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Race-baiter Glenn Beck Wants to Hijack -- I Mean "Reclaim" -- the Civil Rights Movement?

08/26/2010 06:09 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I had tried to give Glenn Beck the benefit of the doubt. That the scheduling of his "rally" called "Restoring Honor" on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, on the 47th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a Dream" speech was just coincidence. That someone as affected with verbal and mental dysentery as Beck would tread lightly on that legacy.

No such luck.

Beck has decided that the event will help he and his fellow right-wingers "reclaim the Civil Rights movement." He liked that phrase so much, he has two different versions. One states that it is because it is "distorted" and "turned upside down". The other has enough chutzpah to choke a grown rhino: he seeks to reclaim the movement because "we were the people who did in the first place."

What?

Unfortunately, Beck will get coverage, mainly because Fox News is promoting as if it were the Second Coming. And there is nothing wrong with honoring the men and women of our armed services. And nothing wrong with honoring people who have done great service to our country out of uniform as well.

But Glenn, don't get caught up in your messianic self-promotion and think for a moment that you can use this moment to hijack the civil rights movement. I'm not sure what "distortion" of Dr. King's dream you are talking about, but I do recall that the speech dealt with judging people by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.

On that note, Glenn, you have failed miserably.

Let's get the facts straight. Glenn Beck has called the President a "racist." He used to mock African Americans on his early radio shows. He has caricatures of Latinos in one of his books as wearing sombreros, ponchos, and big moustaches. He thoughtfully included a cartoon of a chinese food take-out carton in the same book to highlight the Chinese Exclusion Act.

His "star" guest speaker, Sarah Palin, recently defended Dr. Laura Schlessinger's use of the "n-word" on her radio show, despite the fact that Schlessinger herself apologized for its usage.

Many of his attendees will be Tea Partiers, including one who thoughtfully put out a "visitor's guide" that notes that Dupont Circle is "gay" (is that supposed to be a positive or a negative for some of the Teabaggers?) and basically red-zoned out every black neighborhood in the metropolitan DC area as "unsafe" to visit, including the Metro subway lines that service those neighborhoods.

So, Mr. Beck, who is the "we who did in the first place" supposed to represent? Is it people like you, who love to rip the President for his first name? Is it someone like Palin, who apparently thinks that the n-word is proper language in all social circles? Is your audience who you are ordering, nay, begging not to put up those horribly spelled hand-written hate screeds that have permeated previous rallies?

The "we who did it in the first place" is an America that Beck does not represent. It is the America that Dr. King envisioned, where black and white, Latino and Asian, gay and straight work together to correct injustice, to create economic opportunity, to end discrimination wherever it is found. It is an America that is still struggling with issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, though in far, far better ways than it did 47 years ago. It is an America that, in the true spirit of Dr. King, continues to seek perfection by moving to the future together, not retreating to the past.

Beck can never "reclaim" the civil rights movement. It was never his to begin with, and never will be.