****I made a few mistakes in this post, namely describing the attack on the Muslim woman as being from her husband when actually the attack came from a man whom she had rejected when he proposed to marry her. I also called her an Arab when she is Persian -- I wasn't aware of the difference (my own grandfather was a Christian Syrian). Here's the definition of both: The Arabs, though themselves not homogenous, are a Semitic people, whereas the Persians are Indo-Iranian, their language belonging to the Indo-European language family. In short, they are historically, culturally, linguistically and ethnically separate populations who happen to share a in the Middle East. (from Wiki answers). Thank you, Chris, for straightening me out!
Despite my inaccuracies, my opinion remains the same.
I've followed the story of Stephanie Nielson, the Mormon blogger horribly burned and disfigured in a plane crash several years ago. I've marveled with the rest of the blogging planet at her resilience, beauty and grace and admired her devotion to her family and husband. While her writing isn't particularly inspiring, the photos she posts of her beautiful children and the home she's created are fascinating in their seeming perfection, and above all her strength in recovery and honesty about its difficulty are at the very least, moving, and awe-inspiring otherwise. I think pretty harshly about the Mormon religion and its constructs, but I admire Stephanie's faith in something larger than herself and can only wonder, from a distance, on how she does it.
When I opened up her blog, though, last night and saw the photo of her in the arms of Glen Beck, I practically fell out of my chair. I'll be blunt: I find Glen Beck to be a repulsive sycophant who has done as much as anyone to promote the image of our country as a bunch of ignorant charlatans. I watched the video that Stephanie posted and not only fell out of my chair but lay there on the floor, beating my head against it. Basically, Beck tells Stephanie's story -- and it's a moving one if you don't know it already -- and brings attention to a recent 20/20 episode that featured Stephanie and her family. He underlines Stephanie's Christian faith in God. He highlights a segment of an interview with Stephanie where she tearfully explains how difficult it is for her to be mocked or stared at in public by children and adults but how she forgives those people. This is all good -- I know that I learn from the strength of others, and I struggle myself with my feelings toward those who stare out and speak rudely of Sophie when we are in public. I am often humbled by Stephanie's grace in the face of far bigger problems.
But then Beck does his thing. He tells the story of a PERSIAN woman who has also been horribly disfigured and blinded as the result of acid burns inflicted on her by her husband. In the country where this has happened, the perpetrator is to be punished in the same manner as his crime, and guess what? Beck condemns the horribly disfigured woman as a vengeful, evil person because she wants her husband burned in the same way as she has been. Well, he doesn't actually condemn her as much as he condescendingly shakes his head and contorts his face, suggesting these Muslims are crazy, evil people now, aren't they? I looked closely for his tell-tale tears, but I didn't see any. To tell you the truth, it was the longest I'd ever listened to the guy. Now, if you've been reading my blog for any amount of time or know me, you know that I'm NOT an eye for an eye kind of person. Although my mouth is as big as the Grand Canyon, I generally tilt toward pacifism, and I certainly don't support the barbaric practices of backward countries. So I'm not going to defend this poor woman's motivations. But Stephanie Nielsen and this Muslim woman have only the terrible scars in common and literally nothing else. I believe that Beck has used Stephanie to help his flagging popularity and he's done so with customary repulsive tactics.
Why am I writing all of this? Partly because it incenses me and partly because I find it fascinating. I think it's gloriously human to be drawn to and strengthened by stories of people overcoming great obstacles and even tragedy, but I think it's uniquely American to turn these stories into fodder for the commercial machine. It makes me sick that Glen Beck has done so.