Martin Luther King: And One Day We Must Ask The Question…

Martin Luther King, 1967:

Martin Luther King

“The movement must address itself to the question of restructuring the whole of American society. There are forty million poor people here. And one day we must ask the question, Why are there forty million poor people in America? And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society.

“We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life’s marketplace. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. You see, my friends, when you deal with this, you begin to ask the question, Who owns the oil? You begin to ask the question, Who owns the iron ore? You begin to ask the question, Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that is two-thirds water? These are questions that must be asked.”

Dom Helder Camara, Archbishop of Recife:

“When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.”

Pope Francis:

“As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.”

President Barack Obama, 2013:

For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it […] Our journey is not complete…”

Fox News Guest Distorts Martin Luther King Quote To Attack ObamaCare

The naysayers at Fox News have been working overtime to cripple the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) by inventing controversies, spinning nightmares, and just outright lying. Then, when it seems that they have traversed a line that extinguishes all manner of decency, they manage to go a step further.

In yesterday’s episode of America’s Newsroom, host Bill Hemmer introduced a debate segment with a putrid old clip of Joe the Plumber (whose name is not Joe and is not a plumber) and the deliberately misrepresented remarks of then-candidate Obama talking about the benefits of growing the middle class. At the time, Fox News twisted his words into a socialist credo of redistribution of wealth when all he was saying was the same thing folks like Ronald Reagan said about a rising tide lifting all boats.

Fox News

The segment (video below) featured right-wing radio talker Mike Slater who took liberties with the words of Martin Luther King from his iconic essay, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” In an effort to condemn the egalitarian aspirations of making health care accessible to all American citizens, Slater mangled King’s words saying…

“Here’s the bottom line. The ends do not justify the means. Martin Luther King, Jr. said ‘You cannot achieve a moral end — helping people — through an immoral means — taking from people.’ The left’s solution is always to take from people to help another group. That’s lazy.”

What anyone familiar with King’s famous essay will immediately recognize is that Slater’s butchered version of the quote where he references “helping people” and “taking from People” do not exist in the original. What King actually said was…

“I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends.”

King was reiterating his long held belief in nonviolence and the need to maintain that in the face of increasing hostility from bigots and misguided southern law enforcement officials. It certainly had nothing to do with Slater’s skewed characterization that it is somehow wrong for government policies to help people. Taken literally, Slater’s view would eliminate Social Security, public schools, fire departments, child nutrition programs, and more.

Slater’s intentional distortion is even more ironic when you know that King’s next line was “But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends.” King might as well have been speaking directly to Slater who was using the moral ideas expressed by King for the immoral purpose of deception and advocacy of the sort of selfishness that King despised.

Unfortunately, Slater’s debate opponent, Leslie Marshall, was unprepared for Slater’s misquoting of King. She nevertheless responded earnestly saying “I think MLK would be rolling in his grave. If a child has cancer and they couldn’t get insurance, I don’t think that’s immoral, I think it’s quite the opposite to provide that.”

For the record, King was an advocate of health care access for all. In 1966 he told a conference in Chicago that “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” Had Slater and Fox News made that quote available to their viewers they would have gone farther toward realizing the moral ends of which King spoke. But true to form, Fox was focused solely on advancing their own rightist agenda that only benefits the privileged.

Bill O’Reilly, Wrong Again: On Conservative Invitations To The MLK Event

Modern conservatives are obsessed with demonstrating their admiration for Martin Luther, Jr. now that he has been dead for 45 years and is universally regarded as a civil rights icon. While he was alive they despised him as a rabble-rousing commie and opposed his efforts to integrate schools, workplaces, and other social institutions.

Today they scramble to get invitations to an event commemorating King’s best remembered speech as if they were teenage girls trying to get into a Justin Beiber concert. Never mind that they continue to work furiously against the principles for which King fought, and they endeavor to roll back the clock on everything from voting rights to job opportunities.

Bill O'Reilly

On his program today, Bill O’Reilly joined the rush to pretend that King is a revered figure amongst those on the right. In a dialogue with James Carville, O’Reilly made what he must have thought was a profound observation: “Wasn’t it a little strange that they didn’t have one black conservative or one black Republican? Did their invitations get lost in the mail, or what?”

Carville began his response by noting the appearances by former presidents Carter and Clinton, but was interrupted by O’Reilly snidely remarking that “Isn’t George W. Bush a former president.” Carville replied that he didn’t know whether Bush was invited or not, to which O’Reilly matter-of-factly stated “He wasn’t. No Republicans and no conservatives were invited.”

Not surprisingly, given O’Reilly’s track record for accuracy and honesty, none of that was true. Bush was invited but declined because he is still recuperating from heart surgery. And even Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal reported that the claim that all conservatives were deliberately excluded was false. In fact, GOP House Speaker John Boehner was invited. The GOP majority leader of the House, Eric Cantor, was invited. Both declined. Former NAACP president Julian Bond appeared on MSNBC lamenting that organizers invited “a long roster of Republicans who all said no. They did, however, attend their own Republican-sponsored affair.

