Glenn Beck–hate him, love him–is always doing something unusual with his shows, seemingly bording on developing a Glenn Beck cult. And it’s weird because unlike Hannity or O’ Reilly he seems like a genuinely nice guy…except that he’s nutty.
On Friday’s Glenn Beck show for September 17th, he did a special on “Peaceful Revolutions: Moses, Jesus, Ghandi and King.” I saw the ad for the show on Fox and while I’m used to hearing Jesus, Ghandi and King associated with the peace movement, Moses struck me as odd. Moses is violent! We can make the argument that Jesus is violent too but I will leave that one alone for the most part. Moses is just too easy to expose as a war mongering, bloodthirsty Israelite.
The show is archived at The Daily Beck. It’s not easy to watch because no one is really saying anything. I kept waiting for someone to recognize that Moses just does not fit into this group of peacemongers. And of course the poor Rabbi had to keep hearing about Jesus as if he was real and not problematic to his religion (but then he is Rabbi Daniel Lapin, founder of the American Alliance of Christians and Jews).
It comes down to a matter of definitions I guess. There is the physical act of violence by an individual and there is an individual who supports violence but does not get his hands dirty. Moses, per the Bible since the character of Moses is in dispute by Biblical Archaeologists, committed one act of violence before leaving Egypt: he killed a fellow Egyptian for the sake of a fellow Jew. I would say that we could forgive this act for the sake of argument since it was in defense of someone who was being beaten. After all, it was a confusing time. He was raised to be a heathenistic Egyptian (who got lucky with the Egyptian princess, or was that just Charlton Heston?) and now he finds out he’s an Israelite. After this one killing, Moses does not get his hands dirty but supports violence by propping up a violent god and leading his people into violence.
And that was the entire problem with Glenn Beck’s show. There was no recognition of God’s violence. Moses spoke “death.” This is not the same as Ghandi who went on hunger strikes to stop Hindus and Muslims from fighting or Martin Luther King who under his leadership abstained from fighting back. You also did not Ghandi or King call down God’s wrath or send numerous plagues upon the white man.
“On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn – both men and animals – and I will bring judgement on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD ”
— Exodus 12:12 (New International Version)
Does this sound nonviolent to you? The excuse is that this is God and who are we to judge God? Interestingly enough, as humanity becomes less violent through secularization, God becomes less violent. An increasingly peaceful civilization cannot let go of its religion and therefore must adapt it to the modern mindset, even if it is in glaring opposition. The God of the Old Testament is a monster and Christians (or Mormons if we’re talking about Glenn) cannot seem to grasp it. He gets a free pass no matter what awful things he commands.
Lest you think I’m not being fair, what if a dictator told you to give the command to a firing squad knowing that every person on the receiving end would die? Would you consider following such an order violent or nonviolent? Let’s even say these people on the receiving end deserved it, such as fanatical muslims who were responsible for the lives of American or British soldiers. Can you honestly say, ordering the killing of your enemies is a peaceful revolution? I can’t and this is what Moses did per Exodus chapter 14:
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.” 27 So Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its wonted flow when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled into it, and the LORD routed the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. 28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen and all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not so much as one of them remained.
Maybe that is not enough to convince Beck to oust Moses from his quartet of peacemongers. What about Moses sending out his people to fight Am’alek? From Exodus chapter 17:
And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out, fight with Am’alek; tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.” 10So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Am’alek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Am’alek prevailed. 12But Moses’ hands grew weary; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat upon it, and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; so his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13And Joshua mowed down Am’alek and his people with the edge of the sword. 14And the LORD said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Am’alek from under heaven.” 15 And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The LORD is my banner, 16saying, “A hand upon the banner of the LORD! The LORD will have war with Am’alek from generation to generation.”
Not enough? How about when Moses came down the mountain with the Ten Commandments and found his people worshipping a golden calf? They didn’t get a lecture, they got slaughtered. From Exodus chapter 32:
…then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, “Who is on the LORD’s side? Come to me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him. 27 And he said to them, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘Put every man his sword on his side, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.'” 28 And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses; and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.
It doesn’t end there. Here’s a nifty link (did I just type “nifty”?) about the Wars of Israelwith a breakdown of stats on wars led by Moses. My whole big point with this is to tell Glenn Beck and other believers to stop placing your modern values on your ancient religion and read your fuckin’ Bible! Moses was violent, he was not a peaceful revolutionary. And let’s throw Jesus into the mix because Jesus is God, correct? So Jesus is the same one dictating violence to Moses and commiting violence on behalf of Moses. Jesus killed the first born of every Egyptian son (and animal for some stupid reason) as well as drowning the Egyptian army and helping the Israelites win wars and commit genocide (man, women, child and animal in the Joshua campaigns).
The real heroes of the nonviolent movement were humanitarians. They took pieces of the Bible or whatever religion they chose and made it fit into their nonviolent philosophy. I applaud them as individuals regardless of any mythology they give credit to. Glenn Beck is well meaning and maybe even a nice guy–I’ve seen Penn Jillette on his show a couple of times–but he is simply wrong on bringing up Moses for this panel discussion.