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Pulling the Wings Off Beck’s Housefly Story | The Nation

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Pulling the Wings Off Beck’s Housefly Story

Okay, I know Glenn Beck wants me to write about this. I know that his fatuous giggles to Bill O'Reilly are supposed to give him a trap door escape when I or anyone else calls him on it—Glenn is only funnin', and of course he's not saying the president of the United States is in reality an incarnation of Mnemoth, the demon of hunger whose body is composed of a swarm of locusts, or Beelzebub, the true Lord of the Flies, or any other creature that Egon Spengler might look up in Tobin's Spirit Guide or Hellboy might have to put down quick. Glenn is not saying those things. He's just blowing on his dog whistle really, really hard:

 
 
 

And then there's this:

 

 
 

If you're not a fundy or a Hellboy fan or a Mormon (like Beck), all this talk about angels and demons probably goes right over your head, and the joke you hear is that Obama is drawing flies—and you know what draws flies, right? Alternatively, if your sense of white identity is so strong that it bars sympathy for starving children in Africa, you might see the fly on Obama's upper lip as jessdunto does in his comment on Free Republic: “That is one of the most dsgusting [sic] pictures—did he become accustomed to it when he lived in Kenya?”

Well, the problem with Orly Taitz is that she's a moderate. True believers know there is no such thing as extremism in the pursuit of Virtue, and what's more extreme than End Times prophecy? After all, Beck was using his sit-down with Papa Bear to promote his own End Times novel, The Overton Window, with its interesting cover illustration that substitutes a spear for the book in the Statue of Liberty's hand.

The conventions of prophecy, unfortunately for Glenn, do establish a few low bars in order to rule out mere coincidence, like the invocation of multiple examples. That's why O'Reilly says he was aware of only two incidents involving houseflies, and Beck rather nervously counters, "No, no, no, there's three”—though it rapidly becomes clear that the third example of tiny winged vermin at the White House is established by Michelle's beehives on the South Lawn. The addition of the vole running across the Rose Garden during a press conference is the sort of forced symbological piling on Glenn does every day on his show—Beck calls it a rat, of course, because rats are the universal sign of corruption, and voles are merely garden pests—but it also helps out with the short count for flies. If you're not paying close attention, the concatenation sounds like three plagues all happening at once. OMG!

Never mind, for right now, that Beck's phenomenological list has been culled from more than a year of clips (Michelle's beehives were installed in March, 2009; Obama killed the fly during an interview in June of that year; the vole ran through the Rose Garden this last May; and the video of a fly buzzing around a joking Obama during a speech was taken last week—the still photo of the bug briefly touching his lip makes it look oh so much more… eerie). As a Mormon, Beck has to be aware that the opposition between God's chosen and pesty winged insects was made explicit in the early years of what is now Salt Lake City, when a swarm of locusts descended on the Mormon fields, threatening the settlement with ruination, only to be destroyed, as the folklore has it, by a flock of providentially guided seagulls.

But bees are not Mormon demons. Quite the contrary: Bees, which the Mormons brought with them from the Midwest, are admired for their industry and usefulness, and beehives are popular Mormon symbols. After all, Brigham Young called his first home the Beehive House. Utah is the Beehive State. And the first name for the Mormons' new land in the western US was Deseret, which means honeybee. So, in Beck's own religion, locusts (or flies), bad; bees, good.

But making airtight liturgical sense is not Beck's chief reason for hinting at biblical plagues on the Obama administration. All the heady, pseudo-religious demonology has a practical political point. Between now and November the folks out there just might walk by a window full of TVs not tuned to Fox and hear some pretty disturbing news about the Republican Party: for example, that it's obstructing unemployment benefits to desperate citizens during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, or that it's creating a permanent filibuster in violation of the original purpose of the maneuver, or that it just voted to keep bailing out the big banks rather than have them submit to financial regulation. These things are pretty hard to explain to any constituent who doesn't sit on a corporate board.

If, on the other hand, you can describe each of these actions as necessary to oppose a White House occupied by the Lord of the Flies himself, well, then, they're not extreme at all—they're a solemn duty, wise precautions every one, like carrying around a briefcase holding the Seven Daggers of Megiddo that alone can send Damien back to Hell.

Don't forget: a vote for reforming Wall Street is a vote to restore Azathoth to the Throne of Chaos. Or something.

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