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Tilting at Windmills

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August 28, 2010

TWO VERY DIFFERENT DREAMS, STRIVING FOR VERY DIFFERENT MOUNTAINTOPS.... I have a meeting this morning that's going to delay my Saturday posting schedule a bit, but in the meantime, as throngs of anti-government zealots assemble at the Lincoln Memorial, I thought I'd take a moment to consider the word "we."

"We," Glenn Beck recently told his minions, will "reclaim the civil rights movement." "We," he added, are "on the right side of history." After all, it was "we" who launched the civil rights movement "in the first place."

It's not altogether clear who counts as part of "we," though presumably it's limited to those who share Beck's twisted view of reality.

Leonard Pitts Jr. explained this week that this isn't just shameless nonsense: "It is obscene. It is theft of legacy. It is robbery of martyr's graves."

Beck was part of the "we" who founded the civil rights movement!? No. Here's who "we" is.

"We" is Emmett Till, tied to a cotton gin fan in the murky waters of the Tallahatchie River. "We" is Rosa Parks telling the bus driver no. "We" is Diane Nash on a sleepless night waiting for missing Freedom Riders to check in. "We" is Charles Sherrod, husband of Shirley, gingerly testing desegregation compliance in an Albany, Ga., bus station. "We" is a sharecropper making his X on a form held by a white college student from the North. "We" is celebrities like Harry Belafonte, Marlon Brando and Pernell Roberts of Bonanza, lending their names, their wealth and their labor to the cause of freedom.

"We" is Medgar Evers, Michael Schwerner, Jimmie Lee Jackson, James Reeb, Viola Liuzzo, Cynthia Wesley, Andrew Goodman, Denise McNair, James Chaney, Addie Mae Collins and Carole Robertson, shot, beaten and blown to death for that cause.

"We" is Lyndon Johnson, building a legislative coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats to defeat intransigent Southern Democratic conservatives and enshrine that cause into law.

And "we" is Martin Luther King, giving voice and moral clarity to the cause -- and paying for it with his life.

The we to which Glenn Beck belongs is the we that said no, the we that cried "socialism!" "communism!" "tyranny!" whenever black people and their allies cried freedom.

The fatuous and dishonorable attempt to posit conservatives as the prime engine of civil rights depends for success on the ignorance of the American people... This, then, is to serve notice as Beck and his tea party faithful gather in Lincoln's shadow to claim the mantle of King: Some of us are not ignorant. Some of us remember. Some of us know very well who "we" is.

And, who "we" is not.

Beck and his confused followers are claiming a legacy they don't understand. They're trying to lift a mantle that doesn't fit on their shoulders. They're adding their names to the same scroll they tried and failed to destroy.

Beck and his minions don't quite appreciate why they're an embarrassment to themselves, and that's a shame. They can't comprehend why King was a giant, and Beck is a small, sad cynic. They have no idea why America is so much better and stronger than their hate-filled demagoguery.

But as Eugene Robinson explained, "Saturday night, when the event is done, the Lincoln Memorial will still be the place where King gave one of the most memorable speeches of the 20th century. People who came to the rally in search of answers will still be looking. And Glenn Beck will still be a legend in his own mind."

Steve Benen 8:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (43)

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This reminds me of an old joke.
The Lone Ranger turns to Tonto and says, "Tonto, we're in trouble. We're sorrounded by Indians."
Tonto says, "What do you mean, 'we,' white man?"

We Liberals and Progressives need to book the memorial location on August 28's from now on so we don't have a repeat of that human fecal matter Beck's, "I Have a Scheme" Lie-a-palooza.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on August 28, 2010 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

As a kid growing up in Atlanta, I remember my dad volunteering in the Vine City area, helping others to read. I remember him taking my sister and I to see Dr. King's body after he was assassinated. I was really too young to understand the changes and importance of the sacrifices people made. As I got older, I realized that they were helping everybody, not just the oppressed. Whats sad (and disturbing) is that these people following Beck think... what do they think? I'll never be able to be understand how they think they are making this world a better place.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on August 28, 2010 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

P.S. Eugene Pitts' article is brilliant. Glad to see him among the quoted.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on August 28, 2010 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

These same members of the idiocracy are the ones who conflate the Nazis and Socialists, and argue that the German authoritarians of the '40s were actually part of a left wing movement.

