Happy Birthday Martin Luther King Jr.
Pictured: Among his landmark early addresses, King’s speech that day, known as “Give Us the Ballot,” urged President Eisenhower and members of Congress to protect the most basic rights of democracy for all American citizens:
“We come humbly to say to the men in the forefront of our government that the civil rights issue is not an ephemeral, evanescent domestic issue that can be kicked about by reactionary guardians of the status quo,” King said in his powerful, rich preacher’s voice. “It is rather an eternal moral issue which may well determine the destiny of our nation…. The hour is late. The clock of destiny is ticking out. We must act now, before it is too late.”
(see more — NEVER SEEN: MLK & the Freedom Rides)
One has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.
—Martin Luther King, Jr. (1963). “Letter From A Birmingham Jail.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates unpacks this recent claim that Uncle Ron made in New Hampshire on Saturday night:
[...] here’s Ron Paul on Martin Luther King Day in his newsletters:
Boy, it sure burns me to have a national holiday for Martin Luther King. I voted against this outrage time and time again as a Congressman. What an infamy that Ronald Reagan approved it! We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day.
Those riding the Ron Paul Bandwagon will argue that it was Lew Rockwell who wrote these words, NOT Ron Paul. Okay, so something written in his name about one of his “heroes” by his longtime Chief of Staff is way off the mark. (take a moment to think about that…)
What about Ron Paul’s voting record? Coates writes that the RP Bandwagon is now trying to say Dr. No voted FOR Martin Luther King Day and they’re using this bill as proof. Unfortunately (for the Bandwagon) that isn’t the bill for the holiday.
This is the bill for the holiday:
The vote for the King holiday was actually taken on November 13, 1979:
The bill was called up in the House on Tuesday, November 13, 1979…When the final vote was taken, 252 Members voted for the bill and 133 against–five votes short of the two-thirds needed for passage.
Since Stephen and Jon Stewart are off for two weeks, here’s what Colbert thought about Glenn’s 8/28 rally in May:
Glenn to the Mountaintop
Every time Glenn Beck says something King-like, he moves away from being a rodeo clown towards the mountaintop with Martin Luther King. (08:18)
The tens of thousands of almost exclusively white Beck fans who traveled to DC to hear nothing they haven’t heard before from the self-proclaimed Rodeo Clown must wonder what THAT was all about … and they should be wondering why on earth they paid to be a part of it. (Hint: you fed one man’s enormous ego.) Was it enough to gather and know that others shared your beliefs in ‘death panels’ and ‘Obama is a secret Muslim who was born in Kenya’ and ‘FEMA camps’ and ‘tax cuts for the rich will create jobs’?
Here are some things to ponder about this utter obscenity of an event that was Beck’s Divide Divine Destiny / Restoring Honor / “reclaiming” civil rights without talking once about CIVIL RIGHTS (i.e. remember when white men couldn’t vote or had to drink from segregated water fountains or didn’t earn as much as women or minorities?) / etc etc:
- Beck’s fans love MLK, because Beck “rented it” — so there! (the Lincoln Memorial location or the anniversary of MLK’s “I have a dream” speech — or both, I suppose).
- Restoring Honor: “Honor” is a wingnut code word that defines the term in the same way that the old Confederacy defined the term. And when paired with the word “restoration” it is a call for a return to an American rooted in the White Supremacy of the Confederacy.
- 87,000 Rubes: But what about the Special Operations Warrior Foundation donations? It turns out that everyone who donated money yesterday were tricked. Shocker. All of the estimated $5.5 million in donations are earmarked to pay for the event first and the troops get the leftovers. So most of that money pays for Beck’s ego-stroking and if there’s any money that falls into the seat cushions of Beck’s limo, well that money goes to the SOWF. Nice. How do we know this? The fine print buried at the bottom of the official Glenn Beck website: “All contributions made to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) will first be applied to the costs of the Restoring Honor Rally taking place August 28, 2010. All contributions in excess of these costs will be retained by SOWF.”
- It was a religious event – of course! Religion = politics to fundamentalists: The emerging media narrative on Glenn Beck’s rally is that it was a “religious” event, not a “political” event: Glenn Beck Leads Religious Rally at Lincoln Memorial. But they’re completely missing the point. In this context, there’s no distinction between “religion” and “politics.” The extreme right wing religious views promoted by Beck, David Barton, and Sarah Palin are their politics.
- American Theocracy: Patrick Sadowski, wearing a polo shirt with eagles and stars and stripes, said that he belongs to the Constitution Party, because “I feel the Republicans and the Democrats are the same people who own all the horses in the race.” He said that he favors candidates of any party as long as they are “biblically based.”
- Divine Yawn: The Glenn Beck fans on my subway car after today’s rally were a subdued bunch. They didn’t seem energized by having spent time with their idol and many thousands of fellow fans. Why not?
- Not a political event. Whether officially a tea party event or no, tea party infrastructure [was] heavily involved in the rally’s promotion, logistics, and attendance. (So was Freedomworks.)
- Facts always have a librul bias: The right-wing blogosphere reports that 500,000 people showed up to Beck’s MLK-appropriation rally. The mainstream media has a slightly different count. But don’t let facts fool you – obviously the only numbers that matter are the ones that we make up out of thin air. Besides, 87,000 people is actually pretty good for a rally organized by a radio talking head turned Fox news messiah. Really, it’s quite sizable compared to many other cults.
- Now THIS is a huge crowd!
