By Diane Rufino
Glenn Beck had a dream. He thought that if Americans can unite in order to restore honor to our nation, it would be the first step in taking our country back and taking it back for all the right reasons. It was perhaps fitting then that he held his “Restoring Honor” rally on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s 1963 March on Washington, when the civil rights leader talked about his own dream to bring honor to our nation.
The “Restoring Honor” rally in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, Aug. 28, attracted at least a million Americans who, while searching for answers to the many dire problems plaguing the nation, wanted to show solidarity behind Glenn Beck’s dream. For months Beck reported that the event would not be political but would be spiritual and reflective. It would be an occasion to celebrate our military and to reflect upon the honorable values that at one time defined our nation. Perhaps most of all it would be an opportunity to honor God, who has been out of the equation for far too long. We cannot continue to ask His blessings when as a nation we are told we must deny him. Good things happen to us when God is on our side and blesses us with his Providence. And the best way to get our house in order is to start with the individual. As Beck said: “The message I was trying to send was to be your highest self and stand in the burning bush (reference to the God), stand in the fire, because that’s the only thing that’s going to save us. I’ve come to the place where I believe there’s no way to solve these problems, these issues … unless we solve it through God, unless we solve it through being our highest self, and that’s a pretty tall order.”
It was a beautiful day for the rally. Not only was it hot and sunny, but the air was filled with an energy that most people admit they had never felt before in their lives. My family and I spent the week-end in the DC, only blocks from the mall where the rally was to take place. We wanted to use the occasion to learn and to re-acquaint ourselves with history. From the minute we checked into the hotel, clerks and local folks were awestruck at the attendance in the city. They had never seen the city so packed and so busy. There wasn’t a single hotel room available in the city and not a single parking space. On every street were hundreds of people taking in the sights or getting something to eat, all in preparation of the big event on Saturday. People had come in from everywhere imaginable… Iowa, Michigan, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Georgia, New Jersey, and others like ourselves, from North Carolina. These are just a few that we rode in the elevators with.
On Saturday morning we got up at 6:30 am and looked out the window of our hotel room. We could already see crowds walking past the hotel and towards the area of the mall. We knew then we would have to get moving ourselves. Quickly we showered and had a quick bite to eat, and were out of the hotel by 8:00. We walked to the mall with a huge mass of people. There was barely any room to move around on the sidewalks. Once we hit the mall, there was even less room to walk around, and all you could do was move with the crowds.
By 8:30, the mall area was already packed from the Lincoln Memorial straight back through the WWII Memorial and onto the lawn to the Washington Monument. It was a sea of people, all packed together. We were unable to get any closer than right in front of the WWII Memorial, but at least the kids had the chance to sit by the water and fountains to cool off. Talking to people who live in DC, they said without a doubt that they had never seen the city so crowded. “We’ve never seen anything like this in DC, even for the 9/12 March.” One man estimated the crowd (at 8:30am) to be at least 1.3 million. A couple who had attended the 9/12 March last year estimated the present crowd at at double the 9/12 event. A man who attended the Million Man March said there was absolutely no comparison between the two events. He said the Million Man March was a minor event compared to the Restoring Honor Rally. All in all, the estimate that I got from talking to so many people was that there was at least 1.2 – 1.5 million people in attendance.
The crowd was wonderful… just the greatest group of people you would want to spend the afternoon with…..the greatest group of people you would want to call your neighbors, and the greatest group of people you could want to share a country with. These people are undyingly patriotic, warm, generous, gregarious, respectful, caring, focused on the right values, and for the most part, religious. They all know that they can no longer sit by and watch the destructive forces that have gained power continue to “transform” the nation into something they can no longer be proud of. And pride in their country was the very reason these average Americans traveled from their homes to share in the event with Glenn Beck. . Just before the event was set to begin, a flock of seagulls flew straight in over the Reflecting Pool, in perfect V-formation. The crowd around the Pool clapped heartily. One man next commented: “It’s God’s version of a fly-over!”
Glenn Beck took the stage, in a shirt and tie and headset, at precisely 10:00 and opened with a public service announcement: “I have just gotten word from the media that there is over 1000 people here today.” The crowds, numbering over a million at that point, laughed and cheered wildly.
Beck asked the crowd to take notice of where they were standing, for all around them were monuments to those who have served this nation immeasurably, either in word or in deed. In one direction was the majestic George Washington Monument on which is engraved the words “Laus Deo” which means “Praise Be to God.” George Washington – “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen” – devoted his entire life in service to his country. He was pulled out of retirement on three separate occasions because his country had further need of his leadership, one at the Constitutional Convention and another in service as our nation’s first President.
