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Beck, Bath, and Bizarre

posted by Vineet Chander

glenn-beck-crying.jpgOops, he did it again. Conservative mega-mouth Glenn Beck went on a xenophobic rant against those who choose to journey to India for health-care. He analogized Indian doctors to counterfeit Gucci purses, and mocked India for (what he perceived to be) lack of indoor plumbing.

But it was his jab at the Ganges (Ganga), one of Hinduism’s most sacred rivers, that seemed to really cross the line:

Hindu groups are still seething over Glenn Beck’s disparaging
remarks about India’s River Ganges. Although the political commentator
has already apologized, upset Hindus are still pursuing their complaint
to the Federal Communications Commissions.

Last week, on his Fox News opinion show, the commentator said that the South Asian nation’s sacred river sounds like a disease.He
said, “One big river they have there, that sounds like a disease. Come
on it does. I mean if somebody said, ‘I am sorry, you have a really bad
case of Ganges…’”

He also took aim at India’s healthcare system,
saying healthcare there costs a lot cheaper than in the U.S. because
the money from medical fees go to doctors who studied at Harvard rather
than “Gajra Raja medical school.”

He offered a passing apology
this week, saying, “By the way, the name of the river in India, Ganges,
I said last week that it sounded like a disease, did not mean to offend
anybody.”

(Source: http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/7017307014#ixzz0brVEQ0R8


Many Hindus venerate the Ganges (also called Ganga) as sacred, flowing from a divine source. Hindus of all different lineages or sampradyas will often come together to dip in the river, considering her waters purifying and holy. Water from the Ganges is also bottled and used in Hindu rites and rituals, to ritually cleanse places, or placed on the lips of the dying as a sacrament. Some literally worship the Ganges, either by offering ritual worship to the river herself or to an icon of her personified form Ganga Devi. 

Boat_Ganges_Varanasi.JPGBeck’s insensitivity — in making the offending statement to begin
with, and then in his flippant “By the way, I didn’t mean to offend
anyone” apology — has infuriated Hindus (and others) across the board.
The usual suspects condemned the comments, of course: the
always-ready-to-protest Bhavna Shinde of the Forum for Hindu Awakening
demanded FCC action, and self-designated Hindu “statesman” Rajan Zed
sent out yet another press release (purporting to speak on behalf of
all Hindus) blasting Beck. But joining in the chorus are some other
folks, including the American Association of Physicians of Indian
Origin (AAPI)
and the  US-India Political Action Committee (USINPAC).

Glenn Beck is entitled to his point of view about India’s healthcare,
just as I am entitled to point out that I think that point of view is
simplistic, short-sighted, arrogant, prejudiced, and sophomoric. And if
he needs to sink to the level of a third-grader on the playground
(“ewww, your river sounds like a disease!”) than engage in meaningful
discourse, well, I think that communicates something about his point
right there.

I was disappointed by Beck’s denigration of India, but not shocked by
it. To be sure, I know of Beck’s tendency to offend, belittle, and
denigrate others in furthering his skewed and xenophobic definition of
being a patriot.

But I was a bit surprised that Beck would use the opportunity to hit
below the religious belt and put down Hinduism. The truth is that I
do expect more from him when it comes to religion.

Why? Because Beck is a Mormon, a relatively recent convert to a
religious group that has had to field its own fair share of pot-shots
and put-downs. From being branded a “cult” to being mocked for its
purported support of polytheism, Mormons (members of the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
) are no strangers to being punchlines.

Just as Beck finds Hinduism’s veneration of the Ganges fodder for
insulting humor, there are those who would label much of what Mormons
hold sacred — from “holy underwear” to baptizing the dead to a 19th century prophet
who uncovered tablets with the aid of divine goggles — patently
bizarre.