- Snoring Honor: [Beck] started weeping while telling the crowd that somewhere out there was “the next George Washington”. Dunno about you, but when I saw pan shots of the crowd — which was one of the whitest crowds in D.C. in recent memory — I mostly thought I saw “the next Timothy McVeigh.” But your mileage may vary.
Movements — real movements that make a difference and stand the test of time — are about more than buzz words, television personalities, and self-aggrandizement. Change — transformational change that sets nations on new courses — is more than vague, shallow promises about “freedom.”
Labor unions created a movement. Women’s suffrage was a movement. The fight for civil rights is a movement. The ongoing struggle for equality for gays and lesbians is a movement. In each case, the grievance was as clear as the solution. There was no mystery as to what these patriots were fighting for. Their struggles and successes made the nation stronger, better, and more perfect.
The folks who gathered in D.C. today were awfully excited about something. The fact that it’s not altogether obvious what that might be probably isn’t a good sign.
UPDATE ** What Reason TV saw at the Beck rally:
Nothing original. Nothing interesting.
Breaking news, live from the Glenn Beck “Restoring Honor” rally in Washington D.C.! (Actually, we already left.) The speakers, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin and some baseball players, want Americans to believe again. In something. Yeah… it was vague!
We arrived at the Lincoln Memorial press area as Glenn Beck was bringing on Sarah Palin. It was hard to decipher that during his introductory speech, though, because he noted that he didn’t want to have any “politicians” at his thing — just mothers of soldiers! And with that, he said “here’s Sarah Palin.” But she’s a politician too! C’mon.
Sarah Palin talked about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and war. Then some veterans came on and did the same.
Here’s the view from the lil’ press area, jampacked with sweaty, grumpy stenographers and operators of massive filming apparati.
Since signs and posters were banned, interest groups, activists and other generally obnoxious people had to resort to pamphlets and flyers, passing them out everywhere. Here’s a hot advertisement for Obamasutra. It is allegedly one of the “funniest and happiest books about evil,” and “if you throw such sharp aphorisms at the window of the White House, the glass will crack.” Call the cops on this book!
The best part of the event was probably when St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa came out to give an award to… Albert Pujols, his best player. What the hell? At the Glenn Beck Lincoln Memorial “Restoring Honor” Rally of the Century? This ain’t the ESPYs! But the throngs lining the reflecting pool cheered anyway. Albert Pujols spoke favorably of Jesus, in his award acceptance speech.
That’s when we left. Glenn Beck was still saying things, strange things. (“Hope. Hope is the parent of both faith and charity. Hope is the light. Faith. Now faith is…” etc. etc.) Wonderful people were spreading across the lawns for naps. Read the rest…
Today, speaking at Glenn Beck’s purportedly “nonpolitical” “Restoring Honor” rally in Washington, D.C., Sarah Palin took a shot at President Obama.
On August 26, Time reported that Special Operations Warrior Foundation, the charity to which the proceeds from the rally will go, had “required speakers at the event, who will include Sarah Palin, to sign an agreement promising not to talk politics.”
Nonetheless, during her speech, Palin said: “I must assume that you too, knowing that, no, we must not fundamentally transform America as some would want, we must restore America and restore her honor.”
Palin’s audience of Beck fans were well aware that she was referencing comments Obama made during his presidential campaign about “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” Over the past year and a half, Beck has repeatedly used Obama’s remark to featmonger about Obama’s purportedly radical goals, going so far as to claim that Obama is “fundamentally transforming” the country to make it “look more like ACORN.”
[...] Likewise, in the “Mama Grizzlies” video produced by her political action committee, SarahPAC, Palin says that “these policies coming out of D.C. now, this fundamental transformation of America, well, a lot of women who are very concerned about their kids future are say, ‘We don’t like this fundamental transformation and we’re going to do something about it.”
There is no way that Palin can be anything BUT political — not only by her own lack of self-control, but in everyone’s eyes as well.
Today thousands of angry white people have descended on the National Mall on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, to whine about how they’re being persecuted and unfairly maligned, sponsored by a race-baiting lunatic Fox News host who promotes the ideology of the far right and the John Birch Society and has called President Obama “a racist with a deep-seated hatred of white culture.”
They’re broadcasting this bizarre inversion of reality on C-SPAN, where you can see that they’ve done their best to recruit as many black speakers and absolutely horrible black singers as they could, because that’s how they prove they’re not racist … at all!
Glenn Beck managed to fill the stage with black people, but when the cameras pan around the crowd, it’s an unbroken sea of white faces. And the crowd is nowhere near the 300,000 figure Beck was trumpeting in advance.
If Martin Luther King were alive today, these same people would be vilifying him as a communist and an evil progressive. The irony meter is off the scale on this parade of white victimhood.
Here’s a photo of one of Beck’s admirers; they banned signs from this rally, so he simply put his racist slogan on a t-shirt instead.
- Glenn Beck via Twitter: Press already comparing my speech to MLK. What? I’m not MLK. most of speech will be off bullet points. The rest ad-lib. MLK genius. Me? Not. Right. You? Not. By the way, who exactly is comparing Beck to Martin Luther King — I mean, other than Glenn Beck?
- Martin Luther King would have been on Glenn Beck’s chalkboard
- Meet Bruce Majors: The Tea Partier Advising Beck Rally-Goers To Stay Off The Green And Yellow Lines — he’s everything you’d expect AND MORE!