« Previous | Culture Monster Home | Next »

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

Recent and related:

Beck 2 AFP Getty Images Glenn Beck's art criticism explained

Glenn Beck's '9-12' logo based on communist and socialist designs

A graphic design conspiracy goes nuclear

Comments () | Archives (60)

As I valiantly try to wade through the copious buckets of mud being slung by the foaming-at-the-mouth, violent conservatives attacking this column, with their mangled, misspelled English, the bottom line of what they claim to be arguments is this: How DARE you attack one of our most-revered icons? You [fleeting expletive fleeting expletive fleeting expletive] liberal!!
I shudder to think that there are millions of Americans who wholeheartedly agree with them.

Great piece!

Are you a liberal political commentator disguised as an art critic? You are as qualified to opine about politics as is Paris Hilton. Stick to art.

I dislike Beck but I also dislike pseudo-intellectual lefties who massively overestimate their own intelligence.

My goodness! One wonders what this persons editors were doing as he turned in his copy? Wasn't he on the Nobel Peace prize selection committee when last heard of?

Seems to me the ones getting their panties in a bunch are the Beckites and tea baggers who can't stand to see their self-deified saint called out on another of his many, many, many lies and fabrications.

Get used to it folks.

By the way, how's your spending $300 to by a $5 coin/investment working out for 'ya?

> Who would have dreamed
> that the election of a
> BLACK MAN would make so
> many people behave in
> such a weird and foolish
> manner"

And if that "BLACK MAN" were a card-carying conservative, I bet you'd stammer, hem and haw, glance around, and then start itching to not sound like the "racist" you accuse your political foes of being.

I can hear it now: Mr. or Ms. Progressive Democrat snarling, "President Clarence Thomas, get to the back of the bus, you @x$#@%@*#!!"

Beyond that, I notice certain white (and black) liberals love to paint conservatives as being stupid hayseeds, or "redneck, gun-toting luddites," or variations thereof.

Meanwhile, a huge percentage (up to 90-plus percent) of the African-American community is of the left and generally, like clockwork, favors liberal politicians---black or white. Therefore, does that mean the black community is so well-educated, so sophisticated, so urbane, so civil, and so full of gentlemen and gentlewomen?!

Uh, okay.

Who is this Glenn Beck guy?

Hmmmmmmmmmm. and I thought that this was supposed to be a news-site - NOT an opinion site.

Your opinion of Mr. Beck (of whom I an not a huge fan) has little to do with the reality, of what is taking shape in this nation today. It is people like Christopher Knight (an art critic????), who brings forth the anger of Americans, who want to hear an alternative view (sometimes truthful), ato the tripe, which emanates from the ori-feces (sp intentional) of the likes of Couric, Olberman, and now - Knight.

"Why can't we all get along?" Because even the Almighty knew better.

It is amazing (and sad) to see 1st hand that Christopher Knight "art critic" is so focused on the color, lines and details of the 8/28 ralley, that he can not see (or understand) the picture that has been painted. Good luck with your career...

Glenn Beck.....who cares?

If you would have come with an open mind, you would have seen nice, patient and kind people there. If you look at the picture you have on here, you can see 200,000 at the pool including me; 250,000 to the left and lots of people to the right toward the Vietnam Memorial, and at least 50,000 behind the WWII monument toward the Washington Memorial. I rode the Metro and walked around Washington, there were people every where. 1100 buses were registered and the interstates full, the planes full. Get a grip and admit that "WE THE PEOPLE" will be silent no more. And its the spending stupid.

Do even half of the commenters here have any idea that they're leaving comments on an arts blog? I hesitate to admit this, but I'm laughing at their lashing out here, among all places.

the Beck defenders missed the point of the article...it's very clear to me that the Know-Nothing movement is the equivalent of the tea bagger "movement" of today, led by the Dear Leader Glenn Beck. The similarities are obvious...I just hope that it too falls apart in a couple of years.

Beck completely screws up the facts and somehow you guys are grading him on a massive curve. This is why the American Education system is screwed up - because you people can't admit that your favorite children are utter morons. Quit making excuses and learn something using facts and not Goldline sponsored unverified factoids.

I'm an art critic who reaches 60,000 subscribers. I'll tell you this much about the art world-- though it seems that most artists are leftists that is not the reality of it. There are many artists within the context of the art world who are political conservatives. However, they often must hide their political affiliation out of fear of having bias thrown their way.

It is naive to think, as some of these comments show, that all artist are left wing wackos. Not every artist is sitting on the left fence like Shepard Fairey or other artists who spew leftists ideals.