If this is evidence of the GOP’s re-dedication to expanding their base and reaching out to minority constituents, they are going to be sorely disappointed come election time. Conservatives didn’t like King fifty years ago, they don’t like his message today, and they snubbed efforts to participate in the tribute. No wonder they need O’Reilly to misrepresent the facts and invent a non-existent controversy, falsely blaming unnamed liberals for excluding them. I wonder what excuses these losers made up for not having been invited to their proms.

O’Reilly is famous for failing to take responsibility for his mistakes and untruths. He never admitted he was wrong when he said there weren’t any homeless veterans. He never “apologized for being an idiot,” as he promised, if ObamaCare was upheld by the Supreme Court. And you can safely expect that he will not take responsibility for these egregiously dishonest remarks either. [Credit where credit’s due: On his program tonight O’Reilly did acknowledge that he was wrong about conservatives not being invited to the MLK event. I guess there’s a first time for everything.]

[Update:] Right-wingers throughout the media have been blasting the MLK event for not inviting conservatives. However, numerous conservatives were invited, but turned it down. Amongst those was Tim Scott, the only current African-American senator (albeit an appointed one), who many pundits held up as an example of the bias shown by the event’s organizers. As it turns out, Scott was also invited and he, too, declined.

Fox News Commemorates MLK’s March On Washington By Promoting A Vulgar Racist

On this day fifty years ago, Rev. Martin Luther King led 250,000 Americans to Washington, D.C., and inspired the nation with his dream of freedom and equality. Commemorating that historical event, Fox News led their reporting with an obscure, three day old story about a thoroughly repulsive bigot who was discovered to be working for the Department of Homeland Security.

Fox Nation DHS

Ayo Kimathi was a mid-level office drone with no management authority or responsibility. His job was as a small business specialist in a unit that helps department clients procure items such as handcuffs, ammunition and guns. He was also the man behind an overtly racist web site that advocated violence and civil insurrection. When his supervisors found out what he was up to, they immediately put him on administrative leave pending further disciplinary action. On multiple occasions Fox has deceitfully said that the DHS approved of his web site, however, the approval was only granted because Kamathi misrepresented it’s content.

The web site was discovered by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that studies and documents the activities of hate groups and works to expose the dangerous extremists amongst them. In the past, Fox News has disparagingly characterized the SPLC as a leftist operation that incites terrorist acts against conservatives. But on this occasion, Fox eagerly cites the SPLC’s reporting for one reason: The bigotry is that of a black man directed at whites.

Fox is only interested in racism when whites are the victims. On every other occasion Fox will portray the accuser as a race hustler who lacks any sense of personal responsibility. But the case of Kimathi is unique in that, while he is plainly prejudiced against whites, he is also fiercely opposed to President Obama whom he called a “faggot” and belittled as a “mulatto.” Setting aside his abhorrent contempt for Caucasians, Kimathi actually has much in common with the Tea Partying viewers of Fox News. In fact, many citizens of the Fox Nation have said the very same things about Obama. For instance…

Fox Nation Comment

By the way, if you haven’t read my ebook, Fox Nation vs. Reality you are missing out on an indispensable collection of documented dishonesty from the folks at Fox Nation.

Fox Nation Comment

So, in effect, Fox gets to whine about so-called reverse racism, while still disseminating a message of hate for President Obama. It’s a Tea Party Twofer. And in the comments attached to their story, the Fox Nationalists expressed themselves in particularly repugnant ways, including advocating mass murder:

Fox Nation DHS Comments

Despite this story having been published last Wednesday by the SPLC, Fox chose to feature it as their top headline today, the anniversary of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Could there possibly have been a worse time to hype up an incident involving a lone crackpot with the only purpose being to inflame racial division?

That’s just the way Fox News operates. Rather than celebrating the achievements of one of America’s greatest civil rights leaders, or acknowledging the positive progress that has occurred over the last fifty years, Fox went for stirring up animosity and pandering to their bigoted audience.

RELATED NEWS (sorta): Glenn Beck also had something to say about this twisted freak at DHS. And as usual, it was wrapped in a cryptically insane conspiracy theory. Beck has connected the imaginary dots between Kimathi and the debunked nonsense about the DHS buying up all of America’s bullets so as to leave the citizenry unarmed and vulnerable to the jack-booted thugs of the federal government who intend to kill us all.

Beck gets pretty much everything wrong (naturally), beginning with his assertion that Kimathi “just happens to be the guy in charge of buying all of the weapons and the bullets for the Department of Homeland Security.” Of course, that’s an outright lie, but it makes for a hilarious video clip. See for yourself:

Questions Martin Luther King Might Have Asked Obama On Inauguration Day

Martin Luther King, 1967:

Martin Luther King

“The movement must address itself to the question of restructuring the whole of American society. There are forty million poor people here. And one day we must ask the question, Why are there forty million poor people in America? And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society.

