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Robert S. McElvaine Headshot

Beck & Palin = "I Have a Nightmare"

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For Glenn Beck & Sarah Palin, both preachers of hate and division, one who condemned social justice as "un-Christian" as the other urged someone who shouted the "N-word" to keep doing so, to stage a rally at the Lincoln Memorial on the anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech is appalling.

Regressives (most of them prefer the inaccurate name "conservatives") continue to raise hell about a Muslim community center being built in the vicinity of Ground Zero. Those who claim that they don't simply hate all Muslims say that the consturction of a Muslim center in that area is "insensitive."

The insensitivity of Beck and Palin -- and anyone who attends their rally -- is far greater.

Here is the difference:

The Muslims who want to build in lower Manhattan are members of a religion who have condemned what a few crazy extremists who identify with their religion did. In building a center and place of worship near where people who perverted their religion committed a horrible crime, they are trying to join with Americans of other religions and of no religion to honor the victims and rebuke the crazies.

The contrast with what Beck and Palin are doing is stark. They are diametrically opposed to what King and the 1963 March on Washington were all about. The "social justice" and "community organizing" that Beck and Palin ridicule were MLK's hallmarks. He preached love, tolerance, unity, and freedom from fear; they preach hate, intolerance, division, and fear, fear, and more fear.

Beck and Palin do not rebuke the crazies; they embrace them--beyond that, they are the crazies.


The only good that could come of this terrible affront to decency would be if Democrats have sense enough to make Beck and Palin the poster children for a unified congressional campaign.

Historian Robert S. McElvaine is Elizabeth Chisholm Professor of Arts & Letters at Millsaps College. A 25th anniversary edition of his classic book, The Great Depression: America, 1929-1941, with a comprehensive new introduction comparing circumstances then and now, has recently been published by Three Rivers Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group.