Glenn Beck’s Newest Victim: Yosi Sergant Steps Down at NEA

By Channing Kennedy Sep 10, 2009

EDIT: Initial reports indicated that Sergant was asked to resign from the NEA. Update from the Huffington Post page quoted below: "The NEA has updated their statement to emphasize that Yosi Sargent remains with the agency, but in a different position: ‘As regards Yosi Sergant, he has not left the National Endowment for the Arts. He remains with the agency, although not as director of communications.’ Sources familiar with the situation say that the move represents a significant step down and was the result of the controversy. Discussion about his new duties is still ongoing." Jeff Chang at Can’t Stop Won’t Stop:

Beck is not just trying to make progressives who are young and/or of color absolutely dispensable to the establishment. He is trying to take away their platform as well. To Beck, this is a fight not just over the individuals, but to block the ways change is actually made. Van Jones did not just have great ideas, he used culture to make them viable. He brought inner-city youths to anti-prisons and environmental justice agendas using hip-hop. He also found a way to speak to wealthy environmentalists through speeches and books. Culture created openings to forge new alliances between inner-city youths and wealthy environmentalists. Yosi Sergant worked at what the Obama campaign thought were the margins: to use the creative power of artists to ignite the imagination of the people. When he got started, all of the money was raised through creative communities. And when the artists got rolling by the end of the summer, they didn’t need the campaign to do their thing. But they were arguably as important to shifting the public tide towards Obama’s victory as all the pollsters and precinct organizers on the campaign payroll. Glenn Beck, like other conservatives, is deathly afraid of the colorized world we now live in. In the continuing battle between the ideas–monoculturalism vs. polyculturalism, domination vs. justice, repression vs. change, fear vs. hope–there is no doubt what side he is on. But better than any other conservative, Beck understands the new role culture is playing in how change is made. When all avenues for change are blocked, organizers and artists find the holes to slip through and connect with their communities. This is why he is using his own media perch to attack those who are young, idealistic, progressive, and have a strong understanding of the ways culture builds diversity, and diversity builds strength and longevity. Put bluntly, this is the shape of the new culture war.

Background, from the Huffington Post:

Yosi Sergant, who recently popped up on Beck’s radar for his involvement in a conference call on national service, has been asked to resign as communications director by the National Endowment for the Arts, sources familiar with the move tell the Huffington Post. At issue was an August conference call in which the NEA encouraged select artists to participate in an administration project dubbed "United We Serve" and led by the first lady. Beck attacked Sergant and the NEA on his Fox News talk show, accusing the agency of propaganda efforts similar to those used by Nazi Germany. And now Sergant has been tossed overboard, making him Beck’s second victim in his campaign to rid the administration of perceived radicals, socialists, communists, fascists, anarchists and all other manner of nefarious influences. Perhaps not coincidentally, both Sergant and Van Jones – Beck’s first takedown – have roots in on-the-ground organizing and were tightly connected with the grassroots progressive community.

And we already know who’s next on Beck’s list — because he told us himself. And while he didn’t mention Sergant, I think Jeff Chang is absolutely right about the pattern he’s following. How do we counter it?