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A tiny bit of knowledge (no, McCarthy wasn’t completely wrong), combined with an enormous Fox News constituency and an unflappable trust in one’s own wisdom, is a dangerous thing. Beck doesn’t demonstrate the perils of autodidacticism, but the perils of learning the subject while at the same time attempting to teach it.
Woodrow Wilson was an imperial president who cared little for civil liberties; the New Deal prolonged the Great Depression; the anti-communists were on the right side of history. Yes, yes, and yes. But these stories can be told without exaggeration, without relying on conspiracy, without the rehabilitation of a heavy-drinking senator who believed that Gen. George Marshall was a Soviet agent.
All things to consider when dispatching your application (and $79) to Glenn Beck University.
Michael C. Moynihan is a senior editor of Reason magazine