To the side was the Jefferson Memorial, a beautiful monument to our liberty, for it was Thomas Jefferson who gave us religious freedom and who pushed James Madison to include a Bill of Rights in our Constitution. Inscribed on one wall are his words: “”God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath?”
In front was the stunning WWII Memorial, which celebrated the 65th Anniversary of the end of the war against Japan on August 15th. There were veterans on hand to patrol the Memorial and some seemed awfully nervous that somehow it might be disrespected. They were reassured however when rally members went up to them and thanked them for what they did for the country. Immediately off to the side and in front was the poignant Vietnam War Memorial to which Beck exclaimed: “When they came home, they weren’t given a warm welcome home. But today, we celebrate their service.” In back of that was the KoreanWar Memorial.
And then there was the Lincoln Memorial itself, from which the rally would be broadcast…. As Beck described: “Abraham Lincoln rests on a seat of dignity, a throne of authority.. The face of equality… solemn, dignified, resolved.” On one wall is engraved his Gettysburg Address and on another is engraved his second inaugural address. “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
Beck kicked off the rally by telling the crowd: “Something beyond imagination is happening. Something that is beyond man is happening. America today begins to turn back to God. For too long, this country has wandered in darkness and we have wandered in darkness for periods from the beginning. We have had moments of brilliance and moments of darkness. But his country has spent far too long worried about scars and thinking about the scars and concentrating on the scars. Today we are going to concentrate on the good things in America, on the good things what we can accomplish together and what we can do tomorrow. For the story of America is the story of human kind.” Glenn then discussed the power of God. On the other side of the world, God fulfilled the scripture and delivered his chosen people out of bondage. He sent the deliverer. People then began to listen to God and take his word seriously. And then he fulfilled scripture again and sent his son Jesus Christ, this time to deliver those who believe from the condemnation of sin. On this side of the world, God also delivered his people from oppression and guided them to freedom. And they also listened to him. They secured charters from England and got in their boats and came to America. Their story is our story.
Glenn said: On this side of the world, “God’s chosen people are the Native Americans and the pilgrims.” And with that he introduced a man and a woman who are direct descendants of the native American tribe that welcomed the settlers when they landed on their shores and he introduced Pastor Paul Jehle, a direct descendant from those pilgrims who arrived here on the Mayflower. Pastor Jehle then delivered a beautiful prayer. He reminded the audience the role that God has played in our history…. It was God who opened the shores of America. It was God to brought the settlers to the new world. It was God whom the Pilgrims knelt to. It was God whom John Winthrop addressed when he delivered a sermon to inspire his settlers on their perilous ocean voyage to Massachusetts Bay. It was God who inspired our founding documents. It was God who was addressed in the Declaration of Independence as the “Creator.” It was God who guided us to our separation from England. And it was God who inspired our nation to secure for its people the largest grant of freedom in the world. It was also God who punished us when we broke our treaties with the native American friends and when we refused to treat all men with equality. And he may well punish us further for not modeling marriage after his laws. But God is a forgiving Lord. Pastor Jehle said that we, as a nation, need to ask God for forgiveness, for redemption, for reconciliation…. “He will honor those who honor him.” “God is the answer. He always has been.”
John Winthrop, on a charter to the New World to start a colony to embrace their Puritan religious beliefs, delivered a sermon to inspire them. (They would form the Massachusetts Bay Colony): “We must Consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us; so that if we shall deal falsely with our god in this work we have undertaken and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world.” (These words went on to inspire speeches by both JFK and Ronald Reagan).
Beck urged the crowd: “Go to your churches, synagogues, and mosques… Yesterday is gone, tomorrow may never come, but we have today to make a difference!” The crowd applauded.
Next, Deborah Argel-Bastian, mother of a fallen Special Ops soldier, delivered a heartfelt and tearful remembrance to her son, Captain Derek Argel, who was killed in Action in Iraq. She spoke about the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which Glenn Beck has personally endorsed, and which honors brave soldiers like her son. Deborah has raised several thousand for the cause, and in just the few short hours of the rally, over $5 million was raised for the cause. The Special Operations soldier is indeed a rare breed of human: expertly skilled, highly trained and wholly dedicated. Their challenges are particularly dangerous and unpredictable, but it is soldiers like Captain Argel who rescue hostages and take out high-risk targets.
Beck then introduced the speaker who received the loudest welcome from the crowds – Sarah Palin. She was asked to speak not as a politician and not as a powerful force for the Tea Party movement, but rather as the mother of a soldier. She started with these words: “We stand today at the symbolic crossroads of our nation’s history. May this day be the changing point.” She told the crowds: “We must not fundamentally transform America as some would want. We must restore America and restore her honor!”
