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Michael Conniff

Michael Conniff

Posted: October 7, 2010 02:30 PM

Perhaps the single most disturbing development in the wan Pequot energizing the Tea Party movement is the emergence of Glenn Beck University.

That's right: the born-again Mormon has found true religion in the reinvention of American history. His horn-rims and chalkboards and honk-if-your're-a-patriot approach have led all but inevitably to the creation of college of hard knocks dedicated to his version of history.

Glenn Beck, Fox News and talk radio host, is qualified to undertake such a task by dint of knowing bupkus about actual American history. (To know diddly would render him elitist.) He gave Yale a glancing blow but otherwise Beck's version of events is topsy-turvy and vertiginous, with no anchor tied to facts. Witness his complete misunderstanding of the March on Washington and the Reverend Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech. He's still waiting for the "miracle" promised that day.

"School may be out for the summer," according to GlennBeck.com:

but for Glenn Beck class is just starting. This July, while others are relaxing poolside, head back to the classroom - from the comfort of your own home. That may sound like an oxymoron but Glenn's new academic program is only available online. Offered exclusively to Insider Extreme subscribers, Beck University is a unique academic experience bringing together experts in the fields of religion, American history and economics. Through captivating lectures and interactive online discussions, these experts will explore the concepts of Faith, Hope and Charity and show you how they influence America's past, her present and most importantly her future. So don't miss out on this amazing experience. Enroll in Beck University today by subscribing to Insider Extreme.

Given such an ahistorical context, it should come as no surprise that the unannounced go-to guy going for the Republican Presidential nomination in the future-perfect year of 2012 is former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, a historian in his own right--and a novelist and an anti-jihad documentarian and a Fox News analyst and a speechifier for hire.

And then there's Sarah Palin, who won't know history until it hits her in the face.

The master mixologists of this new history deal perform an important role for the Right: with only the Tea Party, with no real Republican Party to speak of, with Karl Rove doling out his Crossroads campaign lucre, the need to negate history in 2010 is stronger than ever before. Consider the eight years of the Bush-Cheney Administration, wherein the war on terror came to define a political philosophy so bereft of new ideas that conservative think tanks should be sued for non-support.

Or take a close look at the newest revelation on the Right, that Republicans are every built as guilty as Democrats when it comes to big government. Say what? The echo chamber of the Right used to blame Dems and liberals for anything and everything that went wrong. Now it turns out Republicans were just as bad all along.

Glad we got that little historical glitch straightened out.

You can also see the Right's need to re-write history in the need for the Texas School Board to elevate anti-feminazi Phyllis Schafly to the stature of Martin Luther King Jr.--and in the need to repudiate evolution, science's account of our history at the cellular level.

You've heard of the school of hard knocks? The college of musical knowledge? For conservatism these days, all you need to qualify for Glenn Beck University is to become an Insider Extreme--and to have a little faith in Faith, Hope, and Charity.