A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Friday, September 03, 2010

Dueling Rallies

A few weeks ago, a letter to the editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer decried the fact that the paper was not covering the upcoming Glenn Beck rally in Washington DC. At the time, there wasn’t much newsworthiness to an event two weeks hence. Oh sure, the paper would have covered it if Beck and company had paid for full page ads to publicize the gathering, but as far as I know information about it was spread by word-of-Glenn-Beck's-big-right-wing-mouth! I’m sure the letter writer was heartened to read several articles in the week leading up to the event, even as the media noted that a counter rally commemorating the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech would be held on the same day.

My own theory: Glenn Beck just hasn’t been able to get the media support he needs since Leni Riefenstahl died. And with that remark, I break my New Year’s resolution not to equate Beck with Nazism. I can’t help it. I’m a moderate liberal and the clothing he wore on the jacket of his best seller resembled a Luftwaffe uniform.

Originally, Beck had other motives for his rally. He touted it as a rally to reclaim America’s honor. Later he seemed surprised when someone pointed out to him that his rally date was – coincidence of coincidences — the 47th anniversary of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. At that point, he declared that this scheduling was an act of “divine providence”.

I’m sure many of us can concoct their own ideas of what and what doesn’t constitute “divine providence”. Let me start the ball rolling by saying that an act of divine providence to me would be lightning striking the Faux News network building during one of Beck’s broadcasts, knocking his program off the air and him on his derriere. Oh my! That was a brutal observation to make, wasn’t it? I must have accidentally swallowed a nasty pill with my happy juice this morning!

Beck’s rally was targeted towards conservative leaning voters, many tea party members, Nazis still hiding out in Argentina, and anyone who believes Sarah Palin is God’s gift to the GOP. Oh there I go again, denigrating other people’s conservative views just for my wicked amusement. I am bad! I should be tied to a bed and whacked repeatedly with a rolled up issue of The National Review. I’m a bad, bad, naughty, naughty liberal!

But seriously, folks...

Beck and company tried to head off the accusations of racism and any surrounding controversy by discouraging his rally participants from carrying signs. Granted, this was an effort to take the high road and not detract from their message, but it did violate his follower’s right to free speech, and it took all the fun away from liberal bloggers like myself. Curse you, Glenn Beck!

The “I Have a Dream” commemoration did allow signs — one notably calling out Beck and Palin as racists — but from an account I’ve read, it seems like it was just another episode of “The Al Sharpton Show”. King’s rally on August 28, 1963 was a turning point in the American civil rights movement. King’s humility demonstrated that he knew the movement was bigger than any one man. I’ve never sensed that King’s ego shadowed the event. I don’t get that same warm, fuzzy feeling with Reverend Sharpton.

Neither side did anyone any favors by claiming that civil rights is wholly owned by one group or the other. Historically, when we use the term, people think of African Americans standing up to social injustice in the 50s and 60s. Recently, it has been co-opted by gay rights activists in their quest to legalize same-sex marriage. Many people – both black and white – are probably appalled by this, but they shouldn’t be.

The struggle for civil rights should apply to any group who feels that their standing in society isn’t on equal footing with the mainstream culture. It transcends cultures and genders. It could be applied to any group — Native Americans, African Americans, women, gays, and any number of religious faiths — that has been wronged throughout American history.

In any case, Beck’s efforts to reclaim civil rights, and Sharpton’s nose-thumbing at Beck, demonstrates that when it comes to Dr. King's dream, we are, in fact, still dreaming.

(Thank you for reading. Please have a safe holiday weekend! And don't forget to wish the editor of this blog a happy birthday!)


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