We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life’s marketplace. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. You see, my friends, when you deal with this, you begin to ask the question, Who owns the oil? You begin to ask the question, Who owns the iron ore? You begin to ask the question, Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that is two-thirds water? These are questions that must be asked.”

President Barack Obama, 2013:

For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it […] Our journey is not complete…”

Will The Fox News/GOP Debate Remember Martin Luther King Today In South Carolina?

Today America is celebrating the birthday of Martin Luther King. It is a fitting tribute to one of the nation’s most revered advocates of freedom and justice for all.

Today is also the day that Fox News has chosen to broadcast a Republican presidential primary debate from the state of South Carolina. The obvious question arises as to whether either the Fox moderators or the candidates will take the opportunity to recognize what this day represents.

Will any of them note that South Carolina was the last state to recognize the day as a national holiday? Prior to May 2, 2000, state employees could choose between celebrating Martin Luther King Day or one of three Confederate holidays.

Will any of them note that the The U.S. Justice Department is currently challenging South Carolina’s voter ID law as being in violation of the 1965 voting rights act, which outlawed discriminatory practices that prevented blacks from voting?

Will any of them note that the Confederate flag still flies over the South Carolina state capital?

These are all matters that Dr. King would have considered significant. If Fox wants to schedule a GOP political event on a day of remembrance for a national hero, they ought to take steps to express respect for the meaning this day holds for all Americans. And that means addressing the still unresolved issues of race that plague our country, particularly in places like South Carolina. Failure to do so would be an egregious insult and an affirmation of the reputation for racial insensitivity for which both Fox News and the GOP are well known.

Martin Luther King On Restoring Honor

The real meaning of this day historically will always be the profound and transformative address delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to a quarter of a million Americans who had been denied the American dream. But Dr. King had a dream of his own [The full text of King’s speech follows]:

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. [Applause]

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

Contine reading

Glenn Beck Drops Veterans From 8/28 Rally

Glenn Beck Deploring HonorIn a notice posted today at Congress.org, Glenn Beck finally got the permit for his 8/28 rally approved. It was also noted that he changed the purpose of the rally from a “demonstration to honor veterans” to simply a “restoring honor rally.”

Why would Beck alter the purpose to something so generic it that it doesn’t have any real meaning? Could it be that his little scam was revealed and he could no longer pretend that this event was for charity? It was previously revealed that the Special Operations Warrior Foundation would not receive any money until after all of Beck’s expenses had been covered. So the possibility exists that there will no donation at all.

With this more vague description of purpose, Beck can turn the affair into the evangelical revival meeting that he always wanted it to be. It can be the celebration of his “Divine Destiny” which, by the way, is the name of his event to be held the night before where he promises to “heal your soul.” We already know that he believes this event will be a turning point in history, and he said today that it will be this generation’s Woodstock (?). And don’t forget that he was told by “someone” in the Vatican that what he is doing is “wildly important.”

This isn’t the first time that Beck has changed the purpose of the event. At one time the purpose was to launch the publication of his next book, “The Plan,” a 100 year blueprint for the restoration of America. Here is how he described it in his original announcement:

“On August 28, 2010, I ask you, your family and neighbors to join me at the feet of Abraham Lincoln on the National Mall for the unveiling of The Plan and the birthday of a new national movement to restore our great country.”

After that he claimed that God had chosen the date:

I believe in divine providence. It was not my intention to select 8-28 because of the Martin Luther King tie. It is the day he made that speech. I had no idea until I announced it and I walked off stage and my researchers said, New York Times has already just published that this is Martin Luther — and I said, oh, geez. We were going to use 9-12 but 9-12 is a Sunday. I’m not going to ask anyone to work on the Sabbath. I’m not going to ask anybody to honor God on a Sunday.

I have no idea what he means by not honoring God on a Sunday. And apparently he isn’t expecting any Jews to attend his rally because for them (and many Christians for that matter), Saturday is the Sabbath.

Beck’s next explanation for the event was that he was doing it all on behalf of our brave fighting men and women and their families. That didn’t last long. Now he has dropped the reference to the veterans from his permit application, though I’m sure he will continue to exploit them.

One other amendment to the permit application concerns the attendance. He raised the projected figure from 150,000 to 300,000. He must be feeling pretty confident. Which is funny because he said on his radio program today that he was discussing the event with Bill O’Reilly who guessed that between 10 and 15 thousand people show up. Beck was obviously surprised by O’Reilly’s estimate so O’Reilly asked him how many people he thought would be there. Beck said modestly, “I don’t know. Over a hundred thousand I hope.” This seems like false modesty from someone who just doubled his official projection to 300,000.

Apparently O’Reilly is not as optimistic as Beck. According to Beck, O’Reilly told him that if that many people showed up that Beck could take over the O’Reilly Factor. Now that would be fun. I bet Beck would hold O’Reilly to this. I would love to see the two of them go at it for the primetime slot. We’ll see how that unfolds in a couple of weeks.

