Day of Beck-oning

September 15, 2010 — by Nandini Ruparel

For most educated Americans, the mere mention of the Lincoln Memorial and the date Aug. 28 brings back memories of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, one in which he rallied for the civil rights movement and brought hope to many disheartened African-Americans. The significance of the two together is rarely lost on anyone.

Except for Glenn Beck, apparently.

Instead, Beck, a very conservative commentator on Fox News, saw himself standing at the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28 giving a speech regarding the Tea Party movement and called the rally he was holding “Restoring Honor.” Beck is known for his intense remarks and radical statements, but many people think that he had gone too far this time.

While Beck is perfectly entitled to his own views and beliefs, holding a rally on the same day and, to add insult to injury, at the same location as MLK ‘s speech was disrespectful to not only the civil rights activist, but also to all the men and women to which this day is significant. Even after being politely informed about the “coincidence,” keeping the date and saying that he wanted to “reclaim the civil rights movement” was the wrong decision for Beck to make.

Beck claims that the anniversary was not the reason he chose the date, insisting that it was simply easier to choose for everyone involved. Clearly, “easy” is a relative term. Beck has received much criticism regarding his apparently utilitarian choice, especially from prominent activists and pundits. Call it “divine providence”, as Beck does, or unfortunate coincidence, but if Beck did not know of the significance of the date, then the most respectful action to take would have been to change the date.

Beck has once again proved himself to be a rallying force for controversy and troublemakers. Although his rally, which, according to CBS, anywhere from 78,000 to 96,000 people attended, ended up being one of the least incendiary events of the summer (which may say more about the past months than it does about the rally), it shows how Beck is willing to do anything to keep the fame he’s established on his extreme TV show. If Beck continues to hold his “tea parties” on similarly significant dates without examining the consequences, his reputation will either fade to a washed out nay-sayer, or to a controversy hound with little knowledge of historical events.