Sunday, August 29, 2010

Glenn Beck, you're no Martin Luther King... not even close


I actually don't have much to say about Glenn Beck's idiotic, insulting "Restoring Honor" rally at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday.

Everything was just so predictable. How could it not have been? Anyone familiar with Beck and his far-right shtick knew what was coming, and it all came, Sarah Palin included, as expected. We've seen it all before, we've heard it all before, and the only difference was the scale, the backdrop and the size of the crowd, and therein, on the anniversary of Martin Luther King's historic speech, was it so deeply insulting.

As C&L's David Neiwert put it, the rally was "just a long-winded and boring sermon," and overwhelmingly, predictably "white":

It was essentially Beck's call for a return to the religious life in America -- which was why he assembled 240 representatives of various churches in the crowd and dubbed them his "new Black Robe Regiment". This part was particularly creepy, since it came with an admonition that religious leaders needed to focus on "fundamental values" -- as defined by Glenn Beck, of course.

This means, naturally, that the "social justice" for which Martin Luther King fought -- and which Glenn Beck has vigorously condemned -- would not be part of those fundamental values.

As predicted, the whole show was a hoax -- a civil rights rally for easily frightened white people.

Yes, that's exactly right, from what I could tell, from my perch here in Canada, where we don't have a Glenn Beck and where social justice is built into who we are as a nation, where it defines us as a people despite our own conservatives who seek to undermine it. I was insulted as a human being who admires King and what he stood for, and I was insulted as one who has spent a lot of time in, and who loves, America, but, thankfully, I am somewhat detached from the madness of Glenn Beck, if only because there is a national border, however undefended, between us.

And yet I remain focused on what I and others have referred to as the American right's descent into madness, one of the defining political developments of our time, perhaps the defining political development of the decline and fall of the American Empire.

Here's the NYT's Bob Herbert: "America is better than Glenn Beck. For all of his celebrity, Mr. Beck is an ignorant, divisive, pathetic figure." Yes it is and yes he is. More:

Beck is a provocateur who likes to play with matches in the tinderbox of racial and ethnic confrontation. He seems oblivious to the real danger of his execrable behavior. He famously described President Obama as a man "who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture."

He is an integral part of the vicious effort by the Tea Party and other elements of the right wing to portray Mr. Obama as somehow alien, a strange figure who is separate and apart from -- outside of -- ordinary American life.

*****

Facts and reality mean nothing to Beck. And there is no road too low for him to slither upon.

And yet he will undoubtedly remain, for the foreseeable future, a leading figure on the right, the articulator of an ascendant strain of conservatism that, along with the anti-tax, pro-business libertarianism of old, has taken hold of the Republican Party and that is widely popular in non-establishment conservative circles, that is, with the Tea Party "movement" and the Republican base.

When King spoke, on August 28, 1963, it was not about himself, and not really even about his own "dream," but about something so much larger than that, the promise that America held as a nation, the promise of white and black, and everyone else, coming together in common purpose to make the future a better place, a fairer place, a more socially just place. It was an historic speech, and it remains today one of the finest moments of American history.

When Beck spoke yesterday, on August 28, 2010, it was all about himself, about his vision, about remaking America in his own image. What I noted -- and, again, this was so predictable -- was the enormous egotism of it all. Who is Glenn Beck to speak at the Lincoln Memorial on the same day King gave his historic speech there? An arrogant, self-satisfied blowhard teeming with conspiracy theories and a self-interested ideology of fear, hatred, and loathing.

America is still a great and beautiful country in many ways, as King understood, but Beck's "America," as we heard yesterday and as we hear day after day from him and those like him, is an ugly distortion of that reality. What it seeks to restore is the ugliness of America's past, the divisions that threatened to tear America apart, the ignorance and closed-mindedness that are enemies to genuine progress, to genuine liberty.

We can ignore Beck if we like, at our risk, given his popularity, but what we really need to do is to articulate as forcefully as we can King's vision of America as a land of freedom and opportunity for all, as a land that is fair and just and inclusive. This is the vision that then-candidate Barack Obama articulated so brilliantly in his speech in Philadelphia in March 2008. American history has been the story of the quest for that more perfect union envisioned by the Founders. The American Empire may or may not be in irreversible decline, but to me that quest is still a noble one, and one that ought to guide American politics now.

Glenn Beck, those like him, and those who support him, like today's conservatism generally, is an obstacle to that quest, an obstacle to the realization of a better and more perfect America. He, and the ugliness he stands for, must not be allowed to prevail.

