Saturday, August 28, 2010

Martin Luther King Jr. is rolling in his grave

Back in May, Southern Man and I were playing a game with another couple, very close friends of ours. We were playing a game that is hard to describe, but there is a "mad libs" element to it and we had to fill in the blank with this sentence:

________ is the most obnoxious person in the world.

All 4 of us wrote in the same name: Glenn Beck

And as proof positive, the rally that Beck organized today, at the Lincoln Memorial, the site where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. held a rally for black civil rights 47 years ago, should solidify that he IS the most obnoxious person in the world.

If you have been trying to ignore the doings of Glenn Beck, the Tea Party, and the aggressively conservative religious Republican right, I don't blame you--it's horrifying and frustrating and the feeling I have is of wanting to throw things at my t.v. or radio or computer because I can't BELIEVE the stupidity of what I am watching/hearing/reading. But it is always better to be informed of the doings of those you oppose on ideological/political/ethical/moral grounds.

So here's the New York Times article about the rally that Beck organized. Please note that this rally, ostensibly for all Americans and ostensibly in the spirit of Dr. King is a virtual sea of white people--not a hotbed of diversity. But of course, the Tea Party is NOT a hotbed of diversity. Which begs the question, how can a group of people be so deluded as to think that their attitudes towards race aren't part of their moral/ideological/political imperative? What kind of machinations do these folks have to do NOT to recognize the travesty of having a rally on the 47th anniversary at the site of Dr. King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech--that they have ANYTHING in common with the struggle for black enfranchisement and larger civil rights of the 1960s???!!!


For more reactions to the Glenn Beck travesty, see these two New York Times opinions pieces by Charles Blow, "I Had a Nightmare" and Bob Herbert, "America is Better Than This."

Also, a friend's brother has started a website tracking the Tea Party--so if you have the stomach and the will to be informed about what those who I would categorize are NOT the readers or supporters of a blog called "Mixed Race America," I encourage you to check out the link to, which is important as Timothy Egan notes, we are quickly becoming a nation of "Know Nothings."

But to return to Beck, I want to address the purported "purpose" of his rally--to bring us closer to God. Now, in the New York Times article, it does not specify which God Beck wants all Americans to get closer to, but we can all probably assume it is a very particular Christian God--and not the one embraced by Unitarians or the United Church of Christ or the Quakers (Christian organizations with very explicit social justice and/or liberal-progressive politics). I'm thinking of this because I've been disturbed at the anti-Muslim rhetoric/sentiment and especially anti-Muslim violence. Earlier this week a NYC cabdriver brutally stabbed by a passenger after learning that the man is Muslim (click here for the Huffington Post article). And the backlash against the mosque that has received a green light near the site of the former twin towers is just downright disturbing.

And I think there is a link--that this overly aggressive demand for Americans to be Christianized and that somehow citizenship and religion (and implicitly race) are all conflated so that to be a "real" American, a "good" American, one must be a Christian and to mirror the values (and the complexion) of the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial of Beck's rally--somehow all of this rhetoric is linked to the demonization of Muslims Americans, specifically, Muslims, more broadly, and anyone non-Christian (and non-white) more generally. And the rhetoric is dangerous. And although Egan, in his New York Times editorial, is right to point out the danger of people believing that Barack Obama is Muslim when he has said, time and again, that he is Christian, the other issue is, if Barack Obama WAS Muslim (as his father and his father's family was and is), what is wrong with that? Why can't we have an American president who is Muslim? What is the incomensurability or incompatability of someone's religion (or even LACK of religion) and someone's citizenship or their patriotism and loyalty to the United States?

[Update: August 31, 2010: Just read this Op-Ed piece in the New York Times by Stanley Fish and I have to say that I think it is SPOT ON, which is a rarity for me because I'm usually vehemently disagreeing with Fish on other issues. But this one really speaks to the hypocrisy of conservative right-wing rhetoric, especially related to its attacks on Islam and its particular form of hatred spewed at the proposed Islamic center in lower Manhattan]


Anonymous said...

A picture of Marian Anderson standing in front of the statue of the Lincoln Memorial singing a concert arranged by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 9, 1939, is top center of my blog today. I thought it was the best answer to the Beck insensitivity. Harold Ickes, Secretary of the Interior began his introduction of her saying, "In this great auditorium under the sky all of us are free." Marian Anderson's concert certainly stands as one of the great moments of light in the history of division and rancor in this country.

Alex said...

I heard that the other day that Beck/Palin might be on the next ballot, and I threw up a little in my mouth. My neighbor has a Teabag bumper sticker and I really want to go out to her car in the middle of the night with a sharpie and defile it. But I figure that is not a very nice thing to do. :)

Jennifer said...

Just saw your blog and the photo of Anderson--a very fitting protest and tribute all at once.

I hear you, I really do. And if for some reason Beck/Palin actually make it on a ticket AND improbably get elected, then everyone needs to be reading THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood because we will need to be prepared to live in a dystopia that persecutes women, the LGBTQ community, and people of color. I do think that Palin is spot on for Serena Joy.

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Candi said...

Martin Luther King Jr's niece was at the Glen Beck rally. Not oppossing him, but in support of him.

I just don't understand. I don't understand the Tea Party. I don't understand Glen Beck. I don't understand, but yes - anyone could see that it was a predominantly white setting and Alex, if Beck/Palin are on the next ballot, this country is in for worse than what Bush put us through - and that's saying something.

Taavi Burns said...

This reminds me of a book I just read last week called The Authoritarians, downloadable at:

It's a chilling read, and the site even has a comment on The Tea Party movement:

Unknown said...


I will read more of the article, but for now I want to note that I read the first inaccuracy on the very first page of the document. Specifically, the statement that the 2/10/2009 protest was the first.

But in reality, the First Protest was brought about in January 2009 (first post 1/21/09 for a 2/1/09 protest):!/group.php?gid=58862492776&v=wall

More here (posted 1/29/09 with a link to now-unavailable page):!/board.php?uid=2659176350

And yeah, even here (1/29/09 thru 2/3/09):
(And I think maybe they even used the term "teabagging" appropriately in this particular instance.)

Unless, of course, Facebook is in on the "scam."

In which case, I refer you also to this forum post by Gmak, which also references the initiative to begin a tea party/tea bag protest:

As a result, if the very first item I research has flaws such easily discredited research, it makes the entire document suspect in my mind.

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