Her message was that of the extraordinary character and dedication of the American soldier. To that point, she told the remarkable stories of three brave servicemen who joined her onstage – U.S. Navy SEAL Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell, US Marine Sergeant James “Eddie” Wright, and Air Force Colonel Tom Kirk.
“The first is a man named Marcus Luttrell. His story is one of raw courage in the face of overwhelming odds. It’s also a story of America’s enduring quest for justice. Remember, we went to Afghanistan seeking justice for those who were killed without mercy by evil men on September 11th. And one fateful day in Afghanistan on a mountain ridge, Marcus and three of his fellow Navy SEALs confronted the issue of justice and mercy in a decision that would forever change their lives.
They were on a mission to hunt down a high-level Taliban leader, but they were faced with a terrible dilemma when some men herding goats stumbled upon their position, and they couldn’t tell if these men were friend or foe. So the question was what to do with them? Should they kill them or should they let them go and perhaps risk compromising their mission? They took a vote. They chose mercy over self-preservation. They set their prisoners free. The vote said it was the humane thing to do. It was the American thing to do. But it sealed their fate because within hours, over a hundred Taliban forces arrived on the scene. They battled the four Navy SEALs throughout the surrounding hills. A rescue helicopter came, but it was shot down. By the time the sun set on June 28, 2005, it was one of the bloodiest days for American forces in Afghanistan. Nineteen brave, honorable men were lost that day. Marcus was the sole survivor. Alone, stranded, badly wounded, he limped and crawled for miles along that mountain side. What happened next is a testament to the words: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.” Marcus and his team showed mercy in letting their prisoners free. And later he was shown mercy by Afghan villagers who honored an ancient custom of providing hospitality to any stranger who would ask for it. They took him in. They cared for him, refused to hand him over to the Taliban. They got him back safely to our forces.
Marcus’ story teaches us that even on the worst battlefield against the most brutal enemy, we adhere to our principles. This American love of justice and mercy is what makes us a force for good in this world. Marcus is a testament to that…. (With that last remark, she asked the crowd to join her in honoring Mr. Luttrell. She gave him a big huge as he stepped forward and thanked the crowd).
From the time he first heard men marching to a cadence call, Eddie Wright had one dream in life, and that was to be a United States Marine. And as a Marine serving in Iraq, his company was ambushed in Fallujah. He was knocked out when a rocket propelled grenade hit his humvee. When he came to, he saw that both his hands were gone and his leg was badly wounded. He couldn’t fire his weapon, he could barely move, and he was bleeding to death. But he had the strength of mind to lead the men under his command, and that is exactly what he did. He kept them calm, he showed them how to stop the bleeding in his leg, he told them where to return fire, he had them call for support, and he got them out of there alive.
His composure under fire that day earned him the Bronze Star with Valor device….. (She then asked the crowd to join her in honoring Mr. Wright, whom she gave a great hug. He waved to the crowd with his metal prosthetic hands).
Tom Kirk was an Air Force squadron commander and a combat pilot who had flown over 150 missions in Korea and Vietnam. One day on a routine mission over Hanoi, his plane was shot down. He spent the next five and a half years in that living hell known as the Hanoi Hilton. Like his fellow prisoners, Tom endured the beatings, the torture, the hunger, the years of isolation. He described it, saying, ‘There was nothing to do, nothing to read, nothing to write. You had to just sit there in absolute boredom, loneliness, frustration, and fear. You had to live one day at a time, because you had no idea how long you were going to be there.’
After two years of solitary confinement, pacing back and forth in his cell — three and a half steps across, three and a half steps deep – Tom was finally moved to a larger holding cell with 45 other Americans prisoners, among them was a man named John McCain. In circumstances that defy description, this band of brothers kept each other alive, and one by one, they came home.
Tom was released on March 14, 1973. You might think that a man who had suffered so much for his country would be bitter and broken by it. But Tom’s heart was only filled with love – love for America – that special love of country that we call patriotism.
Tom wrote, ‘Patriotism has become, for many, a ‘corny’ thing. For me, it is more important now than at any time in my life. How wonderful it is to be an American. How wonderful it is to be an American who can come home!’ (The crowd joined her in honoring Mr. Kirk)
Their stories are America’s story. We will always come through. We will never give up, and we shall endure because we live by that moral strength that we call grace. Because though we’ve often skirted a precipice, a providential hand has always guided us to a better future.”
Sarah Palin ended by re-enforcing her initial message: “I know that many of us today, we are worried about what we face. Sometimes our challenges, they just seem insurmountable. But, here, together, at the crossroads of our history, may this day be the changing point! Look around you. You’re not alone. You are Americans! You have the same steel spine and the moral courage of Washington and Lincoln and Martin Luther King. It is in you. It will sustain you as it sustained them….. So with pride in the red, white, and blue; with gratitude to our men and women in uniform; let’s stand together! Let’s stand with honor! Let’s restore America!”
