Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Pale Imitation

My title comes from Eleanor Holmes Norton, DC's Democratic delegate to Congress and refers to Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor rally. Whether she meant the double entendre I don't know, but, given the overwhelming whiteness of the participants at Beck's PR stunt rally, Norton's words certainly made me laugh out loud when I read them.

Everything about the Beck rally is an imitation, a rip-off of better people's ideas and better people's dreams used only as a backdrop for the real agenda, which is to advance an unholy alliance between a twisted version of Christianity and a twisted vision of what America could be if only those pesky "libruls" could all be taken out and shot -- all powered by lots of money, gotten via the mechanism of the always-holy free market and Beck's convenient position with a major TV/radio network

The organizers claimed that the rally is apolitical. But, when interviewed about the upcoming rally 2 days before, Beck said "This is a moment, quite honestly, that I think we reclaim the civil rights movement." Hmmm, that's not political? And whom does he think they are reclaiming it from? He's probably hoping to capitalize on the fact that the Republican party was the party of Lincoln. Unfortunately, Beck -- who is no Lincoln -- will need to ignore a lot of his own behavior to make any claim to the civil rights movement.

For example, his war of vitriol against Barak Obama certainly seems to be motivated by more than idealogical differences. I submit that Beck and other white people of his persuasion are terrified that the country is going to become majority non-white (it is) and that they will lose the collective power that they have held for centuries.

But Beck and his buddies really needn't worry -- power and money will trump race every time. Our country is already run by oligarchs, thanks in equal parts to a national belief that taxing the rich is bad, that allowing corporations to donate to political campaigns is good, that spending on wars is good but spending on the domestic economy is a waste, that regulating so-called "free" markets is a communist plot, while allowing unfettered cowboy capitalism benefits everyone, despite ample proof to the contrary. Not to mention that allowing the rich to bribe members of Congress is the grease that's needed to keep government running smoothly.

And people like Beck want to keep it this way. The "progressives" that he claims are out "to destroy America as it was originally conceived" are his enemies, because they are the people who are trying to break the stranglehold of the oligarchy, which, among other things, would entail breaking up large media conglomerates and thereby diluting the political power of networks like FOX.

One of the things that Beck doesn't get (or doesn't want to admit) is that MLK's dreams went far beyond simple race equality and embraced the ideas of social and economic justice for all. His ideas would be anathema to Beck's beliefs in the rights of the "free" market. Can one imagine Martin Luther King as a huckster for Gold?

Beck is no MLK (any more than he is a Lincoln) and, frankly, isn't fit to clean MLK's shoes, though, if we were still living in the America that Beck and his fellow travelers really want, MLK might be cleaning Beck's.

Of course, all this is beside the point -- as HL Mencken said, "no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." -- and Beck, Palin, and their propaganda consultants know it. That's why their invocation of religion reached such a level of intensity in this rally: history shows that big-tent religion pays handsomely, both in influence and in Mammon, the Gods I think that Beck and Palin both really worship.