Glenn Beck held his rally this past weekend, laden with historic symbolism and hype. Before the rally, to be honest, I had mixed feelings about the prospect of people like Beck, Palin and other demagogues speaking in the shadow of Lincoln and on the anniversary of Dr. King’s famous “I have a Dream” speech (by the way, first delivered by Dr. King in Detroit weeks earlier). What changed my opinion was listening to an opinion voiced by a liberal media commentator who decried the wrongfulness of bigots speaking on “hallowed ground on a hallowed date”. I don’t know if he was deliberately invoking the right wing arguments about the Muslim Community Center in New York City or not, but it resonated with me. I decided that if I used the same argument about the insensitivity of Beck/Palin speaking on “hallowed ground on a hallowed date” to attempt to deny them their Constitutional right of free speech, then I would be no better than the bigots using the same argument against the Community Center in New York City. Why become another American Taliban or terrorist and attempt to destroy a Constitutional right just because I despise the people exercising that right? To me, the people attempting to block the property and religious rights of Moslems in America are no different than Al Qaeda or any other terrorist group determined to destroy America. Why join them?
In fact, what Beck had to say at the rally was both a message of tolerance and respect and, at the same time, a complete contradiction of his previous speeches and of what he and Sarah Palin stand for. The fact that the rally was well attended was also notable, in that it was overwhelmingly attended by angry and alienated white people who choose to express their anger in the form of patriotic and religious symbols. This is notable insofar as it invokes the same, sad and mindless hordes of people who regularly listened to the racist and hate-filled broadcasts of Fr. Charles Coughlin (of Royal Oak, MI) in the 1930s.
People who are afraid are drawn to angry demagogues in every age and culture, and they always use patriotism and God to disguise their venom. The Scriptures calls them “false prophets” or “wolves in sheep’s clothing”. They don’t scare me, so let them rally and speak wherever and whenever they want.
Real Americans respect the rights of all Americans.