Quote of the Day

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Man Who Changed Glenn Beck's Life

Salon.com has an article today on Cleon Skousen (with, incredibly, a GWU mention).

"Before he died in 2006 at the age of 92, Skousen's own Mormon church publicly distanced itself from the foundation that Skousen founded and that has published previous editions of The 5,000 Year Leap."

The article quotes former Salt Lake mayor J. Bracken Lee, who fired Skousen as police chief in 1960:

"The man is a master of half-truths. In at least three instances I have proven him to be a liar. He is a very dangerous man [and] one of the greatest spenders of public funds of anyone who ever served in any capacity in Salt Lake City government."

After being fired, Skousen worked for two speaker bureaus, the John Birch Society and for the Fred Schwarz-operated "Christian Anti-Communism Crusade." He gave paid speeches around the United States, feeding off the anti-Communist sentiment in the country.

The FBI, which compiled a 2,000-page dossier on Skousen, made an insightful comment that applies to present-day George Wythe University when it described Skousen's employer "Schwarz as 'an opportunist,' the likes of which 'are largely responsible for misinforming people and stirring them up emotionally ... Schwartz [sic] and others like him can only do the country and the anticommunist work of the Bureau harm.'"


While I share a handful of views with the founders and operators of George Wythe University (I'm a libertarian at heart), this does not mean that I automatically support the organization.

This school's approach and attitude--an affinity for half-truths if not outright lies--can only do the country and the conservative cause harm. It must be challenged and if not shut down, at least consistently called out.

The founders of GWU tragically chose to employ half-truths in promoting and running the school.

What a wasted opportunity.

So much work and sacrifice has gone into building the organization, but even an efficient organization built on a shoddy foundation will one day fall.

I implore the school to continue cleaning house. Write an HONEST history. Publish statistics (number of grads, past degrees offered, etc.).

Do some good for the conservative movement. Right now you're a liability.



Anonymous said...

"The founders of GWU tragically chose to employ half-truths in promoting and running the school. What a wasted opportunity."

Well said!

James F. said...

Just curious--what is it the "Mormon" church did to publicly distance itself from Skousen?

RGW--do you agree with the premise of the article? I mean for Skousen apparently being the "master of half-truths" it only too me about 30 seconds to look up on wikipedia that purportedly as police chief Skousen raided an illegal poker club at which mayor Bracken Lee was in attendance. After which...yes he was fired. Now that's good stuff, no?

Its a good thing that so much work is being done to discredit a man that not can't defend himself. Those dirty anti-communists. Good thing we've gotten rid of them now that communist ideals are coming back in popularity.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for finding out the truth. However it doesn't serve truth well to endorse an article just because it speaks negatively of a man that has ties to DeMille and GWU. It seems obvious that the article is trying to discredit Skousen to ultimately discredit Beck. And I'm sure you have noticed that of late Beck has become a high valued target.

I guess what I'm saying is that we all need to be careful that we aren't dabbling in "half-truths" and thinking we're hearing the whole story.

R.C. said...

James - There is an interesting blog by a guy who has Skousen's FBI file. It appears from the records that he was not exactly truthful about his position at the FBI.

Skousen is a very controversial figure in the LDS world. In my experience, you find individuals who think he deserved more recognition, and you find individuals who think he should have been excommunicated.

I don't know about him. I have one of his books on my shelf, but I haven't really read it much. The stories seemed too amazing to be true. Since sources weren't documented, one can only guess if he was telling the truth.

I have 5,000 year leap on my reading list, and at some point I might browse through it.

James F. said...

RC-I would be interested in reading the blog if you would like to post a link. All things must be taken in context. Mayor Bracken Lee said that Skousen was the "master of half-truths". That's pretty condemning, don't you think? And he's the mayor--that sounds pretty official. But when you hear the whole story, that Mayor Lee was busted by Skousen at an illegal gambling club...then things start to make sense. Lee then fired Skousen complaining that he was enforcing the law "like a Gestapo".

So while his actual history at the FBI would be interesting to know about--just because one former FBI agent has access to Skousen's file and writes negatively about his career doesn't mean that he has the final word.

Did Skousen lie about his career? It is certainly possible. But I wasn't there. And you weren't there. The best we can do is listen to ALL sides and within context make a personal judgement.

R.C. said...


I believe that was referenced in the Salon.com article. Apparently one didn't have to be there to see if he wasn't telling the complete truth. Check out that blog, it appears that Skousen made some very questionable claims about his position that are not backed up with facts.

On youtube (I need to find the link) there was a lecture from Skousen where he said that his favorite college professors and textbook writers turned out to be on subversive lists.

I said I don't know much about him. I am doing some reading about him.

One comment I have on the Mayor Bracken snippet. Yah it looks bad, but you are talking to a freedom loving individual who doesn't care if people gamble.

James F. said...

Yeah R.C., I agree that in a free country people should be...well free. My issue isn't with that--but that the Salon article uses the Mayor Lee quote as their most authoritative character reference on Skousen when it is obvious that Mayor Lee had personal issues with Skousen that would have interfered with any objective evaluation of him. Being Mayor of SLC and getting busted by your Police Chief isn't exactly good for your political career.

From the author of the blog link you posted: "I am a 'conspiracy buff' and a freelance researcher". Wow, looks like Salon went deep into researching this article on "The Man Who Changed Glenn Beck's Life". The went all the way to the blog of a "conspiracy buff". Modern journalism continues to impress.

Once again, don't get me wrong. I have no special allegiance to Skousen. If he blatantly lied about his career with the FBI, I would like to know. But the blog author (as far as I can tell) never discloses who he is, what his qualifications are, and how he got access to Skousen's full FBI record.

The 5,000 Year Leap is good, but certainly nothing ground-breaking. Just a good evaluation and commentary of the founding principles. Read it when you get the chance but its not like there is much in there he could have lied about even if he was as questionable a character as his opponents are trying to make him out to be.

R.C. said...

He did mention how he got the info - he filed a bunch of freedom of information act requests. I have no allegiance or issue with Skousen either. I am pretty neutral on him.

I wish that Salon had gone deeper - why didn't they double check the numbers to see if Skousen had really busted the budget like Bracken Lee said? If anyone has time, find that one out. I wouldn't even know where to start.