Glenn Beck is a Person

Glenn Beck is not on Fox anymore. Many of us don’t hear from him as much. But his media empire is growing. I remember when he was front and center in the imagination of the progressive movement. He was the embodiment of evil. The mouthpiece of the right. I heard more about him than from him. And what I heard was all bad.

I remember the intense Color of Change video that so clearly demonstrated Beck’s race bating.

I also remember sitting on an airplane and catching a Glenn Beck episode on TV (I don’t own one). He was poking fun at Al Gore and An Inconvenient Truth. I saw him deny climate change.

Hard to see how this guy is anything other than a really bad guy. Stoking racial fears? Denying climate change?

That was years ago.


The other day I caught a Glenn Beck interview on the Tim Ferriss Podcast. I’m certain that the left can be no fan of Ferris and his predominantly white, predominantly male, Silicon Valley loving show. But Ferris is no right wing nut.

I was blown away by the interview. By the impact it had on me. I did not become a Glenn Beck fan. But it allowed me to humanize him. I was able to see him outside of the media caricature. I was able to hear him, to get a sense of his beliefs, to come to terms with the fact that no matter how big a disagreement I have with him, he is more than simply “an evil man.”

I keep reflecting on that experience. I don’t quite know what to do with it.

Then I read Beck’s opinion piece in The New York Times, where he is expressing Empathy for Black Lives Matter. We have to understand that this is nothing short of blasphemy for much of his base.

Look - I don’t quite know what to do with the likes of Beck. But I do know that my side of the argument tends to be just as intransigent as their side of the argument. I know that racism is among our most destructive social ills. I know that denying climate change threatens the future of humanity. But I also know that I agree with these words of Glenn Beck:

I am not looking to condemn, I am looking to understand. For some readers, this may be surprising to hear coming from someone like me. But on my show, I often discuss pivot points. Our opinions or perspectives are not impervious to change — nor should they be. My take on Black Lives Matter has not changed 180 degrees, but it has certainly evolved.

We need to listen to one another, as human beings, and try to understand one another’s pain. Empathy is not acknowledging or conceding that the pain and anger others feel is justified. Empathy is acknowledging someone else’s pain and anger while feeling for them as human beings — even, and maybe especially, when we don’t necessarily agree or understand them.

Are we able to let go of our own pain long enough to tune into, get a sense of, try to understand to the pain, and the fear in the one we believe is here to hurt us?

What becomes possible then?