Let's Read The Overton Window pt. 7: Saying The Loud Part Quiet

Noah is still at the freedom bar, half-listening to the speakers and getting hammered on cheap beer.

He’d briefly considered playing a drinking game with himself, wherein he would pound one back each time he heard one of the dirty words progressive, socialist, or globalism, but by those rules he’d have drunk himself under the table within a few minutes.

This book isn't right-wing though.

Hollis comes over with his gentle, homespun mountain ways to offer Noah some company, since he "looks kinda sad." This really reads like the start of a gay romance, although the chances of it going that way are probably -100%.

Can you have negative percentages like that? Whatever, it's my blog.

Danny Bailey, the Youtube superstar and Molly's ex, takes to the stage. This is an excuse for yet more blathering about the book's political views. I don't think even Ayn Rand had this many speeches in her novels.

If they call something the Patriot Act, you can bet it won’t be long before they’re using it to hunt down us patriots.

Just an FYI, the people most harmed by the Patriot Act weren't white people with American flag decals on their cars.

Immigration reform, health-care reform—do me a favor, when you hear them say the word ‘reform,’ I want you to hear the word ’transform!

Molly's mom also railed against the idea of "transforming" anything. I know conservatism is, at its core, a resistance to change, but I've never seen it spelled out this baldly.

“Hey, is anybody out there looking for a job? Unemployment just shot up past twenty percent, real unemployment that is, not the bogus numbers we get spoon-fed on the nightly news.

In 2010, the US unemployment rate was just under 10%. It's currently at 4%, which is the lowest it's been since 2000. I'm not sure what Danny means by "real unemployment".

And that’s nothing; it’s almost forty percent if you’re a young black man in this free country of ours.

In 2010, the black male unemployment rate was between 15 and 16.5%, not 40%. Apparently it was close to that in specific areas like Chicago, but not nation-wide. It's also currently at a historic low.

At first glance, this looks like one of Beck's characters--a good guy, no less--raising an actually good point. But two things to keep in mind: Danny is the "bad" good guy who spends his time on the wrong issues, according to Molly, and Beck could easily be dog whistling to his intended audience again. I wonder why black men have such high unemployment, wink wink nudge nudge?

“I found this last week on a government website. It’s a really good job for what they call an Internment and Resettlement Specialist.”

Looks like ICE is hiring. 

“Now, calm down, give it a chance. Of all the world’s prisoners, we’ve got twenty-five percent of them right here in this country. And hell, the U.S. has only five percent of the planet’s population, so there must be a disproportionate number of undesirables in America, don’t you think?”


“What’s this? I don’t believe we’re supposed to see this. This is Army Regulation 210-35, dated almost five years ago. And will you look at that? The title is ‘Civilian Inmate Labor Program.’ Maybe this is what they need all those new internment and resettlement specialists for.”

How fucking inept are the conspirators? They're leaking all over the place.

Fun fact: prisoner labour in the United States is basically legalized slavery. It's actually in the fourteenth amendment, look it up. And if you own a business, don't use inmate labour; offer paid work to ex-convicts instead.

“But what do we have here? A memo from 1970, written by a man who later became the director of FEMA, advocating the rounding-up and internment of twenty-one million quote—American Negroes—unquote, in the event of civil disorder. Now, I left my exact figures at home, but I believe at that time twenty-one million would have been roughly all of the black people in America.

This seems like another progressive point...except remember, Glenn Beck doesn't believe the FEMA concentration camps conspiracy theory. He thinks people who give it credence are tilting at windmills. Danny is meant to be coming off as a rube who wastes time and energy on the wrong problems, and he's also the only person who's brought up issues specific to black Americans.

Danny goes on like this for a while, then pulls out a copy of the conspiracy document that Noah "nullified" earlier that day (by blaming it on the Illinois National Guard, remember). Then he goes off again with a bunch of boring shit about presidential directives and executive orders that I'm not going to bother summarizing.

We're a quarter of the way through the novel, by the way, and I'd say two-thirds of it so far has been taken up with long, dull monologues.

“Well, ladies and gentlemen, I hereby declare this spot where I’m standing now, and every single square inch of this great land from sea to shining sea, according to the unalienable rights and powers endowed to me by my Creator, to be a Free Speech Zone!”

If this guy isn't in the alt-right in five years, I'll eat a rock.

Remember what a great man once told us: First they ignore you—then they ridicule you—then they fight you—”

“And then they win,” Noah said.

The crowd conveniently goes completely silent as soon as Noah says this, so that everyone overhears him. Danny gleefully siezes the chance this affords him (FUCK HIM UP DANNY).

“Well, well, well.” Bailey moved to the edge of the platform so they were facing each other. “Looks like we’ve got a junior ambassador from the Ivy League among us.”


I doubt if you can tell us much about the Constitution or the Founding Fathers, but maybe you can enlighten us with a little racist, communist wisdom from a real hero … like Che Guevara.”

THIS BOOK ISN'T yeah you get the point.

Noah gets bullied into taking the stage, where he says that everything they fear is absolutely true but that the conspirators aren't afraid of them because they're powerless to do anything about it.

Beck is stacking the deck in his favour here. In making a protagonist who believes that the conspiracy is real but doesn't think it can be stopped, he's bypassed the need to convince us, the reader, that any of his opinions are valid. I finally understand why Noah was sitting in on that evil meeting with his dad: if he hadn't, Molly would have had to convince him that the threat was real, and Beck knows he doesn't actually have compelling enough evidence to do that.

