Forty-seven years ago this Aug. 28, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.
The occasion was the massive March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Americans need the spirit and the dream of Dr. King badly today, as millions suffer from the worst economy in 75 years. And while this Great Recession hits people of color, women and young people the hardest, the twin plagues of foreclosure and joblessness have hurt all of us.
This year on Aug. 28, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin will try to hijack the dream. Beck plans to hold a Restoring Honor rally at the Lincoln Memorial on the anniversary of Dr. King's monumental speech. He claims the timing was coincidental and that the event will be non-political.
If I wasn't so offended by all this, I would laugh up my sleeve. A rally headlined by Sarah Palin is not, repeat not, non-political.
I believe in free speech and honor the American values that allow people who believe as I do -- and people who believe as I don't -- the equal right to speak out. But let me tell you, I believe this crosses a line.
Beck is famous for likening the Obama presidency "the damned planet of the apes" and calling Obama a racist who "has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture."
But I doubt anything can top Palin's tweeted defense of radio host Dr. Laura Schlessinger's racist tirade that included "the N-word" 11 times. When Schlessinger gave up her show, Palin urged her:
Don't retreat... reload.
Rant the N word, be proud and "reload."
Now this Tea Party fanatic, this apologist for hate speech, who regularly uses that veiled call to violence as though it were cute, has the audacity to hold forth on the Lincoln Memorial steps. On the anniversary of one of a historic speech by an assassinated civil rights leader.
Maybe Palin and Beck never read the famous speech. Maybe they've only heard the part about black children and white children playing together. Somehow they missed these wise words Dr. King said on Aug. 28, 1963 -- words that resonate today.
In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
People who believe in and strive to live by Dr. King's words will take our place on the National Mall Oct. 2, when we come together for the massive One Nation Working Together rally. Civil and human rights organizations, unions, faith, environmental and other progressive groups representing people of all races and creeds will come together to pull America back together, put America back to work -- and create an antidote to hatred.
I hope I will see you on the Mall Oct. 2. Not on Aug. 28.