History and truth are meaningless to these people. When I read Animal Farm and 1984 when I was young, I thought that Orwell was using gross exaggeration to make his point. I thought no one could be so stupid as to believe the teachings of Big Brother, or buy into the "Some pigs are more equal than other pigs." Then Faux News came along, and the Thugs of the first decade of the century proved me wrong.

When reality and truth are distorted to the extent that the people who actually LIVED THROUGH these events come to rewrite the history books in their own minds, our system of government is truly in danger.

The fact that the Beck sheeple actually believe they are the oppressed people in America is a testimony to the success of propaganda on a level unsurpassed by any but the 1940's Germans. I worry for the future of my grandchild.

Posted by: candideinnc on August 28, 2010 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

Beck the rodeo clown knows how to stage a grand stunt. And make money doing it. But apart from his PT Barnum instincts, this is still part of a larger right-wing strategy to simply invert reality. Nothing means anything. It's simply assertion magnified and amplified through the media machinery of the right. As grotesque as Beck is, let's reserve our deepest contempt for people like Newt Gingrich, Jonah Goldberg, Karl Rove, et al, who lend a patina of respectability to proto-fascism.

Posted by: walt on August 28, 2010 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

And if you watched the MSM CNN NBC ABC CBS et al this morning you would be lead to understand this is is an entirely reasonable collection of individuals who want to take their country back . Back from what? Oh I know the N**ger in the white house .Dog whistle shit all of it. I am hearing the same shit in Marco Rubio's ads here in Florida , telling me he is going to reclaim this country. In Florida we may have a greedy dishonest billionaire Rick Scott elected as governor just because he is filthy rich and can afford 50 million worth of bamboozlement unleashed on the uneducated masses. Next time you see a video of Rick Scott - check out the eyes...something is seriously wrong he looks like a Borg I'm with Jon Stewart - I GIVE UP

Posted by: John R on August 28, 2010 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Some of the same people who sanctimoniously refer to Ground Zero as "hallowed ground" (i.e. off-limit to Muslims two blocks away) will today march on the graves of genuine heroes.

This event is a desecration.

Posted by: Charles on August 28, 2010 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe, maybe, maybe, gb's "confused followers are claiming a legacy that they don't understand", but I don't lump gb in with that confusion at all. gb knows exactly what he's doing and that is diluting and fogging the legacy of history. It's the same thing that's going on with textbooks in Texas.

It is amazing how effective this crap is. gb's head must be spinning from the last few years to see how far he's gotten with his chalkboard and a daily smorgasbord of lies, 1/10th truths and revisionist history.

gb is not confused. There is a playbook here. There are plans made. There are rallies held on historically significant days that cause the truly confused to ask, "what was MLK talking about that day", and was it really gb and "us" that he was talking about?

gb and sarah palin and whatever truth denying/history revising charlatans get up on that stage are not confused. It is "obscene theft", as Mr. Pitts states. It is theft with malice aforethought. It is theft with the intention to deceive and confuse and acquire power.

And it's working in ways that is blowing even the minds of those who are playing with the dials and pulling the levers.

Posted by: burro on August 28, 2010 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

Was Beck even alive at the time of King's march? I don't think he was. For sentient persons, this fact alone would be enough to cast his "we" claims into stark relief. Beck never marched for a single goddamned thing, and the only reason he's exhorting his knuckle-dragging true believers to march now is for self-glorification.

Posted by: Jennifer on August 28, 2010 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

I hear that Sarah, 'The Whore of Babblin-on' will be there with Beck, too.
Beck & Sarah, the Ken and Barbie of Lie-berty.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on August 28, 2010 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

The entire event is rich with dissonance, starting with a theme about restoring "honor" by a man who still claims the date is a "coincidence".

