Friday, October 8, 2010

Compassion to Glenn Beck?

Is he asking for it?
NewsCore - Fox News Channel host Glenn Beck announced on his radio show Friday that he would be taking a short leave of absence next week for health reasons...Without giving many details, Beck told his listeners that his announcement was "not bad news, it is just a transition period" and asked for their prayers.

Isn't praying for someone showing a form of compassion? Isn't it hypocritical to ask for prayers after showing contempt for compassion? If you answered yes to both questions, you might be wondering what Glenn Beck is thinking right now. 

Don't get me wrong. If Glenn Beck is ill, we should still show compassion and pray/hope that he gets well. Compassion for human illness and suffering should negate all feelings of animosity. But the fact remains that his own compassion for human suffering is sorely lacking: mocking a person whose house has burned down, no matter what the circumstance, is acutely unfeeling, especially after knowing that beloved pets were killed in the fire.*

There is a thin, but still palpable, parallel in all of this: the cold-hearted non-compassion displayed by the Christian Right during the onslaught of the AIDS epidemic. Over 65,000 people died agonizingly before the first faith-based AIDS agency was established outside of San Francisco (in the Episcopal archdiocese of Los Angeles). Most of them died  in the arms of friends, compassionate strangers ...or alone. Southern Baptists in particular showed their disdain for people with AIDS: they have yet to establish a faith-based AIDS agence here in the U.S. (they have, however, established ones in Africa in order to show their "compassion").

O.K., I've beaten that sentiment to death. I won't mention it again.

At least not in this article.

What has been particularly gauling to progressives is the outpuring of support for Glenn Beck's mocking of Mr. Cranick's tragedy. Beck's view of "compassion" has put it on the par with "social justice" - something he claims we should all run away from. Even though he may have been emulating the AFA's Bryan Fischer (letting the house burn was "the Christian thing to do."), the mere fact that he considered taking a mocking stance displayed a hard-heartedness which his ubiquitous tears belie. Glenn Beck cries for the country, but not necessarily for the people in it. His mockery was just as bad (if not worse) as Pat Robertson's we-must help-Haiti-even-though-it-sold-its-soul-to-the-devil statement. As in these cases, contempt will always overshadow compassion.

In a very real sense, Beck and  his supporters are showing contempt for one virtue that has made America what it has been to the rest of the world: the statement upon the Statue of Liberty attests to that. Both Beck and Fischer now point out to us that this virtue has been a detriment, a curse even, by making the country too soft on the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to be free. 

And the disdain doesn't stop with tardy subscription payments or illegal immigration: moreover; it covers rights to equality: women's rights, gay rights, even Muslim rights (to worship freely). The Right's disgust of these rights is always a slap in the face to American ideals. What is disturbing is that that particular rebuff is getting more frequent as we get nearer to voting for it. Yes, there is evidence of hard-heartedness on this year's November ballot: consider the uproar over legislation effecting Missouri's "puppy mills." Perhaps Dominionism is creeping up on us and the Republican Party is only too happy to make way for it. And with Eric Cantor's joking statement, the party is showing its disdain for "compassionate conservatism":

Mr. Cantor believes the American-Jewish community is overwhelmingly Democratic because Jews “are prone to want to help the underdog.”

Again, with the Glenn Beck question: should we show compassion to him during his illness? 

Of course. After all, it's the American thing to do. 

But for how long? 

* Humane Society: “It is inexcusable that three dogs and a cat would have to die in such a horrible way, with firefighters ordered to not intervene, because of an unpaid $75 service fee.

No comments: