Glenn Beck: America’s Defender

David Horowitz was one of the founders of the New Left in the 1960s and an editor of its largest magazine, Ramparts. He is the author, with Peter Collier, of three best selling dynastic biographies: The Rockefellers: An American Dynasty (1976); The Kennedys: An American Dream (1984); and The Fords: An American Epic (1987). Looking back in anger at their days in the New Left, he and Collier wrote Destructive Generation (1989), a chronicle of their second thoughts about the 60s that has been compared to Whittaker Chambers’ Witness and other classic works documenting a break from totalitarianism. Horowitz examined this subject more closely in Radical Son (1996), a memoir tracing his odyssey from “red-diaper baby” to conservative activist that George Gilder described as “the first great autobiography of his generation.” He is author of the newly published book The Great Betrayal (Regnery 2014), which is a chronicle of the Democrats treachery in the war on terror before 9/11 to the death of Osama bin Laden.


Editor’s note: Below is the video and transcript of David Horowitz’s introduction of Glenn Beck at the Freedom Center’s West Coast Retreat, recently held at the Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes, California, from March 21-23, 2014:

To introduce Glenn Beck is always a special pleasure for me. Glenn and I have several kinships. We have both chosen the path of missionaries in a troubled world. As a result we are confronted by numerous and powerful adversaries who wish to prevent others from hearing what we have to say, and who have attempted to bury us under layers of fiction as to who we are and what we believe. By appending derisive epithets to our names, they have sought to deny us our humanity and indeed any personhood at all.

Because warriors like Glenn Beck are constantly under fire, and because their truth is constantly being erased, it is important to know who they are and to never lose sight of it. That is why I am going to take a moment to tell you about the man Glenn Beck is, about what he has done for himself, and what he is trying to do for his country.

If you know Glenn Beck only as a public figure, you have seen him facing wicked, character demolishing fire. Yet you can also see that he is a vulnerable man, someone more than ready to concede in public his own flaws and failings; you can see that he is an emotional man with the tears of his defeats and regrets close to the surface. Yet – and this is another oxymoron of his character — he is also a man with outsize ambitions such as only the most powerful ego could possibly sustain: a man crusading across oceans to fight battles for freedom, an entrepreneur who has set out to build a national media network from scratch, and largely with his own earnings. You see all this and you wonder – and probably worry — how these conflicting realities come together and where they will lead.  I am going to tell who this man is and the reason why I consider him not only my friend but an American hero.

His is truly an American story. Glenn is a baker’s son from a little town named to honor the father of our country — Mount Vernon Washington. Growing up in quite modest circumstances, Glenn’s talents have made him a multi-millionaire — money that he has invested in building his network and in a movement dedicated to defending the principles and ideas that provided him the freedom to pursue his dreams.

He was raised in a family plagued by alcoholism. Within this troubled environment, he always felt that he was his mother’s favorite child, and she his rod and staff. Everything he had in life, including his passion for radio, which became his career, he felt he owed to her. But his mother was also part of the family problem, a depressed woman, addicted to drugs and alcohol.

When Glenn was thirteen his mother committed suicide, leaving him without his best friend and support, and with a black hole in the center of his soul. That hole was quickly filled with a corrosive bitterness and distrust. The adolescent child was overcome with guilt and self-loathing for having failed to make his mother love him enough not to want not to leave him. What she did leave him was the thought: “I have been poisoned.” And then: “I am poison.”

For the next twenty years this was the truth of Glenn Beck’s life. The truth of him.  Like others whose existence is consumed by anger and pain, Glenn dealt with his demons by denial, and by attempting to smother them, as his mother had, with alcohol and drugs. The betrayal he had suffered led to a soul-crushing fear of intimacy and trust, lest his life be shattered again. The impossible angers he sought to suppress exploded periodically in the course of his affairs, destroying whatever relationships he managed to build.

Typical of those who fall into a despair like this, he blamed others for his misery, his mother first of all. It was she who had done this to him, who had poisoned his life and caused him to poison it over and over again. With these feelings, he denied his own reality and gave up his freedom to change it. If others are to blame for your life you cannot choose to make it different.

