It’s that he is a moronic, racist provocateur.
Let us consider the background. In the dying days of the summer of 1963, Dr. King gave his monumental ‘I have a Dream’ speech to a crowd of hundreds of thousands. What is not often recounted is that a significant percentage of the crowd was white. That day was about freedom, inclusion and admonishing America to live up to its promise. It was not simply a watershed in the Civil Rights movement, it was a turning point in American history.
Decades later, enter Glenn Beck who convenes an orgy of hateful self-promotion called the Restoring Honor Rally on the same date and at the same place that Dr. King delivered his address. Glenn Beck? Honour? This is a man who has gone as far as to claim President Obama is a racist and has a long history of racist provocation in the media. Beck has consistently tried to portray President Obama as an un-American outsider. So how could Glenn Beck restore anything, much less honour? Look at some of his recent pronouncements:
I wouldn’t be surprised if in our lifetime dogs and fire hoses are released or opened on us. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of us get a billy club to the head. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of us go to jail — just like Martin Luther King did — on trumped-up charges. Tough times are coming.
Who is the ‘we’ in that crazed outburst? Beck is knowingly stoking the deep seated, yet quite irrational fears of some white people. Is he seriously suggesting that America’s first black president is gong to go after white people Birmingham, Alabama style? What does he want to restore America to? The pre-emancipation proclomation era?
And we can’t leave out Sarah Palin. Although the march is billed as non-political, one of the man speakers is the spawn of the hard right. That makes a whole lot of sense. With Palin, Beck is in good company. Recently, Dr. Laura pulled an Imus and got into hot water after racially abusing a black caller to her program. What was Palin’s advice to Dr. Laura? ‘Don’t retreat, reload.’
What bothers me even more is Palin’s message at the march. She gushed about having raised a war veteran. However, the most cursory reading of Dr. King’s views would yield that he was against war, state violence and American expansionism. But this is the woman who said that her foreign policy experience is that Alaska is close to Russia, so whatever to historical facts.
But you know in the end, I don’t really blame Beck or Palin. I blame the absolute absense of genuine black leadership in the U.S. It is this vacuum that has allowed people of the ilk of these two to twist Dr. King’s legacy beyond all recognition. In his speech, Dr. King noted that civil rights campaigners would not stop until ‘justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.’ Well it seems as if the leadership of the NAACP is bathing in justice and righteousness as there seemed to be little energy and enthusiasm to mark the occasion until Beck’s freak show rolled into town. I guess they expended much of their energy on fighting the real enemy - Shirley Sherrod. The truth is that each generation will have to reaffirm its values and its rights. And the people who lead some of the most established civil rights organizations have become quite complacent in this regard.
Beck and his followers have sought to co-opt Dr. King’s dream and use it for their own nightmarish ends. They can no longer be ignored.