What does Glenn Beck have against the FIFA World Cup?
It’s hard to tell, but Christ, does he hate it. He made that abundantly clear Friday morning on his radio program when, evidently set off by the commencement of the world’s most popular sporting event in South Africa that same day, he ranted
It doesn’t matter how you sell it to us. It doesn’t matter how many celebrities you get. It doesn’t matter how many bars open early. It doesn’t matter how many beer commercials they run. We don’t want the World Cup. We don’t like the World Cup. We don’t like soccer. We want nothing to do with it. You can package it any way — you can spend all kinds of money. You can force it on our television sets. We will not enjoy the World Cup.
I have no particular interest in the sport the rest of the world calls football and we Americans, having given that name to a violent and mutated variation of rugby, call soccer. But I bristle at the thought that I might be included in the “we” for whom Glenn Beck presumes to speak. About the worst I can say about soccer is that it strikes me as dull — and, coming from an avowed lifelong baseball fan, take that for what it’s worth. Glenn explained his hatred of soccer — and “hate” is the word he used — as being the result of its popularity outside the United States, and the rest of the world trying “continually” to “jam it down our throat.”
Who is trying to jam soccer down our throat? The British? The French? The Spanish? The defending World Cup Champion Italians? Or is it those nefarious Mexicans — is soccer a part of the sinister scheme to “brown” America? (Glenn Beck didn’t say that, but his fellow conservative Dan Gainor, of NewsBusters and the Media Research Center did, the day before on G. Gordon Liddy’s radio show. Earlier today Gainor used his Twitter feed to ridicule the World Cup for allowing games to end in ties, ignorant of the fact that the tournament takes place in two stages, the first being a round robin where teams earn three points per victory and one point per tie, and the second being a single-elimination tournament where overtime play and shootouts are used to break ties.) It’s never occurred to me that the rest of the world was shoving soccer down my throat. How are the people of Germany, Brazil, or Turkey supposed to be doing this? By enjoying soccer despite our indifference? By declining to support the barbarous, graceless sport we call football instead?
Apparently. This is only a slightly less vulgar version of the reflex that would cause Glenn Beck to turn to you after seeing a same-sex couple walking down the sidewalk hand-in-hand and say, “Do they have to rub my face in it?”
I’ve never liked soccer. And I’ve never gotten the impression that any of the hundreds of millions of soccer fans around the world were the least bit bothered by this. So long as they have their football, they seem happy to let me have my baseball, and it’s a grace I’m only too happy to return. Besides, as Rick Rottman of Bent Corner (a soccer fan) points out, the American soccer audience is at least large enough for Glenn Beck’s employer, NewsCorp, to justify operating an entire channel devoted to it. Let’s also not forget Major League Soccer, which has existed since 1996 and sent many players to compete in the World Cup. And there’s the small matter of soccer being by far the most popular sport played by American children of both sexes. I’ve never attended a school at any level where soccer was not a major sport. If any of his four children ever played on their school soccer team, I trust Glenn Beck stayed home from their games in protest, or at least sat on the sidelines with his arms folded, disapproval evident on his face.
There is something else Glenn Beck seems to hate almost as much as soccer, and that is literature. Having already promoted such dubious works as Cleon Skousen’s The 5,000 Year Leap and Elizabeth Dilling’s pro-Nazi, hysterically anti-Communist The Red Network, and taking it upon himself to rewrite Thomas Paine, Glenn has finally followed in the footsteps of his Fox News colleague Bill O’Reilly and published a truly shitty novel.
I say “published” because The Overton Window, which goes on sale tomorrow, was actually written by three ghost writers — Emily Bestler, Jack Henderson, and Kevin Balfe, who also wrote Beck’s previous books Arguing With Idiots and The Christmas Sweater. Beck freely admits that the books published under his name are authored by other people. “I don’t write,” he tells USA Today. “I get bogged down in writing.”
Glenn is perfectly willing to accept large commissions for lending his name to books he admittedly didn’t write, I can’t help but point out. Not that I blame him for this, necessarily — not as far as The Overton Window is concerned. According to Ben Dimiero and Simon Maloy of Media Matters, who read this awful book so you and I won’t have to, it’s not the sort of thing for which most writers would strain to claim credit:
The opening lines of Glenn Beck’s yet-to-be-released novel, The Overton Window, read as follows: “Most people think about age and experience in terms of years, but it’s really only moments that define us.”
In a quirk of convenience, this line also describes the best way to deconstruct The Overton Window, a copy of which Media Matters obtained and read — nay, devoured — with great relish. As we slogged through its many plot holes, ridiculous narrative devices, and long-winded limited-government sermonizing passed off as dialogue, we singled out ten moments that define The Overton Window as the truly and remarkably awful novel that it is.
First, a quick summation of the plot, such as it is. The protagonist, Noah Gardner, works for an impossibly powerful public relations firm in Manhattan that has been the driving force behind pretty much every political and cultural movement of the 20th century. Their latest and grandest scheme is the culmination of a lengthy plot to change the United States into some sort of ill-defined progressive plutocracy, and the catalyst for this change is a nuclear explosion that will occur outside the home-state office of “the current U.S. Senate majority leader,” which happens to be at the same address as Harry Reid’s Las Vegas offices. The nuclear attack is to be blamed on the Founders Keepers, a Tea Party-like group — led by Noah’s love interest, Molly Ross — that is working to foil the plot.
By all means, read the rest of the Media Matters article to see their ten defining moments of The Overton Window. And even if you’re bored to death by the game, try and catch a few minutes of a World Cup match or two. Think of it as giving Glenn Beck the finger. Who knows — he might just make a soccer fan out of me.