At this point in his journey he did not have the courage to face his own reality, to grab its truth and use that knowledge to change it. Yes, the truth will set you free, but as Glenn will tell you, it will make you miserable first. Misery is just what this young man was desperately attempting to flee. It is what everyone in denial is attempting to flee.

At this stage of his life, he was so blind he could not even see the truth that he was an alcoholic. When his doctor told him that if he didn’t give up alcohol he would soon be dead, he denied the diagnosis. He told the doctor that he was ingesting no more than two drinks a day. What he failed to mention was that the drinks were not shot glasses but huge tumblers of bourbon. He lied to himself believing that the sign that you were an alcoholic was that you drank during the day. He devised an elaborate routine to maintain the fiction and protect himself from the truth. He would go to work in the morning to do his radio show, come home, take an afternoon nap, and wait for the clock to strike five. That would signal that the day was over and he could begin to drink.

In other words, to him – and these are his words — “it wasn’t the destruction of my family, my marriage and my liver that were the bad signs – it was the time of day that I did it.” That is true denial.

In 1996, Glenn was 32 years old, a man of prodigious talents who had made a name for himself as a successful “shock jock” radio host. It was the perfect profession, allowing him to vent the cynicism and rage that were the fruits of his self-loathing, project them onto others and make a good dollar in the process. But in 1996 his wife, the mother of his two daughters, the closest person to him, rebelled. She rebelled against the denial, the lies, the lack of accountability and the absence of real intimacy that had already destroyed their marriage. In 1996 she gave Glenn notice that she was divorcing him. The surreal world that alcohol and denial had created for him was shattered. He was forced to confront himself as he was: a broken man with a broken family. It was enough truth to prompt him to begin a painful, unsteady journey to a new life.

Of course nothing unfolds as a single event. The seeds of the change he now embarked on had been planted two years earlier by his daughters, who were 8 and 5, and whom he loved more than anything in the world, and certainly more than himself. In his heart, Glenn was an adoring father and he had a gift for storytelling. Nearly every night he put his daughters to bed with tales he invented about three mice, Inky, Blinky and Stinky, and their attempts to reach the promised Island of Parmesan Cheese. On this particular morning he went downstairs to where his daughters were already having breakfast. As soon as he appeared, they were at him, “Daddy, daddy, tell us the story about Inky, Blinky and Stinky you told us last night. That was the best one ever!”

But Glenn didn’t remember the story. He didn’t even remember reading to the girls that night. He didn’t even remember being home. He had blacked out. It wasn’t the first time. But it was the most important one. Somewhere inside him he realized at that moment that it was as though he had died, and left them.

That Sunday he went to an AA meeting in the basement of a local church and introduced himself. “Hi,” he said. “My name is Glenn. I think I’m an alcoholic.” But nothing does unfold as a single event, and there were still trials ahead. It was two years later that his wife told him she was leaving. They confronted each other in the garage of their family home. You need to hear this scene described in Glenn’s own words:

“She looked at me in a way that combined equal measures of real compassion and intense anger. Then she burst into tears. ‘You are not your mother!’ she yelled. ‘You are not going to repeat the mistakes that she made. Quite frankly, if that’s what you want to do then that’s what you want to do. But you are not going to do that to your children.’”

You are not going to do that to your children. These were the words that turned Glenn around, that stripped the scales from his eyes and brutally forced him to see his life as it had become. He was on course to leave his little girls the same way his mother had left him. If he did not actually kill himself – and he was well on his way to doing that – he would black them out as he had on that fateful morning. The person he had become could not really be there for them as his mother had not been there for him.

Seeing himself in his mother’s shoes not only transformed the way he saw himself but the way he had seen his mother until then. The reality of his despair opened his eyes to hers, and transformed his understanding of how and why she had left him.

He saw now that she was trapped in the same kind of depression and pain that afflicted him, and that “for her, the thread of hope had finally snapped.” The moment this thought entered his head, the moment this connection was made, he gave himself the power to step outside the bubble of self, and understand his mother’s plight. “Right then and there,” he later recalled, “for the first time in my life, I forgave her.” Forgiving her, he was finally able to forgive himself. He was not the reason she had left him. He was not poison.

The road forward was still long and difficult, but the fact that he no longer blamed his mother – the fact that he had ceased to see his life as a fate he couldn’t affect — restored to him the power to choose, the courage to face his reality and change it.

