Pundit and radio show host Glenn Beck, a man who possesses an evangelical flare for expressing his opinions to viewers, held his “Restoring Honor” Rally at the Lincoln Memorial yesterday morning, which was the anniversary date of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech.” The rally was a conscious attempt to not only re-appropriate the history of Martin Luther King Jr. but also to push the country closer toward adhering to more principles and tenets of Biblical Law.
Participants in the rally included Sarah Palin, Marcus Luttrell, the Liberty University Choir, Tony La Russa, Albert Pujols, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece, Alveda King.
You’d be forgiven if you thought Alveda King is someone who was like a Jackson in the Michael Jackson family—someone who is out to exploit the family name for profit and honor. King has said of homosexuality, “It is statistically proven that the strongest institution that guarantees procreation and continuity of the generations is marriage between one man and one woman.” During the rally, she called for more prayer in public schools and referred to abortion as “a womb war, which threatens the fabric of our society.”
Beck and organizers chose, prior to the rally, to put on an event that could be called “non-political,” to emphasize the religious devotion and the revival of spirit that could come out of this event instead. Those in attendance were not allowed to bring in signs that Americans could potentially see on the news, which would clearly indicate what percentage of the crowd was literate and sociopathic and what percentage was not.
While Beck did say that he wanted this rally to help “reclaim the civil rights movement,” the rally indicated Beck was uninterested in the black revolutionary spirit of King that pushed him to fight for de-segregation and equality and far more interested in using King as a prop who understood how faith and belief in God could unleash goodness and greatness in America.
In his speech, Beck offered up a story on the Washington monument that one could say proved Beck is committed to an onslaught on intellectual thinking. He used a story of the Washington monument—how it was being built until the Civil War and then was finished afterward—and argued that was a true example of American triumphalism. Only Beck would suggest that something that makes logical sense indicates America has a true spirit of resilience. And, really, the only reason monuments figure into Beck’s revivals and the only reason he holds them in the presence of memorials is because they provide a nice theater for his American revisionist history to be advanced.
Really, Beck’s rally was a right wing nationalist event featuring leaders collectively trying to control the past so they could control the future. In the exact way that George Orwell would have said totalitarians can gain power, this was really an attempt to control the history of MLK Jr., to manufacture it in a way that will feed into an agenda for moving America in whatever direction they want to go in. By doing this, what Glenn was saying was that he wanted people to focus on MLK as a black preacher. He didn’t want them to consider MLK Jr., the black revolutionary. He wished to remind the audience again and again about the ways that MLK Jr believed in God, the faith he had and the leadership he had from being a believer or follower of God but ignore the liberation aspects of King’s "Dream."
Shared during the rally were Beck’s definitions of faith, hope and charity. Beck inadvertently seemed to be suggesting insanity was a synonym of faith as he said faith is “knowing and believing in something when all the circumstances surrounding you would indicate otherwise.” What he said on hope indicated he opposes President Obama’s view that hope is collective and that “we are all in this together”; his definition of hope, that it is “the parent of faith and charity,” the “light of the world,” and something that “must be rooted in truth and honor,” suggested hope was much closer to hope in the individual and not believing that the collective society could prevail. And, on charity, which he said was “opening your heart to another human being in his time of need,” Beck was giving himself cover for the fact that he does not support the economic redistribution of wealth and power that Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Dream” speech was about in addition to ending segregation and granting equality and civil rights to all.
With the Special Operations Warrior Foundation sponsoring the rally, there was a confluence of faith in God with testimony on how honorable it is to serve in the military. Beck sought to compel Americans to join the military so that they could participate in a project to remake the globe that would involve confronting the forces of Satan and Christianizing the world so that it could be made new. The problem with this, as the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) would attest to, is that asserting the military is some project for God means members of the military have to give up religious freedom. The very nature of the military requires uniformity so either you have a right to believe in whatever supreme beings you want or everyone is made to believe in a certain supreme being.
An army that promotes the idea of serving Christ not only puts people in the position of having to endure the most horrendous music known to the human ear, Christian rock, but it also creates a clash of civilizations. It invites right wing fundamentalist Muslims who see a “Christian” military fighting in countries that are predominantly Muslim and choose to attack so they can defend their homeland from “Christianization.”
Also, an overtly religious military, means wars are based predominantly in emotion and do not need evidence to support their prosecution. The cost of war, casualties, and the impact on the theater of war no longer matters because your cause is just in the eyes of God. What is being done is good and you must keep fighting until the job is done; the enemy is Satan and you must press on until victory.
Beck explained one of his favorite lines in the Declaration of Independence is, “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” This was encouragement to Americans, especially those in the audience, to return America to God, to push America further toward being a country governed by Biblical law.
The media went along with Beck’s claim that the rally was "non-political" because it was religious and Beck hid the partisanship that was part of the motivation behind the rally. To anyone who believed anchors or pundits making this suggestion, the Tea Party provided staff and promotion to the rally, the National Rifle Association sponsored and promoted the event, FreedomWorks pledged to cater to attendees "political interests," Americans for Prosperity, a major organization backed by right-wing billionaire David A. Koch of the oil giant Koch Industries, provided buses to the rally, FreedomWorks and the Tea Party Patriots hosted their own corresponding events, Sarah Palin, a figure inextricably linked to the GOP, spoke at the rally, GOP members of Congress like Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) raised money for the rally, Beck used political terms like "fix the capital," "reclaim the civil rights movement," Beck planned an "education convention" as precursor to the event that would teach followers "how to be a politician."
More importantly, Americans do not like to separate religion from politics. A recent Pew Research Center poll on religion and public life indicated "they feel strongly that politicians should be religious." Sixty-one percent agreed "it was important that members of Congress have strong religious beliefs." Forty-three percent suggested churches should express their views on day-to-day social and political issues. Somewhere between seventy and ninety percent of Americans believe in God or practice a religion. An ABC News poll "found sixty-one percent believe the account of creation in the Bible’s book of Genesis" to be "literally true" and not just a "story meant as a lesson." And, "about one-third of the American adult population believes the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally word for word."
So, can a media pundit or news anchor really look in to the camera and say Beck’s rally was "non-political" without acknowledging how intertwined religion and politics is in America?
Many who are liberal, progressive or Democrat would say Beck’s rally was a distraction, that we should stay focused on the economy and not discuss this topic because it’s what Republicans want to talk about so they can win votes in the election. They would assert that Beck is trying to take a movement because Obama is in the White House. That’s not to say that is untrue, but there’s also truth in the fact that the economy can play a huge role in pushing fearful followers of Christ into people who tap into hate, prejudice and bigotry in the worst of times and attack minorities because a leader tells them those are the evildoers who are making the country impure.
There’s an analogy to be drawn to an episode of the Twilight Zone called, “He’s Alive!” It was Twilight Zone’s creator Rod Serling’s warning to Americans that as long as ignorance and hate persists so too will characters who are perpetually hungry for greatness, who are looking to exploit ignorance and hate for honor and power.
On first look, Beck’s rally seemed like an event organized so that tens of thousands of fearful easy-to-manipulate would give him a strokejob. When one goes deeper, it’s much darker than that—Beck wanted a strokejob, but he wanted that to also be part of pushing the country closer to one that abandons religious pluralism, forsakes the idea of separation of church and state, and marches onward toward the kind of closed-minded society most Americans would condemn Muslims for instituting.