Sunday, August 29, 2010
A New Glenn Beck?
On the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream” Speech, Glenn Beck hosted the “Restoring Honor” rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. In all honestly, I was impressed.
Yesterday, Beck did not speak as an outspoken, right-winged talk show host, or as a leader of the racially charged Tea Party movement. Instead, for the first time, he spoke as a true American. He spoke on the values of American society, including faith, hope, and charity. And for once, I couldn’t agree more with what Beck was saying.
He emphasized the need to love and honor each other, and how “there is one human race. I may not agree with you politically, but we must have respect for one another. We are not here to divide, but to unite.” I agree with Glenn on all these principles. More importantly, he stuck to his word that this rally would not be political, and focused exclusively on the American heritage. Is this a change of heart?
And yes, to some extent, I agree with his location of the rally. Although many have argued that the location of the rally would be insensitive and symbolically tarnish MLK’s legacy, I did not see that yesterday. Instead, what I saw was a crowd of more than 80,000 people organizing in Washington and being engaged citizens. This is a good thing, and it offered a refreshing glimmer of hope for the state of our union. By speaking on the anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech, Beck actually re-enforced the King’s dream of peaceful unity and Americans coming together for a “better future. This is what King’s legacy is all about.
However, there is still much work needed to be done. Beck’s message finally seemed to resonate with me as an American, with no race-baiting or political slander. The rally, however, was not diverse. And although the rally was not about Democrats or Republicans, many at the event have been active in conservative politics and said they have attended Tea Party movement rallies. Some even wore shirts comparing President Obama to Nazis and Al-Qaeda terrorists. This is where MLK’s message has seemed to have been misunderstood.
And who can blame them. After all, although Beck may have been about “reclaiming the American dream” yesterday, his actions in the past have proved opposite. As a leader of the Tea Party, he has supported events that have included pictures of Obama with a Hitler-style mustache, racial epithets and threats to Democratic officials, and has repeatedly accused Obama of reverse racism and of having "a deep-seated hatred of white people.” How can your supporters have respectful disagreements with those they oppose if you, yourself, are practicing the opposite?
If you can forget Glenn Beck's hate speech history, then you must give credit where credit is due. But one speech is not enough. He needs to practice what he preaches and share this heartfelt message to his followers. Or he can return to his hateful ways on Monday, and the 8-28 rally will just be another day on the calendar.
Posted by Ashwani Jain