And so the Glenn Beck you see before you was born: the Glenn Beck who created the 9/12 Movement to memorialize the catastrophe of 9/11 and to restore the virtues of an America that had once been the envy of the world; the Glenn Beck who organized mass demonstrations in Washington and in Jerusalem to “Restore Courage” in the face of freedom’s enemies; the Glenn Beck who is building a national media and historical archive to educate Americans about the miracle that is their country and to arm them against the threats their country faces from enemies at home and abroad.

But how? How did this Glenn Beck spring from the other? It’s certainly understandable that after his personal transformation, and after the attacks of 9/11, he no longer found professional satisfaction in insulting his radio listeners and spinning Britney Spears songs. But why this? Why this grand reclamation project, this defense of country, its principles and its freedoms? How do we get from there to here? Would it not be more likely that the man who emerged from this crucible of personal suffering and redemption would become a self-help guru, or a religious missionary?

Well, Glenn is a missionary. I attended his last mass gathering, which he called “Restoring Love.” And yes it was, in essence, just the way it sounds — a tent revival meeting. Only the tent was the Dallas Cowboys’ football stadium with 60,000 people in attendance, and the object of the religious feeling was America. Its message was the need to defend America against the siege not only from external enemies but from domestic turncoats — university intellectuals, teachers and politicians who were instructing new generations to despise their heritage; to blame everyone but themselves for the dissatisfactions of their lives and the hatred they felt towards their country.

At “Restoring Love,” Glenn had even created a religious iconography. On center stage in the middle of Cowboy Stadium, Glenn placed the actual wooden desk at which Abraham Lincoln sat as a congressman in the U.S. Capitol, 150 years earlier. He also placed on stage a famous painting of George Washington praying at Valley Forge, and had his own commentary to go with it. The painting portrayed a private moment that was witnessed by Isaac Potts, the Pennsylvanian on whose Valley Forge property Washington’s troops were bivouacked at this darkest moment of America’s struggle to be born. Glenn has acquired and preserved the actual deed to Isaac Potts Valley Forge property as part of his campaign of restoring love for his country.

As it happens, until the moment when Potts saw Washington praying, he had been loyal to the king and not sympathetic to the American rebels. But when he saw the humility and devotion of the general of their troops, the quality of the leader they had chosen, he concluded that he had taken the wrong side; and he decided then and there to join the builders of a great new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

I think it is probably becoming clearer now how this all fits together. If you step back and look at Glenn’s story, it is familiar to all of us, even though we may have experienced different traumas and perhaps not so severe. You get up in life and life knocks you down. No one escapes getting knocked down. The problem for all of us is how to get back up.

At the turn of the millennium Glenn Beck got back up and was able to restore his love for his mother, and his love for himself, and therefore for others. Then, on September 11, 2001, as the new century was beginning, his country got knocked down; and got knocked down in a way that it had never experienced since becoming a great power a hundred years earlier. On 9/11 America was attacked in its homeland by enemies so hateful that few would have imagined they existed the day before. Now these global enemies trumpeted their desire to destroy America. To compound their evil, they claimed that its destruction was blessed and ordained by God.

Not long after 9/11 — somewhere between the attacks themselves and the war to bring down the monster Saddam Hussein — the domestic enemies of America also came out of the woodwork condemning their own country in absolute terms. And these radicals resonated with a large section of the American public. In 2008 they elected one of their own, a president who lied about what he was and what believed in. On taking office he began to systematically bankrupt this great nation and disarm it in the face of its enemies.

The America that elected Obama was very like an alcoholic — drunk on progressive ideology, self-loathing, and denial. Always blaming their mother country first.

They blamed America for the wars that were being waged against her; they compared her leaders to the worst despots in history; they showed that they too wanted their country destroyed. “Fundamentally transformed” was the way Obama put it, just before becoming the 44th president of the United States.

When he was elected a second time, and began a second even more radical term, and the anniversary of America’s tragedy came around again, Glenn launched his September 12th movement. Its purpose, he said, was, “to bring us all back to the place we were on September 12, 2001 … We were united as Americans, standing together to protect the values and principles of the greatest nation ever created.”

