Last Friday, Fox News Channel’s top fearmonger Glenn Beck devoted his entire show to China, making the case that America is going to lose its leadership position of the world to China very soon, and that maybe, it already has. The show begins with Beck explaining the genesis of the show, lamenting how he found a China-designed toy in his son’s Burger King happy meal, and how China-made cartoons (along with Chinese culture) are now flooding into American living rooms instead of the other way around.
Putting together the top headlines over the past few weeks, Beck points out that the Chinese are now overtaking the Americans in just about every aspect of life — they’ve got better supercomputers, better military equipment, better university-entrance scores, and now, supposedly even better parents.
Throughout the show, Beck’s arguments are replete with zero-sum-game assumptions. For instance, China’s new position as the top passenger car market implies to him that from now on, Americans are going to get second-rate models because the Chinese get to “have the first crack at it”. Also, now that China is the top energy consumer, the United States will have to make do with second-rate oil that is more difficult, and more expensive, to refine.
Even when it comes to innovation and entrepreneurship, the one area where Beck says the US has a lead over China, America is doing poorly. A recent study — which he cannot find — says that US children are “no longer able to think out of the box like they used to”, and yet, Obama is doing whatever he can to create policies that stifle American ingenuity.
The highlight of the show has to be towards the end when Beck trotted out two books, 1421: The Year China Discovered the World, and 1434: The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance, which he described as “tremendous” and “unbelievable”.
“How many of you,” Beck asks his audience, “have ever heard that Leonardo da Vinci — knowingly or unknowingly — copied his ideas and the codex and everything else, from the Chinese?”
Lavishing high praise on Gavin Menzies, the British author of the two books, he says, “This guy has done history like you would not believe. It’s fascinating, but it turns everything upside down.”
He adds, “Whether it’s true or not — and I think it is — no longer matters, because they are now the world’s superpower, or soon will be.”
Well we’ve got news for you, Glenn Beck. No serious historian worth their salt, Chinese ones included, has ever considered Menzies’ books to be based on historical facts. In fact, an international group of academics have been so greatly concerned about the myths being perpetuated by him and his team that they have set up a website dedicated to debunking all their lies.
We leave you with the notes compiled by Beck’s research staff here. The notes are chock-a-block with statistics and do provide Americans with food for thought. Too bad they had to be marred by Beck’s creative fibbing in his presentation.
UPDATE: Read China Hearsay’s take on the show here.