Skip to comments.Glenn Beck Comes To D.C., Controversy Follows (NPR)
Posted on 08/27/2010 8:51:03 AM PDT by Drango
Tens of thousands of Glenn Beck fans and Tea Party supporters are expected to descend on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., Saturday for an event the conservative talk show host has promoted as a celebration of America's "heroes and heritage."
But as is usually the case with the histrionic Fox News Channel host and national radio personality, his actions have not come without controversy.
A countermarch is being planned at a different location in Washington to protest Beck's decision to schedule his event on the same site and on the 47th anniversary of civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr.'s seminal "I Have a Dream" speech.
And the timing of Beck's rally, which includes a planned appearance by 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, is also being criticized by some Tea Party leaders concerned it will depress attendance at their planned Sept. 12 organization-building rallies in Washington; St. Louis; and Sacramento, Calif.
"I hope they have a wonderful time, but I just don't get why he's having this and why now," says Andrew Ian Dodge, Maine coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots, who has dubbed Saturday's event "Beckapalooza."
"Is this just to increase Brand Beck?" he asks.
Just to make things even more interesting, Beck, who last year called President Obama, the nation's first African-American president, "a racist," this week asserted that the president doesn't hold "true" Christian values.
Just what Beck may have to say about all of that Saturday at an event he says is "nonpolitical" and not affiliated with the Tea Party movement, is anyone's guess.
But odds are good he will address criticism over the timing of his event.
'Reclaiming' The Civil Rights Movement
Beck has repeatedly said that he was dumbstruck when he realized that he had requested his rally permit for the anniversary of King's 1963 speech during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
It must have been "divine providence" that he unwittingly settled on that day, he told his radio audience. He later said he was out to "reclaim" the civil rights movement.
Baloney, says Alexander Zaitchik, author of the recent book Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance, who acknowledges that he takes a cynical view of the talk show host's motivations.
Zaitchik recalls listening to Beck last November talk about the difficulty in securing a permit for the Aug. 28 date because of its historic significance.
"He only later claimed it was divine providence," Zaitchik says. "He has certainly tried to jump on the 'coincidence' and claim the civil rights legacy for himself."
For those who have watched or, like Zaitchik, researched, Beck's career, the civil rights mantle doesn't settle easily.
"This is the guy who has a whole history, going back in Top 40 radio, of using racist jokes, racist humor, making fun of police brutality, and with a very deep hatred for black social justice activists," Zaitchik says. Beck stood by his claim that Obama is a "racist" and has frequently referred to the president's initiatives including health care as "reparations."
Beck and Sarah Palin were on Time magazine's 2010 list of the world's 100 most influential people. She's expected to speak at Saturday's rally.
Though National Tea Party Federation co-founder Mark Skoda says he sees no problem with the timing of the rally "some are just trying to connote that Martin Luther King owned that date," he argues other Tea Party supporters such as Dodge say the timing is unnecessarily provocative.
"Why step on hallowed ground?" Dodge wonders.
Civil rights leaders like D.C. City Councilman Harry "Tommy" Thomas Jr. have organized the "Reclaim the Dream" countermarch in a bid to blunt the symbolism of Becks Lincoln Memorial event. "We can't allow another group to skillfully use that day, and use the greatest orator and his speech, to promote their political ideals," Thomas says.
"This has been purposefully done it is hypocrisy at its highest degree," he argues, calling it "just another tactic of divisive behavior to keep people apart."
On a recent program, Beck said that the countermarch organizers, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, "have no idea what's going to be said or done onstage and theyre protesting it already."
Zaitchik says he doesn't view Saturday's event as primarily to honor heroes, military and otherwise, but as the fulfillment of Beck's long-held dream of holding an event on the National Mall. Web Resources The Glenn Beck Program Website
In 2003, Beck held gatherings he called "Rally for America" around the country with the stated purpose of honoring troops, but he didn't have a gathering on the Mall. During last year's so-called 9/12 Tea Party rally, inspired by Beck's "9-12 Project" (a compilation of the host's post-Sept. 11 "principles and values") he was prevented by Fox from joining the gathering on the Mall.
"Now hes finally getting his moment on the National Mall," Zaitchik says. "I view this through a prism of his business he's in a very competitive media world with many distractions and this will enable him to be the topic of conversation."
There are obviously alternative views, like those held by the National Tea Party Federation's Skoda.
The rally is a reflection, Skoda says, of Beck's commitment to activism and his role in "being a champion for getting back to what our founders understood."
"Hes really been talking about praying for the nations and about getting back to what our Founding Fathers knew that our rights are God-given, from our creator," Skoda adds.
And though Skoda is quick to say that Becks rally isnt a religious gathering, the talk show host has added a Friday night event, America's Divine Destiny, in space rented at the Kennedy Center.
Beck says he's been "reaching out to the biggest names in faith for the last year."
"[I] have asked them to help me put differences aside and to reach out with one another, so," Beck says, paraphrasing from The Navy Hymn, "we can remind people to get down on their knees for our brethren's shield in our danger's hour."
