In an ill-timed interview with National Public Radio, leading NeverTrump pundit Glenn Beck told the NPR host that he can “relate to” Black Lives Matter organizers and that he has changed his position on the group’s slogan. Using a strange analogy about pie, Beck lectured people on the right that they “aren’t really listening” to Black Lives Matter in a segment that aired just before black rioters in Milwaukee targeted white people, attacking police and setting fires.
Beck told NPR:
The best way to explain it is: if we’re all sitting around at a table having dinner and everybody gets pie except for you and you say “my pie matters, I don’t have pie” and everybody at the table looks at you and says “I know. All pie matters,” it shows that the people at the table aren’t really listening.
I don’t agree with the Black Lives Matter organizers—they are stated as anti-capitalists and it’s much more than just the police to them, it’s about changing society entirely—but I can relate to them and understand them on many different fronts and we need to start listening to each other and getting out of our own little labeled bubbles.
Beck’s new position is a 180 degree turn from what he himself said in 2014 on his radio show. At that time, Beck said:
What do you say we stop listening to the clerics like Al Sharpton? The people who are just using their religion for their own power. What do you say we stop listening to the Communist, the anarchist or anyone else that has an agenda other than saying all life matters. Why does black life only matter? Why does all life or twenty something or children’s lives or American lives? When you say all life matters and we tried to fix that?
Despite his admonition that people on the right should get out of their “little labeled bubbles,” he himself had no problem putting labels on the Republican nominee Donald Trump, including stating that the businessman had “deep socialist leanings,” telling NPR:
No matter what Donald Trump says he has deep socialist leanings, he’s a nationalist and a populist and throughout history whenever you combine those three things it never ends well.
Beck has repeatedly referred to Donald Trump as a Nazi and has called his supporters brownshirts. Beck was also an enthusiastic supporter of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who famously blamed Donald Trump for anti-Trump rioting in Chicago during the primary election.
It’s one thing to be sympathetic to black Americans who have suffered 50 years of fealty to the Democrat party. Grassroots black citizens have reason to be upset about being used as political pawns with few results to show for their party loyalty. Glenn Beck, however, has gone beyond that and is actually repeating a talking point of the Black Lives Matter founders themselves. Black Lives Matter founder Alicia Garza wrote in an article on the “Herstory” of Black Lives Matter Movement:
#BlackLivesMatter doesn’t mean your life isn’t important–it means that Black lives, which are seen as without value within White supremacy, are important to your liberation. Given the disproportionate impact state violence has on Black lives, we understand that when Black people in this country get free, the benefits will be wide reaching and transformative for society as a whole. When we are able to end hyper-criminalization and sexualization of Black people and end the poverty, control, and surveillance of Black people, every single person in this world has a better shot at getting and staying free. When Black people get free, everybody gets free. This is why we call on Black people and our allies to take up the call that Black lives matter. We’re not saying Black lives are more important than other lives, or that other lives are not criminalized and oppressed in various ways. We remain in active solidarity with all oppressed people who are fighting for their liberation and we know that our destinies are intertwined.
This is the exact point that Beck now finds himself in agreement with.
Many Americans still put their faith in Glenn Beck’s comments on politics and culture. He spent years trying to build up credibility and likability, and in the process has misfired on both. When Glenn Beck and Ted Cruz brought teddy bears and soccer balls to the border to greet illegal alien children coming into America, it was seen by many as the sort of pandering grandstanding that led those same people to question the sincerity of Beck.
While Glenn Beck would like people to believe he’s insightful, critics of Black Lives Matter don’t need his hectoring. The reason many people—including black critics of Black Lives Matter like Sheriff David Clarke—say “All Lives Matter” in response to “Black Lives Matter” is to reject the underlying notion of identity politics.
That’s because “Black Lives Matter” is, at root, a way to keep the politics of identity in play. The founder’s own stated goal is to rebuild the Black Liberation movement. Garza writes:
Black Lives Matter affirms the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, Black-undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum. It centers those that have been marginalized within Black liberation movements. It is a tactic to (re)build the Black liberation movement.
Further, the “Black Lives Matter” slogan is a way to keep the hypocrisy inherent in the black liberation movement in play. Protesters in Milwaukee last night were shouting “Black Power!” as a gas station burned. One can only imagine what would’ve happened if a group of protesters had yelled” White Power!” as they burned a gas station; it would properly be seen as racist.
We are living in a culture where shouting Black Power is not only accepted, but a sort of hipster cool. NPR gave Glenn Beck their microphones because he’s anti-Trump and he used it to try and curry favor as a moderate, friendly conservative.
And Milwaukee burned.