Social activists and civil rights leaders, among them the Rev. Al Sharpton, are planning marches and demonstrations -- including the unveiling of a nearly four-story-tall original sculpture on the Mall -- on Aug. 28 to coincide with a rally organized by Fox News personality Glenn Beck.Beck's 100% right about one thing: American History doesn't just belong to a certain subset of Americans. It is indeed everyone's history, and black folks don't own any more of MLK's piece of that American pie than anybody else. Black History is American History. I saw it on a McDonalds' commercial, so it's gotta be the truth, Ruth.
Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally, with former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin among the scheduled speakers, will take place on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, 47 years to the day after Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech there.
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The conservative talk show host announced in November that he wanted to reveal a "100 year plan for America" at the Lincoln Memorial. More recently, he said that the purpose of his Aug. 28 event is to restore the country's "values" and to pay tribute to military families. "There will be absolutely no politics involved," he said. "This rally will honor the troops, unite the American people under the principles of integrity and truth, and make a pledge to restore honor within ourselves and our country."
He went on to say: "I believe in divine providence. I believe this is a reason [the date was chosen], because whites don't own the Founding Fathers. Whites don't own Abraham Lincoln. Blacks don't own Martin Luther King. Humans, humans embrace their ideas or reject their ideas. Too many are rejecting the Founders' ideas. Too many have forgotten Abraham Lincoln's ideas and far too many have either gotten just lazy or they have purposely distorted Martin Luther King's ideas of judge a man by the content of his character. Lately, in the last 20 years, we've been told that character doesn't matter. Well, if character doesn't matter, then what was Martin Luther King asking people to judge people by?"
Civil rights leaders have denounced Beck's plans, questioning his motives for choosing the date and place, which they said are historically symbolic of the country's civil rights movement.
The thing that really, really bugs me about the choice of date for his own "March On Washington" (TeaBaggers were singing "We Shall Overcome" and using the term "March On Washington" in DC last year, so co-opting civil rights era jargon is nothing new for this group) is that Beck, a guy who allegedly prides himself on being well-read, shows his total and complete familiarity with the body of King's work by predictably reducing him to a convenient soundbyte. King, of course, was much more than Mr. "content of character", and had he lived till today, I suspect he'd be a constant target of Beck's typical "Us vs Them" demagoguery.
Don't believe me? Try these MLK Quotables on for size.
"If a city has a 30% Negro population, then it is logical to assume that Negroes should have at least 30% of the jobs in any particular company, and jobs in all categories rather than only in menial areas."Ruh roh. Call me nuts, but I seriously doubt Beck would approve of this, complex, dynamic, non-sanitized version of MLK. Don't believe me? Peep this transcript of Beck's show from a few months ago when the NAACP made some of my same points. It's pretty interesting to say the least.
"It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation."
"There is something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press that would praise you when you say, "Be nonviolent toward Jim Clark," but will curse and damn you when you say, "Be nonviolent toward little brown Vietnamese children." There is something wrong with that press."
"When the Constitution was written, a strange formula to determine taxes and representation declared that the Negro was sixty percent of a person. Today another curious formula seems to declare that he is fifty percent of a person. Of the good things in life, the Negro has approximately one half those of whites. of the bad things of life, he has twice those of whites. Thus half of all Negroes live in substandard housing. And Negroes have half the income of whites. When we view the negative experiences of life, the Negro has a double share."
"Discrimination is a hellhound that gnaws at Negroes in every waking moment of their lives to remind them that the lie of their inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating them."
"It is incontestable and deplorable that Negroes have committed crimes; but they are derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of the white society."
"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom."
That said, I also consider it an affront for Beck to tie his obviously political (Sarah Palin's gonna be there. What else is she gonna do besides denigrate Obama and drop the phrase "Real Americans" 4,209 times?) rally to King's in any way. And yeah, must like those bellyaching about the WTC mosque, I see this event in very bad taste. Of course, Beck's got the right to hold his rally when he pleases, and the NAACP and Co. have the right to hold a counter-protest (or is it merely a protest?) at the same time.
Personally, I see this ending badly. Very badly. But if AverageSis gives me a Day Pass, I might just hop the Red Line and go down there purely for gawking/blog fodder purposes. We shall see.
On that note, I leave you with another bit of Classic MLK Material.
"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."Truer words have seldom been uttered.
Question: Is the date and site of MLK's "I Have A Dream" speech also sacred ground? What are the chances that Beck's "rally" actually turns out to be a completely non-partisan event? Should the NAACP and Co. bother wasting time and energy on this event? Can you write me a "Get Outta The Honey-Do List Free" Pass to hand to my wife so I can go cover this event for AB.com?
Glenn Beck's plans for rally on a hallowed date and spot spurs countermarches [WashPost]