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This Land is Glenn Beck’s Land?

Woody Guthrie (source: wikimedia commons)

Glenn Beck is great at riling people up, but not so good at demographics. In his March 11  radio broadcast, Beck began a discussion of government land ownership by claiming that the government owns 98% of Nevada’s land  (actually the most recent records state that the ownership percentage is 84.5%).

Since statistics are obviously not his strong suit,  Beck moved on to  interpret the lyrics of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Our Land.” Beck finds the song to be unpatriotic. He worries about what we are teaching our children when they learn this song in grade school.

What’s wrong with this song, to Beck? Its alleged praise of communism of course! Beck finds the communist message in the lines “In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people, By the Relief Office I seen my people; As they stood hungry, I stood there asking, Is this land made for you and me?” Beck acknowledges Guthrie wrote the song in 1940, but fails to acknowledge the song’s connection to the Great Depression. He claims the song suggests that  the relief office helped, while the church did nothing.

In fact, Glenn,  the relief office helped when the church could not. When the Great Depression first hit, the government relied on private help. This meant help from the private citizens and companies, and from, yes, religious institutions. However, this help quickly ran out, unable to provide enough food and resources to starving Americans. In 1932, the people elected FDR and by doing so, asked for the assistance of the Federal government.

The support for Federal government aid endorsed by “This Land is Our Land” threatens Beck’s vision of America. He worries that American people who sing this song don’t understand that the Federal government is slowing taking over their nation, their land. Beck wants to demonstrate that if the Guthries win, the good, honest, hardworking Americans will lose. Beck points to Guthrie’s verse, claiming it  showed a neglectful church. He does not acknowledge that relying on private charity alone failed the American people. The Federal government had to step in to carry America  through the 1930s. But that’s not Glenn Beck’s version of America, so to talk about that is to be un-American.

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3 Responses to This Land is Glenn Beck’s Land?

  1. Admiral Naismith March 16, 2010 at 8:51 am #

    Of course, Beck actively WANTS the churches to do nothing in the face of hungry people (see the way he famously urged his viewers to leave any church that claims to promote “social justice” or “economic justice”), and his vision of America encompasses actively blaming the poor for their poverty and promoting policies that punish the poor and reward the rich, presumably to teach the poor what a mistake they are making by choosing to be poor.

    So it’s hard to see why he would be bothered by a song that envisioned the church as not caring about the poor.

  2. multicultural R US March 16, 2010 at 10:05 am #

    Beck hates Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” too, because for some inexplicable reason he loves DDT. Perhaps he thinks that bald eagles are un-american.
    and no doubt he thinks that Joni is un-canadian.

  3. Joy March 16, 2010 at 10:14 am #

    I agree with this author – absolutely. The song has to be put in the context of the Depression. And during that time Communism had a very different connontation then it does today.

    It’s too bad that Mr. Beck cannot recognize greed and hypocracy. This song is still current because we all need to do more – Christians and churches. Does he think it’s better to allow millions of people to starve? At least he gave Woody some attention. We should all be talking about his ideals of equality and fair treatment for everyone, (Woody’s, I mean.)

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