Tales From The Crippled Brain Of Glenn Beck

It’s hard to tell whether Glenn Beck has completely given up trying to make sense of anything he says, or if he is actually working harder than ever to spin new mythologies and horror stories. The result is that his ravings have become more fantastical and less rooted to reality than ever before. Brace yourself for the fright of your life as Beck weaves his sinister tale of terror and treachery.

This nightmare begins in the spine-chilling days of the 1960’s, when children were flowered and tangles of hair-covered hippies choked the landscape. It was in those harrowing times that a pack of wild youths known as “students,” sought to build a democratic society. [insert ominous music here] These SDS demons infiltrated the hearths of our sacred homesteads and replaced our sons and daughters with rebels and peaceniks.

From this cursed crucible came a fearsome force. Beck told you about them last week when he revealed the left’s playbook, the manifesto from the Weather Underground. Of course, the Weathermen were a tiny band of misfits that most of the left, including SDS, renounced. They had zero influence on anyone then, and even less now. That didn’t stop Beck from elevating them to becoming the driving force of liberalism and the authors of its future. Beck dearly loves to unearth ancient irrelevancies and pretend that they are omniscient. But the most frightening part of this tale is that these harbingers of doom, this ragtag crew of rebels, grew up to assume positions of power in government under the hypnotic control of the ultimate puppetmaster, Barack Obama.

At this point in the tale, Beck asserts that these ageless SDS monsters have regrouped and are now poisoning the minds of today’s youth in a “new” SDS. The proof of this association is that they all appear on the same blackboard in Beck’s television studio. Other than that, Beck provides no evidence whatsoever that the new SDS is in any way affiliated with the old ghost of SDS. But I suppose that just makes it even more frightening.

In Beck’s telling of this story he finds it curious that the new SDS was formed two years before Obama was elected president. In the richness of Beck’s delusions, that means that it was a conspiracy whose purpose was to install the radical revolutionary Obama in the White House and implement a communist dictatorship. What a brilliant plan. After all, what could be easier than getting a black man elected to the presidency for the first time ever? I’m surprised nobody ever thought of it before. Although I’m just a little confused about Beck’s aversion to radical revolutionaries considering he said this just a couple of weeks ago:

“They don’t have any idea who I am. So let me announce who I am beginning today. I am a revolutionary. Yes I am. I’m a man that believes radical change must come.”

It isn’t unusual to hear Beck castigate others for things he does himself. In this episode he complained that the media isn’t telling you the truth. He reached back to the sixties again to play a clip from the Perry Mason Show as a witness was being sworn in. Then he asked if there is anyone in the media who is telling “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Well, certainly not if you regard Beck and Fox News as being the media.

Comrade Homer SimpsonI must commend Beck for the angle he’s taking here. The assault on hippie generation; the use of iconic figures from the popular culture of a half century ago like Perry Mason; on a recent program he reached backed to Father Knows Best and Leave It To Beaver in order to frame Homer Simpson as a Weatherman operative (no, seriously). This is all part of his appeal to an aging audience that is still fighting the anti-war, free love, peaceniks that they were all so jealous of when they were uptight teenagers.

The truly frightening part of this is that Beck is fomenting a hatred of his fellow Americans so intense that it is spurring them to violence. He is assembling a Zombie army that takes their orders from him through the airwaves. Media Matters has documented some of the more overt incidents where Beck has delivered his haunted sermons. Beck’s rhetoric today continued that trend, even as he complained about this characterization of him:

“Most people in America don’t realize what they are up against. This is not just a movement with big government tendencies. It’s radical revolutionaries who believe so strongly that America is evil, that capitalism and the free market are evil, that they will stop at nothing to end the perceived oppression.”

It’s hard to see how Beck could be so blind to the possibility that this sort of fear-mongering could incite an unstable pseudo-patriot to star in his own slasher film. Yet Beck defends himself in the most peculiar terms.

“No one on TV has preached more that violence is not the answer than me. But when I do, the leftists say, ‘Hmm, why would you have to say that unless your crazy listeners weren’t one push away from a shooting spree?” I say it for the same reason Martin Luther King said it.”

See? He’s just like Martin Luther King. Except for the fact that Dr. King never whipped up a paranoid hysteria of white devils determined to reinstate slavery and destroy everything you hold dear. To the contrary, King spoke of loving your enemy and the importance of everyone coming together harmoniously. When Beck starts preaching that progressives are his brothers and his intention is to inspire camaraderie and affection, I’ll take his claims of anti-violence more seriously. But to date he has maintained that progressives are a cancer on America and he literally said that they are “taking you to a place to be slaughtered.” I don’t recall that speech from Dr. King.

There is, however, something that Beck has in common with Dr. King. They both profess to be men of God. Of course King proved it with a doctorate from Boston University where he studied theology and philosophy, after which he devoted his life (literally) to his faith and his work on behalf of civil rights. Beck, on the other hand, is a dropout who became an alcohol and drug abuser as he pursued a career as a radio shock jock and a wealthy political televangelist. Other than that they were exactly the same. It’s funny that, given these similarities, Beck went out of his way to quote Pope Benedict as saying…

“Wherever politics tries to be redemptive, it is promising too much. Where it wishes to do the work of God, it becomes not divine but demonic.”