The rally comes at a time when Beck, a Mormon, has been taking a more religious tone in his on-air commentary.
Friday's Divine Destiny event, he says, will provide an "inspiring look at the role faith played in the founding of America and the role it will play again in its destiny." In announcing the event, Beck invoked the emergence of a "modern day Black Robe Regiment."
That reference harks back to the American Revolution, when the phrase "black regiment" was used by the British to refer to "dissenting clergy" heirs of the old Puritans, not the Church of England who supported the Revolution from the pulpit, according to Jon Butler, a professor of American studies, history and religious studies at Yale University.
Though historians continue to argue over the importance of clergy in the American Revolution, Butler says that invoking them now is an "ironic twist on the general Tea Party emphasis." Why? The Puritan churches in America were supported by tax monies, he says, in contrast to Britain, where they still dissented from the Church of England.
But some of Beck's rhetoric has begun to rankle some of his conservative Christian fans.
In a column this week posted on the conservative RenewAmerica website, Marsha West counted herself as a Beck supporter, saying that he "sheds light on what's going on under our noses in the White House and in the hallowed halls of Congress." But she wrote that she's uncomfortable that "Glenn's passing himself off as a Christian." Added West, in a comment sure to offend some: "Mormon beliefs do not line up with Scripture yet they insist on calling themselves Christian when they clearly are not."
It may fuel a new fault line that Zaitchik says he sees developing in the Tea Party between hard-core fiscal conservatives and conservative Christians who have also been attracted to the movement.
Fault line or no, the man who will ascend to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, a force in the Tea Party movement and a major national political celebrity, is not to be underestimated even, says Zaitchik, if its significant that more conservatives, including evangelicals, "are calling bulls- - - on him."
"A lot of people have bet against Beck and lost," Zaitchik says. "He has built an empire, and one more complicated than just counting his sponsors on Fox."
The comment section is full of moonbat hate speech, intolerance and death wishes.
FOX, Palin, and the Tea Party all get basted in this propaganda screed. Gratuitous Mormon bashing included.
Who? Never heard of him...
Your tax dollars at (liberal) work. How nice.
The left’s propaganda wing is attacking Glenn Beck.
If the Republicans happen to win both Houses of Congress, the very first thing I would like them to do in January, even before repealing Obamacare would be to defund NPR and PBS, and let them support their own hateful propaganda instead of picking the pockets of those toward whom they direct their venom.
i AGREE,who is Skoda, the tea party I particapte in has no leaders per say.. . We all are leaders in our own rights..
This screed brought to you via your generous “contributions” from your paycheck.
Not one mention in that article that Dr Alveda King will be a speaker at the event.
Beck comes to DC, NPR provides the hysteria.
“A countermarch is being planned at a different location in Washington to protest Beck’s decision to schedule his event on the same site and on the 47th anniversary of civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr.’s seminal “I Have a Dream” speech.”
NOT the 47th anniversary? The bstrd. we all know how meaningful the 47th anniversary is. Also on this date;
1981 John Hinckley, Jr. pleads innocent in attempt to kill President Reagan
1978 Ja’afar Sharif-Emami appointed premier of Iran
1976 U.S.S.R. performs nuclear test at Semipalitinsk, Eastern Kazakhstan U.S.S.R.
1994 1st Japanese gay pride parade
Are psychotic gay Japanese nuclear scientists in Iran protesting the gathering of the Beckerheads?
I THINK NOT!
I know, right? The left just can not fathom people existing without joining forces in some sort of collectivist fashion. The entity knows as “the TEA party” really doesn’t exist. It’s truly an uprising of the people through their own volition, coming together, assembling peacefully usually through word of mouth.
Oh, yeah, tens of thousands...NPR’s new math.
Just an oversight; I am sure...
“Hallowed” ground? What drama queens.
Doesn’t America already shut down in honor of MLK. Aren’t there hundreds if not thousands streets, schools, libraries, parks etc named for MLK?
Has the left ever really done much to remember the date of the speech or celebrate at this location before?
I don’t recall NPR finding the so called antiwar movement (that was decidedly pro-palestinian war and pro-isurgenct terrorism) “controversial” nor did they bother to expose the Communist groups funding the protests.
I don't think so, but if someone does think that, they are free not to attend. At least for now, we are free to make those kinds of choices.
There are those who would like nothing better than to deny us the right to make these kinds of choices.
Yep, funny thing though, they're always in the part of town you would never want to even dare to drive through, let alone visit.
For forty years the Democrats have claimed the civil rights legacy for itself when they had to be dragged to it kicking and screaming.
Its time people relearn their history.
Another article linking Beck’s rally to King’s speech... and STILL no mention that King’s niece will be at Beck’s rally.
That’s what I noticed too...didn’t mention MLK’s niece being one of the main speakers.
Zaitchik is a Saloon and Mother Jones writer.
Smears tea partiers as well.