Radio talk show host and Fox TV personality Glenn Beck is planning what he calls a rally to restore America’s honor to take place on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial this Saturday. And there is where the controversy lies for some people.
This Saturday is the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech,” and it was from the Lincoln Memorial, in the shadow of the statue of the Great Emancipator, that he delivered it. Al Sharpton, an African American political activist, is very upset about this.
According to the Washington Post, Sharpton is complaining that Beck is “– expected to push for the expansion of states’ rights – the exact antithesis of the civil rights movement and Dr. King’s legacy. The Tea Party and allied conservatives are trying to break that national stance on justice and, in turn, break the crux of what the civil rights movement symbolized and what Dr. King fought and literally died for.”
Glenn Beck is not impressed.
“Beck said in a recent broadcast that he did not intentionally choose the ‘I Have a Dream’ anniversary for his rally – but that he believes the coincidence is ‘divine providence.’
“‘Whites don’t own Abraham Lincoln,’ he said. ‘Blacks don’t own Martin Luther King. Those are American icons, American ideas, and we should just talk about character, and that’s really what this event is about. It’s about honoring character.’
“The rally, which is also being billed as a tribute to U.S. troops, will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Video screens and sound towers will be positioned along the reflecting pool and as far east as the Washington Monument.”
The true reason for Al Sharpton’s disquiet may be that Sharpton is holding his own “I Have a Dream” anniversary event in Washington, but Beck’s rally, which will also include remarks by Sarah Palin, will very likely overshadow it. By complaining about Glenn Beck’s rally, Sharpton draws attention to himself and his own event.
Beck’s “Restoring America’s Honor” rally may be more of a spiritual and patriotic rather than political event, but it may have some political implications, depending on how many people show up. Tea Party rallies in Washington last year attracted from a few hundred thousand to as many as two million participants, depending on who was doing the estimating. Similar numbers at the “Restoring America’s Honor Rally” would create an impact that not even the mainstream media can ignore.
No doubt some, like Sharpton, will attack what they think is Beck’s presumption for taking on the mantle of Dr. King. But one suspects that King’s message of freedom and equality will be seen by most as universal, oddly enough cutting against the administration of the first African American President. Bitter irony indeed, that.
Glenn Beck rally will be a measure of the tea party’s strength, Amy Gardner, Washington Post, August 25th 2010