Tomorrow, Fox News host and self-professed “rodeo clown” Glenn Beck will hold his “Restoring Honor” rally in Washington, D.C. Beck initially insisted that the rally has no political significance — despite it being located at the Lincoln Memorial and taking place on the 47th anniversary of the “I Have A Dream” speech. He has increasingly claimed to be taking up the mantle of the civil rights movement. Earlier in the week, Beck boasted that the rally will “reclaim the civil rights movement” and called the current civil rights community an “abomination.”
While Beck is practically fashioning himself after revered civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and trying to take up the mantle of the civil rights movement, he is ultimately unfit to command such a legacy. The Fox News host’s views and actions are diametrically opposed to everything the late social justice leader fought for:
KING believed that it was America’s collective responsibility to provide economic justice for all. In 1961, the civil rights leader addressed the AFL-CIO on his vision of the American Dream. King said that his vision of America’s promise was a country where “equality of opportunity, of privilege and property [are] widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few.” King helped launch a Poor People’s Campaign based around demanding that “President Lyndon Johnson and Congress help the poor get jobs, health care and decent homes.” The civil rights legend explained that poverty was a problem that couldn’t be solved without a “the nation spending billions of dollars — and undergoing a radical redistribution of economic power.” He spent the last days of his life campaigning on behalf of a living wage for striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee.
BECK, on the other hand, has repeatedly insulted any government attempt to help the poor. The host has offensively claimed that “Big government never lifts anybody out of poverty. It creates slaves, people who are dependent on the scraps from the government, the handouts.” The pundit has declared that President Obama “really is a Marxist” because he “believes in the redistribution of wealth.” He argued in his book An Inconvenient Book that the reason the poor are poor and can’t be helped by the government is simply because they are “lazy.” Discussing the topic of rebuilding Katrina-ravaged New Orleans, Beck said we “shouldn’t spend a single dime” and that the residents should just “move out.” Discussing the topic of jobless Americans unable to find work receiving unemployment benefits, Beck said he would be “ashamed” to call some of them Americans.
KING championed using his faith to achieve social justice. King called himself an “advocator of the social gospel,” and saw Jesus’s teachings as commanding him to take part in progressive activism to achieve “social justice.” In a 1963 speech Western Michigan University, he said that he saw an “age of social justice” as the goal of his movement. When he spoke out against the Vietnam War at Riverside Church in 1967, he quoted the first epistle of Saint John to demand an end to the fighting: “Let us love one another, for love is God.”
BECK has derided social justice and attacked Christians who want to use their faith to achieve it. The Fox News host told his audience that when they hear the words “social justice” they should “run, and don’t listen to anyone who is telling you differently.” He also accused progressives of trying to “hijack churches” with a message of social justice. He even ignorantly claimed that civil rights demonstrators “weren’t crying out for social justice.”
KING believed in loving those who disagreed with him and engaging in thoughtful dialogue. One of the hallmarks of King’s philosophy and what separated him from many other African American leaders was his advocacy for maintaining thoughtful and respectful dialogue with those who disagreed with his goals. In 1957, the civil rights leader gave a sermon titled, “Loving Your Enemies.” King said that a man must “discover the element of good in his enemy, and everytime you begin to hate that person and think of hating that person, realize that there is some good there and look at those good points which will over-balance the bad points.” He practiced nonviolence and even asked civil rights demonstrators to not fight back when attacked by white racists. He demanded of his fellow demonstrators a “refusal to hate.”
BECK, on the other hand, has repeatedly attacked his political opponents with vicious and hateful language. He has compared president Obama to the Antichrist and said that it was “approaching treason” to elect a more progressive Congress. He has said he hates the 9/11 victims’ families and derided supporters of cap-and-trade as “greedy,” “wicked,” and “treasonous.” When interviewing Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the nation’s first elected Muslim congressman, Beck told him, “[W]hat I feel like saying is, ‘Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies’.” He also speculated that Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s (D-OH) wife must have been under the influence of a “date rape drug” to marry him.
It’s difficult to find two people whose philosophies are so distinctly different than Glenn Beck and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. While King fought for all people to be able to live a decent life, championed a compassionate version of Christianity that sought to create a better world, and established dialogue with those who disagreed with him, Beck shows little compassion for those worse off, has derided the social gospel, and has viciously smeared and attacked his political opponents. As Media Matters writes, “Martin Luther King would have been on Glenn Beck’s chalkboard.”
(Big HT: Media Matters)