For months now Glenn Beck has been planning a “Restoring Honor” rally for August 28th, 2010 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. The rally happens to fall on the exact same place and date of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Beck claims the rally will be non-political, but many tend to disagree since many speakers are notable Republicans like Sarah Palin. Nearly everyone who listens to Beck knows that he comes from more of a conservative, right-wing leaning philosophy.
The irony has not been lost on many of Beck detractors. They claim that Beck actually represents exactly the opposite message of MLK with his divisive rhetoric, and have urged the conservative talk show host to pick a different date and location for his event. Beck frequently focuses on racial subjects, accusing the Obama administration of a kind of “reverse racism” in which blacks and other minorities discriminate against whites. At one point Beck actually called President Obama a “racist” with a “deep-seated hatred for white people.” Beck has also repeatedly criticized the Obama administration by comparing them to the Nazi regime before WWII.
In his defense, Beck has claimed that African-Americans “do not own” the Martin Luther King message. He has also claimed that he will be emphasizing the same themes as MLK, in telling people to judge other by the “content of their character” and not the color of their skin.
Many civil rights leaders simply are not accepting Beck’s defense given his past comments, and are making their opposition known with “counter-marches” to the 8/28 rally. The fact that some liberals find Beck untrustworthy is nothing new, but it was surprising to hear one of Beck’s co-workers at Fox News object to his rally. Greta Van Sustren stated that while Beck has a constitutional right to hold his rally, he should reconsider the time and place given the sensitivities of those who oppose it.
Van Sustren’s comments actually echo reasoning of many people who oppose the Cordoba House project, referred to as the “Ground Zero mosque” by many conservatives. According to opponents of the building, Muslim leaders should move the building site somewhere even though they have a constitutional right to build two blocks away from Ground Zero. The critics of the Cordoba House proposal say that it shows a lack of sensitivity to those who suffered on 9/11. Some of the families of victims from the 9/11 attacks have objected to the Cordoba House, while others have supported the right of the Muslim leaders to build at the site. Beck has come out against the Cordoba House.
If the Cordoba House is eventually moved, the Beck rally should also be moved under the same reasoning. The civil rights era saw many, including MLK, lose their lives in the pursuit of freedom. If some of the remaining leaders believe that the time and place of Beck’s rally is insensitive, then the exact same argument applies. Those who support the right to build the Cordoba House should also support Beck’s right to hold his rally. However, if the sentiments of victims really reigns supreme despite constitutional concerns, then Beck’s rally must also give way to such sentiments.