Glenn did it, he explained on television when he made the announcement, “Because I love my country.” As he said the words tears welled in his eyes.  It was a straightforward, unvarnished, too honest truth for the drunk-on-progressivism sophisticates. They swarmed all over him, with scathing mockery. Boo-hoo-hoo. Wah-wah-wah. That was the response of comedians like John Stewart and other icons of the anti-American ethos that was now the culture of the media, of the university and of the leadership of the Democratic Party.

The tears that Glenn shed, the commitment they reflected, provide the keys to understanding who this man is, and what he does, and why he does it. The first thing to understand about Glenn Beck is that he loves America with the kind of love that we normally experience towards family. We honor and cherish family as the point of our origins and the crucible of our identities. We are who we are because of them.

The same is true of America — of the American culture that we are now losing as the result of half a century of unanswered attacks on our heritage by the America-hating left. We are who we are as Americans because of those who went before us — because of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and Isaac Potts.

What we are as Americans, what we have been as Americans, is a people that is free.  Our freedom was won and is continually won — as Glenn learned from his personal struggle, as we all learn from ours — through courage and love. The courage to see things as they are, to restore the reality that has been denied. The compassion to see through the eyes of others and to care about them. And about our country. The courage and compassion to answer the call to defend the idea – the unique American idea — that we the people, not governments or kings, are sovereign, and that our rights are not given by governments or men but by our Creator. That they are therefore inalienable; and that that is the freedom that makes us who we are.

As we make our individual ways through the mysteries of this life, we see that in it no one has the answers; no one sees every turn in the road; no one achieves a self-mastery that would keep things always under control; no one can avoid lurches to the side or the occasional fall into a ditch. When everything is said and done you may not agree with all the conclusions Glenn Beck has drawn from his life. But if you have the courage and empathy to see the man as he is you will not fail to appreciate that in Glenn Beck we and our country have a great, compassionate and brave friend; and in this hour of our nation’s peril, an indispensable one.

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  • truebearing

    It is no coincidence that David Horowitz and Glenn Beck are on the same side — the good guys. Both men have the courage to unrelentingly fight for truth in the face of persistent evil, and both do it because of their compassion for everyone in this nation. Glenn Beck and David Horowitz are two of the greatest living Americans. More Americans should listen to what they have to say, but also emulate what they are willing to do to preserve the freedom sustaining greatness of this nation.

    May God bless and protect Glenn and David.

    • Ray Burke

      Very well said, truebearing ! I’d like to hitch my wagon to your thoughtful comment.

      • Evan

        Glen Beck is as phony as Ed Schultz. Once he uttered those words I’ll never forget. ‘I don’t care about the birth certificate”. That was it for me.He is as phony as Bill O’Reilly.

        • truebearing

          You’re as smart as “Special Ed.”

          • Evan

            Do you really think you get the whole story from guys like Beck and O’Reilly? And where do you use a term like “Special Ed”?

          • truebearing

            It fits.

        • http://newworldisland.blogspot.com/ Arnoldr

          The birth certificate story is basically a symbol of how far America has fallen. The media will not investigate, the enviros will not soil the waters, the politicians will not get their feet dirty, the entertainment industry will not even fantasize, and the corporations do not wish to lose the favor of the politicians. Truth means nothing anymore as morality has become relative.

        • Debbie G

          So you are basing your entire opinion on a detail that doesn’t even matter anymore? Glenn Beck is NOT the same as Bill O’Reilly.

  • tic…tic…BOOM

    Well said.

  • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

    I have considerable sympathy and respect for Beck. His heart is in the right place. I wish him well.

    However, he is not equipped to represent conservatives on national media. I remember watching him and he was clearly learning as he went along. He was often influence by the book he was reading that week and at times he found some fringe theories. It was embarrassing to watch. He added to that some zany mannerisms that made him look like a clown. I’m afraid I can share Horowitz’ enthusiasm for Beck as a public representative of our ideas.

    He means well and I can see why people love him but he just doesn’t help recruit new people into the movement. Sorry, David, I can respect the man but not support the media personality.