Yeah, that's an honorable claim. Right. Beck knows all about honor. Sure.

Posted by: biggerbox on August 28, 2010 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

We should call this the "Million Moron March."

Ok, so, sure, they won't have a million people there. But they'll claim they did. And to a person, they'll all be morons. Not to mention that however many show up, they'll be enough stupidity between them to arm a million with Teh Stoopid.

So, "Million Moron March."

Posted by: Jennifer on August 28, 2010 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

Beyond their godawfulness in everything else, Beck and Palin are, above all, hucksters. Even Beck's promotional video, which compared this event to milestones in the history of the country and himself to Jesus, began with a Gold Line ad that reappeared in banner form throughout. They use the psychological language and techniques of modern marketing -- otherwise known as lies and deception -- to sell themselves, their bigotry, and their right-wing plutocracy to people conditioned by decades of our corporate media's nonstop GOP infomercial to believe even what is against their own interest to believe.

I don't know which is more shameless, Beck and Palin's cynicism or the willful gullibility of their moronic fans.

Posted by: R. Porrofatto on August 28, 2010 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

I saw MLK's niece interviewed today. She is at the rally and is supportive of Beck and his insanity. Sweet baby Jesus. Nauseating...

Posted by: stevio on August 28, 2010 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

This actually makes me very sad. Sad that such an obvious fraud and evil man can fool so many people and desecrate Dr king's name. They might as well collectively spit on Dr King's grave. One thing that I am sure of though. As a non white(Asian) woman I will never vote for the republican party in this lifetime, and make sure that my children will never look upon republicans as anything other than the race baiting thugs that they are.

Posted by: rk21 on August 28, 2010 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Beck's followers only know that whitey was in charge when blacks won some of their freedoms, ergo whitey is the rightful heir to the civil rights legacy. Restoring honor is about restoring whitey to his rightful place of power.

Here, Beck is hijacking the tea party racists to make some $$$$$. For example, you can watch live streaming video of the event on Beck's pay-per-view "Insider Extreme" website. I'm sure he'll be shilling his latest book and other crap throughout the day.

Posted by: SWENXOF on August 28, 2010 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe Beck's right when he claims "we" -- meaning racist white people -- started the civil rights movement. They are the people who passed Jim Crow laws and perpetuated both legal segregation and cultural and social discrimination. Those who fought for racial equality had to have something to fight against. Yeah. That's it. That's the Glen Beck logic. Yeah.

Posted by: jpeckjr on August 28, 2010 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Beck was born in 1965, so it must have been in a previous life where he was part of the civil rights movement. Except that Mormons don't believe in reincarnation.

Next it will be "we" won WWII, "we" freed the slaves, etc.

Posted by: Speed on August 28, 2010 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

What's funny is that you don't have to search very long to find right-wing websites that still hate MLK, believe he was a communist and was part of a...PLOT TO DESTROY AMERICA!

Posted by: Red on August 28, 2010 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

I don't find this a bit surprising considering these are the same fools who insist it was "their party" that freed the slaves. Because if there's anything last summer taught us, it is that the modern Republican Party (and their glibertarian allies) would be very supportive of a massive federal intervention in the property rights of several million Americans in order to expand economic and social equality for the historically oppressed.

And of course, two generations from now, the 2050 version of Glenn Beck will claim that he and his psychopathic audience were the real champions of expanding access to healthcare and gay equality.

Posted by: 400metres on August 28, 2010 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

I would call it "The Million 'Moran' March."

Posted by: c u n d gulag on August 28, 2010 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Left out of this first-rate critique is that Beck ignores the contributions made to the Civil Rights Movement by progressive Christians and Jews. They were living out their faith as they understood it. This, of course, is very sort of social action that Beck has deplored repeatedly. Here is Beck in May:

"I beg you, look for the words 'social justice' or 'economic justice' on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes! If you have a priest pushing social justice go find another parish. Go alert your bishop and tell them. Are you down with this whole social justice thing?"