I had been standing just outside the WWII Memorial at the time of Sarah Palin’s speech and a man standing next to me, from Minnesota I believe, said: “I wish there were more opportunities to honor our troops and military like this event.” And he was absolutely right.
Three people were then singled out for the values of Faith, Hope and Charity. The Faith Merit medal was presented to the Reverend C.L. Jackson, a lifelong pastor and civil rights pioneer. The Hope Merit medal was presented to baseball superstar Albert Pujols, of the St. Louis Cardinals, who has remained true to his wife, himself, the sport, and to his faith. In fact when he received the medal, he thanked his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for all he has been blessed with. The Charity merit medal was presented to philanthropist Jon Huntsman Sr., who has given billions of dollars to charities, including those for cancer research, domestic violence shelters, and homeless shelters.
Alveda King, niece of the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., a minister, a conservative political activist, an anti-gay marriage and anti-abortion activist, author, politician, and mother of eight, spoke about rebuilding and uniting America. “We are here to honor special men and women who, like my Uncle Martin, are blessed with servants’ hearts. Though they gave their service in ways very different from Martin Luther King Jr., like him they are not afraid of giving their lives for the freedom of others. If Uncle Martin were here today, he would surely commend us for giving credit where credit is due…. We are united by one race, the human race. We are all children of God and we must love one another. We are one human family. We must not oppress each other but help those who are oppressed.” She also asked rally-goers to “focus not on elections or on political causes, but on honor, on character … not the color of our skin.”
“Forty-seven years ago, Uncle Martin compared our nation’s promise of Equal Protection to a check marked “Insufficient Funds.” Today, in more than one sense, American is nearly bankrupt. Our material gains seem to be going the way of our moral losses. We are still suffering from the great Evil Divide of racism. Our children are still suffering in the education system and our sons and daughters are being incarcerated at astronomical rates. The sickness, disease, and poverty of the spirit and soul are plaguing our communities. The procreative foundation of marriage is being threatened, and the wombs of our mothers have become places where the blood of our children is shed in a womb war that threatens the fabric of our society. The economy reflects the girth of our moral poverty. Yet we are not without hope and faith. Hope, faith, and love are not dead in America. Hallelujah. We still trust in God. Our honored heroes here today bear witness that there is still hope in the human heart….” She asked the crowds: “When will we know when the check that Uncle Martin spoke about is good? We will know when we have arrived when prayer is once again welcomed in the public squares of America and in our schools. We will know when our children are no longer in peril in our streets and in our classrooms and in the wombs of our mothers.”
Echoing the words of her Uncle, she ended with these words: “I too have a dream. I have a dream that one day that the God of love will transcend color and economic status and cause us to turn from moral turpitude. I have a dream that Americans will repent from the sin of racism and return to Honor. I have a dream that America will pray and God will forgive us our sins and revive us in our land.”
When Ms. King concluded, the crowd was treated to some gospel songs touching on faith and unity. Red-headed country singer Jo Dee Messina also took the stage to perform her beautiful song “Heaven was Needing a Hero.” No better song could have been sung on such an occasion.
The closing prayer was delivered by Vietnam veteran Dan Roever, a man of honor who survived having a phosphorus grenade blown up in his face. His burns were so severe that he literally lost his entire face and one eye. He tried to commit suicide before he ever got home because he didn’t think his young wife could bear to look at him. He began with these words: “There are two reflecting pools here. One is the Reflecting Pool, of water, in front of the Lincoln Memorial. The other is the pool of people gathered here in your name. We reflect upon you. We are your reflecting pool.” In his prayer, he reminded us of Romans 8:28. He reminded us that this verse assures us that in all things – slavery, civil war, segregation, war, terror, and even the Holocaust – God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Beck closed the event with words that were sure to instill hope in every attendee at the rally. He said that Americans have a choice between allowing the scars of the past to crush or to learn from the mistakes and move forward. He pointed to the nearby monuments as examples of Americans who have given their lives to the service of the country, singling out Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Dr. Martin Luther King.
“So what did these great people give their lives for?” he asked. “They gave it for the American experiment. And that’s what this is — an experiment. It’s not just a country, it’s an idea. It’s an idea that man can rule himself. And that’s the American experiment.”
At that point Beck began to become visibly choked up while describing visiting the Lincoln Memorial with his children. He also quoted the Gettysburg Address at length and said he has been staying in the same hotel where Dr. King completed his “I Have a Dream” speech and where the “Battle Hymn of Republic” was composed.
