Okay, this pathetic, breathless, completely over-the-top review in the WashPost of Glenn Beck’s novel “The Overtown Window” may be the single most irresponsible review I have ever seen in the main pages of a respected daily paper (this excludes the NYT). Writer Steven Levingston should be ashamed of parading his paranoia all over the first page of the Post’s Style section, and his editor should mainline some coffee to wake up to his/her responsibility, or else get an ethics transplant to relearn an essential part of an editor’s job. Levingston’s piece of trash never should have seen the light of day.
This judgment of mine has nothing to do with whether or not Beck’s book is any good. I don’k know if it is; I’ve never read it. The problem is that in bashing Beck from a left-wing sensibility as nutso as anything Levingston attributes to the right-wing nutsiness he claims Beck represents, Levingston doesn’t stop at keeping his attack on Beck himself, but instead goes ballistic on millions of Americans who…. well, judge for yourself. Here’s Levingston’s inexcusable opening paragraph, the paragraph of a cowering 5-year-old fantastist afraid of the boogey man:
The success of Glenn Beck’s novel, “The Overton Window,” will be measured not by its literary value (none), or its contribution to the thriller genre (small), or the money it rakes in (considerable), but rather by the rebelliousness it incites among anti-government extremists. If the book is found tucked into the ammo boxes of self-proclaimed patriots and recited at “tea party” assemblies, then Beck will have achieved his goal.
Got that? “Self-proclaimed patriots” all have “ammo boxes” and are fond of Tea Party assemblies. Gee, that’s original.
But in the last paragraph it gets worse. This is slander, pure and simple:
The danger of books like this is that radical readers may take the story’s fiction for fact, or interpret the fiction — which Beck encourages — as a reflection of a reality that they must fend off by any means necessary. “The Overton Window” risks falling into the tradition of other anti-government novels such as “The Turner Diaries” by William L. Pierce, which became a handbook of extremists and inspired Timothy McVeigh to blow up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. As Beck tells his soldiers in the voice of Noah: “Put up or shut up . . . go hard or go home. Freedom is the rare exception . . . not the rule, and if you want it you’ve got to do your part to keep it.”
So we see that the rather mundane and unexceptional exhortation to do one’s part to keep one’s freedom is instead transformed into a call to arms for extremists of the Turner Diaries sort. This is vile slander. This is unaccepable.
(As an aside, I know something about the sorts of people who revere the Turner Diaries: I spent three years fighting against them and sometimes getting threatened by them and once physically surrounded by dozens of them and jostled and pushed, as I fought against David Duke. I also once chased off three skinheads who were mugging an FBI agent and beating him within an inch of his life. Mr. Levingston, I know Turner Diarists; Turner Diarists are enemies of mine; and Glenn Beck is no Turner Diarist. )
Throughout the review, Levingston sounds like he’s on a spittle-filled rant against the very idea, or rather the “fantasy,” that there is “a nefarious government scheme to subvert the Constitution.” Message to Levingston: As a matter of fact, it’s not a scheme, but a stated aim of many people in government — the aim of leaving the Constitution behind in all but name, deriding said document as a dead letter that was racist in origin and thus useful today only for the ideals to be found by a self-selected elite only in the document’s penumbras and emanations.
This is why Beck picked up his pen — to warn readers that disregard for the Constitution is becoming acceptable, is creeping into the window, and must be resisted.
Well, yes. What’s wrong with that? It sounds to me like a damn good reason to pick up one’s pen. Can there be any doubt that a lot of people in government today don’t revere or even like the Constitution?
Anyway, the point is that Levingston’s review isn’t a blog rant (like this is!), but a formal book review. Yet his disdain not just for Beck but for anybody who enjoys listening to or watching him is palpable and obnoxious. It’s enough to make a peace-loving citizen want to buy a gun for protection against journalists unhinged by anger.