Radical Right — Glenn Beck’s Revisionist History

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* By Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Matt Corley, Benjamin Armbruster, Zaid Jilani, Alex Seitz-Wald, Tanya Somanader Think Progress *

On his radio show yesterday, Fox News host Glenn Beck drove home one of his favorite themes, declaring that progressives have “done everything they can to erase history,” and he was “working feverishly to restore it.”

But like his false belief that Fox News was the only network to air Israeli Defense Forces video of the Gaza flotilla raid, Beck’s belief that history is being abandoned in America by everyone but himself is an assertion without concern for the facts.

On the show yesterday, Beck claimed that “we don’t study the Holocaust” in America, ignoring the fact that most states have Holocaust curricula. Despite the flawed premise of his historical explorations, Beck’s pose as a common man’s history professor has gained influence on the right.
When Time magazine named Beck one of the World’s Most Influential People this year, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin penned an essay praising Beck as

“a history buff with a quirky sense of humor.” “Glenn’s like the high school government teacher so many wish they’d had, charting and connecting ideas with chalk-dusted fingers,” wrote Palin. “Self-taught, he’s become America’s professor of common sense, sharing earnestly sought knowledge with an audience hungry for truth.”

As demonstrated by Palin’s praise, Beck’s role as a revisionist historian has been embraced by many in the conservative movement.

When Associate Professor of American History Joseph Palermo recently mocked Beck as “Fox News’s resident ‘historian,’ with his area of expertise being American civilization, with emphases on the early republic, Progressivism, and the New Deal,” another right-wing revisionist historian, Amity Shlaes, came to Beck’s defense. “Beck has begun to develop a new canon for adults,” wrote Shlaes, claiming that “to academics, Mr. Beck is more dangerous than any other radio show host, and they know it.”

But in reality, Beck’s skewed view of history is “more dangerous” for the millions who embrace it since he’s not only painting a misleading picture, but also reviving interest in crackpot historians like Cleon Skousen and Elizabeth Dilling.

Read more at Think Progress

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