Indeed, many did precisely this only a few years ago. During
Mitt Romney’s quest for the GOP presidential nomination in 2007, some
chose to zero in on the oddest or most exotic aspects of Mormonism to
evaluate his candidacy. And as Time magazine’s Michael Kinsely pointed out, focusing in on the bizarre to dismiss Romney’s faith, was unfair and dangerous:

Proceed with caution here, of course. Every religion is full of
doctrines and beliefs that may seem nutty to outsiders. Jesus could be
seen as a snake-oil salesman if you don’t buy the snake oil. [Slate.com editor Jacob] Weisberg
says Mormonism is different because it is so “recent,” involving
miraculous events in the 19th century in upstate New York. Well, I
dunno. The patina of age may explain why Jesus’ walking on water is
easier to believe than Smith’s golden plates and magic glasses. But it
doesn’t go far in justifying the distinction.

I couldn’t agree more. I just wish that Beck could extend my faith the same courtesy that Kinsely extended his.


  • News Corpse

    Wait a minute…Did you just say that you wished Beck would extend courtesy? Have you ever watched Beck?
    Don’t waste your time expecting him to exhibit the least bit of tolerance for any faith (or idea) that is contrary to his own. His prejudicial comments are not accidental. They are a pattern of racism that is integral to his character (or lack thereof).

  • Severed

    Well considering you pointed out he has the right to say what he wants, you have the right to be offended but I would suggest you remember the child hood rhyme “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words never will”, and get over it.
    Its one thing to spit on someone, destroy a building, and maybe dump sewage in a holy river but to mock it or joke about the name doesn’t equate into a holy war.
    GET OVER IT, MOVE ON, GET A GRIP… Is this more about the fact you don’t like Beck and are picking a issue to rile your readers or is this really something important. If he apologized accept it or don’t but you can convict a man because of insensitivity. Lousy Joke poor taste but come on elaborate more on why you think he is wrong about the health care issue at least that has merit.
    Why do you watch the guy if you don’t like him. Turn the channel and move on.

  • Richard

    Beck is an embarrassment and is quick to put down anyone who doesn’t think exactly like him. To say that he is sophomoric is right on target. Watching him is like watching a not-too-bright bully trying to show how great he is by mocking everyone else. What he said was callous but not unexpected. The racists who make up a large part of his base eat that stuff up and clamor for more. Sad but true.

  • JDD

    For the record, there are plenty of Mormons who are uncomfortable with many of Beck’s statements as well, myself included. How can he denigrate another’s faith when one of the central tenants of Mormonism is “we claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” Beck seems to ignore the many sermons preached from Mormon pulpits that those of other faiths must be respected and honored. Please do not judge all Mormons by the distasteful comments of this polemic figure. You are right to expect more from Beck when it comes to religion.
    On the other hand, using terms like “holy underwear” and “divine goggles” to describe Mormon beliefs and practices is just as disrespectful as suggesting the River Ganges sounds like a disease, so I’m not sure what to make of your article…

  • JW

    I am a Mormon voice disavowing any connection to Mr. Beck. Many members of my church are conservative in their politics (not all, incidentally), but I believe that is where the similarities end. Nothing in what I believe or have been taught could ever make me think it is acceptable to ridicule the beliefs of others.
    3pxem7

  • TimetorepentGlenn

    I am also a Mormon, disappointed in Mr. Beck’s inappropriate and insensitive comments. The Church recently issued a statement on its website calling for civility, and making reference to public church members who “speak for themselves,” in my mind a not so veiled reference to Glenn. Mormons are imperfect like everyone else, but Glenn, do you have to be such a public buffoon that can’t do better with this? Before going to Fox, Glenn did an interview with Al Sharpton that was very sensitive and collegial, and showed great respect for someone with different beliefs — has your fame gone to your head? I don’t think you are doing the church any favors with this nutty spew.

  • Man

    When Beck insults India he insults Jesus:
    Jesus lived in India:
    http://www.sol.com.au/kor/7_01.htm

  • Heidi

    To Severed or anyone else who thinks word dont matter, you are quite wrong. It is words in the form of propaganda that sways public opinion. Public opinion is what forms laws. Sometime those laws cause persecution, suffering, death for certain types of people. If yo uknew any history you would know that has happened over and over. Sticks and stones are fine to tell CHILDREN, but is not for society. Another adage is THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD. This is closer to the truth of the situation. Words are how any ideology gains power and maintains power. If this were not true the owners of FOX news wouldnt need BECK to begin with to spread their propaganda.