“Can everybody read what it says on this guy’s T-shirt? You know, a shirt that was probably sewn in Bangladesh by a ten-year-old girl who worked sixteen hours that day? Turn around so we can see it, big guy; be proud of it. It says, ‘Born in the Jew S A.’

“If he’s not already an infiltrator or an agent provocateur, then your enemies should hire him immediately. That guy is exactly why I’m not worried about telling you things that should be secrets: With him standing next to you, who’d ever believe a word you say?

See, all the racists and bigots who align themselves with Glenn Beck and his followers are just plants by the opposition. The media is focusing on them, instead of the real, conveniently invisible majority who aren't dickheads. 

“The approval rating for Congress is somewhere around fifteen percent. You could turn the tables and put them all out of a job on that one day.

Here's where Beck's refusal to make any concrete statements about the political parties currently in charge in the books' story muddies things. He's presenting a situation where the entire political landscape is a united, homogenized mass, almost universally opposed by the American public, who don't vote them out because the possibility apparently just hasn't occurred to them yet.

But that's obviously not the case. American politics is a de facto two-party system, with a fierce and ever-growing division between supporters of the two parties. The public can't just rise up and vote all the "corrupt" politicians out of office, because they'll just be replacing them with politicians from the other side.

At least, that's the reading you get if take the book at its word. In reality, Glenn Beck is a vocal right-winger, and this book was published under possibly the most contentious Democrat president in the country's history. So it's easy to assume that when he says "corrupt politicians" he really means "Obama and the Democratic party" and when he talks about "the people" voting them all out, he's really saying that conservatives should become politically active and oust them.

Which, you know, actually happened in November of 2016. It's going great so far!

Noah wraps it up and heads toward the exit in a huff, but Molly's still-nameless mother stops him.

“You don’t have to apologize to me.” Her face was kind, her eyes intelligent and alight with that same inscrutable glint that had hooked him so hopelessly during his brief time in her daughter’s company. “I think we might have more in common than you realize.”

Yes, Noah managed to impress the freedom fighters with his impromptu speech. I'm not sure how he even formulated those views, because the only opinions his internal narration has revealed so far are "Molly hot" and "I wonder what my Dad meant when he said he wants to help turn America into a police state?". The dude's head is filled with nothing but TV static, and yet he gets on stage and all these Truth Bombs come pouring out. It's like he's being possessed.

Maybe it was the late hour, the evening-long buildup of alcohol and anger, or the now-obvious scattering of outsiders around the room who seemed to be acting in concert to fan the flames of the mob mentality—but whatever it was, things were getting ugly.

Yes, it's the outsiders causing all the anger and hostility. Just like all the GamerGate death threats were false flag operations and the dude who ran over a woman at Unite The Right was a random bystander who just happened to plough his car into counter-protesters. 

Two men had stationed themselves in front of the door, in a stance that implied the way to the street was about to be closed.

I don't think you're actually allowed to prevent people from leaving a public building. I think that might count as kidnapping.

Noah senses that danger is afoot and suggests that he and Nameless Mom Lady find Molly and skeddadle. Poor Hollis seems to have been forgotten. Literally--he sat down next to Noah and hasn't been mentioned since, as though he turned invisible immediately afterwards.

As they're heading for the emergency exit, Danny starts to rile the crowd up more, insisting that the time has come for violent rebellion. Uh oh, I think someone might be on the government payroll! After all, true-blue right-wing patriots never talk about shooting people.

To describe the next few seconds as a blur would make it seem as if the ensuing events were jumbled together or indistinct, and they were far from that. They passed in something like slow motion, like those graceful shots of a drop of milk splashing into a cereal bowl or a rifle bullet cutting edge-to-edge through a playing card at twenty thousand frames per second.

This is such terrible writing.

A slate-gray pistol appeared in a man’s hand nearby—a man whom Molly had pointed out earlier as a newer member of her organization.


The gunman starts popping off randomly, and a bunch of government goons immediately rush in and start pepper spraying and tasering all willy-nilly.

He turned to see the big man he’d met earlier, Hollis was his name, stricken and helpless in a seizure on the floor, the barbs of a stun gun buzzing in his chest.

Oh hey that's where Hollis went. Hi Hollis!

From behind his tinted visor a nearby man-in-black raised his riot club, ready to cave in the skull of the helpless man at his feet.

Wait, what? He raised his riot club from behind his visor? Is he holding it in his eyelashes or something?

For the police (or Talion, those private security guys) to show up so quickly, they'd have to have been literally standing at the doors, waiting for the shooting to start. I'm pretty sure that would come to light very soon.

In this strange, slow procession of vivid snapshots, a random thought made its way back to him from earlier in the day. We stay mostly the same and then grow up suddenly, at the turning points.

Hang on. Slow the fuck down for a second. Here's how that idea was presented, at the beginning of the book:

Most people think about age and experience in terms of years, but it’s really only moments that define us. We stay mostly the same and then grow up suddenly, at the turning points.

His life being pretty sweet just as it was, Noah Gardner had devoted a great deal of effort in his first twenty-something years to avoiding such defining moments at all costs.

Those weren't Noah's thoughts. They can't have been, because they reference Noah in third person. That was the narration saying that, and now the idea has apparently Inception-ed its way into Noah's brain somehow. That's not how narration is supposed to work.

Anyway, Noah sees the visor guy about to cave someone's skull in, but he stops the blow with the sweet ninja moves that he apparently knows how to do. Visor guy looks briefly afraid because of how badass Noah is, but then he recovers and our hero gets pummeled into unconsciousness. 

Tune in next time to find out of Noah survives!