Sunday, August 29, 2010


Yesterday's rally featuring Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin speaking from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial has brought out many of the worst traits of progressives. Not just an on-going outrage at every word or phrase that doesn't quite jibe with reality; not just with every individual holding a sign that promotes some nonsense about Pres. Obama; not just the obvious reality that many who do not share the basic beliefs (such as they might be) of the rally leaders and sponsors are going to use that opportunity to advance their own agenda and get their voices heard. It is one thing to point out the obvious that neither Glenn Beck nor Sarah Palin are intelligent enough, informed enough, or committed enough to turn their obvious disdain for the Administration in to anything other than attention for themselves. It is quite another, however, to insult the tens of thousands who attended the rally, for all their varying reasons, and the perhaps millions more who watched, with sympathy, from their homes.

Think Progress was by far the worst offender in the first category. A glance at the posts yesterday, and their headlines, shows them making of the rally far more than should have been done.
Tea Partiers Rally Against Sign Bans — Except At Glenn Beck Rally

Political Rally Or Not? We Report, You Decide

Beck Rephrases His Claim President Is ‘Racist’: Meant To Say Obama Believes ‘America Is An Oppressor’

REPORT: Glenn Beck’s Philosophy Is Opposed To Everything Martin Luther King, Jr. Stood For

This lastpost title, from Friday evening, is even more outrageous for two reasons. First, it assumes, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that Beck has something as complex as a "philosophy" beyond self-aggrandizement. Second, it drags the name and honor of a revered American, Martin King, down to the level of Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin.

Now, Beck hosting this event on the forty-seventh anniversary of the March on Washington was clearly a provocation. He managed to get Al Sharpton to take the bait; Sharpton hosted an event at the other end of the Mall. The obvious intent, to provoke some kind of solidarity between that event and this one, should have clued in anyone with intelligence and foresight to ignore it. The bait, however, was too inviting.

Beyond prompting posts and headlines that seemed to make of this event far more than it ever could have been absent left-wing outrage, we have the further spectacle of some on the left insulting not just Beck and Palin (fair game, as far as I'm concerned) but those who attended the rally as well. Consider this from Thers, posting at Fire Dog Lake:
I didn’t watch or pay any attention at all to the Developing Story of the Glenn Beck Million MOPE* March, perhaps because I’m not a superannuated paranoid Caucasian crank afflicted with an overdeveloped persecution complex and uncomfortable underpants that constrict excitingly whenever I contemplate “socialism.” Why, I’m not remotely superannuated! (The rim, it is shot, execution-style.)

It’s not, of course, that I wish to downplay the most World-Historical Significantest event in the history of doughy insane cable television lunatic hucksters yelping soppy tedious halfwit whiny bullshit to morons.

Those who attended yesterday's "Restore Honor" rally may have been morons. They may also have been political operatives seeing an opportunity to recruit volunteers. They may have been ordinary folks, like you or me, frightened by events of recent years and hearing a voice that reinforces those fears and offers the kind of validation many of us need - "You are not alone in your fears."

There is nothing moronic in being frightened by events and circumstances of recent years. It seems we are all at the mercy of forces and events beyond our control. It further seems that, no matter how hard anyone tries, the situation in our country and world - economic stagnation and violent death, a drug-fueled civil war in Mexico and a religious-fueled civil war in Iraq, the collapse of the American desire to own one's own home - there is very little any of us can do to change things. Events outpace our ability to do anything other than react. I, for one, forgive those who hear in the words of Beck and others like him, regardless of his or other's stature as anything other than self-promoting attention-seekers, the kind of reassurance we are not seeing from the corridors of power.

The March on Washington, in the midst of social and racial changes that had been over a decade in the making, reaffirmed the sense among all those of good-will that their cause was just, their goals were in line with the best of our national traditions, and that victory would come, if not tomorrow, then at some point. In seeking to alter the social landscape by granting full rights of social participation, political participation, and economic opportunity to disenfranchised African-Americans, both the leaders and marchers on that long-ago August afternoon were united not in fear, but in hope; not in resentment but in mutual upbuilding. When King spoke of justice, he spoke of it for all Americans. He saw a day when Mississippi, that most recalcitrant of southern states, would be a picnic area for little black children and little white children. He saw a day when Stone Mountain, GA - the birthplace of the Klan - would echo not with words of hate, but with the cry of freedom.

Whatever other motivations they might have, Beck and Palin offer no hope to those who hear their words. They offer no way forward. They offer no guide to get us from where we are to where we might be if we all worked together. All they offer is the counsel of fear, of division, reinforcing the latent notion that striking out in rage at the forces that keep us down as a nation is right and correct.

Had we political leaders who were more intelligent, more savvy, more wise; had we a left that wasn't so willing to be outraged by every word or phrase that come from nihilists and con-artists; had we the ability to speak a word of comfort, acknowledge the reality and ubiquity of the fear we all share, and offer a way forward, instead of a backhanded insult of disdain to those who are most afraid; had we all these things, yesterday could have been an opportunity to change the nature of our public discourse.

Instead, it continues as it has, full of bluster and hype, all meaningless. Our real problems go unaddressed. Our economy, teetering less on "double-dip recession" and more on near collapse, is not mentioned by anyone. No one seems clear eyed, confident, or willing to risk what needs to be done in order to move us forward.

If Beck and Palin can energize enough people to bring back Republican majorities in Congress (I still doubt this will happen, but anything is possible), then the country deserves the fate that awaits it. The Democrats, through their timidity, their lack of courage in the face of a political opposition that sees only the opportunity to return to power without any clear guide as to rescuing us from our current moment of national despair, will have brought the destruction upon themselves.

One wonders what might emerge from the wreckage that would ensue.

Virtual Tin Cup

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