Glenn Beck: Obama as Antichrist?

So, for those who missed it: Glenn Beck has won some time back in the mainstream media spotlight for auctioning a parody art piece, “Obama in Pee Pee.” The parody is an immediate reaction to The Truth, by Michael D’Antuono, which is supposed to be a rebuke to conservative media critics of Obama (like Beck); Beck’s parody also references Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ. The logic of Beck’s parody, as he himself articulated it, is: “Everybody on the left, they are so open and tolerant, and they just don’t like it when people complain about taking the image of the savior and putting him in pee pee. But the savior Obama in pee pee? Oh no, that’s just too much.”

1354236176-pee_pee_obama

Glenn Beck’s “Obama in Pee Pee”

Michael D'Antuono's The Truth

Michael D’Antuono’s The Truth

Andres Serrano's Piss Christ

Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ

Clearly Beck is resentful of Serrano’s treatment of an image of Christ, and resentful of liberals who defend Serrano’s art. I’m less clear what to conclude about what Beck is saying by plugging Obama in for Christ. Obviously he takes a dim view of liberals who, as he sees it, revere Obama as a “savior.” But… why is that, exactly?

See, “Obama in Pee Pee” reminds me of another piece of art by a Tea Party Mormon: Jon McNaughton’s painting One Nation under Socialism, which a few weeks ago I argued casts Obama as a kind of anti-Christ figure:

Jon McNaughton's One Nation under God and One Nation under Socialism

Jon McNaughton’s One Nation under God (left) and One Nation under Socialism (right)

In light of McNaughton’s painting, and other examples of far-right voices literally equating Obama with the Antichrist, I’m left wondering: When Glenn Beck plugs Obama into a parody of Piss Christ and says, in effect, “All right, liberals, let’s see how you like it when someone disrespects your savior”–what is he implying, exactly? Is he saying that it’s absurd for liberals to elevate the president–any president–to the level of some kind of messiah? Or is he saying it’s absurd to elevate Obama specifically to that level because Obama is, in fact, metaphorically if not quite literally, an anti-Christ? As a corollary to that second possibility: Would Beck invest a (sufficiently) conservative president with the messianic aura that he perceives liberals to be assigning to Obama?

I don’t pose this as a rhetorical question: I’m genuinely uncertain. Both options seem plausible. I don’t know which one is actually running through Beck’s mind.

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One thought on “Glenn Beck: Obama as Antichrist?

  1. Cass Ford says:

    I’m fairly certain that Beck is more so criticizing liberals for comparing Obama to a messianic figure rather than claiming he’s the anti-Christ. Then again, I wouldn’t take anything Beck claims at face value. I listen to his program occasionally on my way up to campus, because apparently I enjoy having high blood pressure in the mornings, and most of his rhetoric is empty and meant to manipulate the emotions of his listeners. What’s interesting is that the addresses he makes directly to “Mr. President” (said in a sarcastic tone) are so harshly accusatory that one might claim he’s “crucifying” Obama in a rhetorical sense.

    I think Beck knows exactly what he’s doing, though. He’s aware of the partisan divide in America and isn’t particularly interested in challenging it. In fact, I think he contributes to the divide because of the nature of his show. He recently ran a fake radio commercial for Agenda 21 that “advertised” euthanasia, without mentioning that it wasn’t factual. He relies on the audience’s fear rather than appealing to critical thinking and rational debate.

    To me, Beck’s resurfacing in the media with an intentionally offensive them vs. us controversy while he is also promoting his recently published “Agenda 21” book is not a coincidence. I think there’s another potential option here: Beck knows his conservative audience and the partisan divide in America well and knows exactly what he can do to get their attention.

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