In talking about Martin Luther King, he noted that his monument hasn’t been completed and he hasn’t been carved in marble yet. “He’s still a man,” Beck said. With that he noted that the only difference between the great leaders memorialized nearby and individuals in the crowd was their determination to do the right thing, regardless of difficulty. “Have trust in the Lord, and recognize that Moses and Abraham Lincoln and George Washington were men, they were just like you. They just picked up their stick,” he said. “Do not stand and look to someone else. Look to yourself. Pick up your stick and stand.”
Beck said too many Americans have been looking to someone else for help with their problems, when instead they should be looking inside of themselves and then extending a hand to the needy around them. “We are a nation quite honestly that in about as good a shape as I am. Because we’ve had a soft life,” he said. “The poorest among us are still some of the richest in the world. The poorest among us have blessings beyond wildest imagination of anyone that Mother Theresa visited. And yet we don’t recognize it.”
Instead of recognizing our blessings, he said Americans have allowed themselves to become easily knocked down and disillusioned. They have grown tired, weak, and increasingly divided. Beck told the crowd: “There is growing hatred in the country. We must be better than what we’ve allowed ourselves to become. We must get the poison of hatred out of us. No matter what anyone may say or do, no matter what anyone smears or lies or throws our way or to any American’s way, we must look to God and look to love. We must defend those that we disagree with, as long as they are honest and have integrity.”
In order to succeed, Beck explained, Americans must first look within themselves and make sure that they are honest, faithful and charitable in their everyday lives. He emphasized the importance of honesty and faith by relating his own journey, which took him to a low place where he hit rock bottom, had no friends, and disgraced himself in every possible way before finding God and turning his life around.
“America is great because America is good. But that isn’t the entire story. America is only what we choose her to be. We as individuals must be good so America can be great,” he said. And that was the take-home message of the day. We need to be the best that we all can be… for ourselves, for our families, for our God, and for our country. We need to restore faith, hope, charity and honor in our own lives first and then through our character, we can restore honor to our country. That’s how we take the country back.
He closed, “We are at a crossroads, today. We must decide who we are. And what is it we believe. Will we advance our Republic or allow it to perish? I choose advance!” (To which the crowd cheered !!) With that, the historic rally was concluded.
The rally was over just before 2:00. It went precisely as scheduled. I walked back towards my hotel with my sweaty, smelly, tired family but felt more alive than I have in a long time. I imagine thousands felt the same exact way. As one attendee commented to me afterwards, as we both sat down to rest our throbbing feet: “The crowd was extraordinarily courteous and polite. I saw people go out of their way to help people navigate through the crowds, even when it meant that they were uprooted from their chairs or were being stepped on. I saw people helping others to get something cold to drink. I didn’t see any signs except on the way to the gathering. Once I actually got to the mall ground, I only saw American flags and some yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, which people were proud to carry. There were plenty of conservative t-shirts and I enjoyed reading their messages. Some were really clever and unique, but not a single one was offensive or tasteless. The speeches were exactly what I expected. They weren’t about politics, as Beck said, and instead they were about things like honor, courage, patriotism, love of God, unity, and charity. Beck and Palin and the other speakers were calling for the need of a national revival of these virtues. And as I looked around, I could see that everyone in the crowd agreed. I even saw grown men crying when they talked about honor and God. When I left the grounds and I looked back, I saw the grass completely free of litter and debris. It was truly a respectful crowd.”
On a site just off the mall, another rally was being held – the “Reclaim the Dream” rally – which was organized by the Reverend Al Sharpton. The rally was promoted by Mr. Sharpton as a peaceful, non-political rally to share the message that while blacks still have “the dream” – “We aren’t there yet.” In fact, that message – “We aren’t there yet” – was going to be the theme. As it turned out, it wasn’t necessarily “non-political” nor “peaceful,” although there were no acts of assault or violence. Rather, there were plenty of insults and finger-pointing and a lot of disrespect. (At least, that is what several attendees of the Restoring Honor rally were talking about at the hotel, at the Museums we attended, and even when we stopped for ice cream and dinner. There was no where you could go that day without running into someone who had gone to the rally and wanted to share their experience).
A group of over a million Americans, almost exclusively white, from all corners of the country, and devoted solely and entirely to the positive, truthful message about restoring not only honor but hope, faith and charity in our nation, was criticized and attacked by the group, which was predominately black. They carried signs and called Glenn Beck “racist” and claimed that his rally would amount to nothing. “They are having a anti-government march on a day where King came to appeal to the government,” Sharpton said. “You can’t have it both ways… In ’63, they went to Washington for a strong national government to protect civil rights. Beck and Palin are going there for a weak national government and to advocate state rights.” I personally didn’t see much criticism from members of this rally except for a group of people just on the edge of the Restoring Honor Rally who shouted “Beck is a racist” and “the Tea Party is racist” as we walked by. When my husband asked why they didn’t have a flag, they answered that they didn’t need one. Other attendees said they were called “Tea baggers” as they left the mall area and others said that Sharpton’s crowd used foul language in regard to Beck and the rally. In the paper the following day, the “Reclaim the Dream” attendees complained that they received some foul comments as well. One told them to “go back to church.”
