Someone may have spiked the Kool-Aid at Fox News. Glenn Beck, the bombastic belcher of dubious political punditry, publicly exposed himself on his radio program when he attacked Malia Obama, the 11-year-old daughter of President Barack Obama.
Beck, a 46-year-old White man, didn't stop with his reference to Obama's approach to the British Petroleum oil spill by using a silly impersonation of Obama's daughter, Malia, asking, "Daddy, did you plug the hole yet?" He continued the charade, with his radio pal playing the part of Obama, attacking the girl's intellect while also suggesting she believed her father held a hatred for Blacks.
Glenn Beck impersonates Malia Obama
"How old is his daughter, like 13? Is that their -- that's the level of their education, that they're coming to -- they're coming to daddy and saying 'Daddy, did you plug the hole yet?'"
Pretending he was Malia, Beck asked, "Daddy, why do you hate Black people so much?"
Audience Backlash -- Beck 'Statement'
There was an immediate outcry from Beck's audience, which possessed the human decency and decorum apparently missing from the host and producers of the program.
Glenn Beck issued a terse apology on his Web site, simply titled, "Statement from Glenn."
Sorry, Mr. Beck. Your "apology" is akin to an 11-year-old being forced to say the word "sorry" for injuring the the character and reputation of an innocent peer.
I cannot imagine why Mr. Beck, and the rest of his production crew, would presume that racial fodder and drumming up racist hostilities in the Glenn Beck audience is good satire. It is equally disturbing that Mr. Beck has no real sense of history (aside from his oft-referenced Nazi propaganda).
White Man Blasts 11-year-old Black Girl
If I were a Fox News correspondent, I could easily whip this incident into a comparison to the 1963 fire bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church that killed four little Black girls in Birmingham, Alabama, one of which was 11 years old.
Using cowardly tactics akin to the White attackers in 1963, Mr. Beck assumed his podium of power and tossed a verbal barrage of incendiary satire targeting an innocent Black child. Mr. Beck's attack revealed latent racist hostilities that he apparently shares with members of his production crew and fondest fans. The thought of a Black family occupying the White House perhaps is reminiscent of the era of redlining, when Blacks were prevented from purchasing homes in White-controlled areas.
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
Fortunately, the banks don't own the home at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The American people do. Sorry, Mr. Beck.
Unfortunately, Mr. Beck commands the attention of a significant segment of the American people. His hostility toward people with whom he disagrees is wrapped by the combination of an American flag and Christian ideology. Yet, Mr. Beck's inability to use his elevated public platform to encourage meaningful dialogue between good people who simply disagree, as well as foster brotherly love, rather than political polarity, belies both his claim as an American and a Christian.
Mr. Beck's personal attack on an innocent child and his insistence on dredging up racist hostilities requires more than an insipid statement of apology on his Web site.
I suggest Mr. Beck demonstrate his repentance by resisting the urges, both internal and external, to introduce racial satire into his political commentary. As an active display of contrition, Mr. Beck might consider expanding his television and radio production advisers with qualified media professionals recommended by the National Association of Black Journalists.
Recovery and Redemption
Mr. Beck can make an immediate start on the road toward fellowship and developing an understanding of diverse points of view by attending the upcoming NABJ conference in San Diego, California on July 28 through Aug. 1. My guess is he would be given an elevated platform upon which he could express his views, even an apology, directly to 2,500 journalists.
It's understandable that media celebrities will attract criticism when they screw up. And it's understandable that they would seek opportunities to address their faux pas. What's not understandable is when such seekers of the public spotlight shun opportunities to repair damage they cause, however unintentional or inadvertent the damage may be.
I'll watch Mr. Beck's road to recovery. The first step is to admit there's a problem. That will require, of course, stepping away from the Kool-Aid counter.