpleminded, previously politically apathetic, poorly educated, xenophobic population, told them that someone who looked different and practiced a different religion were not true germans, that they were not welcome. and i don't have to educate you on what happened next.
I'm not going to recklessly say that the tea party is a perfect parallel of the hitler youth movement, or his support base, because clearly there are differences, however in its inception, the two are eerily similar. every time you watch the coverage of one of these rallies, you hear from poorly educated megaphones who repeat the same exact catch phrases, with the same wording as they would see on Fox. these people would say anything they hear, they clearly do not care to become informed, they do not have their own opinions, they wholeheartedly agree on 100% of what they hear in rallies, and on news stories. its because they are frightful and angry (which was stirred up by bush), and now they will latch onto anyone remotely powerful who seems to share the same sentiments. to take these people seriously is like taking the opinions of a 5 year old seriously, its like they haven't grown up and gained experience at all.
in regard to the subject matter of his speech and his event, anyone that thinks that this was a day of unity is sadly mistaken and clearly cant understand the wild nationalistic tone of everything glenn beck says. the point of this article was to compare the radical anti catholic, anti immigrant pro nativist sentiments that eventually caused the monument to look as it does, to todays beck movement. taking back america, taking back the anniversary of MLKs speech, these are all commentaries on how disenfranchised these people are that people of other colours, religions and sexual orientations are gaining rights and power in america, they are afraid that for some reason they will become second class citizens. i hope i dont have to explain how incredibly insensitive that is.
i agree in part, that MLK didnt have a dream for soley blacks to benefit from change, it was about all americans being equal, but for beck to stand up on the monument, calling for change, calling for unity in front of a widely white, christian crowd, and after repeatedly calling Obama a racist, it is clear that he wants unity among whites, he wants to restore the traditional values and more importantly, the balance of power in america back to whites. its disgusting. and its so funny how after 43 white presidents before him, one black man being in office can stir up so much fear. really, if it weren't for people like bush, mccain, palin, beck and others, the right would probably have no further problems with Obama other than they dont like his spending or his tax ideas, but it is these people, who in a covert way, have seemingly made racism okay in america, under the guise of american traditionalism.

Listen you L.A. Times liberal jerk. What you call a travelling circus we AMERICANS call taking our country back from a socialist president, speaker of the house and that loser Harry Ried. America was once the land of opportunity now its the land of "hold out your hand for a handout from the chosen one Obama." Try being patriotic you will like it. Hating America is so 19 months ago.

I have views that are all over the spectrum, and I believe that all politicians and media are bought and sold so I’m not on either side. I don’t see why Charles Knight is bothering with this minor (non art) historical detail. It seems like GB stretched a little to make his point, but I can see why he would be tempted too with such a huge visual prop available to wow the crowd.
As a crowd-rallying speaker his “ signs all around us” is a great tactic used by political orators throughout time to make a crowd feel fear then to direct that fear into following the “messiah figure” who opened their eyes to the conspiracy. The new messiah has the answers to save them.
I just think it’s a shame the world cares to even argue over some small point in history that is hard to decisively “prove”. Infighting over details of symbols is what will always be a cover for the behind the scenes powerful to do the real damage to the world while we waste time arguing about flashy personalities and small issues masquerading as real ones.
Left and right you are all name calling sheep heading us to the brink.
Want to lower your taxes? Start a volunteer fire department in your town. When your house burns down due to your incompetence at fighting fires, then accept we have to pay too much to use professionals who pile pork onto simple human needs. That’s political life in a nutshell.


"Spitting on politicians..
Yelling racial names at people...
Shouting down speakers at town hall meetings on HCR..
Yelling " You lie. " while the president speaks...
A SCJ shaking his head ' no 'while the president speaks..
Yelling and mocking a man with Parkinson disease..."


The first is a PROVEN lie from the left.
The second was the electorate refusing to be quite while socialism was forcibly jammed down their throats.
The third was a refreshing moment of PROVEN truth.
The fourth a silent act of resistance to a classless lie from the progressive/socialist/liar to the nation.
The last is evidently a result of your last bad trip.

I looked at the Special Operations Warrior Foundation website. No mention of their connection to this "cause."

Perhaps many of you think foundations like that can take over government benefits for all the "brave and proud soldiers (etc. etc.)" who deserve it. This one in particular is only for an elite few of the military, and directed at family education for veterans.

Once again obscured facts and clouded issues are waved about to ignite fervor in an uneducated, and probably happily so, constituency.

This is a well written exposé on Beck's fallacious, histrionic demagoguery. It is an additional boon that his knuckle-dragging apologists climb out of their malodorous mire to hurl dull-witted, mullet-wearing, art-fearing, culture-hating, corporate beer-swilling, BILLY RAY CYRUS-LISTENING, gun-fellating, unlettered epithets at such acerbic analysis.

I will share this article with my friends and laugh at the brazen ignorance of these comments of our ever-growing luddite class. You are digging your own graves. Do not blame educated and cultured people for your inadequacies. The fault is your own. Turn off the T.V. and get thee to a library.

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