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12 Comments:

  • Stay in Canada you idiot. You may like your socialist country but that's not America. That's not what the founders of this country set up. they had more intellect in 1776 the you will possess in you life time

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:12 PM  

  • Well, Anonymous, you told him.

    (Why is it that trolls think they know everything about history and the Constitution but can't punctuate or spell?)

    By Blogger Mustang Bobby, at 2:36 PM  

  • Ok so Beck did not have a $700. suit on like Rev Al. Oh how much money did Rev Al and Co. raise for the wounded troops with out regard to color? How much did Rev Al raise to grease his own pockets?
    White people have rolled over backwards to lift the blcks for years and still are. Children and grandchildren find out in college all about entitlements . If you are white there is none but a black student from a higher economic background seems to have all kinds of grants and scholarships. So let the media be more objective and point out some real facts or state their intentions.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:13 PM  

  • As Ghandi said “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” "If Christ were here there is one thing he would not be--a Christian". - Mark Twain. Our individual separateness is an illusion. Remember the words of Omar, who “never called the One two,” and of the old Hindu poem: “Know in thyself and All one self-same soul; banish the dream that sunders part from whole.”
    Sarah Palin and Glen Beck, like many right-wing fanatics, consider themselves "Christians" while shooting wolves from helicopters, lying, promoting their own egos and dividing the nation. A little research provides the fact that no master in the history of man ever has harmed a sentient being. Christ was not only vegetarian and taught that harm-free living is the first requirement towards initiation into the mystical "Word": OM, AMEN or AUM, but he also followed the road of honesty, ethics, peace, and inclusiveness. How many of today's "Christians" meditate or even know that the "Word" is a VIBRATION in metaphysical terms. How many "Christians" eat animal flesh? Today's white Palins and Becks of America are infantile, ignorant, carnivorous killers and blatant liars, promoting themselves shamelessly. They possess no insight nor have any inclination towards seeking out truth in any form. Too bad about free speech allowing such injurious lies to spread and contaminate. I was born in the States, pay attention to the rights of indigenous animals and humans, earned my own money as a young female student to travel the world, and have lost my job due to Bushanomics (my high school friend designed his Crawford ranch house, & I have heard much) so I may be again facing the economic desperation I faced during the Reagan years. Our economy springs back only when Democrats are in office. Why is that? Democrats possess Sound Fiscal Polieics, Fairness to all, Intelligence, Compassion, Foresight, Determination, and they are aware that they do know know everything and remain open to learning FACTS. They do not force their knowledge or lack of knowledge down the throats of those who hesitate to seek and find or the gullible masses, who are in every generation waiting to be reassured by the ego-driven public figures that the bad things they do and think, and the myths they believe in, are correct. Democrats are more humble and aware that we all are seekers, and try to improve our ability to pursue the Truth by implementing conditions that will enhance our abilities.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:14 PM  

  • Anonymous@4:13 pm (not the one at 5:14): The dry cleaners called. Your white sheets are ready, but they're sorry to say they couldn't get the scorch marks out. Next time, don't stand so close to the burning cross.

    By Blogger Mustang Bobby, at 5:24 PM  

  • Beck and Palin need to restore honor to themselves before they can hope to restore honor to anyone or anything else.

    By Blogger libhom, at 6:42 PM  

  • We can only pray for you... please watch as i chose to read your opinion would you watch his show? listen to him? How can I listen to your opinion if you would not listen to others. When he gives all glory to god... where is the ego? When he takes no credit.... when he says we must be good individuals before we ask others to be. Are you so arrogant to believe only you have the answer? a liberal? how absurd...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:00 PM  

  • I love hearing from anonymous idiots like the first commenter here. What, you can't engage with us on the issues, so all you do is bully and threaten? Alas, you're like so many on the right these days, and all you and those like you do is prove just how bankrupt conservatism is.

    You have no clue what the Founders set up, what they envisioned for America. Were they smarter than I am? Sure, but I've never denied that. And I suspect they'd be appalled if they knew of whatever it is you stand for.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 11:49 PM  

  • lol

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:13 AM  

  • what a joke, and I'm not laughing.

    By Anonymous Michelle, at 2:23 AM  

  • I wish it were a joke and not more rage from the Idiot's Crusade. If there's anything close to being funny, it's that they think no one can tell they're ignorant and stupid.

    By Blogger Capt. Fogg, at 12:20 PM  

  • What do you make of the recently disclosed story about the highly-regarded civil rights photographer, who was with Dr. King on the day that he was shot, and who was an informant providing information to the FBI regarding Dr. King and other civil rights activists?

    By Blogger Inspector Clouseau, at 10:20 PM  

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