  • Ruby

    Seriously…you are wasting your time and energy on this? If you don’t like Beck don’t watch him. Everybody is getting sooooooooo offending these days and filing lawsuits because their skin got to thin. Every religion has been made fun of or persecuted. Every race has been made fun of or persecuted. Both genders have been made fun of or persecuted. People just need to get over themselves. We are walking around these days trying to be so PC people are afraid to even speak sometimes. Whether people like it or not, Beck has a right to his opinion and has a right under the Constitution to voice it, just like you did here Mr. Chander.

  • methodistsearching

    Glenn Beck is just another shock jock, like Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, et al.
    They make money when people hate them, they make money when people love them.
    The only time they don’t make money is when people ignore them.
    Get it?

  • sun

    whatever dude. Hinduism and India have existed a lot longer than most religions and it is because we are tolerant, intelligent and respect other cultures. We will still be here when your judgement day arrives and your world ends.
    About Harvard- I have met so many morons from your so called ivy league schools-Gajara raja has smarter doctors beacuse the competition is tougher.
    So drink from the disease ridden Ganges and maybe enlightenment will finally dawn in your racist mind.

  • NavyVeteran

    We will never be safe from bombings, needless deaths and idiots until people(no fools) like Beck, Limbaugh, Palin, Cheney are off this planet. They incite hate in all races and nationalities then wonder why we have horrible things happen to us. Every time I see those idiots and others on Fox, I wonder why they are still there. I guess the crazies at the top think ratings and money are more important than doing what is right. If we cannot have tolerance for other races, religions, nationalities, how do we ever expect the hate to stop? And Please, if you hate America for our ways, go after them, not us that care! I don’t condone violence or killings, but I also don’t think it is fair those that do care get targeted and those fools are the ones that incite the hate.
    I think we need to start writing to Fox ( or their advertisers)and complaining more!(Not that it might change, but we have to start somewhere!

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_violence_in_Orissa Pareidolius

    we are tolerant, intelligent and respect other cultures.

    One word Sun, Orissa.

  • saqi

    duh glenn beck=ignorant

  • http://Beliefnet.com Yermal

    Nobody should take seriously xenophobic rants of Glenn Beck. He only deserves pity for his foul mega-mouth statements. He himself says he is not a journalist. He does not consider facts as sacred, as responsible journalists do. He has only comments showing his perverted mind. We should not dignify his idiotic comments on the Ganges, Indian doctors and Indian health care by responding to them. He is an arrogant, prejudiced merchant of hate. My sincere advice to him is to have a dip in the holy Ganges to purify his body, mind and soul. I see no redemption to him without that.

  • Anan E. Maus

    well, here’s a different listening option:
    Mahatma Gandhi, in his own words, from 1931….
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SakitCoNYc

  • Shubhangi Raykar

    This kind of ignoranceabout Hinduism is shameful. Medical tourism to India is a romance forced on the Americans because of the greed of the medical services there. By the way the order in your blog should have been Ganga also known as the Ganges
    Shubhangi

  • Ron

    How dare this moron ridicule the religions of others!

  • Satish J

    Beck has again revealed his hedious and distorted thinking.
    Let poeple like him continue in their obscene barage against every thing Indian only to wake up from their dreams that the medical tourism becomes a full fldged reality – not only in India but across many Asian countries. He forgets that efficiency and proficiency is not the prerogrative of only a selected few.

