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I heard a lot about this rally on the radio as I was driving across the country this past week, and it honestly pisses me off. It's not that Glenn Beck is white and trying to capitalize on Martin Luther King, Jr. - he's right that MLK belongs to everyone, not just African Americans, but I've never seen or heard of anyone claiming to own MLK exclusively. It's also not that Beck's rally was a sea of white faces celebrating a day when hundreds of thousands of people - of all races - gathered at the Lincoln Memorial to fight for freedom and the rights of African Americans. What truly bothers me is that MLK's message was one of unity and inclusion, whereas Beck's message is one of divisiveness and exclusion.
The people gathered around the reflecting pool 47 years ago were struggling to bring more voices into the democratic discourse. Beck's rhetoric pushes people out of the democratic discourse. He promotes policies that would bar certain types of people (those with brown skin) from entering our country and becoming citizens despite the hard work they do and the enormous contributions they make to our country. He claims that Obama is a racist and a socialist. He compares everyone he disagrees with to Nazis and Hitler.
The talk of "supporting your troops" which permeated the rally is simply a way of saying "follow your country blindly into wars that do more to grow the pocketbooks of corporate America than they do to protect American Citizens, or bring Freedom and Democracy to the rest of the world." I support my troops as people, and I want them to come home safe, and be well taken care of when they get back. I also support the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, who should be left with a safe country where they have the ability to decide for themselves the best way to live. I know that MLK would have said the same if he were alive today (he was a pacifist and came out opposed to the Vietnam War after his friend Thich Nhat Hanh - a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk - convinced him to go public with his opposition).
The talk of God and restoring the Constitution is simply code for pushing out those who don't agree with people like Beck - since when do he and his ilk have a monopoly on God? Since when do they have some authoritative insight into the minds of the Founding Fathers as they wrote the Constitution? I can only ask, whose God? Whose Constitution?
The whole "Ground Zero Mosque" crap is just a case in point - how can such intolerance and blind hatred be associated with the man who said these words:
And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:Free at last! Free at last!Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!