Today marks the 47th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Long considered one of the benchmarks of the civil rights movement of the late 1950s and 1960s, King's vision of an America where racism wasn't woven into the system itself and character mattered more than skin color has become taught in schools and part of our history with a message that shouldn't be messed with.
Which brings us to today. Right wing pundit and self described "rodeo clown" Glenn Beck is holding his "Restore Honor" march and rally at the same location. Claiming to be a benefit to raise money for a charity for the families of soldiers, Beck's real motive has come through in the publicizing of the event.
First, he claims that black people don't own Dr. Martin Luther King. Never mind that nobody said they did just as nobody gets upset if a white person claims MLK as one of their personal heroes, Beck is using this as a smear to claim that those people in the civil rights movement who continue to work on liberal causes have stolen King's legacy. IN fact, Glenn Beck says this event will "recalim Dr. King's legacy." To say that is a form of arrogance that's a combination of scary, ignorant, and plain out fucking stupid.
I know some people might say, "Dr. King talked about content of character. So does Beck and the conservatives. So why do you attack Glenn Beck?" Well, once you know the facts it's quite easy to debunk Glenn Beck's fucking bullshit on this issue.
First up goes into religion. Within the past year or so Glenn Beck has spent a lot of time attacking churches that preach "social justice." Beck's claim is that social justice is code for communism and Nazism. How does that compare with Dr. King? Dr. King devoted and gave his life for social justice. In King's later years he spoke out against poverty, attended rallies for striking workers, and even spoke out against the war in Vietnam. The media response was King being attacked as "having diminished his usefulness to his movement" and as a perceived communist just as the right wing in this country do today thanks to people like Beck, Sarah Palin and the like.
Then there's the political angle. There have been some people in the past couple of decades who like to say that if Dr. Martin Lither King Jr. were alive today he'd be a conservative. While we'll never know if that's true given that King was assassinated in 1968, a look at the last years of his life indicate otherwise. King, in fact, had moved beyond his earlier views to the point of considering the Vietnam War "an enemy of poor people" and supporting a "guaranteed annual income" and that the movement itself must "restructure the the whole of American society."
It's possible for people's views to change over time. However, judging from what we see here if Dr. King were alive today he'd be attacked by the same people who today are trying to "reclaim" him. Some even say King would've ended up on Beck's black board. Media Matters even shows how he'd fit on there.
So what is Beck and his ilk doing? Basically, on one level he's dropping trou and taking a giant runny shit on everything Dr. King stood for and then claiming he's honoring our troops in the process. However, it goes deeper than that.
Beck and company may not know history but I do think they're aware of how Dr. King's legacy has been frozen in 1963. BY often overlooking King's work on labor issues and against the Vietnam war in the last few years of his life, King had been co-opted and turned into a harmless figure in the eyes of the American mainstream. Because of this, it's easy for conservatives to claim that King would be one of them. Knowing that most people are too busy to fully research current issues and that American History is often so poorly taught (by design, in my opinion) that it keeps people from learning what really went down, it's easy for those wanting to distort the facts to twist things to their will.
That is what Beck and his ilk have symbolically done to Dr. King today. Their cherry picking of facts have created a situation where people are being misled about an American hero who was far more radical than the schools have taught them. Thus, any claims that they will reclaim King's legacy ring as hollow as the tears Glenn cries at any given moment on TV (thanks to his friend Vapo rub).
Does Glenn Beck and his scary band of neocon liars have a right to say what they want? Of course. However, their attempt to claim Dr. King as one of their own is not only insensitive but dishonest to the nth degree.
When all is said and done it's just another layer of bullshit that those wanting to know real history have to dive through to find out what things are really like.