Tens of thousands of thousands of people descended upon Washington DC yesterday to attend the "Restore Honor" rally hosted by conservative talk show host Glenn Beck. The rally was held at the Lincoln Memorial precisely 47 years to the day that Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have A Dream" speech there which has been described by that known security risk the late William F. Buckley Jr. as one of the greatest speeches in American history.
Of course, the notion of a horde of (mostly) white Tea Party types descending upon the Lincoln Memorial on this of all days resulted in predictable furor in certain predictable corners. Beck claims not to have known the historical significance of all of this when the date was selected. While this statement has the ring of truth given the man's negotiable grasp of historical facts, I don't believe it. This is because Glenn Beck just makes stuff up on a frequent basis. I believe he knew exactly what he was doing when he picked the date. The Tea Partiers agenda of a restoration of government to what the Founding Fathers intended, the reduction or elimination of many social programs funded by the government and the apocalyptic language and imagery employed by them is considered to be racist albeit in a subtle way by many people . What better way to try to blunt that perception by holding a peaceful rally at the same place and time that the great martyr of the Civil Rights movement rendered his poetry? Brilliant.
But you know what? I don't care if Beck had his rally yesterday. I do not believe that Dr. King meant for his message of non-violent confrontation and equality for all to be the special province of black folks. Especially not grifters and charlatans like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and certain members of the King family itself. Neither would he have probably have been comfortable with a loon like Beck taking up his mantle either. But what the heck. Beck got the permit to have his show from the Department of the Interior quicker than Al did. Maybe next year they won't be asleep at the switch.
Back to the show. At the rally, Beck called for spiritual rebirth across the land. He said that when the rally was planned he intended it to be political in nature.
"And then I kind of feel like God dropped a giant sandbag on my head," he said.
Oh if it were only true. Beck then went on to say that he felt his role henceforth is to wake the country to the need for America to "turn back to God."
This kind of discourse works with a certain strata for a couple of reasons. One, it is safe. Two, whether America has turned away from God and needs to go running back are both empirically unprovable. Indeed, if one were to take a walk in my neighborhood, a neighborhood that is widely perceived as one of the more consistently liberal places to hang out in the city, one could see 6 churches. Wait. I forgot the Anglicans. My bad. Make that 7. That's within a two mile radius. God seems to be well represented by the Vatican and numerous of its schismatics here in the People's Republic of Hillcrest.
And when did America "turn away from God?" When the electorate, many of them undoubtedly perceiving themselves to be believers in some kind of Prime Mover, pulled the lever for Barack Obama? Is that when it happened? Please. The fair and square election of Obama represented a cloud upon the land?
This is crazy talk.
And to what God is Beck calling for a "return" to? Beck is a Mormon. I don't want to be a Mormon. Would the monotheistic God of the Jews qualify? Probably not. The God of the televangelists? Warmer most likely. I don't like him either. How about Allah?
You must be kidding.
No, the God Beck is referring to is the one that presided over an America where gay folks didn't have rights, minorities were neither ascendant nor mouthy about it, and we didn't have somebody in the White House with an Arabic name.
I prefer the great social worker in the sky God of the Methodists to that other deity being invoked. And Glen Beck and his acolytes need to take a look at the 6th Amendment to the Constitution. The same Constitution written by the Founding Fathers which he quotes with approval when it suits his purpose.
That's the Amendment that says that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."
But maybe they can work on getting that one repealed after they get tired of trying to repeal the 14th.