That was actually from Truth and Tolerance by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, years before he was promoted to Pope. The funny part is that Beck cited that passage to criticize Rev. Jim Wallis, an advocate of social justice, for injecting religion into politics. Yet Beck constantly preaches that religion must play a bigger role in public life. He advocates posting the Ten Commandments in government buildings and imposing prayer in public schools.

All of that, along with the rest of the right-wing theo-con movement, is directly contrary to the Pope’s opinion. But as with all things conservatives concern themselves with, there is a different standard for them and for everyone else. Judgment Day to them is the day when they get to be the judges. And God help you if you haven’t made your peace with Glenn Beck.

Finally! Black Leaders Unite To Challenge Glenn Beck

For several months Glenn Beck has been promoting an event in Washington, D.C., that he pretends has something to do with Restoring Honor for American soldiers. In fact, the event was originally announced as a launch party for his next book, “The Plan,” a 100 year blueprint for taking the country back a hundred years, to a time when civil rights were only meant for wealthy, white, male citizens. Beck later transformed the affair into a phony military charity that won’t pass on any benefits until the costs of the rally are covered. This way he gets to have his book launch paid for by dupes who think they are supporting the troops.

Glenn beck Restoring HonorBeck scheduled his Tea Bag rally for the same date (August 28), and location (the Lincoln Memorial) as Martin Luther King’s historic “I Have A Dream” speech. By exploiting this profound anniversary, Beck is desecrating a cherished memory of an inspiring American leader. Last March I wrote about this project and wondered, where is the opposition?

“This is the man [Beck] who recently called King a ‘radical socialist’ and questioned whether there should be a holiday in his name. This is the man who called President Obama a ‘racist with a deep-seated hatred for white people.’ This is the man who calls progressives (like King) “the cancer in America.’ The thought of Beck usurping this cherished occasion to further the goals of his Tea Bagging 9/12ers is insulting and unacceptable.

So where is the outrage? Where are the guardians of Dr. King’s legacy? Who will organize an event in our nation’s capital on that day to honor the real meaning that it represents? Will Beck be permitted to tarnish this anniversary with his exclusionary fear mongering and conspiracy brigades?”

Apparently not. At a meeting of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, several prominent African America leaders have taken up the cause to preserve the memory of Dr. King and the meaning of this anniversary. Here are some of the comments from the meeting:

Marc Morial, President, National Urban League: “We’re going to get together because we are not going to let Glenn Beck own the symbolism of Aug. 28th, 2010. Someone said to me, ‘Maybe we shouldn’t challenge him. Maybe we should just let him have it.’ I was like, ‘Brother, where have you been? Where is your courage? Where is your sense of outrage?’ We need to collaborate and bring together all people of good will, not just Black people, on Aug. 28 to send a message that Glenn Beck’s vision of America is not our vision of America.”

Ben Jealous, President, NAACP: “A group of White males wealthier than their peers called the Tea Party has risen up in the land. They say that they want to take the country back. And take it back they surely will. They will take it back to 1963 if we let them.” […] “We will be fighting Glenn Beck on Aug. 28th and we will be using that to leverage the second march [on October 2nd, for jobs and justice].”

Rev. Al Sharpton, President, National Action Network: “…there is no way in the world that I am going to allow [Beck] to have more people there than us. I hope every Black person in the country will help us to challenge this. Everybody’s got to be in Washington. We can’t let them hijack Dr. King’s dream.”

This is precisely the kind of push-back that is needed. It’s great to hear that these leaders are committed to challenging Beck. I haven’t yet seen any manifestation of their efforts outside of these remarks at the newspaper publisher’s event, but if they follow through with this level of intensity, they could turn this August 28th from a farce populated by Beck, Sarah Palin, and a throng of paranoid conspiratorialists, into a remarkable and inspirational day.

Feel free to contact these organizations and let them know that you support their efforts to challenge Beck. Then work to help produce a large turnout in Washington of people who want a true restoration of honor and justice, and the principles advocated by Dr. King.

National Urban League
NAACP
National Action Network

Glenn Beck vs. Martin Luther King On Social Justice

Glenn Beck is feeling the heat from his repulsive commandment that his you should leave your church if it advocates social justice. Church leaders from across the religious spectrum are renouncing the ravings of His AssHoliness™. But there is another factor in this affair that ought not to be ignored.

When it suits his purpose, Beck will not hesitate to embrace Martin Luther King. Beck has even included King’s picture and words in the opening credits of his TV show (but no more). On the many times that Beck is accused of being racist he will cite King in an attempt to inoculate himself from the invariably correct criticisms. But that hasn’t prevented him from also calling King a radical and questioning whether there should be a day honoring him. And on the subject of social justice, which Beck is currently castigating as some sort of Da Vinci coded proxy for Marxism, King once said…

“[W]e will be able to go this additional distance and achieve the ideal, the goal of the new age, the age of social justice.”