The fact remains that the blunt of the media is left-- which is why you don't see artists who happen to boldy admit their conservative political ideals being embraced by the media no matter how great their artwork is.

I really wish Beck and other would be more supportive of artists who happen to vote conservative. God knows the NYC galleries and art museums are not. If Andy Warhol had been a straight conseravative creating the same types of work as social commentary he would not be the idol he is today.

Beck is a know-nothing proponent of the Mormon Cult's "spaceman Jeebus" - and do we need to listen to aluminum-hatted zealots as our Nation is in turmoil because of too many years of RepubliScum Party mishandling ?

You silly RepubliKlan Party members had better get used to the idea that your party of pederasty and lies is OUT for at least the next 35 years for what your filthy members did to our National reputation and our economy.

Get used to it, Cletus -you're GONE.

Beck is right in a lot of points, but the Know-nothing movement in history as it attempted to prevent immigration was destructive. The other group was right to reject a block of material from a religious source for a secular Washington Monument.

Americans need to wake up the fact that Beck is simply another opinion pushing charlatan who is a product of mormon cult theology and he mixes this with his personal make up as a dry alcoholic. And for the record, he is a Mormon and not a Christian. As someone with a graduate degree in religion, I can say with all qualifications that Mormonism fits all parameters of a cult and has none of the parameters of a religion. A cult is any group (regardless of its size) that interprets the doctrines of a religion in an unorthodox fashion. The problem here is the fact the most Christians do not understand the difference and they easily fall for the lies of Mormon missionaries when they come to one's door. On Beck's radio show and Fox Network program he consistent demonstrates all the unstable behaviors of a dry alcoholic which include grandiosity, judgmentalism, intolerance, impulsivity, ADD and indecisiveness. Alongside that reality, Glenn Beck does not possess a single ounce of journalistic integrity, has no college degree, has no qualifications and he is definitely not a true conservative. But then, what can anyone expect from someone who can't find anything filthier than their own personal reflection. Since people like Beck cannot survive on the basis of any personal merits, they survive by putting others down with lies and half truths in order to feel good about themselves. The truth about Beck is that he a dry mormon alcoholic who never got the counseling required for alcoholics. To further complicate things and confuse people, Beck flippantly throws around Christian terms like "God", "Jesus","Holy Spirit" as well as voices of other so called "Spirit Powers" on his radio talk show. Beck is a mormon in active standing with the mormon church and is not a Christian. Mormonism teaches many gods, that the god of the earth was once a man who attained godhood status, there is no trinity, the cross of Christ means nothing and that Jesus Christ and Satan were brothers. Because Beck does not possess a single ounce of journalistic integrity, he is the perfect abortion poster child for Fox Network. The people who love what Beck says are no different than the impressionable sheep who loved every speech made by Adolph Hitler in his early years when he brought Germany into an era of economic prosperity These same sheep also blindly followed Hitler into one of the darkest chapters of world history. Beck and the Fox Network both cater to the same lowest common denominator of demagoguery. Beck would not know the first thing about God as he is a mormon. Someone should ask him which of the many mormon gods he kept talking about during his argument with himself on Saturday on the square in DC. Like a typical dry alcoholic, Beck even lied on national television when he spoke about holding a document signed by George Washington. That event never took Place. Unfortunately, people who love being led around by the nose do not realize that Beck is talking about a different god than that of Christianity, Judaism or Islam and that he has been a product of mormonism cultism from the day he started doing a radio talk show as an opinion pusher. You don't have to have a degree in psychology to see that he exhibits all the signs of a dry alcoholic. The only reason this unstable impressionable idiot fell into mormonism was because the woman he wanted to have sex with would not do so unless they got first got married and from that point, they joined the mormon cult. Glenn Beck is as big a charlatan as Joseph Smith or that 5th grade graduate (Charles T Russell) who started the Jehovah's Witness cult. This is Glenn Beck in a very accurate and concise nutshell. Considering the fact that Becks personal views are extreme Marxist Libertarian, his form of patriotism is false and he is a person who has no real substance or depth. It will not surprise many of us when Beck’s next big thing is to come out of the closet and announce his homosexuality to the nation. Simply put…he is just another predatory neocon who is pushing the buttons of very ignorant & impressionable people who love being told what to think and believe. We live in a period of history where it has become very socially acceptable to be stupid and follow extremist idiots like Glenn Beck, Adolph Hitler, Sarah Palin, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh. Chicanery and lies are their middle names.

Glen Beck is crazy enough someone should give him a TV talk show! What a card.

« | 1 2 3


Recommended on Facebook

In Case You Missed It...


Explore the arts: See our interactive venue graphics


Tweets and retweets from L.A. Times staff writers.