  • Ganapati Kamesh

    I’m not from India, or of Indian ancestry, but I am a Hindu. I don’t watch Glen Beck, I find his rants full of illogic and really that’s all he’s got…rants. I am not even sure why he has a TV show, especially on what is supposed to be a News channel. I think he should just keep his radio show. Still, I wasn’t aware he even said this. I think a better apology is needed. In fact, Mr. Beck may be unaware that it is the Mormon church in Utah that has built many Hindu temples there for the Hindu population (they’ve also help build Buddhist temples). When asked why the Mormon church would so such a thing they respond that they understand what it is like to be a minority in this nation and so they want other people of minor faiths to have beautiful places to worship. Mormons are, usually, very agreeable to the First Amendment and protective of it (usually…there are a few subjects where they would stray). Many of my own Mormon friends are very accepting of other people’s faiths. They like to have dialogue and discussion about religious beliefs, not to belittle and demean them, but to learn from one another through the sharing of beliefs and ideas. Thus, knowing that Mr. Beck is a Mormon, I find this news to be shocking considering that compared to most of the Mormons I know, his behavior, words, and actions go against the very faith he claims to practice. I guess the Mormon church won’t be using him as a spokesperson anytime soon.

  • Denise

    Glenn Beck is to be pitied for his immense ignorance.

  • http://www.indyinasia.tv/ Lomasha Rishidas

    2010 January 16 Saturday 03:04 GMT+09:00
    Dear Vineet Chander,
    Please make this critical distinction: Glenn Beck is a NEO- Conservative (read war monger), NOT a Conservative.
    The hallmark of genuine Conservatism in International Relations is Non-interventionism, the diplomatic policy whereby a nation seeks to avoid alliances with other nations in order to avoid being drawn into wars not related to direct territorial self-defense.
    Thomas Paine is generally credited with instilling the first non-interventionist ideas into the American body politic in his work Common Sense. George Washington’s farewell address is often cited as laying the foundation for a tradition of American non-interventionism. John Adams followed George Washington’s ideas about non-interventionism, and President Thomas Jefferson extended Washington’s ideas in his March 4, 1801 inaugural address: “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.”
    You referenced Glenn Beck’s (recent) Mormonism. He is totally out of touch with the peaceful traditions of the Apostles and Patriarchs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Apparently, he is completely uninformed (or uncaring) about how Mormon Church Founder Joseph Smith reacted when faced with an armed militia intent upon killing him.
    http://tinybang.com/1519
    I beg of you, do not slander the reputations of Conservatives or Mormons by leading people to incorrectly believe that Glenn Beck represents either.
    Sincerely,
    Rishidas

  • palched

    compassion is always practiced to generate love, care , empathy for those who suffer. Mr. Beck is one of the objects of my practice, everyday, at all times. It is heartbreaking to know that someone suffering so profoundly, is actually being nurtured. What a delusional man and his followers are heartbreaking. They are so self-righteous, yet they never exhibit any of their teachings of compassion and love, just hate, divisiveness and strife. This is a man who hasn’t contemplated priorities of any sort. Just hoping that his mindset isn’t the way of the world, if it is we are all screwed!
    contemplated priorities

  • kali

    Anyone who doesn’t understand where Glenn Beck is coming from has probably not read the constitution of the United States of America. In this country, all religions are welcome and allowed to prosper. This is because of the men who wrote our constitution. It is because of his understanding and appreciation for the freedoms that our founding fathers fought, including freedom of religion, and his willingness to put himself out there (however flawed) to preserve those freedoms that you even know who Glenn Beck is. He made a sophomoric joke about the sound of a word. WIth all due respect to the river, it’s got a funny name. I doubt that the river is insulted. He makes stupid jokes all the time, and he admits it. Apparantly,he believes that health care in the US is better than that in India, is he wrong? Why are so many, many Indian physicians practicing in the US? How many American physicians are practicing in India by comparison? Why would that be? It’s the facilities, the technology and the investment in medicine in the US…that’s what he’s talking about. And in trying to keep our country free of socialized “healthcare” , he brings up such things to an audience that generally understands this. This is not about Indian doctors, it’s about something much bigger. Obviously some here don’t understand this, or don’t care to pay attention to what is really going on in Washington right now, but those are the same people who are blinded by the leaders who love to see us distracted and arguing about political correctness, while those leaders fritter away our very freedom to choose in deals with their lobbying machines. And from the look of this blog, those leaders are succeeding in misleading their “flock”. My advice is to first read the constitution, and take it at it’s word, without allowing any “educational system” to interpret it for you. Then decide for yourself if preserving those freedoms that you live here in order to enjoy are worth it. Because they can be taken away by an oppressive government. History shows that it always starts with a a promise to “share the wealth”, appeals to the masses and then cracks down on the very people it made promises to. Be watchful of your freedom, treasure it, preserve it. Listen to the substance, do your own research, get the real facts, recheck your facts. And don’t get caught up in critisizing people who do.