While the Restoring Honor rally was respectful and non-political, many of those who attended Al Sharpton’s rally specifically did so to protest Beck’s rally. The truth is that the two rallies could not have been any more different, though both inspired by the words and acts of civil service and sacrifice by Martin Luther King Jr. The contrast between the rallies couldn’t have been sharper — One was divinely-spirited and the other was mean-spirited. One had a positive message and the other had a negative message. One represented unity and was inclusive of all persons who wanted to praise the Lord and the military, and the other was exclusive. One recognized the Lincoln Memorial as a site for all Americans and as a symbol of national unity and brotherhood and the other used angry tones to claim that the site belongs exclusively to MLK and his cause. One was about putting the needs of the nation and its integrity and longevity first and the other was about putting their needs first. Lastly, one was about race and the other was not.
Sharpton opened the “Reclaim the Dream” rally with these words: “They may have the mall, but we have the message. They may have the platform, but we have the dream. They want to disgrace this day, and we’re not giving them this day. This is our day and we ain’t giving it away.” Of course, it was the same tired negative victimization message… “We are still not there yet. We are still doubly unemployed.. We still haven’t arrived in education. We still don’t have a job to go home to. It’s been 47 years and we will still leave here in the same position we were back then.” He focused mainly on the job disparity and how it is the government’s job to fix it. The tone was that somehow, even in 2010, whites are responsible for making sure that blacks are not treated with equality. Perhaps Sharpton could have brought up the facts and figures to show that African-Americans are overwhelmingly and disproportionately dropping out of school. Perhaps he could have brought up statistics about family and about crime. (See my reference section). To attack white Americans for their massive display of patriotism, for their “nerve” in invoking Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and for their solidarity in respecting the values that make/made America great showed a fundamental lack of good faith on their part to the words of their fallen leader. The hypocrisy was astounding. They revere a man who asked them to abstain from violence and show civility in pursuing their cause and who preached about “character” and unity, and yet they vehemently denounced the message of God and restoring honor. Our nation is indeed “at a crossroads” as Beck said, and we are on a destructive path with potentially disastrous consequences. If ever we needed a time for unity, it is now. It is a time to put country first. Yes, our rights and liberties are important, but what will we have if our country isn’t strong enough to protect them? This is a concern that wasn’t or isn’t on the minds of Al Sharpton and his rally-goers. In fact, he sent a message to the Tea Party movement when he told his followers: “We know how to sucker punch you. We did it in 2008 and we’ll do it again.”
Others who spoke at the “Reclaim the Dream” rally had similar messages. Jaime Contreras, president of SEIU-32BJ told the crowd: “They sure as hell don’t represent me. They represent hate-mongering and angry white people. The happy white people are here today. We will not let them stand in the way of the change we voted for!” Joyce White commented: “If we hadn’t elected a black president, do you think they would be doing this today?”
Washington Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said: “Beck’s message doesn’t change nothing. (again with the proper English) Beck has march-envy, and he doesn’t have a message to match our march. His message isn’t worthy of the place.” [Wow. I don’t even want to go there. For a US delegate to show such blatant disregard to our history is an indictment of the lack of ethics and character that we have in government].
Rev. W. Franklin Richardson, president of Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, N.Y. said: “It’s all right with me that they are at the Mall today because we are at the White House.” Tehuti Imhotep, who traveled from Baltimore, shouted at passersby: “King was about bringing people together. Beck is pulling people apart.”
The sad thing is that Sharpton and his followers had the chance to embrace Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream of racial harmony by attending the Restoring Honor Rally and standing alongside white patriots to pay tribute to our military, to embrace God, and to respect the dreams of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King. White rally-goers would have welcomed blacks with open arms. But Sharpton is not honestly in the business of racial harmony. He is a propagation pimp. His role is to keep playing the race card and to drum in the message of victimization. His role is to maintain the racial divide. It is good for business.
The problem is that Al Sharpton is still talking about the bad old days for Blacks and rather than see beyond race-colored glasses, views Glenn Beck’s call to “Restore Honor” as one to restore the “good old days” for Whites. When the nation can’t progress because of such a myoptic view, we have a problem. Blacks will likely never stand arm-in-arm with whites, as Dr. King urged, to move the country forward because they fundamentally want different things, and the way things look to many, longevity of the country is not one of them.
