Saturday’s On the Media — an NPR news program that discusses media — focused on the rise of hate groups in the United States. It featured Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, who (about halfway through the discussion) talked about, among many other things, how right-wing media figures and politicians are mainstreaming hate speech — and among those cited by name was Glenn Beck. To be fair, Beck wasn’t the focus of Potok’s discussion. Hate was. But Beck was one of the very few people whose names were mentioned as troubling.
For Mormons, that should be a distressing assertion. As a Mormon himself, Beck has always been something of an oddball. However, Potok’s point wasn’t that Beck is simply extreme, or embarrassing to people of one political persuasion or another. It wasn’t even that he personally disagrees with Beck and those like him. Rather, it was that Beck and others are actually helping hate become more common. Tellingly, Potok also points out that hate crimes in the United States are becoming more widespread, which could obviously correlate with the increase in hateful rhetoric.
Ironically, and because I too am a Mormon, I listened to this segment of On the Media between sessions of LDS General Conference. As some surely know, that’s a bi-annual event that teaches Mormons to strive for Christ-like attributes, like love and respect. Yet in the midst of that message I also ended up listening to an expert on hate speech point out that one of the most prominent Mormons in the United States is doing the exact opposite of what the Church teaches.