Glenn Beck is a tool.
He recently wrote an op-ed printed on CNN.com:
He seems to find much humor in the idea that, supposedly, part of the reason the people who portrayed a terrorist group was able to deceive the FARC group that they were “bad guys” (and thus able to liberate the group’s hostages) is that one of them was wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt. First of all, this is purely anecdotal from very biased source; and secondly, the successful deception probably had more to do with the fact the group in disguise was armed with AK-47’s, spoke the appropriate language, was able to talk and discuss key ideological points successfully, and had the general look and demeanor of a terrorist organization and was able to act the role. The Guevara shirt could have instead been an Old Navy American flag t-shirt and they would have been just as successful in the ruse. Likewise, the same group could have all been wearing Guevara shirts but if they lacked any of the other elements, would probably have been shot.
What the corporate news machine tool, Beck, is more riled up about is the idea that Americans wear the Guevara shirt because it offends his hegemonic capitalist sensibilities. So he sets about on a screed vilifying and smearing Guevara and in turn the people who appear to support Guevara’s struggle in the process. (For my own criticism of people wearing the shirt, see the end.)
By the way, he states: “So, what is the uniform of choice when fooling terrorists in Colombia?” Since when did every bad guy in the world suddenly become a “terrorist”? Now the FARC are not a friendly bunch. They use some despicable tactics in their battle for revolution, such as kidnapping innocent people, which is terrifying, no question! But should any tactic which causes pain and suffering and fear make a group a “terrorist group”? Here’s something terrifying: cluster bombing a town in order to take out a single target, occupying a city that had been sent from modernity back into the dark ages thanks to shock and awe missile attacks, using contract mercenaries to harass citizens and act as a foreign run police force. American forces and their proxies, like Blackwater, have killed thousands of civilians, devastated towns, destroyed civil infrastructure, and created millions of refugees, and have made people afraid to step outside for fear of being harassed and abused and afraid to stay inside lest their building gets hit by a rocket. If harming civilians and causing havoc is a sign of a terrorist, make no mistake: the U.S. military is the largest, most well armed terrorist group in the world.
The ones with the larger guns are military, the rest are terrorists.
Beck hates Che Guevara because he was an ideological revolutionary. Again the hypocrisy is wonderful. If the ideology is his and the revolution to spread is his ideology, it’s OK. History lesson: The U.S. has been invading countries and imposing its ideology on other countries (usually by force) since the 19th century. Since the Spanish-American war the industrial robber baron owned administrations have sought to spread empire to Central America, South America, the Philippines, by either funding and arming and training (gasp!) local rebel and revolutionary organizations, or by directly invading. Since WWII (the last “good” and legitimate war) the government through the CIA has been funding and training and arming revolutionary groups from Honduras to Argentina (not to mention throughout the Middle East) in order to craft and contrive puppet rulerships that support U.S. interests.
And you can’t even claim the ideology being encouraged is Freedom and Democracy. If the goal of spreading empire was to promote freedom and democracy, Saudi Arabia should be the first country to go down (forgetting for a second that all but a couple of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi Arabian and none of them were Iraqi). Saudi Arabia is one of the most oppressive, violent nations in the Middle East if not all Europe/Asia. They constantly behead people for violating Sharia and use what used to be a, go fig, actual terrorist organization as their police force. Yeah, Saddam Hussein was a cruel and murderous dictator, but Saudi Arabia makes Hussein’s Iraq look like Sweden by comparison. Hmm, I wonder why this administration would invade oil rich Iraq and depose the not-too-friendly-to-U.S. dictator, but actually improve cooperative relations with the oil rich but friendly-to-a-certain-oil-family theocracy of Saudi Arabia….
Spreading U.S. ideology has nothing to do with freedom and democracy or any of the ideals of the enlightened Founding fathers of the United States, let’s get this clear. It has everything to do with spreading global market capitalism that specifically benefits corporate owners. It has nothing to do with patriotism, nothing to do with the American way, nothing to do with liberty and freedom–unless it’s the way of profit and and liberty of corporate management. In fact, the more oppressed a people and culture are the more the corporations prefer them as quasi-slave workers. The less choice, the less freedom a society has, the more likely a company will move operations and manufacturing to that country for cheap labor. But funny when they do this, the savings don’t get passed on to the consumer–prices stay the same or even increase.
On the flip side, corporations also love for the consumer societies to also have as little freedom as possible. The ideology of capitalism is about a false sense of freedom in that the choices we have are over this shampoo brand or that identical one, between a Mercury Mystique or a Ford Taurus, between blue jeans or slacks. We believe we live in a “free country” because that’s what the country was originally based on, before industrialization, and it was possible to be truly free to make whatever choices you want regarding your own life, liberty, and happiness–and it wasn’t tied into what products you buy.
