Breaking up with Glenn Beck is hard to do. A few years ago, the former FOX News weeper/ranter played Muse’s 2009 single “The Uprising” on his radio show, compared the band’s political views to his own via Twitter, then falsely claimed the band asked him to retract his endorsement. (He later acknowledged he was just joking about the band’s reps telling him to shove it). A confused band member politely referred to Beck as “a bit of a crazy right winger.” That was in January 2010.
In an interview published on Sunday in the Observer, Muse frontman Matthew Bellamy called conservatives’ fascination with his band “weird,” said right-wingers had “hijacked” his songs and the “conspiracy theory subculture,” and declared himself “a left-leaning libertarian — more in the realm of Noam Chomsky.” Now, considering three years ago Beck pretended Muse tried to reject his endorsement, he of course isn’t shying away from this latest publicity opportunity. He has responded to Muse’s interview, where the band members didn’t even mention him by name, with a 566-word “open letter” in which he links himself to George Washington and Thomas Paine.
Although Muse never asked in the Observer interview for Beck to stop playing their music, or even straight-up said his playing it made them “uncomfortable,” Beck has already defied their non-request — their non-discomfort be damned. “As uncomfortable as it might be for you, I will still play your songs loudly,” Beck wrote. “To me your songs are anthems that beg for choruses of unity and pose the fundamental question facing the world today — can man rule himself?”
Beck goes on (and on): “In the Venn Diagram of American politics, where the circles of crimson and blue overlap, there’s a place where you and I meet. It’s a place where guys who cling to their religion, rights, and guns, connect with godless, clinched-fist-tattoo, guys [sic and sic].”
You can read the whole thing below and save yourself a trip to Beck’s website, because places where Muse and right-wing talk radio hosts meet should be avoided at all costs. It would be impossible to take anyone there seriously, and they’d all be packing heat.
BONUS VIDEO: We were going to post Muse’s “The Uprising,” but you know what? Here’s Super Furry Animals’ all-purpose 1996 protest song “The Man Don’t Give a Fuck” instead.
I read your comments in the Guardian via Rolling Stone last week and feel like with a little work we could better understand each other.
As uncomfortable as it might be for you, I will still play your songs loudly. To me your songs are anthems that beg for choruses of unity and pose the fundamental question facing the world today – can man rule himself?
In the Venn Diagram of American politics, where the circles of crimson and blue overlap, there’s a place where you and I meet. It’s a place where guys who cling to their religion, rights, and guns, connect with godless, clinched-fist-tattoo, guys.
You seem to have a pretty good grasp of comparative U.S. and European politics, but maybe there’s a pattern that you’re underestimating. Throughout history, leaders have used music to lull young people into a sense of security and euphoria. They’ve used artists to create the illusion that they can run a country that keeps all the good and wipes out all the bad. Think Zurich 1916. Think artists getting behind guys like Lenin and Trotsky. Think of pop culture’s role in the Arab Spring. The youth rises up, power structures crumble, and worse leaders are inserted.
America, on the other hand, does not rely on leaders — we rely on the individual. Our country was built on the principles of mercy, justice, and charity — we ultimately believe that man left alone is good. That is a primary reason I disagree with Chomsky and others that you’ve touted.
American Libertarians understand that smaller government gives people freedom — the freedom to earn or lose, eat or starve, own or sell. The potential for wild success and happiness is tempered by an equal chance of failure. And it is all up to the individual to take control of their destiny.
This has been a debate since the founding of America, one that has often gotten confused. Even during the revolution — a period filled with the greatest minds to ever discuss the idea of freedom — there were the divisions that continue today. Robespierre or George Washington. OWS or the TEA Party.
Thomas Paine didn’t see the difference at first either — sometimes the difference is too subtle.
Yet the question is an easy one: Do you believe man can rule himself? Or does he need someone ruling over him to force him to be good and charitable?
That is the fundamental divide and everything else follows. Even though faith was important to our American patriots none of them forced Paine to believe. He chose his course and in the end is remembered as a critical patriot in establishing man’s first real freedom.
They understood that we don’t all have to be in the same boat. But rather, focused on the star chart: Are you headed toward freedom or despotism?
The power that American Libertarians like me want to pull down is power that limits the individuals right to roam and create.
Matthew, I realize that converts are pretty hard to come by when the stakes are so high and the spotlight so bright, but I thank you for singing words that resonate with man in his struggle to be free.
I wish I could leave well enough alone and just be quiet…
…but I’ve had recurring nightmares that I was loved for who I am and missed the opportunity to be a better man.
Good luck on the new record.