FDL Book Salon Welcomes Alexander Zaitchik, Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance

Welcome author, Alexander Zaitchik, and Host, Sara Robinson.

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread.  – bev]

Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance

“People will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.”
— Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf, chapter 6

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
— Joseph Goebbels

The biggest Big Liar on the American scene today is Glenn Beck. Two million Americans watch his show on FOX every day. Many millions more listen to his radio show.

How big a liar are we talking about here? Try this one on for size:

“We will reclaim the civil rights moments — because, dammit, we were the people who did it in the first place.”
— Glenn Beck, May 26, 2010

Gobstopping, isn’t it — how you can just rewrite a dozen of most agonizing, contentious, and important years in American history in one sentence like that? Where do you even begin to set the record straight?

Especially when Beck is planning to reclaim the central moment of that movement — the 1963 March on Washington — with a “civil rights” event of his own this summer, on the same date, in the same place. He’s obviously trying to overwrite an established piece of black-letter American history with an event of his own, muddling King’s legacy in a way that will mute his iconic place in our mythos as a towering witness for social justice. And since Beck is on a personal crusade against the very idea of “social justice” –which he blasts several times a week on his shows as anti-American and anti-Christian — taking down King is a necessary first step in that effort. (more…)

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Dr. Derek Bok, The Politics of Happiness

[Please welcome Dr. Derek Bok, Harvard, University President Emeritus, and Sara Robinson, Cognitive Policy Works, and Our Future.org]

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread.  – bev]

The Politics of Happiness: What Government Can Learn from the New Research on Well-Being

America’s government may be the first one in the history of the world that started out with the expressly stated goal of making its citizens happy. Jefferson set out “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence. Madison added “to promote the general welfare” to the six purposes of government in the Constitution’s preamble. Both believed that democracy was the system most likely to deliver on the promise of helping people live happier lives.

But what makes people happy? Is it unlimited economic growth? The right to own as much stuff as our ever-expanding houses and storage units will hold? A sense of total dominance over the world’s other nations? Or (as many of us have come to suspect) are there other, better sources of well-being that we could be focusing our resources and energies on instead — and which might, over the long run, actually make us a happier country? (more…)

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Amy Goodman, Breaking the Sound Barrier

[Welcome Amy Goodman, and Host Sara Robinson] [As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread.  – bev]

Breaking the Sound Barrier

Back in 2007, at the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly (the church’s big annual national gathering), I had the remarkable experience of hearing Amy Goodman moderate a panel of extraordinary gentlemen. One was Daniel Ellsberg. One was Mike Gravel, then a contender for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. And the third was Robert West, a former president of Beacon Press, which is owned by the UUA.

Together, with Amy as moderator, these men told the untold story of how the Pentagon Papers were brought to the public. Ellsberg gave a copy of the 7,000 pages to The Washington Post’s Ben Bagdikian — but only on the condition that Bagdikian deliver a copy to Senator Gravel, so he could read them into the Congressional record. (The transfer involved a midnight cloak-and-dagger meeting in a dark parking lot, with Gravel transferring the boxes by himself because only he had senatorial immunity should they be caught.) While Bagdikian fought the government to print the papers in the Post, Gravel played hide-and-seek with the Senate’s leadership (then in the form of Mike Mansfield) to get the the Papers on record; and at the same time arranged with Beacon Press (after 35 other publishers turned them down) to print them. The agreement to publish– which church leaders well understood was putting the entire future of one of the nation’s oldest denominations on the line, as well as committing themselves to an act of capital treason — ended up in front of the Supreme Court, after two years of ongoing government persecution of the church.

I was in the front row for this spellbinding bit of group storytelling, along with my daughter, then not yet quite 17. “This is what heroes look like,” I told her. “Take a good look — because this is what your faith and your family will expect of you on the day that history knocks on your door and insists that you take a stand.” (more…)