The immediate, and reasonable response, is to say “but compared to the aforementioned Saudi Arabia and Iraq, we have a lot of freedoms!” and indeed we do. Don’t get me wrong, I’d much rather live in America than Cuba. I like having the ability to buy an MP3 player and an iPhone. I like the fact technically, at least for the moment, I can say exactly what I’m saying right now without fear of arrest, unlike, say, North Korea. But it’s still the justification of the prisoner in the holding cell versus the one in solitary. “At least I only got punched in the jaw and not kicked in the ‘nads.” It’s the same rationalization the person who accepts mass surveillance by the state commits by saying “Well, if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide.” The hegemony gives us token freedom in order to keep us placid and thankful while exploiting us no less than they exploit the worker class in developing countries. They encourage us to believe in capitalist ideology, the myth of working hard and get rich, not because it serves us, but because it serves them. Ideology is the values of the ruling class, the masses are convinced it’s their own, and by following the ideology they’re convinced they’re following the “right” and “proper” and “natural” way to be and so they don’t revolt against the exploitation they are subjected to by the ruling class.
5% of this country control 95% of the wealth. Since, under capitalism, wealth equals power and control, 5% of the nation is the ruling class. And it’s not the government that are the rulers–government is part of the superstructure, an outgrowth of the material and economic foundation that generate an ideology to support it. The government is not the rulers, those with the power are the rulers and in our society it’s the 5% that own the capital–the government is in service to them both directly (by being bought by the capitalists and corporate owners) and indirectly (by supporting the capitalist ideology which serves the rulers and exploits the masses). So, the overt military invasions, the covert CIA infiltrations and instigation, that are the extension of government expansion of empire is not to serve the interests of “freedom” and “democracy,” but the interests of the ruling class which benefit from the empire of global market capitalism.
Better than feudalism by a far sight! Like having an eye plucked out instead your limbs hacked off. We’re convinced that capitalism is the best and only way to live, and we buy into that because, guess what, it serves the ruling class for us to believe that, as the alternatives may include an ideology which serves the 95% a whole lot better.
So, when Beck uses non sequitur and ad hominem attacks against Che Guevara because he took up arms to fight for an ideology he believed was better than the exploitation of capitalism and fascism, and Beck calls him a mass murderer, he fails to see that the Founding Fathers were exactly the same–rebels and criminals and traitors who took up arms to fight the legitimate ruling class and their ideology in favor of one they thought was better. When the U.S. overthrows a sovereign nation in order to force their own ideology upon the people, they’re doing the exact same thing he accuses Che Guevara of doing, except with trillions of dollars of equipment to do it with, and it’s his ideology that is being fought for. Whether the ideology is “right” or “wrong” is beside the point–the winner is always the one who gets to determine which is which. The one you believe in is always the right one, and the one the other person believes in is always the wrong one.
Now, as for criticizing the wearers of the Che shirts, Beck misses the real issue: Most of the people wearing the Che shirt are not supporting the revolutionary leader–they have little idea who he is and a whole lot less of what he fought for. The irony that Beck misses and should actually be celebrating, being the tool he is, is that capitalism has won–Che has become a commodity. He is a product that one buys and consumes. When capitalism commodifies something it loses its ability to be subversive! Whether it’s Che’s image, protest music, or you as labor. Most people who buy and consume Che Guevara shirts think they’re making a statement of rebellion, fighting against The Man, but all they’re doing is putting more money in the pockets of the corporations while The Man smiles and pats the lil rebel’s head and says “Yes yes, you’re such the little revolutionary, my son. Now go run and play.”
We rebels buy Chumbawamba and Rage Against The Machine CD’s and we think we’re supporting the revolution or at least the idea of it, but what we’ve done is simply exercise our “freedom” (of choice) between one commodity over another. We paid Corporation A $15 for a rebel rocker’s CD instead of Corporation B for Brittney Spears. Our intent, as a consumer, may be one thing but our actions support the hegemony no matter what. “Heh, why aren’t you just the lil scrapper! Give me your allowance for Chumba’s Anarchy and go clean your room.” When Paltrow buys a $200 shopping bag (probably made using exploited workers) with a socialist slogan on it (see Beck’s article), who’s winning? Beck should actually be jumping for joy.
(It’s tough to speak the truth as I’m someone who loves Chumbawamba and would like to buy a Che shirt to state my message of support on my chest.)