Contrast that with Beck’s twisted view on the matter. It begins with a warning that when you see the words social justice you should…

“Run, and don’t listen to anyone who is telling you differently. […] It is a perversion of the Gospel.”

I’m not sure where Beck acquired his theological training. Perhaps it was when he was an alcoholic drug abuser. Or maybe it was after he sobered up and became a Mormon because, as he admits, if he didn’t his then-girlfriend wouldn’t sleep with him. In any case, he now considers himself so authoritative on spiritual matters that he, and only he, warrants your attention and observance.

The distinction between Beck and King is important because Beck has appropriated an anniversary that is cherished by Americans who revere King and his works. Beck is holding a rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, on the anniversary of King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, which was delivered at the same location. The dark irony of Beck pontificating on that platform, on that day, is purely revolting. As is the prospect of his all-white army of paranoids desecrating the historical significance of King’s oratory there almost half a century ago.

Beck demonstrated his commitment to his version of social justice when he appeared on Bill O’Reilly’s show last week. The discussion turned to whether the government could regulate unhealthy behavior like excessive consumption of junk foods. Setting aside the fact that no one in government is proposing that, O’Reilly nevertheless asked Beck how he would deal with someone who had a heart attack due to such a lifestyle and who did not have insurance. Beck’s prescription? “Sucks to be him.”

Beck continued by saying that he would not pay for this person’s health care or treatment in an emergency room. O’Reilly, acting in the unfamiliar role as the voice of reason, told him that he was already paying for that. Whereupon Beck changed his tune and came out as an advocate of government regulation of personal behavior. Not just once, but three times:

“If you don’t want to work, or if you can’t work, well then you are on government assistance, well then I can now regulate your life.”

“If you are taking money. . .if you want to be a slave to the government, then they have every right.”

“So here is the deal, if you don’t have insurance and you need to take the government insurance, then the government has the right to regulate every aspect of your life. But leave the rest of us alone.”

To which O’Reilly responded, “I like that.”

There is so much wrong with this that it’s hard to know where to begin. Let’s start with the cruel insensitivity of Beck’s initial response that it “sucks” to have a heart attack and that’s just too bad for you. Go away and die. That isn’t just a denunciation of social justice, it’s sociopathic.

Then Beck mentions something about a “need to take the government insurance.” Of course, there is no such thing. When a patient is unable to pay for emergency treatment the cost is transferred to the medical facility and eventually to future patients in the form of higher rates for treatment and insurance. The current debate over health care reform has proposed a “public option,” but Beck opposes that (and everything else in the pending legislation) as socialism. What’s worse, he takes the utterly detestable position that anyone on public assistance surrenders his liberty to the state. He even uses the word “slave” to describe the status of such a person. Somehow, I don’t think that was an accidental racial reference.

What makes this particularly disgusting is that Beck has fiercely criticized the federal bailouts of banks and auto companies. Then, when the administration tried to assert some control over how those funds can be used (for instance, prohibiting the banks from using the taxpayers’ money for extravagant, undeserved bonuses), Beck complained that the government was interfering with a private business. So in Beck’s warped mind it is wrong to tell troubled corporations how to spend money they get from the government, but if you’re a private citizen undergoing an economic hardship the government can take ownership of you and “regulate every aspect of your life.”

I really can’t fathom how Beck justifies his contemptible callousness and hypocrisy. Corporations get billions in tax credits, trade subsidies, development incentives, etc., and all of that was before the bailouts. But they have no obligation to the taxpayers who provide it. Your Uncle Andy gets a few bucks for groceries and shoes for the kids and he is obliged to be the government’s slave. And even then he gets no medical care for himself or his family. Of course not. How could the government afford it after giving all those billions to the corporations and trillions more to pay for illegal and unnecessary wars?

That’s Glenn Beck’s version of social justice. It’s compassionless, hollow, and inhumane. Beck doesn’t deserve to walk the same earth as Martin Luther King, much less desecrate King’s memory by usurping the anniversary of his historic address. It was an address that spoke specifically of the obligation America owes to its citizens as promised in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It was an address that foresaw liberty and justice for all:

King: “[W]e refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.”

That’s the difference between King’s full-hearted grace and Beck’s hardhearted arrogance. King had a positive vision of the goodness in humanity and a belief in what we can achieve together. Beck has faith only in self-interest and the privilege of the fortunate. Let’s hope that King’s vision prevails.

Addendum: Beck has generously supplied us with his definition of Social justice:

“Forced redistribution of wealth with a hostility toward individual property rights, under the guise of charity and/or justice.”

That explains a lot. If I defined kittens as blood thirsty killing machines, you can bet I would lead the opposition to kittens. Of course, I would be insane to have that definition, right Glenn? Glenn?