    • jburack

      I have to say I agree with this. Beck is okay, but on some things he veers into unhinged paranoia. On the Common Core standards for instance, about which he once told his audience that if they were not stopped. “it’s over. America is over.” I am sorry but he does not understand a thing about those standards, which are a weak but very badly needed effort to instill an absolute minimum of intellectual rigor into a system mired in mediocrity. The idea Common Core ever could impose anything on the vast education blob which that blob does not want is fantasy. However, if the CC puts even a blip of pressure in the right ways it will still be worth it. But the idea that it is some vast and powerful corrupting conspiracy tells me Beck does not understand the sclerosis of American institutions that is the real heart of the crisis of the crony capitalist welfare state system we have now.

  • Christy

    Nice one, Dave. Very eloquent.

  • gonaes

    Glenn Beck, when he was on Fox TV, was a joy to watch and listen to. He has that gift of explaining, in simple language, the complicated issues of politics. I wish him well.

  • Marlene Weingart

    I have been a fan of Glenn’s since 9/12/01. He brought his audience along with him on his journey from heartbreak and heartache both personal and communal as we processed the devastation of 9/11as a country. He inspired many many people to become sober, to face themselves, their truths. He forced us to know what we believe, where we stand. He is a shining example of how a person with a tragic past and full of flaws, can overcome all of it to become someone others look up to. He is a tireless person, who continues to produce huge events that benefit so many. His love for America and history are contagious. Pat and Stu play a very important role, Pat as someone who knew him when and who has great sense of humor, and Stu to balance and debate Glenn’s tendency to go overboard on some of his conclusions to current events. I feel I have been blessed to have been able to hear Glenn’s shows, as his repeated demands of each of us to take charge of our lives finally sunk in. David Horowitz is also a great American. This magazine serves as a shining example of his work. His books, and his campaigns to enlighten those still uninformed regarding the direction of this great country, are courageous efforts. Both he and Glenn are men of courage. G-d Bless them and all those who love them. I wish I could have been at this event.

    • Jimi Belton

      You have taken the very words out of my mouth……I could not say it better….Thanks to both of these great men….

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Marks/1266358046 Paul Marks

    A good article about a good man.

  • Chiron_Venizelos

    I cannot adequately express my appreciation for the work that Mr. Horowitz and Mr. Beck are doing in their effort to keep the USA from sliding into the sewer of third worldism. If I’ve one talent in my resume’, it would be my ability to know when I’m being told the TRUTH. I made a promise that I would follow Glenn Beck and Davie Horowitz for so long as they always told me the TRUTH. So far, neither have failed to do so and that is why I support them and seek the information they provide.
    I pray each day that the Lord will protect and guide them in their mission on our behalf, and I hope you will too.

  • mo up in the northeast

    I want so much to trust in Mr. H. an Mr. B. However, why the fear of telling the story of Donald Young, the openly gay choir director of Obama’s former “church?” When the phony lie detector test was administered on Larry Sinclair, Robert Braddock was the administator. “Powers that be” managed to jail him in Chris Donovan corruption incident Yet the Chicago Tribune-owned Hartford Courant withheld any info about Larry Sinclair, or David Axelrod, the presumed originator of the fake test. I have written to Congress and the Pres himself on this matter, and am saddened that nobody cares about Donald, a black choir director, and son of Norma Jean, who said her life too, was in danger, according to conversations she had with her former employer, Chicago PD individuals.

  • El Desdichado

    I dislike hearing other “Conservatives” malign Glenn B.
    He has always brought the historical context into his shows. He is the only talk figure out there who mentions the well-documented revivals of Christianity in the U.S. such as the First and Second Great Awakenings (not bad for a Mormon!).
    I am proud to have gone to Restoring Honor 2010 and I will never forget how friendly, orderly, restrained and respectful the huge crowd was all day.
    And we left the place immaculate, unlike sites occupied by the other side…

  • http://www.clarespark.com/ Clare Spark

    I think that Glenn Beck does well with the materials at hand. I wrote about his blind spots and general ideology here: http://clarespark.com/2010/02/20/the-glenn-beck-problem/. “The Glenn Beck problem.” He does not diverge from the general line of National Review and Jonah Goldberg. That can be both good and bad.