As I was ready to finish this account of Beck’s historical rally, I just happened to turn on the TV and listen to the vile words of a talk show host who has long lost his relevancy. Chris Matthews. In talking about Glenn Beck and the rally, this is what he said: “This is the man who comes to Lincoln`s feet to claim the mantle of Martin Luther King? Can we imagine if King were physically here tomorrow, today, were he to reappear tomorrow on the very steps of the Lincoln Memorial? …. I have a nightmare that one day a right wing talk show host will come to this spot, his people`s lips dripping with the words “interposition” and “nullification.” Little right wing boys and little right wing girls joining hands and singing their praise for Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin… I have a nightmare.”
The forces for oppression are strong in this country, which is amazing considering the leaders history has given us to inspire us and upon whose shoulders we can stand to achieve even greater things. This time, the oppression isn’t against one class of people, it is against all Americans. For anyone who doesn’t see how their fundamental liberties have already been burdened, just take note of how many months in the year you have to work just to pay Uncle Sam and how much time that takes you away from your families. Take note of how your freedom to move about and enjoy your property is burdened by crime. Take note of how judiciously the government scrutinizes your assets and decides what no longer belongs to you. Take note of how it believes it is entitled to take what it needs from you to use for whatever it feels (without giving you any say on how it will be applied, even if its goals are personally offensive to you). Take note of how the government is increasingly taking away your rights to worship and speak freely. Take note of how little control you have in the raising your own children, for the school (ie, the state) knows better. Take note of how the government will now mandate what you MUST purchase, even though you don’t need it. Government isn’t the solution. It’s the problem. As Plato once said: “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” Who would you rather govern you? God, who created you in love and all the liberties you need and deserve to reach your full potential? Or the government, run by inferiors, who only know what is good for the country and for their careers and not what is best for you personally? The less government in your life allows for more God in your life.
On the topic of liberty and freedom, there is one indisputable truth that we need to keep in mind, and this revelation comes from a Frenchman named Alexis de Tocqueville. French philosopher, Alexis de Tocqueville, came to America in the early 1800’s from France for the purpose of studying her prison system. What became of that visit was a very powerful book called “Democracy in America.” In that book he compares America to the failed regimes of Europe, and especially France. He asks the question ‘Why was democracy able to take hold so successfully in America while it failed in other countries.’
One answer, according to de Tocqueville is that the people in nations like France placed a much greater value on Equality (equal things, equal positions) than they did on Liberty. “I think that democratic communities have a natural taste for freedom: left to themselves, they will seek it, cherish it, and view any privation of it with regret.” While there is a natural taste for freedom, in France, however, the need for equality was greater. “But for equality, their passion is ardent, insatiable, incessant, invincible: they call for equality in freedom; and if they cannot obtain that, they still call for equality in slavery. They will endure poverty, servitude, barbarism – but they will not endure aristocracy. This is true at all times, and especially true in our own. All men and all powers seeking to cope with this irresistible passion will be overthrown and destroyed by it. Despotism cannot reign without its support….. I contend that in order to combat the evils which equality may produce, there is only one effectual remedy – namely, political freedom.” In other words, as long as we share that spirited protectionism over our liberties that our early countrymen possessed, and as long as we value our liberties far more than a government that needs to care for us from cradle to grave, then we stand the chance of survival. Our liberties are already burdened and the trend in government is to redistribute wealth and position (equal things). It is already determining who “has too much” or who “has enough.” “Return to Honor” is exactly the message we need to heed right now. We need to return to the honorable values that founded this country and which sustained our greatest grant of liberty. We need to honor those values that allow each individual to reach their full potential so that our country reaches its full potential.
I hope August 28th is a turning point. I hope history will judge it as so. One man – Abraham Lincoln – made a difference. One man – Martin Luther King – made a difference. If individual men, inspired by God and motivated by the power of individual liberty, can make such a difference, imagine what we can do together.
I just hope that the energy, the spirit, and the message that brought us together on Aug. 28th and which unites us every day in our Tea Parties in our towns and cities will continue to grow and will help us grow as responsible citizens “so that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
http://www.thesarahpalinblog.com/2010/08/video-and-transcript-of-restoring-honor.html#ixzz0y6dtaNll (Transcript of Sarah Palin’s Speech)
http://www.cspan.org/Watch/Media/2010/08/28/HP/A/37551/Restoring+Honor+Rally.aspx (Restoring Honor Rally footage, cspan)
http://www.glennbeck.com/content/articles/article/198/44980/ (Glenn Beck’s site)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxTtkWHkyUM&feature=email (The Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem)
NOTE: While religion and honor were the overriding themes of the day, there can be no claims that the rally showed any religious intolerance for the name of Jesus was barely invoked during the rally. It was a sweeping acknowledgement of all religions.
