Home > Critic-At-Large > Lunatics, Creeps, Apocalypse Freaks, Glenn Beck
Lunatics, Creeps, Apocalypse Freaks, Glenn Beck
By Chris Colcord
Fort Wayne Reader
At this stage of the game there's no joy in burying Pat Robertson, just a painful sense of embarrassment. His latest depravity — blaming the Haitian earthquake on the deviltry of the Haitian people — has completely destroyed the illusion that the fundamentalist pastor has any grasp on reality left. It has got to be a tricky time at The 700 Club; somewhere deep in the caverns at the Christian Broadcasting Network, top-level executives are probably drawing straws at this moment to determine who's gonna be the one to tell the Old Man that he's lost it. The loser gets a thankless job — Robertson started the network, after all, and like Ahab, it's a sure thing he won't go away too easily. But it has to happen. There's just no spin left at CBN to explain away the crazy man's latest comments.
No matter how repugnant Robertson has become, though, the spectacle of his mind unravelling in such a public way is still unnerving to behold. It's like watching Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes slug that Clemson linebacker in his last game, a crazy old man flipping out while the cameras catch every image. Pat Robertson has been saying terrible things for decades and is the virtual poster child for crazy Christian fundamentalism, yet this last gruesome outburst feels like the topper, the pathetic final roar. And while I'm glad he's edging closer to irrelevancy, I can't help but feel pity for the old fool. It's never pleasant to see an unhinged religious and apocalypse freak expose himself on national television.
It has been a truly disturbing thing, the way Robertson has explained the role of God in Katrina, 9/11, Haiti, as if the world is a big pinata and God has the stick. For years, Robertson has been predicting frightening, doomsday fates for the sinners of the country--a great tsunami to hit the Pacific Northwest in 2005, a nuclear blast on American soil in 2007. It is almost with a sense of disappointment when he acknowledges, at year's end, that God has apparently called off the air strike.
Of course, Pat Robertson is not the lone apocalypse nut case running wild these days. For some freakish reason, end-of-the-world lunacy is crawling all over the zeitgeist in America in 2010, and not just in the nether regions of religious zealotry. It's extended into popular culture as well. There are currently three apocalypse-based movies playing in theaters (The Book of Eli, The Road, 2012), with three similarly themed films coming in the next two months. Political commentator Glenn Beck is advocating the purchase of bomb shelters and a three-month supply of nonperishable food, in order to keep families safe during the impending cataclysm. Opponents of President Obama's social and monetary policies are predicting epic scales of social unrest and imminent revolution. And on and on. Why all this "Final Tribulation" talk, I can't explain — I thought that once we crossed the threshold of the Year 2000, all the destruction freaks would be silenced, at least for a while. But I was wrong. The pop-eyed Armageddonists have become re-energized. Whether it's the Mayan calendar, natural disasters, terrorism, or the collapse of the international banking system, creepy apocalypse lovers are convinced that the Book of Revelations' "Final Days" are at hand.
While I'm usually very tolerant of the fervent and the insane, I have to admit I have zero patience for all the putative Mad Maxs out there. Not counting the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, which I was too young to be aware of, the current "Doomsday" scenario is the eighth I've witnessed in my lifetime, and so far, well, the "EndTimes" folks are 0-for-7. Let me repeat: 0-for-7. That's an "0-fer." A goose egg. An empty set. A Blutarsky: Zero point zero zero. These are not betting odds, and they certainly don't compel me to start leafing through brochures that feature bomb shelters and contamination suits. In my lifetime, the Arab-Israeli War didn't unleash the Beast, and nuclear power plants didn't meltdown the planet. In my lifetime, Reagan didn't push the button, the Ebola Virus didn't go airborne, and Clinton, it turns out, wasn't the anti-Christ. The Y2K crash never happened. And September 11th didn't cause the world to ignite into instantaneous nuclear holocaust. I know that vigilant tea-leaf readers and Seventh Sign watchers are convinced that this time it's for real, but I'm going to continue to ride the world's hot streak and bet that the Earth's not going to blow up tomorrow.
Of course, this makes me an oblivious airhead to all the True Believers out there, the doom merchants who are desperately trying to shake the world into seeing the truth. When Glenn Beck gets all teary-eyed on his show, pleading for Americans to "Wake Up!," please know it's me who he's referring to — I'm still fast asleep, arrogant in my belief that the world's not going to end, that the current Administration won't turn the country into a goose-stepping, utilitarian police state. Glenn has seen the signs, though, the evil plot that the "progressives" have enacted in order to enslave the world. It will bring about the dreaded "New World Order," which was also — surprise! — predicted by Pat Robertson.