  • http://www.blog.beliefnet.com Vivek Golikeri

    Sure, we have wonderful flush toilets, thanks to our high standard of living. We even have human sewage like Glenn Beck to flush down those same toilets. Hope you haven’t been having any alcoholic relapses, Glennie baby. Of course, you have a Constipational right to make mindless comments. But equally do I to call you an ignorant redneck dolled up to pass for a gentleman. “An ape’s an ape, a varlet’s a varlet, though he be clad in silk or scarlet.”

  • john sessoms

    i say people ought to thank gleen beck for the job he did
    the past year to get out to the people of the us what
    is going on. happy one year gleen. john sessoms
    gsdyonis nc 28054..keep up the good work….

  • Randy

    I must say that I count myself fortunate that I do not watch the Fox “News” channel. I have boycotted this “News” channel for over a year now because of such slanted, xenophobic, and at times extremely hateful and malicious reporting and programming. Including propaganda, lies, hatred, and incitement to violence – including violence against American citizens and political leaders. If you are truly appalled and embarrassed by MR. Becks behavior as I am I would encourage you to visit democrats.com/organize to view the best ways to protest against Mr. Beck and his actions. Remember that the most effective protest is the protest that removes the support for such offenses while respecting the offender.

  • http://www.kogcc.net R. Joseph Owles

    Those of you who are counseling the author, and anyone who would agree with him, to “get over it” and not be so easily offended–I wonder what your reaction would be if CNN or MSNBC or any other so-called news network had a show with a Hindu or a Muslim host making insensitive and inflammatory comments about Jesus Christ, the church, or any other part of Christianity. Somehow I don’t think so. I know Beck would be the first to cry foul if the situation were reversed–if a Hindu made fun of something sacred to him. It’s a simple rule: if you don’t want Hindus to make fun of your religion, don’t make fun of theirs. It’s a practical application to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

  • Manuel V.

    I think it is just about time you remove this comment from here, it seems it’s been here for ages; haven’t you got something else to talk about?

  • Your Name

    Dearest friend, i wouldn’t have known who is glenn beck without ironically reading your very informative column. now, i am preparing again to forget that he exists, because his view is of no service to me or any of the wonderful people i love call friend or family . in fact his view is like a virulent disease spreading all over the planet, may it be drowned out in the most glorious beautiful healing our blessed Ganges. My poor dear husband likewise was troubled by a conservative commentator he heard yesterday under the banner of american free speech, michael ? savitch? saying something about killing and assassinating people. this speech is “free”? i think this poor fellow’s soul is so caught in the webdesign of his own entrapment. hence i dont even seem to find room in my small brain to remember this poor man’s name but he is likewise slow, ignorant, stupid and hurting people. so i am forgetting him and placing him in the “to be forgotten” purdah pile.
    by the way i am thinking of a small sacrifice i can make to avoid these dense emotions and reactions. i am thinking i can TOTALLY STOP SEEING FOX TV!! yes not just their bad reporting of news (which is never truthful or unbiased but instead based on low energy fear and reactive rage) but all their stupid undignified and debasing TV shows!
    YES! this is a revolutionary idea which will now liberate my time for beautiful people, bold ideas of change & hope, and freedom from all forms of delusional fear. by the way mr glenn beck, thank you for pointing out to me i can get my medical issues taken care of in MOTHER INDIA!! this idea had not occurred to me yet so thank you so very much!!! I appreciate this one tiny shred of wisdom which escaped his lips!!!! BLESSINGS NAMASTE OM SHANTI EVERY BUDDY :)

  • CJ

    To the post above…Your words speak exactly how I feel. Thank You!