  • D Hoag

    I’m glad to see conservatives united in the fight to save our nation. I’ve observed Glenn’s growth over the years, transforming from the shock jock conspiracy theorist/entertainer, to a man seriously campaigning for the good of our country. I still have reservations especially because of his particular religious beliefs, but I’m willing to filter those and recognize he has made a solid contribution to our country.

  • John E Coleman

    The Language of the Heart will never be spoken better when Glenn B speaks it

  • supajohnny

    Well spoken about a great man, Glen Beck, From an American loving Englishman.

  • Donald J DaCosta

    America needs to see and hear much more from these men and others, courageous enough to speak the truth and express their pride in being citizens and admirers of this great, if imperfect, nation.

    Unfortunately, inherent in human nature, there is the herd, school yard mentality, the innate desire to be one with the crowd; especially the “in crowd.” That the predominant “in crowd,” that has successfully been created by the Left in America, prides itself on being very knowledgeable about all of Americas alleged evils against humanity, the outright imperialist, colonialist atrocities it’s committed, extreme environmental damage its caused,
    corporate irresponsibility, greed, the evils of the Capitalist, free market economic system, the wars for profit caused by the infamous military/industrial complex and the evil of profit itself; images and opinions carefully created, nurtured and promoted by those who have been taught and have grown to hate America, makes reversing that image a herculean, if not impossible, task.

    The “in crowd” is currently in charge and going about the business of “bringing America down to size” while their carefully inculcated herd signals its approval by its widespread ignorance, lack of attention and acting in concert with their fellow “patriots” in the voting booth. “Man on the street” interviews that put America’s ignorance of her history, basic knowledge concerning the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, our three branches of government and prominent political figures, etc., are on display, in vivid, high def video…………….. for laughs. The “man on the street” is routinely stumped by the basics. Ha! Ha! Ha! Isn’t that just a laugh riot? All who are equally ignorant are much relieved that according to this portrayal, and likely the intent of it, historical, political ignorance regarding ones nation of birth or choice is an everyday, perfectly normal condition and nothing to be ashamed of. Be complacent America; we’ve got your back.

    Winston Churchill purportedly once said, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” The Left has
    taken the implication of this fact very seriously, the Right still seems to be scratching their increasingly balding heads while both claim to be in concert with “the American people.” Given Obama in 2008 and 2012 it is obvious which side has a better grip on public opinion, no matter how incredible or disturbing that reality.

    So, how to clone Glen Beck, David Horowitz, et al? Better question! How does America purge its major opinion making institutions, Academia, the entertainment industry and legacy news media, of its firmly entrenched, tenured, radical, progressive, socialist, communist left? Mr. Horowitz is actively
    involved with this effort and hopefully attracting a growing group of warriors that will eventually become an army of aggressive activists, because that’s what it’s going to take to match the commitment of the radical left.

    As the hard left realized back in the transformational sixties, affecting radical, lasting change in a nation’s character and culture is best accomplished, not by violent rebellion, but in carefully planned and executed incremental changes
    designed to take years to achieve. Quiet, surreptitious infiltration, working within and initially in concert with, the institutions of interest, was the key to their success. Without the catalyst of some catastrophic event, like another 9/11, or worse, that shakes the present American culture to its roots, getting back to what we once were, or better, will take a Herculean effort. Kudos to Beck, Horowitz, et al but, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, there remains a long, hard road ahead. That’s the gloomy, if much hoped for outlook for many of the most discouraged, proud and patriotic Americans who long for but may be too old to see it reach fruition.

    • liberalism is a mental illness

      Very well said.

      • Donald J DaCosta

        Thanks. I’m always grateful for positive responses to my laboriously created “brief” commentary. It’s the “brief “part I struggle with.

  • 1Indioviejo1

    Thank you David. Glenn Beck is a good man and a great American. I use to watch Fox because of his show and now I do only occasionally. I know that he learns as he goes along discovering new ideas or old history, but he has the courage to face the issues and bring them forth, even if criticized for his courage.

  • http://newworldisland.blogspot.com/ Arnoldr

    Thank You.

  • Anamah

    Here are the two men who helped me to recognize my own enemy and fight their same battle.
    There is a thread linking me to them, because they fight the essential fight of this time and face the peril.

    I’m able to share and channel my despair and fury, and willing to allow others to understand the truth.

    Admiration and gratitude to our braves!