Dear Glenn Beck: Will You Please Stop Lying About Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement?
Where is Dave Chappelle when you need him?
Glenn Beck is a professional liar who has created his own alternate reality. For his fans and devotees, Glenn Beck is a messiah and truth-teller. Those who are not part of his media cult quite rightly see him as a carnival barker--and soon to be real estate mogul who is building his own libertarian theme park and gated community as a means to fleece and grift his public.
As part of his shtick, Glenn Beck is fond of channeling the legacy of Doctor Martin Luther King Jr..
Beck has trotted out that tired routine again, most recently suggesting that anti-immigrant Republicans are the moral heirs of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement. Of course, Glenn Beck has pledged his support for their most greatest of "freedom struggles"--the right to harass, bully, and deport those "illegal" immigrants who are a threat to the United States and its way of life.
Glenn Beck is able to make this rhetorical move because Dr. King is part of a pantheon of American heroes who have been stripped and robbed of their radicalism in order to make them palatable for Middle America.
As a leading figure on the White Right, Beck is dedicated to stealing Doctor King's legacy as a way of legitimating the Tea Party GOP's political agenda. Ultimately, the legacy of Dr. King--and the broader civil rights movement--constitute a set of handy icons and images that work like a magical fleece for Republicans and conservatives.
By donning those vestments, the ugliness and anti-black and brown bigotry of the post-civil rights era Republican Party and conservative movement can be hidden behind their dishonest use of phrases like Dr. King's iconic "I have a dream" or the merits of judging a man "by the content of his character" as opposed to "the color his skin." The post civil rights era Right-wing in America can then call black and brown people the "real racists" who hate "whites" and practice "reverse discrimination."
The masterfully contorted logic of conservative populists then comfortably arrives at the conclusion that white people are oppressed in America. And moreover, Dr. King died to protect white folks from "racism" and "discrimination."
Liars lie. That is what they do.
Consequently, it is not surprising that Glenn Beck would repeatedly misrepresent Dr. King's legacy, life, and struggles. It is the brazen nature of the lie which demands comment: Dr. King stood for the exact opposite of the John Birch Libertarian herrenvolk white nationalist politics endorsed by Glenn Beck.
Dr. King and the broader civil rights movement would reject Glenn Beck's declaration of war on "illegal aliens" as an affront to the sense of shared humanity and commitment to social justice which drove the Black and Brown Freedom Struggles.
It was Dr. King and the Poor People's campaign that advocated for an Economic Bill of Rights for all Americans, and specifically called out how "newcomers" and "minorities" were being exploited and oppressed in the United States by rich elites.
The efforts to organize poor migrant laborers by Cesar Chavez and others is also a deafening rebuke to Glenn Beck's myth-making machine.
The Dr. King who said the following would be vilified by the Tea Party and Glenn Beck as a traitor, and a communist who hates the "producers" and is guilty of "class warfare."
We are coming to ask America to be true to the huge promissory note that it signed years ago. And we are coming to engage in dramatic nonviolent action, to call attention to the gulf between promise and fulfillment; to make the invisible visible.
Why do we do it this way? We do it this way because it is our experience that the nation doesn’t move around questions of genuine equality for the poor and for black people until it is confronted massively, dramatically in terms of direct action.
Ideas and claims on social reality do not exist in a vacuum.
Political claims are especially beholden and dependent upon a superstructure or architecture that gives them meaning and coherence. Some time ago, when I offered up my alternative history of the United States as believed by the Tea Party GOP, I was signalling to such a philosophical and meta-level concern.
In all, what is the vision of the world and of history that sustains the fictions which Glenn Beck offers up to his viewers? And do responsible people actually empower Glenn Beck and the Right-wing alternative reality media by responding to their propaganda and untruths?
Societies are stable when its members share a set of agreed upon values and norms about the nature of empirical reality. Societies come undone when its members cannot agree on those basic facts and truths.
Glenn Beck and his ilk are not harmless entertainers. They are propagandists who are helping to create a broken society where good governance (what is needed to invigorate and transform America forward) is impossible, and in which they can rail and chant against the very problems they are helping to create, all the while selling themselves as saviors.
The political and social polarization in the United States has created a crisis of legitimacy and failed governance. Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and the members of the Right-wing media entertainment machine are paradoxically both the problem and the solution.
They are poisoning the town's well water and then spontaneously and miraculously showing up the next day with a cure. I wonder, will the villagers ever wake up and see who their real enemies are?