Could anything be more ironic? Well, yes, how about the words of Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address carved into the walls of his Memorial:

"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

A plea tolerance, charity, and peace . . . but also with a "with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right". Just the sort of Christian action that Beck deplores.

Posted by: WM Fan on August 28, 2010 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

400metres - don't be ridiculous.

Two generations from now, this country will have ceased to exist, at least in any recognizable form. Given that for at least the next 10 - 15 years, we'll remain only one election cycle away from complete catastrophe, I just don't see any way we're going to dodge that bullet for 20 - 30 election cycles. Especially not since people aren't getting any smarter but rather the opposite.

Posted by: Jennifer on August 28, 2010 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Most of America will likely just view today as a bit of a head scratcher: Civil rights, MLK....and Tea Baggers? What??

Posted by: Varecia on August 28, 2010 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

c u n d gulag - good point. Million Moran March it is.

Posted by: Jennifer on August 28, 2010 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

If religion was something that money could buy
Then the rich would live and the poor would die
All my trials lord
Soon be over

Posted by: FRP on August 28, 2010 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

It's just like Huey Long, only without being elected to the governorship, or the Senate, or LSU, or the roads, or the textbooks...

Just the demagoguery.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on August 28, 2010 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Time to throw up in your mouth...SCHLOCK...cripes this sad, sad man takes himself seriously and that should make us shake our collective heads...but it's the SHEEPLE sitting out there waiting for their JESUS KOOL AID to be delivered that should cause us to despair...I thought myself relatively educated but until last night had never heard or read about SPECTACLE LYNCHINGS..oh, I knew black people were lynched (and by WHOM) but never knew the whole story...and we claim the right to suggest they should NOT be so sensitive????? And, then use the name of GOD at the same time...shame on AMERICA...there is honor to restore but it won't be coming from this "rodeo clown"...

Posted by: Dancer on August 28, 2010 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

I'm deadly serious here, if a bit off-topic:

If a jerkass like Glenn Beck can throw a rally for his own ego in Washington DC, how can I throw a rally for, oh, 20 million unemployed Americans who want to protest for a goddamn Jobs Bill and Unemployment Relief?

Goddamnit. The assholes are marching and the ones who ARE suffering - the unemployed - are scattered and disorganized. We need to rally.

Seriously. Who do I talk to, how can I get this arranged? We need an Jobs March. RIGHT NOW.

Posted by: PaulW on August 28, 2010 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Beck, by "we" probably means "we white Christian middle-class folk that founded the United States of America". There is some hint of truth in this identification, but some serious problems.
1) At what point in American history do we stop identifying mainly with our own race, class and religion. Is such an identification truly American?
2) The founders really, really did intend to separate Church from state. This is as clear as anything in the Constitution. If you can't get that, you just don't get the Constitution or the history that lies behind it.
3) The country was itself built on the backs of blacks, Native Americans, indentured servants and recent immigrants. It is not only ahistorical to miss that, but churlish and unChristian.
4) Civil rights are not simply the property of Americans. The desire for human rights seems fairly universal. The American gift was to produce a governing system, that slowly, painfully, incompletely could bring about the realization of human rights for a lot of people.
5) If Beck and his followers are such heroes of human rights, there is plenty more to do.

Posted by: patrick205 on August 28, 2010 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

ComradeAnon said:

Whats sad (and disturbing) is that these people following Beck think... what do they think? I'll never be able to be understand how they think they are making this world a better place.

They do not think, they follow. They are among the ~25% of people who mostly rely on authority. See John Dean's Conservatives Without Conscience for a great description of the authoritarian mindset.

Posted by: Jim H on August 28, 2010 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

"Beck and his confused followers are claiming a legacy they don't understand. They're trying to lift a mantle that doesn't fit on their shoulders. They're adding their names to the same scroll they tried and failed to destroy."

