Glenn Beck chose Aug. 28, the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, to rally his supporters on the Mall in Washington. Beck's choice may seem like a provocation, but it isn't all that surprising, coming from someone who has shown how little he understands about Dr. King and his legacy.
There may be no figure in America who has done as much to encourage racial resentment and grievance over the last two years as Glenn Beck. His radio and television shows have become a forum for all manner of race-baiting, as he tells his mostly white listeners that a vindictive corps of black people inside and outside government is out to get them.
Everyone knows that Beck said President Obama "has a deep-seated hatred of white people... This guy is, I believe, a racist." But that was just one of many racially-charged comments Beck has made. He repeatedly called health care reform "reparations," telling his listeners and viewers that reform was a punishment exacted on white Americans. It's a regular theme for Beck, who says Obama's agenda is an attempt to "settle old racial scores." And Beck, along with his colleagues at Fox News, have gone on one crusade after another about supposedly scary black people who are out to get whites, such as Van Jones and the New Black Panther Party.
In reference to the Shirley Sherrod case, Beck asked his radio listeners, "Have we suddenly transported into 1956, except it's the other way around? Does anybody else have a sense that there are some that just want revenge?" Beck's suggestion that he is "reclaiming the civil rights movement" might be true -- it's just that in Beck's world, civil rights advocates and President Obama are the racists, but he and his cohorts seeking to foment racial animosity and scare white people are the champions of liberty.
Perhaps Mr. Beck will take this opportunity to go back and read the words Dr. King spoke on that day in 1963. As he looked out over the assembled marchers, Dr. King said, "Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred." Sadly, that cup of bitterness and hatred is one Glenn Beck drinks from constantly -- and implores his fans to drink from as well.
Dr. King offered America and the world a powerful message of love, nonviolence, justice, and equality. Glenn Beck offers a message of resentment and fear. Beck can take to the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, but his message couldn't be more opposed to everything Dr. King stood for.
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