Our Tragic Numbers and Their Human Toll–
by George Will, August 30, 2010 [Referenced at: http://peripateticphilosopher.blogspot.com/ ]
George Will opens his column by alerting the reader to the fact that 10,000 baby boomers become eligible for Social Security and Medicare every day while the unemployment hovers around 10 percent.
Will then focuses on one specific group in America, the African American, a group he claims has been below the radar during the Obama Administration. He quotes Nathan Glazer, a sociologist, writing in the “American Interest”:
(1) By the early 2000s, more than one-third of all young black non-college men were incarcerated;
(2) More than 60% of black high school dropouts born since the mid-1960s end in prison;
(3) For every 100 bachelor’s degrees conferred on black men, 200 were conferred on black women;
(4) Inner cities have become havens for the poor, the poorly educated, the unemployed and the unemployable;
(5) High out-of-wedlock birthrates exacerbate the social and economic problems of adolescent males without male parenting;
(6) This translates into disorderly neighborhoods and disorderly schools;
(7) Some young blacks harass those black males who take their education seriously (“hitting the books”), accusing them of abandoning their race and “acting white”;
(8) Only 35% of black children live with two parents;
(9) 24% of white eighth graders watch four or more hours of television a day whereas 59% of their black peers do (both groups also waste their time on some form of electronic contraption);
(10) By the age of 4, the average child in a professional family hears about 20 million more words than the average child in working-class family, and about 35 million more words than the average child in a welfare family with a mother who is most likely a high school dropout.
The disappointing fact, according to Paul E. Barton and Richard J. Coley, writing about the achievement gap, is that although the gap was closing between blacks and whites in the 1970s and 1980s, that progress has halted. They write, “Progress generally halted for those born around the mid-1960s, a time when landmark legislative victories heralded an end to racial discrimination.”
Barton and Coley conclude five factors have contributed to this loss of progress:
(1) The number of days black students are absent from school;
(2) The number of hours black students spend watching television;
(3) The number of pages read for homework;
(4) The quality and quantity of reading material;
(5) The presence of two parents in the home.
George Will admits public policy is not the answer. The answer is the same as that advocated by David Brooks. The strength of the culture and the resonance of the values of that culture with the concomitant demands on it produce the desired returns. In our rush into the future, we have left our soul behind, which is the idea of America.
Notes on the State of Black America —
By Nathan Glazer, July-August 2010, in The American Interest,
[ Referenced at: http://www.the-american-interest.com/article.cfm?piece=838 ]
The election of Barack Obama to the presidency in November 2008 marked a paradox in the long history of race in America that has not been much noticed: The installation of the first black President in American history—black, that is, as Americans define black, despite his white mother and his non-American, African father—coincided with the almost complete disappearance from American public life of discussion of the black condition and what public policy might do to improve it. There was a time not so long ago when we had trouble having a dispassionate, constructive discussion of these matters in public; now we seem unable to have any discussion at all.
Not one issue having to do with American blacks was on the explicit agenda of either major political party during the 2008 campaign, or on the agenda of the Obama Administration during the first year of his presidency. Neither the continuing crisis of black unemployment; nor the continuing crisis of public education for blacks in the inner cities; nor the crisis of black imprisonment; nor the related abandonment in most American cities of efforts to integrate black students in schools with substantial numbers of white and Asian classmates; nor the cyclical and structural “problems of the inner cities”, a euphemism for all of these problems and others suffered mainly by blacks—none of these issues has formed any significant part of public discussion now for years, including the years marking the political ascent of Barack Obama. As Harvard professor William Julius Wilson, perhaps the leading analyst of the black condition in our inner cities, has written in his important current book, More Than Just Race:
Through the second half of the 1990s and into the early years of the twenty-first century, public attention to the plight of poor black Americans seemed to wane. There was scant media attention to the problem of concentrated urban poverty neighborhoods in which a high percentage of the residents fall beneath the federally designated poverty line, little or no discussion of inner-city challenges by mainstream political leaders, and even an apparent quiescence on the part of ghetto residents themselves.1
How is this to be explained, and what does it mean? Certainly, as Wilson notes, the disappearance of these issues from major public discussion cannot be explained by the successful end of the race issue in American history. Progress there has been in the fifty years or more since a major Supreme Court decision signaled the end of the legal segregation of blacks into an inferior position, but even so, some aspects of the problem have grown worse. The juxtaposition is jarring, confusing, and evidently silencing.
** Glazer is a sociology professor emeritus at Harvard University.