The Glenn Beck rally was both galling and satisfying at the same time.
It was galling because Beck, Sarah Palin and the predominantly White crowd that inhabited the National Mall Aug. 28 presumed to have a grievance on a par with what Blacks were going through 47 years ago when Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have A Dream” speech.
The subtext behind the so-called “Restoring Honor” was definitely an act of making Blacks and other Americans of color scapegoats for the poor economy. That Beck used God to do it harkens back to the Great Depression-era ravings of Father Charles Coughlin and his radio attacks on Jews sprinkled with rationalization for the acts of Hitler and Mussolini.
God, in the Deep South after Reconstruction and during the Jim Crow era, was also cited as justification for the Ku Klux Klan reign of terror.
Within that subtext is a vitriolic hatred of President Obama. Several members of the crowd were quoted in publications as saying they came to the event hoping to wake up other “Americans” to do to Obama what they would to a used tea bag—throw him out.
The satisfaction came from the fact that this was done on the anniversary of the MLK speech is vindication that regardless of protestations to the contrary, Beck’s ramblings, Palin’s shrillness and this Tea Party movement has a racial component.
Beck said he picked Aug. 28 to honor King’s message. Nothing in what little political platform this movement possesses comes close to the firmly held convictions of Martin Luther King.
First and foremost, this movement is being bankrolled by the radically right-wing Koch brothers, billionaires who by their own admission want government reduced to virtually nothing so they and others like the can get richer in a climate with no federal regulations.
Tea Party members, apparently unaware that they are working against their own interests, fervently defend the rights of the corporate establishment and the ultra-wealthy. They want tax cuts for the monied top two percentile at a time when deficits are soaring.
In his last days, one of King’s biggest missions was to fight poverty and speak for those who had no power to speak for themselves.
In fact, it was a strike by sanitation workers that drew him to Memphis where he was assassinated in April 1968.
The Tea Party is also strongly against immigration reform. King would have been for it. He taught that humanity trumps all, including borders and nativism.
This movement rails at Obama about spending, socialism and deficit spending while many members—but not all—use those things as an excuse to hide their racism. That’s why they, for a large part, question Obama’s citizenship and his Christianity as if the only way one can be “American” is to be a White Christian.
King was in favor of the nation having a safety net to help the poor.
The Tea Party complains about health care reform.
King taught that Jesus said Christians should care for the sick and you can be sure Christ wouldn’t ask for a co-pay.
When you get down to it, Beck threw a big White pity party.
(Reprinted from The Philadelphia Tribune.)