Glenn Beck Desecrates The Memory Of Martin Luther King

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King spoke to over 200,000 people from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. He gave what is regarded as one of the most inspiring speeches on behalf of brotherhood, liberty, and the peaceful struggle for equality. He said in part…

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

Later this year, on the very same steps, on the anniversary of that historic speech, Glenn Beck will lead his congregation of predominately white followers at a “Restoring Honor” rally to launch his next book, “The Plan,” a 100 year blueprint for undoing the progress made by people like Dr. King on behalf of equality, justice, and peace.

Subsequent to Beck’s original announcement of this event, he has latched onto a military charity to mask his profiteering with a facade of moral gravitas (and gain a tax write-off). But he has made no mention of the date’s prior association with Martin Luther King. And why would he be expected to? This is the man who recently called King a “radical socialist” and questioned whether there should be a holiday in his name. This is the man who called President Obama a “racist with a deep-seated hatred for white people.” This is the man who calls progressives (like King) “the cancer in America.” The thought of Beck usurping this cherished occasion to further the goals of his Tea Bagging 9/12ers is insulting and unacceptable.

So where is the outrage? Where are the guardians of Dr. King’s legacy? Who will organize an event in our nation’s capital on that day to honor the real meaning that it represents? Will Beck be permitted to tarnish this anniversary with his exclusionary fear mongering and conspiracy brigades?

I don’t expect Beck to endure in his crusade. He has already launched numerous campaigns that he leaves to gather dust when his attention is drawn away by some new, shiny dementia. In just the past couple of years he has announced the following TV jihads:

  • We Surround Them
  • The Re-Founding
  • In or Out 2010
  • Watchdogs
  • 9/12 Project
  • The Plan

Beck & KingBeck’s conspiracy theories erupt quickly and fiercely and they burn out the same way. This is also true for his allegiances to principles. For several months the opening credits of his TV show included a picture of King or a reference to his words. Those are gone now. It was fine when Beck wanted to exploit the reverence for which most Americans hold King, but now Beck finds it more important to insult him and suppress his legacy.

This may be just one day in summer, but it is a day that should be reserved for uplifting recollections of our better nature – not the Apocalyptic negativity of racists and enemies of the poor and huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The anniversary of King’s “Dream” deserves better than to be desecrated by the detestable likes of Glenn Beck and his dark and divisive hordes. It would sure be nice to see King’s supporters show up in DC in greater numbers than Beck’s disciples.

Martin Luther King: What Kind Of Extremists Will We Be?

The anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther King will be celebrated tomorrow. Last year at this time it was an unusually poignant celebration as it coincided with the inauguration of the nation’s first African-American president. This year the holiday is shared with a much more troubling event: the earthquake in Haiti and its consequent devastation.

Nevertheless, the indefatigable hope that always underpinned King’s message can still serve as inspiration to those suffering in Haiti, their loved ones, and every empathetic soul that’s been bruised by unfathomable loss. King himself suffered many hardships in his quest for equality and justice. But his will was never weakened and he had an uncanny ability to turn tribulation into triumph. On that measure he was not ambiguous. From the cell of a jail in Birmingham, Alabama, King demonstrated the resolve that continues to serve as an example to us all. His was not a common plea for community service, but a challenge to commit oneself to positive change with the utmost urgency.

MLK: “So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?”

The audacity of these questions is that they assume that we have already stipulated extremism as the starting point for how we approach advancement or adversity. These days that is a requirement for the success of any public endeavor. If we don’t hit the ground running, our feet will be swept out from beneath us by the reactionaries and obstructionists who favor the status quo. Witness the loudmouthed town howlers, the delusional anti-socialist-healthcare cranks, the Tea Baggers. Because of these mudstickers, our intensity must always be on high. Our dials must be turned to eleven. And we must apply all of our energy and insight to our goals. Because, as Dr. King wrote from the same cell in Birmingham…

“…the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”

And it’s still true today.

Martin Luther King: A Creative Rebel

The significance of this Martin Martin Luther King Jr. day takes on a new meaning with the awareness that tomorrow an historic milestone in American history will occur. The first African-American president is as potent a validation of King’s dream as anything I can imagine.

But there are still battles ahead. Contrary to the declarations by some (at Fox News) that the election of Barack Obama is evidence that the struggles for equality are over, last year’s campaign actually brought out some of the darkest expressions of prejudice ever made publicly. We must not forget that many of the opponents of Obama’s candidacy were overtly racist. Obama’s electoral victory was not unanimous, and although it obviously cannot be said that every John McCain voter was voting against Obama because of his race, there were certainly some of those millions who did just that.

Still, Obama’s election goes a long way toward a realization of King’s dream. It is an epic event that is both a frightful burden and an unparalleled opportunity. It’s too bad King couldn’t be here to celebrate along with us, but our reflections on him help to keep the dream alive. Following are excerpts from the article I wrote last year that still convey a personal expression of the impact King had on me, as a young artist.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Today as we celebrate the memory and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., millions of Americans will reflect on the impact his life had. That impact, for many, is very personal. There is much for which to be grateful in the gifts of hope and justice that he left behind. For me there was a speech that was particularly transforming. It was his public entry into the anti-war movement, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence. As a twelve year old peace activist and an aspiring artist, one sentence stood out and helped to shape the next 40 years of my life:

“We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative means of protest possible.”