You're completely wrong there. These people aren't confused at all. They know exactly what they're doing, and what they're doing is shitting all over the civil rights movement, they're openly mocking it.

These people have been seething for years waiting for their opportunity, and the poisonous atmosphere in this nation has given them their chance. This is a show of numbers, a threat.

don't think for a moment that these people are in any way shape or form, confused. This is a white power march, nothing less.

Posted by: SaintZak on August 28, 2010 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

The thing that upsets me and should upset so many people, but doesn't, is the fact they swear that God is telling them what to do. (Must be God speaks to people with the initials of gb, George Bush and Glenn Beck.) Anyone that evens remotely hints to being told what to do personally by God is a psycho and we should all be very afraid.

Posted by: Schtick on August 28, 2010 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

It reminds me of something the Brownshirts might do. But so does SB1070 and the Muslim community center uproar. Hate in America appears to be thriving in a climate of regular fertilization by RW media.

Posted by: Jack Hammer on August 28, 2010 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

"It is robbery of martyr's graves."

Indeed. Probably one of the best descriptions I've read of Beck's wingnuttery rally. Although he's more than robbing, he's stomping all over MLK's legacy while trying to claim the mantle for his own.

I've run out of adjectives to describe Beck's blatant hucksterism, I just try not to think about it. (It also makes me thankful that I no longer live in DC this weekend.)

I'll give him props for one thing, Beck really does have a knack for exploding liberal's minds.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on August 28, 2010 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Anti-government fascists assemble on government property to rail against government and intimidate minorities. Their true message here is a challenge to the progressives: "we own the streets now because we have intimidated the sitting government who believes we are strong and must be placated." Basically this made for vomit moment is either a capstone event for the American totalitarian movement, or Fox News' at the rock wall of Gettysburg. They are revolting in a way they don't comprehend.

Posted by: Sparko on August 28, 2010 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

''We'' is me. I was there 47 years ago. I was also active in ''Freedom Summer'' and the Selma to Montgomery March. I am no hero, merely a veteran. And the only thing I have in common with Glenn Beck and his minions is that I am white. I don't know what they think they're ''reclaiming'' -- they never had it and we never gave it up.

Posted by: buddy66 on August 28, 2010 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

In 47 years, we'll still be honoring Martin Luther King. Beck, Palin and their ilk will be utterly forgotten. Let them have their bit of fun. History will show them what the right side really looks like soon enough.

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on August 28, 2010 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Well said, Roddy.

Posted by: Bob M on August 28, 2010 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

"Beck and his confused followers are claiming a legacy they don't understand" -SB

That thought could apply to just about anything that passes this hucksters lips. Also, I think Eugene Robinson's statement sums it up with reasonable perspective.
Hopefully these rallies will play out, and people will eventually become disenchanted with his convoluted rhetoric. Beck can't keep this bullshit up for ever...the real hard core cultist types he has attracted will at some point want true prophecy and results. That is when the snake-oil salesmen usually slip out of town...(with all the coin, of course)

Posted by: Benmerc on August 28, 2010 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

"I'll give him props for one thing, Beck really does have a knack for exploding liberal's minds." -K


Posted by: H.Finn on August 28, 2010 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

"You're completely wrong there. These people aren't confused at all" -SZ

I will say I agree with you in that the 'organizers' may fall into that level of cynicism, and maybe for different reasons, mostly political. But i have seen much footage of interviews with these tea-party types, also have spoken with a few personally, and brother...they are a confused lot. Many followers may be for white power (or feel they have experienced 'reverse racism' over the years because of the government), but they actually do buy the ridiculous spin and sound-bite Beck uses this weekend, and it is confused...but, much could be by design, which gets back into your territory.

Posted by: Benmerc on August 28, 2010 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

"And Glenn Beck will still be a legend in his own mind."

Unfortunately, Glenn Beck will be a legend in his own wallet, too. His demagoguery is like a license to print money.

Posted by: Mark on August 28, 2010 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK



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