  • James

    These fearful haters need to be called for their hate speech. Of course we shouldn’t buy into it – that is, resort to the same words and tactics – but Beck wouldn’t have apologized if someone hadn’t spoken up about how wrong he is. We’ll never be able to rid the world of this level of ignorance and hate, but As Edmond Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

  • Vinod

    You feel Beck’s idea about Ganges is embarrassing.
    Indians feel offended when people like Beth says anything about India.
    But did he say lies?
    Did you go to the Ganges and see for yourself, how chemical effluent from industries, human waste, dead bodies are thrown in Ganges?
    And is that offending and embarrassing ?
    Now, do you see why Indians are called Hypocrites?
    I would say Beth is more religions. He tells the truth and that is what Hinduism teaches. And all that WE Lazy Indians do is feel bad about it and that is what hypocrisy teaches.
    Hindus practice religion by simply framing and praying Bhagwad Gita.
    Krishna would cry if he sees this. Let us do what krishna says. Not just pray him and worry about his reputation getting affected by what foolish people talk about him.
    So let us get up and make efforts to clean the Ganges. Once we achieve that, I am sure people like Beth will only admire the beauty of it.

  • CHAN THARP

    Change Channels if you dont like him remember though he is rated #2 cable celeb just behind Oprah!

  • AJ

    I think he joked about it because he has no idea just how sacred that river is to Hindus. It’s ignorance, really. Which, although it’s sad, is better than just being purposely cruel.
    Meanwhile, I’d be much more forgiving if the joke was actually funny.

  • Antarlavanya

    Just looking at his face I wonder what he eats?. Man is what he eats. Glen Beck is what he eats, which is just enough to know what stuff he is made of.. So why expect anything GOOD out from him.
    It is not HE who is wrong, he is just made of wrong stuff.
    We as followers of Adi Sanatana Dharma cannot be insulted, its not just tolerance , its the nature of ours.
    Shubha

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Previous Posts

Is Asana Religious?
Last week, I received an inquiry from a Christian theologian interested in showing that “the postures of Yoga” (asana) are directly tied to Hinduism and thus, cannot be easily incorporated into daily life by Christians.  While the origin of yoga is undoubtedly tied to the Hindu sacred texts, th

posted 2:48:02pm Jul. 17, 2014 | read full post »

India's Holy Men by Joey L.
I just ran across these stunning images of Holy Men by photographer Joey L. The initial set of images are of Indian sadhus living in the holy city of Varanasi...and they are absolutely breathtaking. http://www.joeyl.com/personal-galleries/holy-men-2/

posted 11:54:40am Mar. 03, 2014 | read full post »

The Idea of a Constructed Hindu Identity
The following piece was written by my friend Raman Khanna, who is also a member of the Hindu American Foundation's Executive Council. “Hinduism was invented recently.” “The word Hindu is problematic.” “It’s not accurate to speak of Hinduism, only Hinduisms.” More than a decade has

posted 5:21:42pm Jan. 23, 2014 | read full post »

Coalition Against Reality: Deconstructing an Attack on the Hindu American Foundation
Principled opposition is expected when litigating issues in the public square, and the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) , for which I serve as the Senior Director, has at times faced stiff opposition from the right and left of the ideological spectrum in response to various positions, reports, and st

posted 5:38:10pm Jan. 06, 2014 | read full post »

Advice on kindness
My yoga teacher sent me the below link to George Saunders' convocation speech at Syracuse University for the class of 2013. It's worth a read: http://6thfloor.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/31/george-saunderss-advice-to-graduates/?src=me&ref=general&_r=0

posted 10:24:26am Aug. 08, 2013 | read full post »




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