That’s one of the first recollections I have of perceiving art as an act of conscience and rebellion. Prior to that I drew a lot of superheroes and hot rods (I was twelve, after all). I had become radicalized, and I knew that at least part of my work had to be devoted to making a better world.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

The value of art in movement building stems from the uniquely personal relationship that binds us to works of insight and honesty. Speeches and op/eds will never evoke the intimacy of artistic expression. That’s why, despite protestations of the Cultural Imperialists, artists remain relevant and influential. At its best, art inspires, motivates and unites. It’s even better when it incites and provokes.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

[W]e must persist in producing thoughtful, provocative work that leads us to a world with more liberty, more peace, more justice, and fuller hearts and bellies. We must confront the censors and the bullies who fear our voices and would silence them. And we must seek new and aggressive forms of distribution that spreads our messages from the Internet to the Interstate and beyond. As the activist/artist Vladimir Mayakovsky said:

“Art must not be concentrated in dead shrines called museums. It must be spread everywhere…on the streets, in the trams, factories, workshops, and in the workers homes.”

And as Dr. King declared, we, as artists, must be prepared to match actions with words and use our talents to manifest a world that reflects our dreams.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

The extraordinary juxtaposition of the King holiday and the Obama inauguration present a profound opportunity to look both backward and forward at the same time. Backward to the contributions and sacrifices of King and an entire generation of freedom seekers. And forward to a new era of hope for justice and harmony.

Celebrate today. Get back to work tomorrow.

MLK: Every Creative Means Of Protest Possible

Today as we celebrate the memory and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., millions of Americans will reflect on the impact his life had. That impact, for many, is very personal. There is much for which to be grateful in the gifts of hope and justice that he left behind. For me there was a speech that was particularly transforming. It was his public entry into the anti-war movement, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence. As a twelve year old peace activist and an aspiring artist, one sentence stood out and helped to shape the next 40 years of my life:

“We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative means of protest possible.”

That’s one of the first recollections I have of perceiving art as an act of conscience and rebellion. Prior to that I drew a lot of superheroes and hot rods (I was twelve, after all). I had become radicalized, and I knew that at least part of my work had to be devoted to making a better world. A couple of years ago, as a blogger, I put down some of my thoughts and frustrations in this regard.

Art InsurgencyIn Creativism – The Rise Of The Art Insurgency, I presented the case for employing the arts in social movements. My intent was to inspire an uprising of artists to fight back against an ever more repressive culture. Virtually all of the political dialog in this country is limited to politicians and pundits and a media so shallow that a gnat couldn’t bathe in it. Creativity in support of social change was once not a particularly odd concept, but with the rise of right-wing neo-Dark Agists badgering artists to “shut up and sing,” it has become a more hostile endeavor. Artists, however, are not surrendering ground and art lovers should not either. Solidarity with creatives is paramount for progress. They are the emotive flank of our army.

The value of art in movement building stems from the uniquely personal relationship that binds us to works of insight and honesty. Speeches and op/eds will never evoke the intimacy of artistic expression. That’s why, despite protestations of the Cultural Imperialists, artists remain relevant and influential. At it’s best, art inspires, motivates and unites. It’s even better when it incites and provokes.

There is irony in the fact that complaints come from conservative repressives when it is mainly conservatives that blur the lines between creative and public aspirations. While there are many liberal artists that express political views, they rarely run for office. Unlike conservative gate crashers like Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Fred Thompson, Sonny Bono, Fred Grandy, George Murphy, etc. Still it’s conservatives who complain that liberal artists are crossing the line and, with an Olympian feat of denial, they never harbor similar complaints toward their own kind. Sean Penn, George Clooney and Angelina Jolie are interlopers who should know their place. But Chuck Norris, Dennis Miller and Charlton Heston are patriots and public policy experts whose input is invaluable. As I wrote in Creativism…

“The time has come to restore the dignity of creativism. We must beat back the repressive forces that would prefer the Dark Ages to the Renaissance. We must recognize the power that speaking the truth brings to our world and ourselves. We must support our creative advocates.”

To that I would add that we must persist in producing thoughtful, provocative work that leads us to a world with more liberty, more peace, more justice, and fuller hearts and bellies. We must confront the censors and the bullies who fear our voices and would silence them. And we must seek new and aggressive forms of distribution that spreads our messages from the Internet to the Interstate and beyond. As the activist/artist Vladimir Mayakovsky said:

“Art must not be concentrated in dead shrines called museums. It must be spread everywhere…on the streets, in the trams, factories, workshops, and in the workers homes.”

And as Dr. King declared, we, as artists, must be prepared to match actions with words and use our talents to manifest a world that reflects our dreams.