Sis boom bah, go Beck U.!

Austin American-Statesman - - OPINION -

Ascene from the near fu­ture: Au­gus­tusMer­ry­weather IVglanced up at the tap­ping on his of­fice door. Har­vey Car­bun­kle stood there in bow tie and shirt sleeves, smil­ing ea­gerly from be­hind horn­rimmed glasses.

Au­gus­tus sighed. He hated this part of the job. It was never fun to let peo­ple go.

He waved the young man to a seat, spoke with­out pre­am­ble. “Har­vey, I’m afraid it’s not work­ing out.”

The ea­ger face fell like a re­frig­er­a­tor from a mov­ing truck. “You’re fir­ing me?”

“I have no choice. Your­work, well ... it hasn’t been up to the stan­dard we ex­pect for an edi­tor at Mer­ry­weather Pub­lish­ing. Frankly, I’m sur­prised. When I saw that you were a grad­u­ate of BU, I couldn’t wait to hire you. Bos­ton Uni­ver­sity turns out some great stu­dents.”

“I didn’t go to Bos­ton Uni­ver­sity,” Har­vey said. “Bay­lor, then. Still a great school.” “I didn’t go to Bay­lor.” “But your re­sume says you grad­u­ated BU.” A proud smile. “Yes, sir. That’s Beck Uni­ver­sity.”

Au­gus­tus was con­fused. “I’ve never heard of ...”

“Beck Uni­ver­sity!” said Har­vey, the smile widen­ing. “You know, Glenn Beck? He has that show on CNN. Also, that novel, that other book, that ra­dio pro­gram, that standup act, that line of ath­letic shoes and that cologne. He founded an on­line uni­ver­sity back in 2010 so peo­ple could learn the real truth they don’t get in your so-called ‘uni­ver­si­ties.’ ” He made air quotes.

“So, when you re­jected that Martin Luther King bi­og­ra­phy be­cause it didn’tmen­tion how white con­ser­va­tives started the civil rights move­ment ...” A sharp nod. “I learned that at Beck U.” “And when you told the author of that book on re­li­gion that ‘pinko commie’ is the pre­ferred term for preach­ers who talk about so­cial and eco­nomic jus­tice ...” “Beck U.” “And­when you asked­why therewas no ref­er­ence toNazi death pan­els eu­th­a­niz­ing chil­dren in that book on health-care re­form ...” “Yes, sir! Beck U.” Au­gus­tus sank back into his chair. “Beck me,” he mut­tered. “Beg par­don?” Au­gus­tus re­garded the­man­who perched be­fore him. “Har­vey,” he said af­ter a moment, “you can’t be­lieve all that garbage they filled your head with. None of that stuff is true! It’s just the rant­ings of a para­noid nutjob liv­ing in an al­ter­nate re­al­ity. The facts —”

Har­vey shrank back, look­ing hor­ri­fied. “No, sir!” he shouted. “No, sir! Pro­fes­sor Beck warned us about peo­ple like you. He said you’d try to con­fuse us with all your ‘facts’ and your ‘logic’ and your ‘rea­son.’ Well, Har­veyWal­ter Car­bun­kle is on to your game!”

All at once, Au­gus­tus felt tired. He felt old. “Very well,” he said. “Be­lieve what you want. But we’ve still got to let you go. You’re not qual­i­fied.”

Har­vey ap­peared to con­tem­plate it. He shrugged. “That’s OK,” he said. “NowI’ll have time to pur­sue my grad­u­ate work at the U of L.” Au­gus­tus sat up straight. “Louisiana?” “Lim­baugh.” “Of course,” said Au­gus­tus, drop­ping back into the chair.

Har­vey’s ex­pres­sion was pity­ing. “I wish I could help you see how wrong you are. You think the world is about ‘facts’ and ‘knowl­edge’ and ‘in­for­ma­tion’ you can ‘prove.’ The lamestream­me­dia has you fooled and you don’t even know it.”

Abruptly he turned away, gnaw­ing a knuckle.

“Well,” said Au­gus­tus, “I sup­pose we’ll just have to agree to—” He stopped, alarmed. “My God, man, are you cry­ing?”

Har­vey’s eyes were glis­ten­ing. His voice wob­bled like a tod­dler. “I’msorry,” he gasped. “It’s just ...” His voice tore. He bit his lip, lifted his palm, took a steady­ing breath, then tried again. “It’s just that I lovemy coun­try so­much and I’m fright­ened for her fu­ture.”

Au­gus­tus shook his head. “I know just how you feel,” he said.

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